All Hail The Beat: a short history of the Roland TR808

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  1. 909 envelops are better for techno
    808 is better at slow tempos
    808 is the king of sub basses
    909 is the king of punch

    On the other side, i tend to use less and less kicks issued from x0x.
    Because i always need to layer them anyway to get the clic, the punch and the low end on the same kick.

    That’s what lacked in any x0x drums : flexible envelops, especially pitch one
    You get a single decay knob, and this is not enough to get punch AND low end rumble at the same time, because the kick will be too slow or too fast and miss the two.
    That’s a part of 909 or 808 preference : the envelop curve is different.

    If the curve is fast, you will get more punch but less low end rumble (909)
    If it is slow, you will get more low end rumble but less punch (808)

    Of course, you can get punch on 808 and rumble on 909, but there is a reason why ppl prefer one over the other : tempo

    That’s where layering entered the game : take the rumble of 808 and add an acoustic kick over it for the punch.
    Or take a 909 kick for the punch and add a 808 one for rumble only, with careful attack tweaking to avoid frequencies mess.

    The layering technique killed most of those boxes.
    This is why samples rules the world now…and why few ppl (like me ;) ) know how to layer two average kicks and get a killer one.
    I don’t even speak about compression, reverb (yes, there is little reverb on most killer kicks),EQ and more.

    PS : There are some modern flexible envelops drum boxes like JoMoX , but there are more 808-909 clones.
    PPS : sorry for the long post and the possible troll starting :D But i really love those boxes anyway…like 303

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