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sexta-feira, 27 de janeiro de 2017

System 80 presents their new 808 eurorack module!

If you have been looking for a Roland TR-808 for a while but couldn't find one for a reasonable price,  this will probably spark some interest in you!

System 80 has tried to capture the original Roland TR-808 in a much slimmer format with their newly developed 60HP eurorack module!

Unfortunately, the previous demo seems to contain all the information about this machine available so far, with System 80's own website not featuring any further information (despite it allows you to join their mailing list in order to get more information about this machine):

After watching the demo, I have to say I think it sounds pretty good, despite I have no idea how it would stand against a real Roland TR-808 as I never tried one...

I also have to say I really like their design and think they did a great job in making such a compact Roland TR-808 clone!

The interface seems to be slightly different than the one presented in the real Roland TR-808, which I would expect to mean an improved sequencer (one can always hope)!
But in terms of sound, it seems to give you exactly the same editing possibilities, but again, I can't really tell you if it does a convincing job at sounding like one!

The one thing I have to say I'm a bit surprised is that they chose to make it as an eurorack module, as I feel it takes no advantage of the possibilities this kind of format offers...

From the video, this module seems to have the following connectors:

- Some mini-jack connectors in the left that I'd guess are clock related (since there seem to be two connectors available, I'd guess they are probably equivalent to the pedal switch inputs in the Roland TR-808, for Start/Stop and Fill-In);

- A 5 pin DIN connector, which I'd expect to be a MIDI port, despite the original Roland TR-808 featured a DIN-Sync port instead. However, I'm not sure it is a MIDI In or a MIDI Out, since both have their uses;

- Several mini-jack connectors in the right that seem to serve as individual outputs for the different drum sounds (which you can likely use as triggers), plus a mix output.

While I think this would be a nice set of connectors for a standalone drum machine, I feel it misses the point of eurorack, as there seem to be no mini-jack connector that would allow you to modulate the available drum sounds, which to me is a big let down...

I'm also a bit worried that you cannot use an external clock signal with it, or use the internal clock to control other sequencers, despite I'd wait for the full specs before making any further comment on this...

Despite this criticism, I'm really looking forward to know more about this eurorack module, and hope that maybe it has some hidden tricks that would make it an amazing addition to an eurorack modular setup!
If not, it still seems to be a fantastic choice for a standalone analog drum machine, and from the way it sounds in their demo, I could definitely see myself using it in my personal studio!


Great news as it seems this is actually going to be an open source module!
If you want, you can check all the information regarding the hardware and firmware in this site:

Now it comes the bad part... Most of what I wrote was actually accurate and unfortunately there seem to be no hidden trick that make it an amazing addition to an eurorack modular setup, as you can notice if you open the following link for the panel layout:

I personally think it's great that more and more nice modules are open source, but I have to say I feel it's a real shame this one didn't fully embrace the modular spirit...

With some CV inputs to control the different drum sounds, I think it would have been a truly great module!
This way, it seems to me it can't be more than a great Roland TR-808 clone...

So I'll be looking forward to hear / see more demos and comparisons with other machines that aimed to capture the sound and vibe of the original Roland TR-808, like the E-Licktronic Yocto, which is also open source.
But to be a part of my eurorack modular, I doubt it will be the first choice...

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