2 of the Classic Drum Machines Multi-Sampled to Tape
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, and a variety of sub-genres too countless to mention. But although it was created in early 1980, it is still a favorite among many, and can be heard on everything from an Afrika Bambaataa record to Lil Jon dirty south radio hit to a LIES techno 12".
The TR-808 is entirely analog and people say every 808 sounds a bit different than the next. I've used / recorded with around 6 or 7 over the years and can confirm this is certainly true. Most noticeably, the kick seems to differ - I've seen them range from F (43 Hz) - G# (52 Hz) (i's probably supposed to be a G, based on the other voices' tunings). The internal distortion, headroom and general character also vary extensively from unit to unit (this can become unscientific quite quickly). Needless to say, for this project it seemed right we sampled two different 808s.
The Recording Process
The majority of the hits are recorded to tape and every voice is multi-sampled with tone parameters (Snappy, Accent, etc) where available (bass drum, snare, etc). We also captured clean hits straight to the DAW, clean hits to tape, saturated hits (combining dirty cheap and boutique gear), and tuning with a guitar tuner where necessary.
To give you extra *analog* pitches not included on the original machine, we re-pitched all voices on the tape machine (at octaves, fourths, and random tunings). Grabbing these analog tunings, instead of tuning digitally, makes a huge impact on your production.
Full disclosure: the 808 From Mars sounds like a real 808 - if you're looking for trap 808 bass drums you won't find them here (those aren't usually 808s, but layered short kick drums and distorted sine waves).
The Bass Drum
- Clean Bass Drums: multi-sampled one hits of (2) different 808 Bass Drums recorded digitally. Accent & no Accent
- Processed Bass Drums: saturated (Culture Vulture, Overstayer Saturator, Overstayer MAS, Mackie 1202, etc). Recorded digitally and to tape
- SP-1200 and MPC60 Tuned Bass Drums: Chromatically sampled 808 bass drums into two of the world's best sounding 12 bit samplers
- Tape Tuned Bass Drums: 6 different groups of Bass Drums (clean and processed) recorded to tape, played back at different speeds, analog tuned, and sent through additional envelope filtering, gating and processing.
The Snare Drum
- Clean: Methodically multi-sampled in groups at different settings, recorded digitally through API preamp, post tape SSL gating
- Tape: Accent and No Accent, multi-sampled in groups at different settings, recorded through API preamp to tape with no additional processing (preserving all punch)
- Saturated: 2 groups of saturated multi-sampled snares, processed in parallel with an old Mackie 1202, + high end saturators such as the Overstayer Saturator, Culture Vulture, Moog LP Filter, SSL compression and gate, and more
- Re-Pitched: Snare drums recorded to tape and played back from 7.5 - 40 ips on the tape machine, capturing lower and higher pitches. Recorded in octaves, 4ths, and additional various tunings.
Toms and Congas
- All Toms & Congas have been tuned to exact notes and sampled chromatically
- Clean: recorded digitally through API preamp
- Tape: Recorded to tape through API preamp
- Re-Pitched Congas: Re-pitched and tuned
- Saturated Toms: Recorded through Culture Vulture
Hi Hats, Clap, Rim, Clave, Cymbal, Cowbell, Maracas
- Tape: Cleanly recorded through API for maximum punch and flexibility; additional samples have various degrees of saturation for more color and loudness
- Re-Pitched: Extensive, analog re-pitching on tape at octaves, 4ths, and various tunings