The Roland TR-808 is my favorite drum machine. To hear a real one in action check out songs like Jam on It by Newcleas, Shallow Then Halo by the Cocteau Twins or Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye.
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.
The Rex audio file format was created by Swedish software house Propellerhead in June 1994. Rex files are audio loops with slice information data attached to them. This allows a Rex file to play back at any tempo. It also allows the individual slices of the loop to be re-arranged in creative ways. With modern DAWs you can get away without the Rex format because of audio warping and slicing tools. However, Rex files continue to be relevant because they come prepared and ready to manipulate which is extreme fun. I often load Rex files into Propellerhead Reason’s Dr. Rex player. I then re-arrange the slice order, slice decay, filter and pitch to make something unique to my project.
A recent exciting development is that Ableton Live 7 now supports Rex files natively. Because of this I thought I’d mention Zero-G Total Rex. This is a two DVD set of Rex files. It’s 10 Gigabytes and has over 15,000 loops!
“…Covers every imaginable base… in a wide range of styles… thanks to the flexibility that the REX format offers, you can easily use loops that are intended for one style in another. The quality of the content is superb, but given that this is essentially a ‘best of’ from one from one of the most reliable sample production houses around, that’s to be expected… Highly recommended. Rating: 9 out of 10″ – Computer Music
I can’t see a better way to get a mass of useful sounds in one shot. Personally I find Rex files far more useful than basic sample sets. Grab an external hard drive and load this baby onto it. On the left side of the Ableton Live interface is the browser area. It has three snapshots for places on your hard drive. I alway keep the middle one pointed to this Rex collection. While working on a project just scroll through the loops and they play back in time with your project. With such a large library on hand it’s rare you wont find something that improves the song.
Do you use Rex files? Are there any Rex collections you really like?
Today I was listening to the great podcast from Sonicstate.com called “Sonic Talk“. The last story of the show made me jump on the internet and start downloading. Nick and the Sonic crew were chatting about German software company Yellow Tools releasing a free gift for all musicians!
“Yellow tools is proud to release a powerful free version of Independence – the ultimate sampler workstation! Independence Free 2.0 is already based on the new Independence 2.0 version which will also be released during this months. Independence Free 2.0 comes with all the powerful features of the Independence Sampler version 2.0 – only the import of audio files is not supported.”
After reviewing the download page I am happy to report that your also free to use the sounds in commercial productions. Most people don’t realize that if you download a Waves demo your not authorized to release any music you create with the demo until you buy the full version. Happily Yellow Tools is allowing this download to be a real “tool”. I also noticed at the bottom of the page they will be releasing three more free soundsets for the free sampler.
- full version – no demo or tryout
- no yellow tools Authorization Key required
- beside audio file import all Independence features are enabled
- no time or save restrictions
- commercial use is allowed
- for Mac OS X (Universal Binary), Windows XP and Vista
I think it’s a great move by the company to help get their name out in the competitive virtual sampler market. Let me know if you download it and try it out.
Last week I talked about the Freesound Project’s great website for free samples. Shortly after I received an email from Tasos Frantzolas from Soundsnap.com. Tasos wanted to let me know about a similar site they have. When I traveled over to the site I realized I have been there before and even downloaded some sounds from it.
It’s another good place to look for royalty free samples. It looks a bit more slick and up to date than the Freesound Project. One difference I notice is in the license Soundsnap samples come with.
- To remix or transform the sounds in any way
– To copy, distribute and transmit the sounds
– To use the sounds in any music, film, video game, website etc. whether commercial or not, without paying royalties or other fees
See that last one? You can use Soundsnap samples in commercial projects. The Freesound Project’s Creative Commons license requires you to contact the sample owner if you want to use the sound commercially. Allthough I never had an issue with getting rights without any fee attached from Freesound Project members it worth noting.
Remember if you have some spare time to give back to these sites. A few samples from your old analog synths, a vocal here and there or grab one of the awesome new portable recorders that recently hit the market.
photo credit: troy -a life-