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WHY DO DRUM MACHINES SUCK? - an albuquerque not animate be armada. — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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WHY DO DRUM MACHINES SUCK? [Feb. 3rd, 2009|09:48 am]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
... because they generally aren't designed by anyone who actually would want to use a drum machine. I just got a Zoom 246 'Streetboxx' on EBay, by submitting an absurd lowball bid. I like the sounds a lot -- it's fully of cheesy hip hop 'flava' but you can avoid it and focus on the loads of dirty snares and such. I don't even mind how you program beats -- you can either do step entry or real time play, but there's no 'XOXBOX' button mode. I have to look at the manual and scratch my head to get at more involved programming, like building a kit or editing effects, but not any worse than any other beatbox. A huge win for the 246 is that it can run on 4 AA batteries.

But there are a couple of inexcusable attributes to how the thing works.

1. If you're recording a pattern, you have to hit 'stop' to end recording.
2. If you switch patterns, it does so instantly, so you can't really flip between patterns and stay on beat.
3. You change patterns by hitting '+' and '-' buttons, and since it retriggers the new pattern, with no regard for the clock, you are stuck with switching between adjacent pads, and you have to trigger them very precisely to sound correct.
4. No input quantize during real time record, so you have to be very precise rhythmically in order hack patterns live.

This was an 'impulse bid' on my part, and I got it cheap enough I might even make money by reposting it on EBay... or I could probably sell it to a local hip hop producer. The thing sounds pretty great, and BeatKangz filled it with a load of nice sounds.

But jeez, it's 2009 and there has been 30+ years of collective experience with drum machines. We have the technology now -- hell, all of my objections to how the Zoom 246 works could be fixed by a different ROM! The only machines that come close to my desired paradigm are the Akai MPC series and the Korg ER series, but those are both more expensive than they need to be.

It's enough to make me want to design my own!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: optic
2009-02-03 09:10 pm (UTC)
don't forget the 606, a nearly perfect drum machine. i forget.. does the korg let you switch between play and edit on the fly?
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[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2009-02-03 09:19 pm (UTC)
The Korg is a little better, but it has it's achilles heel: You have to stop the sequencer to save a pattern.

You can tweak and modify an existing pattern all the live long day, but if you're performing and then you switch to a different pattern, the old pattern reverts to whatever's saved.
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[User Picture]From: optic
2009-02-04 01:13 am (UTC)
oh yeah I remember that now. weak.
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[User Picture]From: optic
2009-02-04 01:14 am (UTC)
so is the korg sampler thing similar, and can you load samples from a computer?
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[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2009-02-04 01:47 am (UTC)
You have to A) track down xD cards (I got a slug of them cheap on EBay) and B) have a card reader hooked up to computer and C) put on samples as 32khz wav files. D) there's some sort of naming convention you have to follow. In other words, kind of a PITA.

I'm thinking I need to sell off all the bullshit stuff I've bought and get a MPC500...

Though i did make beats on the streetboxx all the way home on the bus ...
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[User Picture]From: chaircrusher
2009-02-03 09:19 pm (UTC)
And yes the TR606 has the right idea, but it was the last Roland drum machine to let you flip between playing and editing a pattern on the fly.
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