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15 Analogue Drum Machines
Download Method: Kontakt Hub
The Analogue Drum Machine Bundle from Rythmic Robot contains 16 retro drum machines recreated for the modern age with custom Kontakt interfaces and features.
The Boss Dr Rhythm DR-110 followed on from their very successful DR-55 (which of course you can get hold of right here). The DR-110 was another neat little analogue box, but whereas the 55 had involved a rather inscrutable interface, the 110 sported a very cutting-edge LCD panel so that you could grid-edit your beats graphically. This was a huge plus that hadn’t really been seen outside of high-end products before this point. Kudos to Boss!
There are six onboard sounds plus a very useful Accent control for adding some variation. The kick is tight and controlled, the snare has a good high-frequency sizzle to it, and the hats are pleasantly metallic. The Cymbal sound is a bit strange, closer to a ride “ping” than a crash, but it works very well interspersed in a hi-hat pattern, giving some nice high-end lift. It also varies quite widely with use of the Accent control.
Detailed research conducted down the pub reveals that 100% of people had the Boss DR55 as their first drum machine. While this research may not be entirely reliable, the DR55 was popular for some good reasons: it was cheap, it was tough, and it sounded surprisingly good. Even now, that hard thud of a kick drum can hold its own in a track, and the hats are good, too. The snare is short and punchy, but we’ve found a way to make it longer if you want it to be. And there’s a neat little rimshot sound in there too, quite nicely high-pitched.
The real ace up the DR55’s sleeve, though, was its Accent control. You could input Accents in step-time just like another kit piece, and any kit pieces playing at the same time as an Accent would be “punched up” in the pattern by an amount corresponding to the value set with the separate Accent knob. This gave way more variation to patterns programmed on the DR55 than on most of its contemporaries: you could accentuate the backbeat, or go all James Brown and “put it on the One”, or have alternating 16ths have different Accents, or whatever you liked. The limitation, of course, was that all kit pieces playing on an Accented beat would be Accented by the same amount, which wasn’t as subtle as you might hope. But again, we’re ahead of the game here, and have solved that one for you.
Yamaha’s MR10 was a unique bit of kit: Yamaha’s only analogue drum machine. It featured some basic built-in rhythms and a handful of pads with which you could “play along” – the manual has some cracking illustrations of Cool Young Kids in 80s street wear doing just this. Unfortunately, you couldn’t record anything you played; the MR10 had no programmability at all. It was also pretty plasticky, which may explain why these things are pretty rare nowadays.
However, it did make up for these flaws with some BIG advantages: its sounds. These are quite unusual for the early 80s: the snare drum sounds surprisingly cool, rather like a Simmons snare; the kick drum is very dense and powerful (it sounds like a kick from a much more expensive unit) and the hats are good too, with quite a thick sound to them above and beyond the usual drum machine “tsshh”. We kid you not – listen to the audio demos!
When we assembled all the vintage Stylophones for StyloSynth, quite a few of them turned out to be… well, less than perfect. Instead of making Stylophone noises, they buzzed, crackled, popped, squeaked, glitched and farted at us. So we recorded all of those gnarly little noises and played with them: dropped them in pitch, or looped them, timestretched them, faded them and fiddled with them until they sounded like drum hits, hats, crashes, and percussion. We even made some toms by twisting the Stylophone’s tuning knob while smacking its little contacts.
The result is StyloDrum, a happy hotchpotch of Stylophone-based madness crammed into a tiny Kontakt footprint. StyloDrum consists of four kits spread across four octaves, each with at least a couple of gritty kicks and snares to hold down the backbone of your beat, and most with hats and crash too. Some have toms or rim shots or claps… or perhaps some of those sounds have got left off in favour of scratches, glitches, squeals or other happy accidents that came our way while recording.
The Sound Master Memory Rhythm SR88 was a cool little drum machine from the mid-80s. It was all-analogue, built like a brick, and offered some decent basic sounds plus the ability to tweak them to a limited extent through a “tone” control (which was basically a low-pass filter strapped across the outputs). There was a step-time pattern sequencer in there too, though with no display it sometimes needed a bit of mental gymnastics to get the beat in your head into the little metal box.
