Why do folks get so 'picky' over drum machines?

Serious question.

First, I don’t ‘care’ about drum machines but I love electronic music - is there something wrong with me?
My approach to drum machines has thus far been to buy cheap, secondhand or build from kits - I spend the real money on synths and processors etc.

I read all these threads about digital v analog and how the Rytm doesn’t kick as hard as the Volca :slight_smile: and I really don’t get it or give a shit - is part of my brain missing? Are my ears not working from standing to close to the speakers at Land of Oz in 1989 with the kick drums smashing through my chest?

From a drum machine I want something that thumps hard if required but can also ‘sit back’ but still be heard shimmering like an angel in the rain, and has decent workflow within a fairly simple set of requirements - xox, pattern chains, mute, solo, live record.

If we forget workflow and features for a second and just concentrate on sound - I realise that some genres require sophisticated micro tuning progressions etc - but let’s stay simple - kick, snare, hats - all dry, no fancy tuning, locking or other automated processing. Also forget any genre specific or canonical traditions

Now tell me why any one of these drum machines is ‘best’ for creating a rhythmic foundation for my or your next ‘banger’?

Aira tr-8
Yamaha RY30
Roland 909
Roland 707

Remember, just the ability to be the dedicated machine that provides rhythmic backbone to your track - discuss.

For about the same reason people are pick one type of filter or envelope over another.

Do you choose synths with specific characteristics you like, or will any old synth do? I suspect you choose one with filters that sound ideal (to you).

It’s the same with drum machines, just a different set of parameters.

Other reasons might be deeper psychological issues e.g. we can’t afford every drum machine so have to make a decision about which brand (team) is the winner.

… and heaven forbid that another team has a phatter kick then MY team. It’s just not on :wink:

Good answer and kind of what I was expecting.

So let’s forget psychology of brand and cost, imagine we can afford anything at least secondhand eventually.

Let’s focus on the sound - the ‘phatt’ kick etc. that’s the part where I have the mind/ear blockage.

Maybe someone can post some simple examples of finished tracks and explain by comparison why one kick/snare/hat is ‘better’ than another?

There was an electronic outfit called Rhythm is Rythm back in the day - isn’t it the Rythm that’s most important? Does the kick have to be ‘phAt’?

Re filters sounding different etc - again I don’t care -I celebrate their uniqueness without preference…

You forgot to put the Machinedrum on the list. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Seriously though people are picky, that’s our nature and some people are arrogant about it. Hence the notion that my opinion is better then everyone else’s. In the end I say rock out with whatever tools are at your disposal.

I agree Genoart - people are picky etc. - now let’s remove human nature from the picture.

Can anyone get a little scientific here?

Audio examples perhaps? Or finished tracks that exemplify the superiority of a particular machine at providing rhythmic foundation…,

To get scientific, please first define:

  • fat
  • warm
  • cold
  • air

etc. etc.

There really are no scientific terms to describe these feelings, and it’s basically feelings that people argue about!

"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.

We often use strong language not to express a powerful emotion but to evoke it in us.

The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human manifestations.

Add a few drops of malice to a half truth and you have an absolute truth."

So, in summary - it’s all just subjective…?

Fat v thin, cold v warm, Rytm v Volca.

Mods - can we sticky this thread please? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Not obvious to everyone - but glad my hearing isn’t broke. :heart:

This thread is something else…

Or in othe works it’s easier to talk about phatttt kicks and analog than it is to make a song anyone gives a shit about.

