I used to own and use a Roland SBX-10 to get my 909 and 303s all in moving along nicely with my Atari ST. Today Roland has released the SBX-1. Not only will it sync MIDI and DIN devices but also CV. This is going to a very useful box for live or in the studio.
“The SBX-1 lets computers and electronic instruments communicate and synchronize with each other. It supports a vast array of both analog and digital devices through DIN SYNC, MIDI and USB, and any of these can be the master clock source. You can use the SBX-1 itself as the master sync and control your external devices with its rock-steady internal clock. With hands-on control over timing and groove, and support for CV/GATE, the SBX-1 is far from just an ordinary sync box.” – roland.com
The greatest acid house track of all time is Acid Tracks by Phuture. They have never played in NYC. That changes tonight as they will take the stage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Verboten.
“Yes there may have been Acid recordings before Phuture – Acid Tracks but this is the one that really propelled the Acid style in chicago clubs, this was originally created and played at the music box by Ron Hardy in 1985 2 years before its release… and they don’t come better than this” – Leroy Skibone
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
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
Since we are waiting to hear the Roland Aira to see if they will deliver a new TR-808 here’s a classic track featuring the king of drum machines. Perfect High from Peppermint Lounge has the elements of an early 80s new wave track I love. Sad lyrics, meloncholy arpeggiators, pads, stuttering samples, vocoder and a TR-808. Produced by Jörg Burckhardt and written by Matthias Elvers in Germany in 1983
“Because getting high was all he cared to do.” – Peppermint Lounge
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
Earlier this week I did a post about a band a stumbled across called Kline Coma Xero (read). I decided to give the man behind the band, Tony Williams an old school phone call. We did chat for a while and I discovered he also owns a Roland SH3 and recently modified it to work with CV/Gate. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and he promised to post a video showing the mod so here it is above. The SH3 is a really nice sounding synth because it has a proper Moog filter in it (among other things). Moog sued Roland and in response Roland created the SH3-A which changed the filter design.
“A video overview of my Roland SH-3 which I modified using the KENTON SH-3a CV/Gate/Filter mod. I intentionally left off the filter mod due to the fact that the SH-3a has a different filter than the SH-3.” – Tony Williams
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
Dennis P. Paul lives in Bremen, Germany. He’s a professor and self proclaimed “interaction designer”. He’s created a pseudo Theremin, Roland D-Beam lazer device to show how every day physical objects can be used as sequence generators. Who needs a MIDI file when you just just pick a plastic clown head?
“A translator and controller module transforms the measured distance values into audible frequencies, notes, and scales. It also controlls the stepper-motor’s speed.” – dennisppaul.de
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