At first glance, the price may seem a little steep, but depending on your affinity for drum synthesis, this just may be worth it as long as you're not subject to the EU's obscene system of taxation. The concept is simple: four different methods of drum synthesis allow you to create 16 sounds per kit that may be step-sequenced or externally triggered. The sequencer does allow for realtime parameter control. There's an analog emulation that claims to recreate sounds from Roland's infamous TR-series... it does the trick aside from failing to do a decent 808 snare. There are provisions for some extreme bass effects in this method of synthesis. There's also an FM drum section, and I think that this set of sounds is my favorite. The stock sounds here are good on their own, but even the smallest bit of experimentation yields some incredible weirdness. It can be very noisy and uncontrolled. Next, there's a sampled drum section. Nothing special here, but the sounds here come in handy if you wish to depart from the overly synthy sounds the first two methods deploy. Last (and a close runner-up for my favorite system) there's a physical modeling section. While the MD only allows for 8 editable parameters per drum sound, the choices made here have been wise. The presets here sound somewhat real, and with careful programming could fool someone in a mix. When you set out to edit these parameters, you may end up with something totally weird, cool, and musically useful.
All four of these systems have a good number of drums represented... up to 16 each. Each has a different parameter set, and editing is very easy thanks to the large display. There are two extra pages for each sound. The first is the effects section, which allows you to set distortion and sample rate reduction as well as EQ. The third page consists of pan and global effects sends. Also, there's an LFO page that allows you to smoothly modulate just about anything you could imagine.
I don't use the sequencer much, so I will not write a detailed review. I will say that it is very accurate (the earliest versions of the OS sometimes skipped beats) and behaves well with odd signatures. It does enable the MD to be a fully functioning standalone box that allows the user to easily create rhythm that puts many electronic releases to shame.
Most of my complaints about the unit have been fixed in the most recent units. I guess I could be considered an "early adopter" with serial number 35. Since then, the knobs have been changed to be easier to grip and turn, the outputs have been exchanged to give a better snr, and it has been made so that the chips don't get knocked loose. As far as the software goes, it's great as is. With each new release, the effects algorithms are improved, new machines are added, and numerous other features rear their head. I guess I still take umbrage at the fact that reception of MIDI CC data is spread out over 4 channels at once.
Regardless of your style, you'd be doing yourself a favor to check this box out. Coupled with a skillfully programmed set of sampled drums, it's unstoppable. Elektron scores again... this unit is built like a tank.