People act as if these machines that anyone can own are the end in itself,

That they are works of art and a membership card into an elite group of people who know the truth and from now on its their job is to enlighten the masses who have Been deceived by other evil corporations into thinking they know phat kicks,

Also, that box opening vid, I think it was one of the first with the analog rytm, was more than a bit pathetic,
Part 2 of that vid is him gong to elektron and giving oral in apprection for phatttt kicks ,

does it have much of a click or punch

can you feel it in your chest

does it just sound huge and present

is there a lot of bass content

if this is all going over your head (and I’m being totally serious, not trying to diss) I wonder if you are observant and sensitive enough to make very expressive, passionate music

Ok juno so now we’re maybe getting somewhere - none of that goes over my head - did you read my original post properly ?(not trying to diss, but there was a clear sensitivity and understanding of nuance in there, and a bit about standing in a club with a speaker slamming me etc etc but I digress).

Now tell me if any of the drum machines in my (arbitrary) list can’t click, thump, sound bassy, present, etc etc ?

That’s the bit I don’t understand - if either used or ‘experienced’ all of them, and guess what? I couldn’t choose a best one…

Drum machines do sound different. Better is subjective but what people tend to think sounds better are a good attack, frequency response, harmonic content, nice envelopes. What makes a fat kick is that it’s pumping harder in the bass spectrum perhaps with some harmonic content to excite the ear. This gets more complicated with snare synthesis because of the use of noise, but again it differs in the bandwith of noise and what makes up the snare or crack. Same with hi hats. Different machines with even subtle architectural differences can end up with a different sound.

Of course anything can be extensively processed with EQ, compression and saturation for a different or dare I say better sound, but again that’s subjective. And if your using samples they most likely have been processed this way.

I’ve been looking for a good hardware drum machine for awhile to partner with my Analog Four and Guitar for random druming and have compared many. And they to me at least sound very different I have the Arturia Spark and it’s drum synthesis engine IMO is one of the best but I wanted something that I didn’t need my laptop on for. I ended up with a Korg ER-1 mkii because it has huge kick drums and some basic FM synthesis and was super cheap until I can pick up a RYTM. Which has the “phattest” (read biggest frequency spectrum with a fast attack) kicks I’ve heard in all the samples I’ve listen to.

If you can’t hear the differences, listen closer on a system with a flat frequency response, or put it through a spectrum analyzer a see what’s happening in the frequency spectrum.

R7 ^^ best answer so far my friend - also I have an ER1-mkii and love it for the rudimentary FM mostly but agree it can kick like mule. I think maybe ill do some analysis of the machines I’ve got, but then again, maybe I won’t - I’m still not feeling the need to care :slight_smile: am I not ‘passionate’ or ‘sensitive’ enough to make expressive music maybe ? :astonished:

To me it seems that there is a tradeoff, the more versatile a machine is, the less pronounced the sounds are. For basic elektronic music, the aira sounds great, but not much new sounds can be made with it. The tempest is so versatile it is actually more of a polysynth, but its very hard to get good traditional sounds out of it. Rytm is somewhere in between but to me its the best of both worlds. Enough versatility but good quality sounds.

A couple of valid reason for wanting the mother-of-all-drum-machines:

  1. Less post processing of sounds makes it easier to use in a live gig

  2. Less post processing means less production work during / after recording

Basically, the closer to our ideal kick / snare / hats we get out of a drum machine, the faster it is to finish tracks and the easier it is to perform live.

Thanks guys - lots of good answers - keep em coming - it’s educational to cut through the hype and try to get to what we might call solid ‘production orientated’ understanding of what we look for in drum sounds…

I think ZenPunkHappy has touched on a very important topic: post processing.

When listening to finished songs, remember that these have most likely had a lot of post processing (e.g. side chain compression and mix bus or submix multiband compression, mastering limiters). This has a huge effect on the resulting perceived sound.

Analog and VA drum machines are going to sound way more dynamic (and less ‘loud’) then a finished track. Sometimes recording everything and then adding post processing can help you get an idea of what it might sound like.

Samples are where it gets tricky. Many sample libraries are already post-processed (brick-wall limited to death), and these can be difficult to blend with dynamic analog sounds.

Anyway, go with what sounds good to you and what makes your booty move. Don’t worry about missing anything and make music that makes you happy.