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Best new drum machine 2022: AVP Synth Ritmobox

As 2022 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we’re bringing you our picks of the best new gear this year, from drum machines to turntables.

Moscow’s AVP Synth tend to specialise in analogue, whether that be synths, drum machines or effects units. The Ritmobox, released earlier this year, is no exception. Here we have a decidedly old-school drum machine with a few modern tweaks to bring it up to date. The Ritmobox impressed us with its character vaguely reminiscent of classics like the Roland TR-606 and TR-808, but choice design features intended to maximise its sonic range and introduce just enough modern creature comforts like MIDI and sturdy build quality.

The Ritmobox’s main strength is its charismatic, distinctive sound. This is very much about the raw, impactful power of analogue drum synthesis. There’s plenty of range and scope to push the hi-hat circuits and three multi-purpose ‘Generators’ into experimental territory as well as the more obvious kicks, snares and claps. There’s a pleasing versatility to the Generators, with nine parameters for each circuit, controlling a mixture of oscillator and noise generator, a pitch envelope ‘sweep’, ‘pulse’ kick sound, band-pass filter and modulation. As a result, you can find sweet spots all over the place, from dub sirens to disco lasers.

At just under £650 for the black model, the Ritmobox is good value by the standards of boutique analogue gear. That’s roughly the same price as a second-hand Roland TR-606, which is an analogue classic but undeniably limited by comparison, not least for its lack of MIDI compatibility. The Ritmobox is unashamedly retro, right down to the way it’s built, hand-soldered with discrete, through-hole components. It’s debatable how much difference that approach makes to the sound, but it spells out AVP’s philosophy and hints at the attention to detail which makes the Ritmobox a captivating instrument.

We’re also giving a huge shout here to the Erica Synths Perkons HD-01, a powerhouse of a drum machine with a very different approach to the Ritmobox. The two would no doubt have battled it out for our prize this year if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve struggled to get our hands on the Perkons, such is the demand for the Erica machine. Maybe next year…

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