Wave Alchemy are sound designers from Nottingham in the UK. In the past 5 years Dan Byers & Steve Heath have built up a reputation for producing some of the better sample packs especially when it comes to drum sounds. Recently they released a very ambitious project called Transistor Revolution which uses 22,000 samples to recreate a Roland TR-808 and TR-909. Some people will ask why do we need more 808/909? I think theses specific drum machine sounds are the pencil and pen for electronic music. They are important backbone sounds that can be used a million different ways. Real 808s and 909s are continually going up in value. Last time I checked an 808 is about $2500 on eBay. Transistor Revolution is currently less than $100 USD (introductory price) so if it sounds good it’s value is apparent. “TR” uses Native Instruments free Kontakt Player and is a 6GB download. That’s 6GB of essentially 20 different drum sounds! When you turn a knob in Transistor Revolution changing each of the sounds parameters the drum samples are actually changing from one to the next behind the scenes. In addition, “7 variations of each drum sound… cycle randomly each time a key on the keyboard is played”. Within the custom TR Kontakt player there are 7 effects: EQ, Compression, Tape Saturation, Transient Designer, High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter and Bit Crusher. Each effect has it’s own page with multiple parameters that can be edited and saved. There is a full mini mixer within the plug-in so you can mix and place drum sounds on separate virtual outputs and add Send Effects. Send Effects inlcude the ones mentioned above and others including a Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Delay, Rotator, Stereo Modeller, multiple Distortion types and Convolution and standard Reverbs. The interface reminds me of Propellerhead’s Reason. Each drum sound has it’s own rack piece which can be closed and opened. Without reading the manual I was able to find my way around.
So how does it sound? Very good. Different model 808s sound different from each other. However, in my own opinion when listening to hardware or software clones there are things to look for. You want super clear white metalic high hats, rides and crashes. Snares and claps should have a very sharp transient attack. Kicks should go from tight to boomey. Transistor Revolution does an excellent job. I have one criticism and two things for the wish list. There are 4 “multis” which are basically a full 808 or 909 group of samples with some settings. For example there is an MP60, S1200, Lite and Analog version of the 808. I’m not sure if they use different sample sets or just the effect settings are different. Either way I want to see many more Multi presets. As I said above 808/909s lend themselves to treatment very well. Give us 50 flavors of each please! For the wish list I would like to see a TR style sequencer and MIDI file player. Why just give us the sounds? Part of what makes a the drum machines great is the patterns. Give us a few hundred MIDI patterns built-in and give us 16 lights going from left to right please.
Wave Alchemy are on the right path here. I suspect we will see more drum machines meticulously multi-sampled by the UK duo. In short of a real 808/909 or maybe the Tiptop Audio modular stuff this is the best sounding and certainly most affordable convient way to the TR sound.
“Our aim with Transistor Revolution was always to produce a product that could completely replace the hardware in our own productions.” – wavealchemy.co.uk
There is a MXR 185 drum machine on Ebay right now (link). It’s an EPROM based machine like the Oberheim DX. Hollow Son sampled it for their Nostalgia Kontakt product. Whenever I think I’m sure I have seen every drum machine ever made another one appears. I’m not sure the 185 is worth $900 but it does look nice.
“I have no idea why the product wasn’t successful but the MXR 185 pretty much disappeared without trace almost as soon as it was released.” – hollowsun.com
Impaktor is an iOS drum app. Very simply you put your device on a table and then hit the table to play drums. When this came out a few weeks ago everyone said it was amazing but since I’m not a drum circle kind of guy I overlooked it. Big mistake. This is a wicked app! There are two things that make it so great. First your drum taps and strikes are picked up by the iPhone/iPad very sensitively. Very light brushes of the hand and extreme punches to the table make the sound quite different. Next the drum synth is very good. There are some really futuristic synth sounds and metal clangs to play with. You can record your performances and more. This is one of those oh wow cool apps. Use with microphoneless loud headphones.
“Impaktor is a drum synthesizer with a vast sonic palette, that turns any surface into a playable percussion instrument.” – beepstreet.com
Here’s a direct recording from the new Delptronics LDB-1 analog drum machine. As you can hear it has a dark sound. The unit itself is in a cheap plastic case and while programming it is very easy I wish it had 16 buttons and LEDs instead of 8. Jumping between two banks of 8 steps while recording is annoying. With Trigger Out, Clock & Gate Input and Midi/Dinsync it’s easy to connect the LDB-1 with pretty much any system. It’s $240. There is also a Eurorack module.
