Released in 1981, the Simmons SDSV was the world's first electronic analog drumkit and still remains the biggest and most characterful Simmons to this day. The oscillators sound ridiculously big, with almost an overload of bass and the same Curtis filters used on the SP-1200 and Voyetra enclose the entire sound in vintage warmth.
While other drum synths existed before it (Synare, Pearl Syncussion, etc), no units had allowed for extensive editing of the individual components that make up a drum sound. At the heart of any acoustic drum sound two primary elements come into play - pitched tone and un-pitched noise, and the SDSV was the first analog drum unit to give users access to these parameters that we now use and take for granted every day.
The SDSV can be filled with 8 different drum modules and shipped with Kick, Snare and Toms (the same modules in the unit we sampled, which was in beautiful condition and owned by a former Simmons engineer). Each module uses fully discrete analog circuits and contains a variable triangle wave oscillator (with controls for pitch, pitch bend, and more) a super powerful noise generator and the famous SSM2044 4 pole VCF Curtis filter (Voyetra, SP1200) which can be used to warm up and tame the white noise signal.
The raw oscillators sound absolutely enormous, with an unwieldy amount of low end (we recommend slight high pass filtering on these samples since we couldn't bring ourselves to cut any frequency content from the sounds). In fact, for 90% of the sounds, we applied no processing whatsoever, just API or Neve preamp to tape, through Apogee conversion. This allowed us to preserve the natural color and musical saturation of the unit (leaving the subtractive part to you).
We recorded many variations of each drum voice, adjusting the tone, noise amount, filter, decay, and pitch bend. We then re-played the tape back at half and double speed, capturing even more tuning variations.
The Kick and Toms can be used as huge analog kickdrums, ranging from short and punchy disco kicks to 808 style (no pitch bend) and 909s. And if you're after that classic power rock / disco / reggae / syn tom, we captured many variations of that as well.
The flat (no pitch bend) Toms and kicks were tuned with a guitar tuner, and we captured every note possible so you can play very cool basslines, melodic kickdrums and soft triangle wave melodies (check the demo, which uses only SDSV samples).
The noise oscillator is very powerful and cuts through a mix no matter how you use it - as a techno hi hat, analog snare, white noise cymbal, or FX. The snare is also capable of 808 / 909 vibe depending on the shaping used.
Finally, by playing back the snare and white noise at half speed on our tape machine, we achieved some really tough sounding DX style claps, various percussion sounds and FX that the original unit was not capable of on its own.
This is a great library of samples if you're looking to expand your analog drum game into more unique territory than the standard 808 / 909. Although the SDSV is perhaps most popular for its role in 80s rock, it is equally at home in the modern electronic producer's studio as a secret weapon for deep analog groove.