Happy 909 Day

Oliver Chesler and John Selway

Today is September 9 so it’s 9/09 day! Here I am on the left in the early 1990s inside the base of the Brooklyn Bridge playing live using my Roland TR-909. To the right of me is John Selway. Interestingly I bought the machine in Yonkers and when I got to the apartment there were gold records on the wall. My 909 was once owned by one of Chaka Khan’s producers. Never mind my hair just don’t look closely at my pupils! And yes my hand is on the tempo knob.

“The Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer is a partially analog, partially sample-based, drum machine introduced by the Japanese Roland Corporation in 1984. The brainchild of Tadao Kikumoto, the engineer behind the Roland TB-303, it features a 16-step step sequencer and a drum kit that aimed for realism and cost-effectiveness. It is fully programmable, and like its predecessor, the TR-808, it can store entire songs with multiple sections, as opposed to simply storing patterns. It was the first MIDI-equipped drum machine. Around 10,000 units were produced.” – Wikipedia

For more info: wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TR-909

Korg Volca Sample

Volca-Sample

Korg is really making products I like these days. There is a new Volca and it’s a sampler. It’s called the Volca Sample. Being an old Akai S950 guy I love that they made the new box white! It has a eleven parameter motion sequencer, reverb per part, analog eq, active step and jump functions, reverse and the very important sync jack in the back. It holds 100 samples but actually doesn’t sample on it’s own. You need iOS to load in new samples. That said since I use iOS devices I am happy but I can see this as an issue for some. Price TBA.

“The volca sample is a sample sequencer that lets you edit and sequence up to 100 sample sounds in real time for powerful live performances. It’s a powerful addition to any existing volca setup, or simply on its own. The new volca lets you recapture the excitement of the first generation of samplers, in which any sound — vocals, spoken words, ambient sound, or glitches — becomes material for your creations!” – korg.com

For more info: korg.com/us/products/dj/volca_sample

Tiptop Audio MA808

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Tiptop Audio MA808

I would dare to say the only thing electronic drum wise out there better than a real Roland TR-808 is the Tiptop Audio Eurorack drum modules. The reason I say that is each module actually gets the sound right but is also controllable in a creative modular environment. It’s not just the sound they get correct. It’s also the pressure or chest feel. Tiptop gets it right. The fact that you can then take these sounds a throw them into Euclidean sequencers, Echophons, Plague Bearer’s etc is just fantastic. They just released the MA808 which emulates the TR-808s Maracas. $99 USD.

“The MA808 is Roland’s TR-808 Maracas sound generator adapted for modular
synthesizer use.” – tiptopaudio.com

For more info: tiptopaudio.com/ma808

Working on my next album

I am working on my next album. I have equipment lying all over the place in several totally different locations. In one corner of my apartment I have “little” Eurorack set up and for the sample of the track above Im using a Korg SuperDrums DDM110 for beats and sync. Your also hearing a Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas through a Synthesis Technology E440 which has it’s filter controlled by a Make Noise Pressure Points and transpose controlled by a Flame Tame Machine. Now to do some vocals…

“Where does all this leave the DDM110? Not realistic enough to satisfy people who want a drum machine to act as a convenient substitute for a real drummer, not considered ‘classic’ enough to command the extortionate prices paid by retro enthusiasts for just about anything 15 years old with a Roland badge and no MIDI port. This ‘half-way’ status, coupled with its more eccentric qualities, is enough to place the DDM110 in the ‘love it or hate it’ oddity category. I personally gravitate towards the former opinion.” – Sound on Sound

For more info: soundonsound.com/sos/jan01/articles/korgddm110

Teenage Engineering PO-12

Next year Teenage Engineering will release a $50 drum machine called the PO-12. Built right on a circuit board it has effects, real time recording and different tempo presets. Watch the video above to see why it’s quite lust worthy!

