RHYTHM DESIGNER RD-8
Classic Analog Drum Machine with 16 Drum Sounds, 64 Step Sequencer, Wave Designer and Dual-Mode Filter
A Brief History of Drum Machines
From its humble beginnings as rhythmic support to organists, to later setting dance floors ablaze with unrelenting and hypnotic beats, the drum machine has been one of the most unappreciated of all musical inventions. Uncompromising in its metronomic precision, the drum machine provides a flawless rhythm section that never tires of playing the same four-bar loop. However, when put into the right hands and proper musical context, they can be finessed to create awe-inspiring rhythmic artistry.
First Drum Machine – The Rhythmicon
The ground-breaking Rhythmicon was created by Russian inventor Léon Theremin in 1931. The machine was a collaboration with American composer Henry Cowell and can produce up to 16 different rhythms with a strikingly bleepy sound.
The Rhythmate was a pioneering drum machine, which used tape loops to create rhythms to accompany an organ player. The machine had 14 tape loops with a sliding control that allowed playback of different tracks on each piece of tape that could be combined to create many variations.
Roland CompuRhythm CR-78
The CR-78 is a classic analog rhythm machine – and was the first to use a microprocessor. The 34 built-in patterns could be altered at the push of a button, providing the user significantly more creative control. As for the drum sounds, the CR-78 offers 14 very electronic, yet analog drum tones. Sounds include Kick, Snare, Rim, Cow Bell, Hi-Hats, Cymbals, Congas, Bongos, Tambourine and Guiros. With 11 variation effects and the ability to adjust tempo, accents, and fade in/outs, the CR-78 is still capable of producing exquisite rhythms for use in ambient, hip hop and many other forms of music. One of the best-known uses of the CR-78 can be heard in Phil Collins’ 1981 hit, “In the Air Tonight”.
Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer
In the worlds of techno, house, hip hop and R&B, the Roland TR-808 is an indispensable machine. Its signature sound, the booming bass drum that has created the groove of hits by everyone from Marvin Gaye to Afrika Bambaata to 808 state and is currently one of the most frequently used sounds in modern music.
Despite its current iconic status, when it was released in 1980, the 808 was not a top seller by any means. There were lots of people didn’t like the simplistic sound in preference to more expensive machines such as the digitally-sampled LinnDrum. However, producers in the underground acid-house music scene leaned towards the TR-808 and the entire Roland product line, including the TB-303, SH-101 and TR-909, giving these boxes their iconic status and modern day price tags to match.
Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer
The TR-909 featured the sampled and analog drum sounds that have become synonymous with house and techno music. This programmable, step-sequenced drum machine was launched in 1983, and while it was not an instant commercial success, it soon gained an underground following. With DIN Sync24, MIDI In and Out, and individual outputs for each sound, the TR-909 could be integrated into any studio, and offers numerous controls for controlling each sound. The TR-909 has been used by The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Orbital and Jean Michel Jarre. It would be hard to find a techno or house producer who hasn’t used a TR-909 kick in a track at some point.
The inspirational LinnDrum was created by Linn Electronics in 1982, using superior sounding samples that gave birth to a new generation of users who are synonymous with the sound of the ‘80s. The LinnDrum was used on countless classics tracks throughout the '80s, including hits by Prince, Tears for Fears and Madonna.
Launched in 1981, the Oberheim DMX also used sampled sounds of real drums, individual tuning controls for each drum voice and a swing function to add a little groove. The controls gave the DMX the ability to emulate a real drummer via timing variations, rolls and flams to create a more human “feel”. The DMX has 11 samples, which can be used to create 24 individual drum sounds and allows up to 8 voices simultaneously. It has 8 separate outputs for individual channel processing and holds up to 100 sequences and 50 songs.
The DMX’s hard-hitting and convincing drum sound made it attractive to artists and producers in the burgeoning hip-hop culture, and it is featured on many of the scenes early innovative records. New Order used the DMX to great effect on their 1983 single, “Blue Monday” with its repeating bass drum pattern.
