On eBay they usually go for well over $1000 USD so not everyone can afford one. Even if you do own one sometimes using samples is just more convenient. A big tip off to seasoned listeners that your faking it is the Hi Hat sound of most samples. Here is a trick that John Selway showed me on how to make Roland TR-808 samples sound more real.
I’m going to use Ableton Live’s built-in Auto Filter but any filter plug-in should work. This is a very simple trick but once you hear it “fix” the sound you may use it often. I am trying to get rid of it that symbalance, feathery, super high digital sound and replace it with something more metallic and clear. Check out the original untreated samples in action here:
Make sure your Hi Hats are on a separate audio channel and add Auto Filter as an insert. Grab the fluorescent yellow dot inside the automation display and drag it about a centimeter to the left and a half centimeter upwards. The kHz should read about 7.01 and the Q about 1.60. Take a listen to the Hi Hats now:
Now take a listen to what these improved Hi Hats sound like in action. Here they are in a song called Body to Body off my new album Attack Decay: click here
Here are a few places you can find Roland TR-808 samples online. Keep in mind that Roland TR-808′s sound different from each other, have lots of tuning settings and can be recorded many different ways. The kb6 set is free, the Gold Baby set was recorded to tape and my personal favorite is the Wizoo set.
If you know of any good TR-808 sample sets online let me know in the comments.