“Teenage Engineering’s new PO-12 drum machine is awesome! In this video I’m taking a pre-production unit for a test spin, and it’s great. Looking forward to a 2015 release.” – cuckoomusic

For more info: teenageengineering.com

TOM Glitch vs TR-8 Scatter

Sometimes things seem to change however often they are just the same. I absolutely adore my Sequential Circuits TOM and indeed also my Roland TR-8. Check out the interesting video above showing TOMs glitch mode vs one of the TR-8’s Scatter modes.

“I drive Glitch Sound in Sequential TOM, I compared it with Scatter of Roland TR-8.” – Yokushe

For more info: vintagesynth.com/sci/tom

Acidlab Drumatix

If I could I would own every drum machine ever created. Here’s a new one based on Roland’s TR-606 from Acidlab called Drumatix. I really love all the products Klaus creates. You can read an interview I did with Klaus from 2009: here. Coming soon.

“Analog Drummachine based on the circuits of the 606 with additional sounds and parameters.” – acidlab.de

For more info: acidlab.de

TipTop Audio RS808

TipTop Audio has released another in their line of Roland TR-808 modules for the Eurorack system. I own all of them so far and they are all stellar. I believe I read Gur used to repair or clone real 808s so he really knows what he is doing. This time the Rimshot and Clav are covered in the new RS808 module. The sound is right and besides the flexibility of being in the modular environment the module has slightly more variation than the original.

“The RS808 is the TR-808’s analog Rimshot and Clavs sound generator in Eurorack format. It’s a low-cost module that brings back that classic sound, but with even more variation and control, continuing to expand your Tiptop Audio modular drum machine. The RS808 comes with two switches that give a total of 4 different positions: two are the classic Rimshot and Clavs sounds as found on the original, and two are unique to the RS808 module adding a range of snappy “click” sounds the circuit is capable of producing. Two control knobs were added, each have different effect for the selected sound. In general, these controls can be categorized as Pitch and Snap as they control the frequency of the oscillator and decay of the envelope generator. The RS808 is an exact reproduction of the original circuit which sounds like a fresh machine coming off the assembly line back in the 80’s.” – tiptopaudio.com

For more info: tiptopaudio.com/rs808

Vermona DRM-1 mkIII FX Insert

I’ve owned a Vermona DRM1 MKIII for a while. It’s one of my most beloved machines. It sounds so sharp and vintage it’s really incredible. I noticed the insert jacks but never realized you could use them not only as outs but to route the audio back in! Thanks to The Tuesday Night Machines for posting this. Time to find some pedals!

“The effects insert feature lets you route processed drum sounds back into the drum machine’s internal stereo mixer.” – The Tuesday Night Machines

For more info: vermona.com/index.php/en_drm1mk3

Roland Aira

So Roland is teasing something new for NAMM. It looks like a new drum machine and they have a promo talking about the origin of the TR-808. If the new AIRA is analog I’ll be excited. It also looks like this is one of eight products in an AIRA line. Will this be a return to the classic Roland we love? These machines will have to have the punch and tightness of the originals not just less than imitations.

UPDATE: Analogue Ryhthm Machine, 6 Analog and 4PCM-based Drumparts, Loop- and Step-Sequencer, Stutter-, Active Step and Step Jump-Functions, Multitouch Trigger Pad / Step-Button, LED-Display, Build-in Speaker, Sync I/O 1/8″ Mini-Input female Mono, MIDI In, Headphone-Out 1/8″ Mini-TRS Stereo, Power via 6x AA Battery or optional Power Supply (KA-350; not included), Dimention: 193 x 115 x 45 mm (WxHxD), Weight: 372 698 Euros”.

UDATE 2: People are pointing out the specs above are from a Thomman image which is probably a hoax. We will see!

“Roland Engineers discuss the initial concept of the TR-808 which was conceived and built in 1980. Although it was designed to create “backing tracks”, creative musicians started to use the Rhythm Machine as an instrument and music changed forever. Now the evolution begins again.” – roland.co.uk

For more info: http://www.roland.co.uk/aira