“The LDB-1 has all of the features of a classic analog drum machine in a small, affordable package.” – delptronics
Here’s a nice video history of Roland drum machines with the narrator Robbie Ryan beat boxing examples and then playing audio samples from actual songs.
“This is a documentary celebrating the 25 year anniversary of the Roland TR909. In this documentary, narrated by Robbie Ryan, we traverse the history of the programmable drum machine from the CR78, TR808, TB303, TR909, and LinnDrum, with audio examples of each.” – iloveanalogue.blogspot.com
Serious cool alert time. There is an all new fully analog drum machine with 64 patterns, pattern programmability, MIDI and trigger out called the Delptronics LBD-1. It’s priced quite nicely at $240 USD. There is also a kit and Eurorack module.
“The LDB-1 “Little Drummer Boy” is a modern recreation of the classic analog drum machines of the 80’s, like the Roland TR-606 and TR-808. Our goal was to recreate the warm sounds of the classics, using all analog circuitry – not samples. The brain of the LDB-1 is a powerful digital microcontroller that triggers the analog drum sounds and provides the sequencer, programmability and connectivity features. Easily interfaces with other instruments, synthesizers, DAWs, etc. through analog connections, MIDI, and DINsync.” – delptronics
We have seen TR-808 keychains before but now we have here a Roland TR-808 keychain that’s a 16GB flash drive (link). If you really want to impress a someone give them your music on one of these. Please note: The designer of this flash drive offered to send me one so consider this a sponsored post.
“Based on the legendary Roland TR-808 Drum Machine, the TR-808 flash drive does a brilliant job of recreating the most legendary vintage drum machine/synthesizer ever created. The TR-808?s signature synthesized drum sounds can be heard in nearly every genre of music, from Electronic to Country. The TR-808 played a crucial role in shaping many sub-genres of hip hop including bass and southern/dirty south hip hop beats. Hip Hop heads, Electro Heads, Synth Freaks, and more will all appreciate the detail put into this novelty 16GB USB Flash Drive.” – hiphopdrumsamples.com
Every now and then I will grab a stack of old photo from storage, scan them and get them onto flickr. I came across this set from a Disintegrator (my first band with John Selway) show in 1996. It took place in Monticello NY. I decided it would be interesting to record a call with John and let him see these photos at the same time. Deadmau5 eat your heart out because we play live. Listen to the audio interview as we discuss everything on stage and more. Be sure to follow the link at the bottom of this post to see all the photos on flickr.
“The planetary journey continues on Saturday October 12, 1996 at the illustrious Concord Resort Hotel nestled within the Catskill Mountains just 1 hour north of New York City. For URANUS, the fifth in a series of planetary parties we have selected an unparalleled lineup of the best DJ’s and producers in the galaxy. The world renowned Concord Resort is one of New York State’s Largest exhibition centers featuring over 170,000 square feet of raw space. We will be converting this space into two MASSIVE dancing arenas complete with CLAY PACKY GOLDEN SCAN HPE series fixtures, J WOLF SOUND, and a huge ARGON laser sweeping overhead. For those wishing to continue your journey, the excitement continues. After the party rooms are available. The Concord resorts features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, and a plethora of recreational facilities to suit your every need. For reservations please contact the Concord after September 1, 1996 at 1-800-CONCORD and ask for the planetary group rate.”
Two awesome things! A custom built spring reverb and a Vermona DRM-1. I own a DRM-1 and I recommend it highly to everyone. Just listen to how great these sound together.
“Finally, my custom built spring reverb is ready. (thanks much to Csaba Füle, the best)
Basically it is an RFT spring tank driven by a Doepfer A-199 module. Much bigger space, much wider spectrum, much better than Accutronics imho. Audio: It’s a basic sequence with the Vermona DRM-1 put on multi channels sent to the Spring Reverb. Changing Emphasis and Feedback here and there on the Doepfer A-199 module, changing the filter on the snare at the solo, and finally, slapping the rack hard in the end. :) It’s just wonderful. Everyone should forget vst reverbs – for a while at least. This thing sounds so unpredictable, so different every time, so alive… I have done some phased and hi-lowpassed feedback and send-return business too, really shouldn’t waste words trying to describe those sounds…” – Hargitai András