The 505 is a charming little drum machine, kind of like a 707 and 727 in one box, with a great little sequencer to boot. But though it may seem basic at first glance, that is the essence of its appeal - a classic, 80s box with both drums and percussion. And with a generally punchy tone that fits easily into any mix it's no wonder there are way more lovers of the 505 than haters - among them producers like Vince Clark, Aphex Twin, and plenty of Chicago House classics.
But our 505 is no ordinary drum machine - it's been modified with a bizarre, circuit-bending knob that tunes all of the drums simultaneously - either into totally useable, tuned versions of the original sounds, or mangled into oblivion. And to go a step further, we sampled this modified 505 extensively into our favorite sampler of all time - the SP1200.
Before anything else, we decided to capture the OG 505 sounds, without modification, cleanly through an API preamp to our mastering reel to reel and finally Apogee Symphony MK2 conversion. The clean 505 hits are among the best sounding 505 samples out there.
Taking it a step further, we captured an 38 additional pitches per voice to tape, by engaging the tuning modification. Each drum was tuned in half steps by hand and ear (time consuming and challenging to say the least). This gives you a huge variety of pitched sounds not available on the original machine.
We also experimented with different combinations of switches to get extreme, trashy, odd-harmonic drum sounds, including crushed congas, metallic cowbells, crunchy hi hats, trashy timbales, smashes and blips. We can only guess what the mods actually do (the guy who did them couldn't even tell us) - but let's just say they re-arrange the internal architecture of the 505 in the coolest ways possible:
Finally, (and in celebration of 5/05 day) we decided to run the 505 through the SP1200 sampler. The SP is a favorite at our studio (and any studio lucky enough to have one) because it gives everything that passes through it a ridiculously amazing vibe. It adds a gritty, 12 bit sound that, depending on how hard you clip the input, ranges from extremely punchy to dark, hard and warm.
So, by playing back different tunings of our modded 505 into the SP, and tuning them even further (capturing 16 pitches for every sample) we were able to add a punchiness and crispness that no amount of EQ, compression, or traditional saturation can achieve. The 505 is inherently bright, so the SP helped give it an even more vintage and colored sound. Plus, it's been sampled through our new API 1608 to tape. These are the personal favorite of the pack.
All of these sounds were compiled into individual hits but also an extensive selection of pre-made 16x hit kits for easy use - 7 kits for the 505, and 10 kits for the 505 SP-1200. The kits range from clean and classic to crisp, re-sampled, clipped and modded mayhem. Not your average 505 to say the least!