The sounds have a great lo-fi vibe to them which we’ve lovingly captured at 24-bit. We multi-sampled each of the basic kit pieces – kick, snare, crash and hats – through the whole travel of the “tone” control, so when you change the TONE knob on the Kontakt interface you’re actually moving between separate samples of the sounds and getting exactly the same tonal shift as you get on the original machine. The hats on this have a lovely metallic sound which is pretty unusual for an analogue box, and the snare sounds are just classic 80s. The kick isn’t as thick or deep as the MR11, but it has a penetrating “pock” to it that cuts right through a mix, and that can be very useful in its own right in certain styles – very busy kick patterns will retain more definition with this kick, for example.
Let’s start with the best bit of all: this is a beat box with a TEEN rhythm! Seriously, you can’t get better than that. It’s hardly worth going on. Slide some Brylcreem on your comb, pop your leather jacket on, and fire up that motorcycle, bad boy: teen rhythm’s gonna getcha!
But there’s more to the Wurlitzer Electronic Swinging’ Rhythm (to give it its full name) than the world’s best preset rhythm name. It is, in essence, a Wurlitzer organ add-on, intended to bring preset rhythms to owners of Wurli’s well-regarded range of home organs. As such it has five basic rhythms, adjustable for tempo, but – interestingly – also five funny little black tongue-depressor-style switches that trigger the sounds individually. Plenty of preset rhythm machines left this extra level of control out, so it’s nice to see them here.
The “Snare” switch also has a trick up its sleeve: when pressed momentarily, it triggers a single snare sound, as you’d expect; but when held, it pumps out a snare roll, bringing back all those marching band practices and first-base snogs under the bleachers which we none of us had because we didn’t grow up in the 50s.
One thing ought to be made clear straight away: the charmingly-named EKO New Rhythm Box may be a rhythm box, but it was only “new” about fifty years ago. In essence it’s a little veneered wooden slab packed with ten preset analogue rhythms, much in the fashion of early Korg, Wurlitzer or Hammond rhythm machines. While WurliBeat still holds the title for best preset name (nothing can beat Teen), the New Rhythm Box has to come a close second with the awesome Shake preset. (Who was doing these dances? And where are they now?!)
The New Rhythm Box brings a pleasantly mellow, chilled tonality to its sounds – probably as a result of how its innards have aged. The Kick drum is noticeably punchier than WurliBeat but still much softer and rounder than some of our boxes from the 80s, which puts it in a useful middle ground where it can make its presence felt through a denser mix but without feeling modern. (Adding some compression really gives it some weight.) We captured the Snare kit piece both with and without an attendant hi-hat, because it sounds really great with it spliced in there (and is played that way in most of the onboard rhythms); and the Rim and Wood block sounds add nicely to the variety on offer, offering up some neat little percussion possibilities. The Cymbals and Hats are – typically for this kind of machine – basically white noise bursts; though in fact there’s so much compromise in the high-frequency extension of the box that they’re more like pink-noise bursts. We had some really good results alternating these with hats from other beat boxes here in the studio, getting a kind of “flavours of analogue noise” vibe going.
Rytm16 is sampled from the Unitra Eltra Rytm 16 preset drum machine – a transistor-based analogue soundbox haling from Poland in the late 70s. The original Rytm 16 is an endearing little box of tricks, comprising 16 preset rhythms each of which plays out over two bars, with slight variation in the second bar. The presets themselves are rather fun: not only the usual suspects (Bossa Nova, Cha Cha… you know the kind of deal) but also Afro, which is great, and not one, not two, butfive different kinds of Disco beat. Yeah, definitely made at the end of the 70s, then…
While the original allows only control over volume and tempo, Rhythmic Robot’s version ropes in individual kit pieces (with pan) plus some useful effects to add some versatility to the beats: tube saturation, buss compression, some drive distortion and a convolved vintage plate reverb all help to seat the sound of the Rytm16 in the mix.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was the best computer ever. It was cool, with its matte black case and funky graphics. It was tactile, with spongy rubber buttons. It turned your TV screen into an instant amusement arcade. You could even program it yourself.
10 PRINT "Preece is a wally" 20 PRINT 30 GOTO 10
But the really cool thing about the Spectrum was that you could slam a Cheetah SpecDrum expansion module into the port on the back and turn it into the next best thing to a Linn Drum. In your bedroom. For twenty-nine quid and ninety-five pence. As we used to say in the 80s, skill.
The SpecDrum was a hardware drum sampler that used its own electronics to handle the sampling bit, and the Spectrum’s programmability to host a primitive sequencer program to drive the sounds. Once you’d loaded the program in from cassette – and let’s just say that again, folks; from cassette – you were presented with a pattern editor, a song chain sequencer, and eight acoustic drum samples to play with: all reproduced in glorious 8-bit.
