The Dr Bohm Digital Drums is a 13 bit, EPROM based drum machine produced in 1982 - '83. It features 25 different (you guessed it!) digital drum samples that pass through an excellent sounding filter. The sounds can be punched into the Bohm's "humanized" internal sequencer, which is groovy beyond belief and makes the Bohm capable of more complex and dynamic drum patterns than other machines of its time. Also, it looks like a typewriter:
Info for these machines is sparse (especially for a non-German reader) and it seems the only consensus is that there's no consensus (if you have info, please let us know in the comments!).
What we do know is that the Digital Drums was created as a DIY drum machine kit by a company that began as Dr Bohm but shortly thereafter changed its name to Bohm, only to ultimately be re-badged by Hohner. The unit we sampled was a Hohner, but still says Bohm on the inside 😏
While the Bohm has been lovingly branded as the "German Linndrum", its sounds are actually a bit closer to an LM1, DMX or Drumulator, but crunchier, as if they'd been sampled through an SP1200. The samples themselves are crunchy and compressed, but not lo-fi. And they all pass through internally adjustable high and lowpass filters that cloak everything in warmth.
But it's when you begin creating your own patterns with the Bohm's funky onboard sequencer that this machine really shines. It can sound almost like a 90s Hip Hop beat, despite being from a decade previous (note: the vinyl used here is for demonstration purposes only and is not included in the pack):
The Dr. Bohm comes loaded with 25 unique samples, including a super warm and punchy bass drum, a crunchy snare, filtered snare, snare roll, an amazing rimshot, Kraftwerk sounding clap, bongos, congas and more.
We also got our hands on the Dr's lesser known companion, which we're referring to as the Mini Bohm. The Mini Bohm is smaller in size - and it's noisier and grimier, which means the one hits are even dirtier.
We recorded all of these hits cleanly through our API 1608 console, to add a little console magic but preserve the warmth and filtering of the original machine. As a result, they're ripe for processing.
While the drum hits are a big part of the sound, it's how they interact with the Bohm's highly intelligent, "humanized" sequencer that makes this drum machine so special. It comes loaded with funky factory patterns, crazy fills and breaks. Plus, you can program your own.
But what's going on with the sequencer that makes the patterns so impossibly groovy? In the Dr's own words (or as close as our painstaking translation of the *PDF* manual could get us):
With the so-called humanizer, the live character of an actual drummer is modeled by using a random generator - individual instrument stops are minimally delayed. For example: while the hand clap has a relatively large time delay and built-in chance of error, the bass drum's limits are set very tight.
How cool is that? The Synth Doctors over at Bohm clearly put a lot of thought into this instrument, making every effort to build a drum sampler with character and style.
Since the groove of this machine plays such an important role in its sound, we needed more than just the one hits. So we sampled 40 factory patterns, 40 factory fills, 40 custom patterns, and 40 stripped patterns, at various tempos ranging from 70 - 128 BPM. Everything was recorded cleanly through our API 1608 console, to match the sound of the one hits.
The factory loops give you the original sound of the Bohm, while the custom patterns offer more intricate and modern sequences. The stripped patterns are minimal, de-constructed loops perfect for adding Bohm flavor to existing tracks.
Unlike most other rhythm boxes of its time, the Bohm offers stereo outputs, and part of its quirk is the way it (somewhat arbitrarily) splits the sounds across the stereo spectrum. The beauty of this is that it gives you options. You can:
The loops are the most authentic way to get the sound of the Bohm in your DAW. And although they don't quite have the flexibility of the one hits, with a bit of tuning, layering, and processing you can easily bring the Bohm patterns into your own sonic territory and this is where it really gets fun:
In total, the Dr Bohm From Mars will give you 160 Dr Bohm loops, 55 one-shot samples, and 40 midi grooves. The loops include factory, custom, fills, and stripped patterns from the Dr. Bohm, while one-hits have been sampled from both the Dr Bohm and Mini Bohm.
So does the Dr Bohm deserve the nickname "The German LinnDrum"? We think it deserves even better. In building an over-engineered rhythm box, the Bohm was perhaps too ahead of its time to achieve commercial success but this is what makes it so charming, under-rated and ripe for an awesome sample pack.