This months issue of Sound on Sound has reviews of the MFB-522 and 503 drum machines. The 522 is sort of a Roland TR-808 clone. It is full analog and in the ballpark but really sounds like it’s own machine. I’ve have a lot of music on my to do list and because I’m using a lot of analog hardware these days I decided to put a mini studio on my dining room table. The heart of it is the 522. I also have an old Boss BX800 mixer from the 80s. I have fond memories of the way it distorted. Unfortunately after playing with it a bit I ended up switching it out to a new Yamaha MG102c. The kick’s attack is much sharper on the new mixer and that’s very important to me. The 522 has individual out, lots of knobs to control the sounds, a fill pattern and it’s fun to program. Check out the little video above of my MFB in action. You can hear it has a nice tight groove and how fun the fill is. The video was recorded with an iPhone though the iPhone’s speaker with the audio coming from a TDK Boombox. There is a suped up version of the 522 called the 523 coming this year. You can buy a 522 for $425 USD.
“MFB-522 is a drumcomputer with a fully analogue sound engine that offers plenty of editing capabilities. It includes a step-sequencer with popular TR-style running-light-programming. Memory locations are available for 72 patterns as well as for 8 songs.” – mfberlin.de
In my continual effort to make my music studio into an 80’s time machine I picked up a Boss DM-100 bucket-brigade analog delay and chorus. Similar vintage units have been used on vocals by the Stray Cats and Richard 23 of Front 242. You could spend a lot more on new tape delay pedals such as the Moog 104Z but they aren’t as noisy and sleezy. In fact, a quick forum search on the DM-100 shows this unit is quite coveted. I like that the DM-100 has the input and outputs on the front which will make it quick to get drum machines and iPads through it and back into Ableton. If your not familiar with this type of device watch the video above at 20 seconds in to be impressed. If you want to stay in the box check out Audio Damage’s DubStation or Fabfilter’s Timeless plug-ins.
“The DM-100 uses is together with the compact DM-2 Boss’s first BBD based delay. The DM-100 is also making use of the Roland FCF (Frequency Controlled Filter) to produce its delay sound. The FCF gradually rolls of higher frequencies as the delay time increases. With the mode switch the user can choose whether to use the Delay Machine as a delay or chorus. The intensity of the chorus is adjusted with a control on the back and the effect can be turned on or off with a footswitch (not supplied with the DM-100).” – bossarea.com
Last night i picked up an Amplitude iRig from Best Buy (about $40). It wasn’t too long until I had some old gear going through any music Apps that allowed input. The photo above shows a Boss Dr. Rhythm DR-110 into the Moog Filtatron app. iRig works as advertised and I was very impressed with Filtatron. I think that Moog hired some good coders because it sounds right. I also think it was smart of them to release this on touch devices and not as a plug-in that you would have use a mouse with. This thing begs to be played with. The feedback and tape delay effects are great. I tried to plug a Shure SM58 directly into the iRig but I think I need a pre-amp to get my signal much hotter before it will be of any use.
“Simply plug the iRig interface into your mobile device, plug your instrument into the appropriate input jack, plug in your headphones, amp or powered speakers, download ‘AmpliTube FREE’ version for iPhone or for iPad, and start rocking!” – ikmultimedia.com
Just a few years ago if you wanted to play with two Roland TB-303’s a TR-909 and seven Boss Pedals you would have needed about $4000, a bunch of batteries, electric outlets and a mixer. Today all you need to do is click here: http://www.hobnox.com/index.1056.en.html
It wont be long before our professional music software applications are all completely online. Maybe we will rent each use out or pay yearly. You will always have the latest version. You can save and access your songs anywhere there is internet access (which will be everywhere!). You can have your friends log-in and work on music with you. You can pay Trent Reznor $10,000 to fix the mix in your song ($20,000 to add a vocal verse). Export options include: MP3, WAV and Direct to MySpace. Bring it on!