Comrades! For too long imperialist pigs of West have luxuriated in capitalist drum machines, built on blood of oppression and stained with sweat of poverty, while laughing up sleeves at inferior Soviet Socialist drum machines. No longer! Loyal Soviet scientists working in Party laboratories now reveal to you magnificent Lel PSR, glorious triumph of superior Soviet engineering. Unlike decadent so-called “doctors rhythm” and other Western indulgences, Lel is built like a tank. So it should be! It is built in same factory as tank!
Lel contains 8-bit samples of real drums. Not for Soviet citizens poor-quality analogue imitations of drums. Real drums only! And 8-bit! Capitalist pigs of the West, look upon Lel and weep into your podgy, girlish hands!
Not only Lel has 8-bit drum sounds, but also 16 onboard preset rhythms. Party leaders told scientists at Lel fabrication plant to gather 16 best rhythms from all of Mother Russia and our United Soviet Socialist Allies. Result is 16 awe-inspiring rhythms from both decadent West (Rock, Heavy Metal, Reggae!) and also from Motherland herself: authentic Russian rhythms for sword-dance, vodka festival, Red Army Missile Corps march-past and more. You look for American drum machine with Kazachok rhythm or Lezginka rhythm. You look in vain! And more that this, our proud Soviet scientists also include rhythm variation for each style. That is right, Comrades! Thirty-two rhythms for less than price of used tractor!
Ever since we captured and sampled a Korg DDM-110 SuperDrums in all its crunchy 8-bit glory, we’ve been on the hunt for its sister instrument, the slightly rarer (but just as 8-bit) DDM-220 SuperPercussion. Now, at last, one’s fallen into our drum machine tiger trap, and we’ve tranquillised it, brought it back to the lab, and strapped it to the sampling bench…
Packing a new set of percussion-based sounds into exactly the same form-factor as its older sibling, though with a shinier silveroid colour scheme, the SuperPercussion complemented the beefy conventional kit pieces of the SuperDrums with cabasas, congas, timbales, a snappy little woodblock, tambourine, agogos and the inevitable cowbell (yay!).
The sounds are distinctively crunchy and undeniably 80s, but they slot very nicely into modern arrangements: we like the wood block, tambourine and cowbell particularly, just for adding a bit of incidental high-frequency colour to your rhythm track. The SuperPercussion uses the same Accent system as the SuperDrums, which we’ve rewired so that velocity can be used to control Accent level. The result is a smoothly variable sound that grooves along very nicely with fingertip control
8-bit is the new cool! Weirdly, that seems to be as true today as it was back in 1984 when Korg launched their first digital drum machine, the SuperDrums DDM-110. Complete with 8-bit PCM samples, accent control, a sophisticated yet easy-to-use programming interface, and a DIN sync socket (no MIDI yet…), it was in many ways ahead of its time. The sound is far from naturalistic, but it’s got that typical 8-bit crunch and power to it that really sets a mix pumping, with the kick and snare sitting very well in all kinds of electro / house styles. The hats also tick over very nicely, with a bit of a fizz to the high-end courtesy of those crusty D-to-A converters. We’ve interpolated a medium Tom to go with the high and low ones, so you can do proper 80s-style drum solos!
The key to the SuperDrums sound is the meatiness of its kit pieces. A bit of research reveals a frequency response that tops out around 7.5kHz, giving everything a super-compressed and surprisingly warm attitude with a great deal of weight. This is an ideal soundset for holding down more pumping, hi-energy styles. If you want laid-back, take a look at WurliBeat, because this certainly ain’t it!
Unfortunately for Korg, the DDM-110 came out just as the world was getting its head around MIDI, and DIN sync was starting to look a bit yesterday’s technology. This plus a supremely dodgy blue-and-orange front panel colour scheme may account for the fact that these little beasts are, despite their lo-fi old-skool cool, rare to find nowadays.
The Drumulator was pretty much an instant hit for E-mu. It aimed squarely at the territory of the Linn drum, but was far more affordable. Real-time sequencing was coupled with onboard samples in wonderfully dense, gritty 12-bit quality, and the samples themselves were the crowning glory: twelve great-sounding kit pieces which defined the sound of countless hits. Hell, you could even chain the thing up to an Apple II for visual editing and sequence programming, which made it feel a bit like a Fairlight. It was a technological marvel of its time.
