The Simmons SDS-800 is an analog 80s drum synth, responsible for the cosmic syn-tom ('beeww beeww') sounds used on countless disco, boogie & reggae recordings. In the 90s, it became re-popularized in the techno world, with the raw, resonant white noise oscillator being used for jarring hi hat and snare programming. And most recently, the Simmons drum sounds have become a signature for punk funk groups like LCD Soundsystem.
All of the different Simmons brains vary in sound, and the SDS800 is no exception, easily holding its own against the bigger (and much more expensive) SDSV. The voices are a bit tighter and faster, the resonance on the snare is capable of a wider range of sounds, and the 2nd skin Toms are 2nd to none.
We tracked the 800 mostly raw, to allow for maximum subtractive sculpting in your sampler or DAW of choice, only occasionally applying compression with an 1776 to some bass drums. Recording the majority of hits to tape, we twisted the (many) knobs in all types of combos for the snare, getting many variations of resonance, envelope and filter settings. To create "hi hats", we incorporated an additional (Moog) high pass filter.
For the bass drum and toms we took a more calculated approach - tuning groups of bass drums (including digital, unprocessed) with a guitar tuner. Every filename is labeled with its corresponding note number and you can create some amazing basslines and analog melodies, like this:
The toms were recorded in groups, which makes them perfect to work with as traditional tom sounds. Various combinations include: noise, no noise, long decay, short decay, and 2nd skin - which sounds like a sort of ring modulation or frequency modulation, and is very cool.
The results: 480 classic Simmons drum hits - bass drum, snare, toms, and (our own) hi hat. Access the extensive organized individual hits or get jamming immediately with eight pre-made 16 hit kits - assorted kits with those classic toms, white noise kits, wonky FX kits, and chromatic bass kits.
The SDS800 From Mars, and Simmons in general, can do that classic syn-tom, but they are capable of SO much more. The hits sound excellent on their own, but when you begin layering the samples with other (eprom or sample based) drum hits, they really start to shine. If you ever have a weak sample that you like the character of, try using these analog hits to fatten and focus it. Layer the white noise to add depth, energy and punch to an existing snare, use an analog sub under an existing bass drum. Or, just program Losing My Edge and see the checks come raining in.