Recording - January 2017 - 26

As the capability of computers increased,
more percussion power was placed into software-and most of the hardware options disappeared. As a result, people started hoarding drum machines; the 808 and 909 both
became expensive museum pieces, while the
standalone MPC units became icons of legitimacy for people that wanted to be seen as
"hardware people". Manufacturers started to
take notice, and in recent years we've begun
to see a reemergence of hardware-focused
rhythm options.
Standalone machines that don't rely on software are the Holy Grail for hardware-heads, and after
a lull in this area, some desirable options are becoming
available. The biggest splash has been made by Roland,
with its ultra-green machine, the TR-8 (Figure 1). This is a
step sequenced drum machine in the tradition of the TR808 and TR-909, and features a modeled sound engine
that can emulate the sound of both of these vintage
devices. The device includes extensive editing, some
capable drum-focused effects, and compatibility with
Roland's AIRA range of rhythm-centric devices.
Just last month, Roland added to this lineup with the
addition of the TR-09 Rhythm Composer, which features a minimized look of the TR-909 and a sound
engine similar to the TR-8's. Although it doesn't
have quite the editing and expansion capability

It's not always mics on kits-here's a modern
guide to creating great rhythms with no drummer
By Darwin Grosse
Drums can present a problem to the project studio owner.
Unless you're a drummer yourself, dealing with drums can be a little overwhelming. It can be a huge hassle to find a good space,
the necessary gear (mics, pres, mixer/interface channels), and-
oh, yeah, while we're on the subject-a good player with a good
well-tuned kit. It seems like drumming often suffers because we just
don't want to deal with it.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many alternatives available for us. Whether we're talking about drum machines, plug-ins/
virtual drummers, or drum performance loop files, there seems to be no
end to the ways we can get our drumming done. But the landscape is
continuously changing, and it is always useful for us to revisit the state of
the virtual drumming art-and to figure out what might provide us with
the most assistance based on our needs. One recording musician's
gotta-have-it could be another's source of endless frustration, after all.
Let me make one thing clear: if you can find a solid drummer or
percussionist, choose to do so! Adding the human element will almost
always provide the best quality results; there are variations that a
drummer will provide that you just won't get from a step-sequenced
machine or repeated loops. But sometimes we just don't have that
option, and that's when we need to get some help!

Hardware Drum Machines
In the distant past (over 10 years ago...), the best compact drumming tools were inside hardware boxes. Sample-based drum
machines (particularly the Akai MPC series) ruled the day, but vintage
drum machines-especially the Roland TR-808 and TR-909-were
making a strong comeback. We also started seeing drumming systems
appear as plug-ins, as well as instruments built into DAW software.
26

RECORDING JANUARY 2017

of its larger cousin, it does fit in perfectly with Roland's other
Boutique minisynths, and has a USB audio and MIDI interface for easy inclusion in a computer-based system.
Where Roland is paying homage to drum machines of
old, Korg is going a different way: modestly-priced analog
gear with completely new engines. The Korg Volca series
of devices are small, cheap (generally under $200) and
capable devices that can sync together for on-the-fly fun.
The Volca Beats (Figure 2) is the obvious candidate for
consideration, since it is a full-on drum programmer/synth,
but the Volca Sample is a useful addition to any beat system. Recently, Korg added the Volca Kick, which places its
focus squarely on creating great kick/bass drum sounds,
freeing up other devices for other work. The Volca combo
has a great balance of capability and fun, and a lot of
producers are getting more mileage out of their Volcas
than their toylike appearance might suggest.
On the other end of the scale is Elektron, whose
MachineDrum was the main holdout in the standalone
drum machine game. This device has recently been discontinued, but it has been replaced by the Analog Rytm
(Figure 3), a device that combines analog drum synthesis



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2017

Contents
Recording - January 2017 - Intro
Recording - January 2017 - Cover1
Recording - January 2017 - Cover2
Recording - January 2017 - 1
Recording - January 2017 - 2
Recording - January 2017 - 3
Recording - January 2017 - 4
Recording - January 2017 - 5
Recording - January 2017 - Contents
Recording - January 2017 - 7
Recording - January 2017 - 8
Recording - January 2017 - 9
Recording - January 2017 - 10
Recording - January 2017 - 11
Recording - January 2017 - 12
Recording - January 2017 - 13
Recording - January 2017 - 14
Recording - January 2017 - 15
Recording - January 2017 - 16
Recording - January 2017 - 17
Recording - January 2017 - 18
Recording - January 2017 - 19
Recording - January 2017 - 20
Recording - January 2017 - 21
Recording - January 2017 - 22
Recording - January 2017 - 23
Recording - January 2017 - 24
Recording - January 2017 - 25
Recording - January 2017 - 26
Recording - January 2017 - 27
Recording - January 2017 - 28
Recording - January 2017 - 29
Recording - January 2017 - 30
Recording - January 2017 - 31
Recording - January 2017 - 32
Recording - January 2017 - 33
Recording - January 2017 - 34
Recording - January 2017 - 35
Recording - January 2017 - 36
Recording - January 2017 - 37
Recording - January 2017 - 38
Recording - January 2017 - 39
Recording - January 2017 - 40
Recording - January 2017 - 41
Recording - January 2017 - 42
Recording - January 2017 - 43
Recording - January 2017 - 44
Recording - January 2017 - 45
Recording - January 2017 - 46
Recording - January 2017 - 47
Recording - January 2017 - 48
Recording - January 2017 - 49
Recording - January 2017 - 50
Recording - January 2017 - 51
Recording - January 2017 - 52
Recording - January 2017 - 53
Recording - January 2017 - 54
Recording - January 2017 - 55
Recording - January 2017 - 56
Recording - January 2017 - 57
Recording - January 2017 - 58
Recording - January 2017 - 59
Recording - January 2017 - 60
Recording - January 2017 - 61
Recording - January 2017 - 62
Recording - January 2017 - 63
Recording - January 2017 - 64
Recording - January 2017 - 65
Recording - January 2017 - 66
Recording - January 2017 - 67
Recording - January 2017 - 68
Recording - January 2017 - 69
Recording - January 2017 - 70
Recording - January 2017 - 71
Recording - January 2017 - 72
Recording - January 2017 - Cover3
Recording - January 2017 - Cover4
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