The Drumulator is a 12 bit drum machine created in 1983 by Emu Systems. After achieving success with the Emulator, Emu took aim at creating a much more affordable Linn LM1. And while the results certainly didn't sound like an LM1, the Drumulator nonetheless had a successful run in the 80s, and is featured on countless productions, from Patrick Cowley to Depeche Mode (some people say it's the sound of Depeche Mode from '83-'84). And while it doesn't exactly do Linn, it does its own thing quite well: crunchy and lo-fi, 12bit 80's drums.
The Drumulator's sounds out of the box are cold, dead and compressed. Originating from super dry, acoustic drums, but hardened through old skool converters, the bass drum is weightless but punchy. The snare is a recognizeable classic from so many 80s and early hip hop records. The rim is dry and surprisingly realistic sounding and the clap is one of my all time favorites from any drum machine. Plus you get an 808-ish clave and linn style cowbells and hats. And with the right processing (continue reading), you can get some insanely dirty toms:
Since the sounds are already lo-fi and compressed, we wanted to first capture them cleanly, (so as not to disappoint the die-hard Drumulator fans). The one hits were recorded through an API preamp, straight to our mastering reel to reel, and finally through our Apogee Symphony MK2 converter.
Next, we added some (much needed) color to the kit. The clean Bass Drum, while punchy, seriously lacks bass - so we magician-ed a sub out of thin air by using an analog high pass filter, and tuning the cutoff frequency to the bass drum fundamental. Cranking up the resonance into slight self-oscillation gave us a massive, and deeply analog sine wave sub, which we then tucked underneath the original kick in parallel. This resulted in some seriously fat bass drums.
Finally, we sampled everything through our beloved MPC60, for some dirty, 12bit X 12bit action. We pitched every hit 19 times in the MPC, and this is the bulk of the Drumulator From Mars samples. It allowed us to get that "other" factor that hopefully makes this pack pretty unique - the MPC gave us amazing punch, crunch and all types of cool tunings.
We grabbed all of the clean hits directly into the MPC, but also sent colored versions in as well. It's important to apply any processing *before* sampling into the MPC (rather than processing the MPC's output). On that huge filtered bass drum for example, we tuned that sub to a specific fundamental of the bass drum (based on its pitch). Once this is sampled and tuned in the MPC, that sub gets tuned along with the kick.
The toms and snare were heavily saturated with a modified Yamaha PM series mixer (believe the hype!) to get a type of vintage crunch I've yet to find in any modern preamps.
The end result is a collection of 500 classic Drumulator and MPC Drumulator hits, with pre-made kits for easy use, and extensively formatted for various software / hardware. If you're looking for something recognizable but slightly more esoteric and more lo-fi than its 80s brethren (especially when sampled into the MPC), the Drumulator From Mars is the way to go.