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Hardware drum machines for beginners?

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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby al_diablo » Sat May 16, 2020 6:20 pm

There are 32 preset patterns and it can store a total of 128. Each pattern is up to 4 bars, but you can set conditions to each step ('trig') in the pattern so these can be used to add variation (or indeed randomisation) so the pattern changes over time.

There are some performance features that let you mangle the patterns you've written in real time so you can rapidly create alternate versions or new sounds

The library content is sufficient that you could probably make 128 patterns just with the built in sounds, but you will want to add some of your own sounds. You can use elektrons Overbridge software via computer, but a quick, fun way to do this from the PO-32 would be to sample a loop, chop and spread it across the 8 sample slots. I'll try and do a quick video of doing this if you like?

I think the model:samples is a slightly more straightforward drum sampler but havent used it
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat May 16, 2020 8:16 pm

I use three drum machines, an Alesis SR-16, a BOSS DR-550, and a collection of Tiptop Audio 808 modules. They are all dead simple to use. The modular drum machine is more involved because you need to patch it and use a separate sequencer. The stand alone machines have tons of useful drum and percussion sounds and I will often mix and match them, using different sounds from each one simultaneously, though that's not needed, they sound great on their own as well.0
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat May 16, 2020 9:23 pm

I have a few drum machines, been through a few more, and think they're great. Much more hands-on and enjoyable, in my view, than samples in software. Matter of taste and workflow, of course. Actually I prefer the simpler machines to the ones that do offer 'performance' aspects – if I want effects or compression or whatever, I'll add it elsewhere. Quite happy to program a few patterns, add fills or whatever on the fly, or program whole songs if I'm inclined.

The TR-8s is a well featured machine, but it frustrates me often. I bought it to see if it would scratch the 808 itch (it didn't) and it's ended up being a sample machine here. I've dropped in some hits I'd grabbed from some old machines before selling them, and it's nice to have those in a hardware box again, with the advantage of pitch and decay control and the pattern variations etc the TR-8s allows. What I don't like about the TR-8s are the limitation on 11 sounds per kit (rather than load a kit and just choose sounds in the pattern, you have to allocate sounds to pads first, which means if you suddenly want an alternative kick or snare, you have to reconfigure the kit – which is saved separately from the pattern...) and the menus, which I find tedious to navigate. The analogue emulations are sometimes excellent, but sometimes quite off – I can hardly tell any difference between the 606 sounds and my old machine, for example, except the hats and cymbal are weirdly uncharacteristic. It's nice to have assignable outs, plenty of knobs and sliders, and very easy import of your own sounds. Also nice to have trigger outputs etc. But for straight up sample work, there may be better options, I don't know. It's a drum machine and it does drums, I guess. I've had worse.
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Arpangel » Sun May 17, 2020 8:05 am

Ben Asaro wrote:I use three drum machines, an Alesis SR-16, a BOSS DR-550, and a collection of Tiptop Audio 808 modules. They are all dead simple to use. The modular drum machine is more involved because you need to patch it and use a separate sequencer. The stand alone machines have tons of useful drum and percussion sounds and I will often mix and match them, using different sounds from each one simultaneously, though that's not needed, they sound great on their own as well.0

That’s interesting, when I was into modular I had an Eroginous Tones Equation Composer, that was a fantastic drum machine for me, the drum section could be modulated with various CV inputs to create some really nice random loops.
I’m in the process of digging out some saved modules, and I’m doing another build, I didn’t think of making beats on a modular again, thanks for jogging my memory.
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun May 17, 2020 2:31 pm

The sound of modular drums, particularly the analog ones, is fantastic. It’s also pricey! But if you have the modules, either pre made, or can roll your own, something performative like Grids, Euclidean Circles, or Disting would work well. (Maybe not the Disting due to the menu diving). If you need preset patterns you will need a gate sequencer. If you still have yours then you’re halfway there!
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Dan LB » Tue May 19, 2020 11:38 pm

Arpangel wrote:I haven’t checked out offerings by Elektron, like the Digitakt, but I’m thinking they are too complex, I did hear a guy messing about on a Digitakt in Juno, it was sounding very interesting, so I may check it out again.

I’ve had a Digitakt for a couple of years now. I initially had a Vermona DRM1. I sold it and chose the Elektron device as I wanted to be able to use other sounds and given that the Digitakt is a sampler, I can use any drum machines sounds I want. I have it packed full of LinnDrum, DMX, 606, 808, 909 and loads more.

Recently I bought a Retrokits RK002 which allows me to play the Digitakt polyphonically and it’s fantastic for making unusual sample-based ‘synths’ so don’t think of it as just a drum machine. It’s quite the versatile sound design beast!

The workflow is great and I had it down after a few days - having never used an Elektron product before.

If you decide to go for one you can ask me anything you need to know :thumbup:
There are plenty of good tutorials on YouTube too.

I suspect that you might find it too ‘complex’ at first but trust me, when you learn it you can do some *amazing* things with it.
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 20, 2020 7:14 am

Dan LB wrote:
Arpangel wrote:I haven’t checked out offerings by Elektron, like the Digitakt, but I’m thinking they are too complex, I did hear a guy messing about on a Digitakt in Juno, it was sounding very interesting, so I may check it out again.