Housed in a sturdy great wedge of powder-coated steel, the Drumulator came with no MIDI and no way of expanding its onboard sounds. Luckily, though, the EPROMS housing its samples are fairly readily accessible, and with a bit of effort, a screwdriver, and some replacement chips, you can upgrade your Drumulator to embrace lots of sounds that weren’t ever part of its factory spec. Pumped out through those classic D-to-A converters, these can sound fantastic.
During the 80s, Simmons carved a serious name for themselves as purveyors of top-class electronic drum kits and the ‘brains’ to run them. The Simmons Sound defined an era of chart hits, and those trademark hexagonal pads became indelibly associated with punchy, dynamic electronic drums that were just that bit more sophisticated and nuanced than a standard beatbox. Suddenly drummers were messing about with cables and boxes of electronics, almost like real people. It was an exciting time…
As time went on and sampled sounds began to kick the chair out from under the Simmons monopoly, the company diversified in some frankly strange directions… and that’s where the Trixer comes in. Half mixer, half, erm, box of tricks (?), it coupled four kits’ worth of classic Simmons SDS sounds ripped from their top-flight ‘brains’ with audio sensing and trigger pad options and rolled the whole lot into an audio mixer built like a tank. The idea was that drummers could run their own drum mics through the Trixer, which would trigger its onboard sounds along with the incoming audio. Classic SDS tone could then be blended into the drummer’s own kit sound, beefing up whatever they happened to be playing and lending any acoustic kit that Simmons Sound edge.
Continuing our obsession with 80s low-bit-rate sampling gear, let’s introduce the big grey slab that is the RZ-1. Casio’s built-like-a-brick RZ-1 was one of the early brigade of sampling drum machines, offering twelve onboard PCM sounds plus the opportunity for the user to sample their own sounds to four assignable pads. Admittedly, these pads only offered 0.2 seconds of sampling each, but there was the cool option of chaining all that sample memory together to get one, single, massive 0.8-second burst of sound. Bitchin’!
All right, the sampling time was pretty limited. But the sonic specs were better: 20kHz sampling frequency, which at least let some top end through, plus a fader-bank to allow you to balance the sounds, and a decent onboard sequencer to chain patterns together. The RZ-1 has a sonic signature all of its own: very brisk and crisp, with enough grit to slam through a mix but an undeniably lo-fi tone to its kit which has made it something of a cult hit among Hip Hop and House producers. Its attractions aren’t limited to those genres, though: any track with a bit of a retro, underground or electronic feel to it might find something to love in the RZ-1.
Welcome to the 80s!
In 1986, the RX5 was the jewel in the crown of Yamaha’s lineup of digital drum machines. It featured a seriously impressive feature set, comprising 24 onboard sounds spread across two kits – one acoustic, one electronic – plus detailed programmability, sample reverse, expansion via cartridge, and individual outputs for most of the kit pieces.
It was a serious, powerful bit of kit with a thick and punchy sound (courtesy of those 12-bit samples) and some nice attention to detail: the sounds could be tailored with basic envelopes, and there were two Accent levels available to allow more humanised programming. The samples were longer and more detailed than on more basic machines of the era – quality issues that set it apart from units like the Casio RZ1 (with its quarter-second samples). The RX5 made its mark on some classic tracks, like Prince’s Sign o the Times, Madonna’s La Isla Bonita, Cameo’s Word Up and a whole load of songs by the Pet Shop Boys. If the 80s is your thing, the RX5 is a bit of an essential.
In many ways this was Yamaha’s defining accompaniment to the DX7 synth, with the same style of D-to-A conversion and a similarly unmistakable 80s tone. While the sounds were samples, they were far from naturalistic, tending more towards the über-punchy ‘turn it up to eleven’ sound that defined a pop generation.
Un Bundle de 15 Analogue Drum MachinesIssue des machine originales :Boss Dr Rhythm DR-110 + Boss Dr Rhythm DR-55 + Yamaha’s MR10 + Stylophones + Master Memory Rhythm SR88 + Wurlitzer Electronic Swinging Rhythm + Unitra Eltra Rytm 16 + Sinclair ZX Spectrum + Lel PSR Rhythm + Korg DDM-110 SuperDrums (Drums + Percus) + E-mu Drumulator + Simmons SDS + Casio RZ-1 + Yamaha RX-5Rien à redire, bien samplé, simple efficace, à utiliser avec un controleur à pads et Hop, ça sonne !A utiliser sans modération pour tout style de musique, moi j'adoreMerci Rhythmic Robotet Bravo Kontakt Hub pour ce bundle ****
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