Alesis HR-16

Alesis HR-16 Image

One of Alesis's first drum machines. With 49 sounds including 10 kicks, 7 snares and a complete ethnic set all of which are 16 bit samples this drum machine is a great bargain! Its partner in crime is the MMT-8 sequencer. But the HR-16 has its own sequencer with 100 patterns and 100 songs available. The drum tones can be tuned, have individual level controls for mixing, and there is 16 voice polyphony which means up to 16 drum tones can be used within a pattern. Patterns are programmed in either step or real-time. With external click inputs and Midi, the HR-16 is capable of integrating your older drum machines or sequencers with Midi systems! The drum sounds, however, are pretty cheesy.

Alesis HR-16B Image

Alesis HR-16B

The updated HR-16B model had lots of new sounds cool for enough techno and electronic music. And it still costs about the same price. It is possible that some HR-16's may have been modified to use the HR-16B's ROM chip to get those sounds. The HR-16 is gray and the HR-16B is black. Either one makes a handy little drum machine that's so cheap these days that it is more than worth adding to your studio - it just might come in handy one day. It is used by Orbital, The Grid, Autechre, Sub Dub and the Stereo MC's.

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40 Visitor comments
March 20, 2013 @ 12:59 pm
There are actually two "revisions" of the HR-16, one which is extremely reliable and one which is actually quite flimsy and prone to crashing. The early ones are the good ones; they have three fixed voltage regulators on the pcb. On the later ones you'll see a sticker that says "RevB1" which means "this thing will totally fail." These ones only have one voltage regulator and instead have a giant inductor (which is prone to falling off the board). The Rev B1 HR's also have less beefy resistors and capacitors than the originals, and feature a Boss-style power jack instead of the 3.5mm original.
March 6, 2013 @ 10:23 am
I would not characterize 80's Alesis gear as unreliable. I own a couple quadraverbs and an HR16b. I have owned pretty much every one of the Microseries (microlimiter/microgate/microverb etc) as well as many of the older midiverbs. Never had an issue with the older Alesis stuff aside from their oddball 9vac power supplies dying. My HR16b in particular has been on the road many times. Covered in beer, blood and sweat, left in a van in 112 degree temps. Still kicking those beats.
Try that with Roland anything from the 80's.
Simon Holland
January 6, 2013 @ 4:00 am
By my reckoning the HR16 in both its guises was pretty popular... I've just curated this free to download thirty track compilation of vintage electronica recorded in bedrooms around the world between 1980-89: 9-volume-one
December 31, 2012 @ 2:21 pm
The information about the HR16B is not accurate.
The HR16B was not an update, just a different version, with more processed type sounds.
The 16B came with a chip-set that aloud both machines to be controlled from the one machine.
Everything Alesis made in the 80's was very innovative and affordable, but also highly unreliable, hence the bairgain status.
I remember having to wait for ages before the HR16 was available.
Bret Malmquist
December 8, 2012 @ 6:25 pm
How do I get a swing beat on my HR 16 drum machine
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • Audio Clip 1 - Samples of some Drum tones from the HR-16.

    Manual - Alesis have made manuals and program charts for many of their products available on-line, for free download as .PDF files!

  • Specifications
  • Drum Sounds - 49: 10 bass drums, 7 snares, 5 toms, 2 open hihats, 1 closed hat, 3 cymbals, Hi/Low congas, 2 woodblocks, 2 maracas, 2 cowbells, claves, cabasa, shaker, agogo, triangle, tambourine, handclaps, finger snap, side stick
  • Samples - 16 bit samples
  • Patterns - 100
  • Songs - 100
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 16 pads
  • Polyphony - 16 voices
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1987/88
    HR-16B - 1989
  • Resources & Credits
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