I’ve had a Digitakt for a couple of years now. I initially had a Vermona DRM1. I sold it and chose the Elektron device as I wanted to be able to use other sounds and given that the Digitakt is a sampler, I can use any drum machines sounds I want. I have it packed full of LinnDrum, DMX, 606, 808, 909 and loads more.

Recently I bought a Retrokits RK002 which allows me to play the Digitakt polyphonically and it’s fantastic for making unusual sample-based ‘synths’ so don’t think of it as just a drum machine. It’s quite the versatile sound design beast!

The workflow is great and I had it down after a few days - having never used an Elektron product before.

If you decide to go for one you can ask me anything you need to know :thumbup:
There are plenty of good tutorials on YouTube too.

I suspect that you might find it too ‘complex’ at first but trust me, when you learn it you can do some *amazing* things with it.

Yes, I was in Juno Music one day, and a guy was messing around on a Digitakt, it really made my ears prick up, what he was doing, basically, just some lovely sounds, synth stuff, not drums in this case. I’m taking it that they were just built in presets?
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby mac.churchmouse » Wed May 20, 2020 8:51 am

Made a reply - lost it. Damn. So less focused second go ...

Have a look at the second hand market. My setup is the Korg ER1, and the EMU Mp7 (old school urban sounds with 32 part sequencing if I really wanted!) - I added a couple of modules, the Kawai XD5 and Jomox AIrbase 99 - and put it all through some hardware manglers like the Electrix MoFX, the Akai MFC analogue filter, and an Alesis Wedge reverb. Oh, plus I got a Roland Handsonic 15 super cheap - plastic looks but a fab bit of kit.
I love the ER1 because it's hands-on and immediate, plus you get a mad bit of synthesis with which to roll your own sounds. Any of that original Electribe family small and large is worth a listen but watch for inflated prices for the bigger 'EMX' (?) type versions.

Pluses: a huge range of tonal colour covering a lot of genres; an excessive number of simultaneous voices; you can acquire (and learn) bit by bit; it's all second hand and out of fashion so good value; creates an impressive and fun array of knobs, sliders and pads to play with.

Cons: Takes up more real estate than an all in one; cables, lots of cables (But you could pretend that its just a larger scale kind of modular?)
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 20, 2020 9:04 am

mac.churchmouse wrote:Made a reply - lost it. Damn. So less focused second go ...

Have a look at the second hand market. My setup is the Korg ER1, and the EMU Mp7 (old school urban sounds with 32 part sequencing if I really wanted!) - I added a couple of modules, the Kawai XD5 and Jomox AIrbase 99 - and put it all through some hardware manglers like the Electrix MoFX, the Akai MFC analogue filter, and an Alesis Wedge reverb. Oh, plus I got a Roland Handsonic 15 super cheap - plastic looks but a fab bit of kit.
I love the ER1 because it's hands-on and immediate, plus you get a mad bit of synthesis with which to roll your own sounds. Any of that original Electribe family small and large is worth a listen but watch for inflated prices for the bigger 'EMX' (?) type versions.

Pluses: a huge range of tonal colour covering a lot of genres; an excessive number of simultaneous voices; you can acquire (and learn) bit by bit; it's all second hand and out of fashion so good value; creates an impressive and fun array of knobs, sliders and pads to play with.

Cons: Takes up more real estate than an all in one; cables, lots of cables (But you could pretend that its just a larger scale kind of modular?)

The ER1 looks interesting, I tend to forget about the untapped market of unpopular gear! Big mistake! Size isn’t a problem, I can cope with that.
The Digitakt may be good, but it’s a big step from a PO32, not only in scope, but in price too!
I’m very flexible, as long as a couple of boxes are ticked, fairly easy to,use, lots of preset sounds and patterns.
The Hand Sonic, great bit of kit, tremendous fun.
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Dan LB » Wed May 20, 2020 3:08 pm

Arpangel wrote:I’m taking it that they were just built in presets?

There are no built-in preset patterns in the Digitakt. Pre-loaded samples yes, but no patterns. Loading samples is straightforward via Mac or PC using Elektron’s ‘Transfer’ software or you can record directly to the machine via its line inputs.

There’s quite a bit of menu diving, so on second thoughts it probably isn’t the one for you.

It’s a fantastic bit of kit though! The Retrokits RK002 has really opened up new possibilities with it too.
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Re: Hardware drum machines for beginners?

Postby Adam Inglis » Fri May 22, 2020 10:41 am

The Elf wrote: Where were the 'performance' aspects of the Sequential Drumtracks, TR-808, TR-606, Linndrum?

Er... right in front of you!
I can't talk for the DT or the Linn, but my original 808 and 606 are great for jamming ideas, just writing-while-running, switching between voices, hitting the fill button, turning knobs... don't scoff at the simple stuff, it works. There's no menus, and you don't have to stop the groove.

Another example.. the CR-8000. Stoopidly simple innit? Volume knobs, a fill trigger, and a bunch of "Arranger" patterns you can drop in over the pattern that is playing.... "Duh! How cheesy!" I hear you say.... When the drummer from Empire Of The Sun was in the studio a few years back, we had to tear him off the thing, he was having such a good time!

So, as usual, for the beginner it's often just a matter of choosing your axe and getting to know it very well, know its strengths and its weaknesses... and if there is something quirky it does, see if you can twist that to your own ends.

Now, have I told you about the Roland R8....?
(/coat)
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