Released in 1987, the E-mu SP-1200 was quickly accepted into the hip hop world due to its limited bandwidth sampling rate, classic 4-pole filter and 12-bit sampling resolution. This all contributed to the unit’s gravelly sounds, which have been feature on many hit recordings. The SP-1200’s ability to build the main structure of a song within a single piece of gear (a first for the industry) cut hip-hop artists loose from the studio to perform live alongside the machine. Famous users include the Beastie Boys, The Prodigy and Daft Punk.
The celebrated Akai MPC was designed by Roger Linn and produced by Akai from 1988 onwards. The MPC allowed artists to use new clever ways to manipulate small samples to create a completely new track. These snippets were often lifted from other records and thus started a new style of “Sound-Collage”. The original MPC60 only allowed sample lengths of up to 13 seconds. Sampling memory was expensive at the time, which steered people to sampling records at higher speeds in order to gain more time. The side effect was playback at a lower resolution, which contributed to the grittiness of the sound. Famous users include Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Mark Ronson.
The RHYTHM DESIGNER RD-8 provides all the tools you need to become a master beat-maker, including: 16 drum sounds; a 64-step sequencer; Wave Designer and dual-mode filter – for a full-fledged drum machine that'll shake the house! Whether you're new to drum programming or a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your setup, the RD-8 has everything you need to step up to the big time.
Great care has been taken in designing the RD-8 to achieve new possibilities in beat creation by reviving a timeless analog design from one of the most-classic drum machines of yesteryear. By taking a fresh and modern approach on a classic drum machine, the RD-8 gives you the power to harness the phenomenal sound of the 808 and tap into some new features as well. Colossal bass drums through to sizzling hi-hats can be manipulated to elevate your rhythm performance to the next level. This is an analog beat-making monster!
Live Performance Beat Master
Built to enhance the way you perform, the RD-8 boasts all-new features for live use in each of the sequencer modes including step repeat, note repeat, real-time triggering and live step-overdubbing. This makes it easy to enable recording in pattern launch mode, so you can build song structures on-the-fly and switch back to manual mode at the touch of a button. Then you are free to add some excitement with the autofill feature and to introduce more variations. You can even cue up another song from memory without interrupting playback, allowing you to perform entire sets from start to finish – just using your RD-8!
Powerful & Feature-Rich Sequencer
The RD-8 features one of the most powerful step sequencers ever created, which provides much-improved workflows over the original. The 64-step sequencer also includes storage for up to 256 patterns and 16 songs, allowing the creation of song arrangements ranging from ultra-simple to incredibly complex.
Wave Designer & Dual-Mode Filter
The integrated Wave Designer has individual attack and sustain controls that can be applied to individual voices to bring another dimension to your drum beats. This provides yet another way to control sounds to build virtually unlimited – and awesome new tones. Additionally, RD-8’s highly-flexible dual-mode 12 dB filter button toggles between LPF and HPF, allowing you to experiment with the cutoff frequency and resonance controls to create out of this world beats. And those fluid sweeps can be recorded straight into the sequencer and further tweaked using the step editor.
RD-8’s robust encoder lets you set separate chain preferences for each of your parameters, allowing them to function globally or to switch on when a song or pattern changes. Parameters include tempo, swing, flam, probability, independent track mutes/solos, FX bus assignments, filter modes and sweeps for enhanced real-time control. Patterns can be changed on-the-fly for further creative control when using the RD-8 as the heart of your live setup.
To bring the RD-8 into the modern age, USB connectivity has been added for sync and MIDI triggering. This enables the RD-8 to be controlled by your DAW if desired, allowing songs and patterns to be swapped or individual sounds to be triggered.
The RD-8 has 29 knobs, 5 switches and 59 buttons, all laid out in a highly-intuitive format that puts the fun back into your beat creation. Input and output connections include: Phones; Mono audio; MIDI In, Out and Thru over USB and 5 pin MIDI ports; and 11 independent analog outputs for external processing or recording your rhythms as multitrack audio. With its 3 trigger outs, the RD-8 lets you control external synths and hardware sequencers to create songs without a digital audio workstation (DAW) in sight. The RD-8 can also send and receive clock information with highly-accurate timing to sync it to the outside world.