The 808 is easily the most recognized drum machine in history. It's responsible for the birth of countless genres - hip hop, electro, techno, house, trap - the list goes on. And even though it was developed in early 1980, it is still among the best sounding drum machines of all time - with its classic and pure analog sound. Decades later it can still be heard everywhere - in fact, it's hard to escape the 808.
I've used many 808s over the years and it's true that each has its own sound. This is due not only to its 100% analog nature, but because of the internal parameters that, with even the slightest tweak, can completely alter the sound. The toms can sound like a 606 if the noise parameters are messed with, and the bass drum can range from a low G (if you're lucky) to an A#.
Over the years, 3 different 808s have been sampled to create the 808 From Mars, but our most recent unit is far and away the best sounding yet, and it's for this reason we've decided to completely re-vamp the 808 From Mars:
The 808 recording session was quite complicated, (a month-long affair). But at its core, we focused on two different types of recording for each drum voice. Because of this, the new 808 allows you to get both a cleaner AND dirtier sound than before.
For the processing, we used the 1608, an API 2500, Distressor, SSL gate and compressor, Overstayer Saturator (in parallel, to color the sustain and bring the RMS up), a Thermionic Swift Tube EQ, API 550B and 560 EQs, a Reddi Tube DI, moog filter, SPL Transient Designer, Moog filter, MPC60, SP1200 and a bunch of other stuff I'm probably forgetting:
The accents on the 808 hugely affect the drum sound, but most sample packs neglect this. The accent can add a transient spike, slight pitch modulation, or opening of the filter (depending on the voice). For the bass drum, using the accent actually means a less bass-heavy sound. The accented toms become punchier and less tonal, and the rim completely changes timbre.
We also multi-sampled every drum voice that had synthesis parameters (bass drum, snare, cymbal, etc) - capturing different decay times, snappy and tone amounts, for both accented and un-accented.
You can't actually tune the 808 bass drum, so we put it into our sweet sounding MPC60 and made huge sounding (dare I say trappy?) tuned bass drums:
For a detailed rundown of what types of multi-sampling is included in the 808 From Mars, see this 808 From Mars - Guide.
Once all of the recording and individual hits were finalized, we spent a week exploring the sounds, putting together 12 of the best possible 16x hit kits. These range from clean to saturated, to completely distorted, and are perfect to get going quickly.
We did not combine any hits from the older versions of the product, because the 808 From Mars is supposed to sound and play like a single 808 instrument. But, we're including the old version as a separate download (808 From Mars - Legacy) just in case it has some stuff you'd be missing otherwise !
The new 808 From Mars gives you access to both cleaner AND dirtier samples than previous incarnations, the overall quality is much higher, and plays like the instrument that the 808 is.