@dumdumdedum I’ve had a fair few drum machines now and at the point of not really caring what the sounds are like if it’s a sample-based drummer and more what the sequencer is like. There is one Roland drum machine that, for programming rhythms live and in step-mode, is the killer machine, but due to dumb design tends to die if left on for 12mths at a time. Weirdly enough, many Roland drum machines after the TR range didn’t allow the user to edit more than one track while playing, requiring the player to stop the sequence, select a new track, then press start again to continue playing. From memory the Boss Doctor Rhythms might have; I didn’t own but had possession of a DR-550mkii for awhile and I remember it being a very nifty box, but my DR-660 died fairly quickly and I didn’t use is for much more than a drum bank.
The R-70 let the player swap between tracks and change instruments assigned to it in real-time, so you could have assign a cowbell to a track, then mid-sequence change it to a woodblock, or swap out a closed hihat on a run of 16th for a half-closed hat. And with the incredible library of instruments, all I needed for a nice minimal techno track was it and a reverb (four audio outs: main L/R and assignable individual outs 3/4).
Since mine died I have been chasing another, that is until I got my Pyramid. Now all I need is a good polyphonic sampler to load all the classic drum samples that will fill the hole left by analogue drums (and there is a big hole there in my mind).
My RY30 is probably the best digital drum bank I’ve owned. Far more tweakable than the Rolands and really convincing digital resonant filters for each voice. It’s dead too now…
I like the euclidian loops for more dress percussion, like congas, bongos, cowbell and woodblock rhythms that don’t really change more than drop in and out of the mix, but prefer the piano roll for the usual suspects like bass, snare and hats. The ability to easily change the MIDI note the loop is playing on-the-fly gives the same flexibility I had with the R-70.
As for analogue drums, I have a Rhythm Wolf, Volca Beats and Kick, Vermona Kick Lancet and an ADX-1. As for the two kick synths, I felt like crying when I got my VKick home as it almost made the Kick Lancet redundant. Although it claims to use the “resonator” from the MS-20, it’d be hard to recreate it’s sound on an MS-20 (it can be done with some patchwork but I’m not telling ). I found it’s limits though and have decided the Vermona is still a unique thump generator.
The Volca Beats a half decent drum machine also, but I don’t use it’s sequencer. Forget the snare on it, it’s weak as pus (say that in an NZ accent for the word I’d rather use), but the ago-go makes great cowbell when using the Pyramid to modulate the sample rate via a square wave LFO synchronised to a short division of the tempo. The clap is not bad either, but I back it up with a clap-like patch on the ADX-1 to get a better decay. Which brings me to one of the sorta tricks for percussion: multi-layers.
No one kick is the only kick you will ever need, nor will one kick ever really sound as punchy and fat and clicky as you want it to sound. All that early techno wasn’t just an 808 kick, there generally was some other sample or a 909 kick (a sampled kick) under there also to give that drive through the mix. An 808 kick by itself would get lost due to it’s lame attack and a 909 kick would let you hear the click in the attack phase but then disappear during decay. A little secret is to layer samples of both analogue and digital kicks and tailor them to behave in an analogue fashion using amp and filter envelopes. I remember one DJ I knew used an 808 sample with the sound Sonic the Hedgehog made when he rammed into the bad guys with great success. You can set-up to run using both your sources triggered via MIDI also, just if one of the sources is a 1990’s videogame console, that might be hard to do
Oooh better give a tl;dr for that: Keep your Volca Beat and Kick but sequence them with the Pyramid.