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Roland TR 909 & Tempest DSI A/B Test!
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Looneytune
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6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubtek71 View Post
I think file one is the 909 and file 2 is the Tempest. File 1 sounds a lot more clear on the kick. A little bit more bouncy. And the hats sound crisp. File 2 seem to have a bit more of a dull thud or splat on the kick.
I prefer file 1.
You the man Dub and almost all the others are right!
File one is the real TR 909 ha ha i like that the real TR 909

I tried to keep it as fair as possibile.
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Originally Posted by guze View Post
It's a comparison to show how different they can be even with samples.

Only the rimshot is similar and the tempest sequence it's really "lifeless".


Could you do samples without compression and groove , and then with groove from both.
Give me a break.

I wanted to make this fair, so I spent no time messing with the sequence.
For the record I actually gave the Tempest 5 minutes of my time on the sequence and I gave the real 909 only 22 seconds.

All it is a very simple beat.
Anyway I think these files speak for themselves, you can hear the real 909.
Moral to the story want a real 909 buy one!

Tempest is great but it is what it is.

The 909 is a Legend, you can hear all in the groove and I did not need to spend any time on the sequencer a couple of button pushes.
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6th May 2012
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Originally Posted by Liquid Legacy View Post
Just out of curiosity, how old does a piece of gear have to be before it's worthy of a track in your DAW?
Nice try. Age has nothing to do with it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanax View Post
i agree that this test doesn't really prove much as it's using samples of an actual 909 so what you are hearing is essentially two 909's, we do need to do a test using the analog voices of tempest but so far very few analog drums from tempest have been submitted, the contest is sure to change that so soon we might be able to do a real A/B ..
No no no no no!
These are not samples these are sounds made by the Tempest.
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6th May 2012
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I actually agree with this, but it's a limitation of programming, not of the sound engine. The raw 909 sound has very little sub bass in it (we've been A/Bing a dry 909 and 808 with Tempest at the office for a few weeks now) and it gives it more clarity. Add some highpass filter to that kick with an envelope control and you'll get a lot more smack without losing the sub. Add some feedback to the transient and some a noise mod to the tail and you'll give it a lot more character. That's not something you can do with the 909 because there simply aren't enough controls. Of course it's really hard to nail any kick in that last 10% because of the overload of parameters on the Tempest... it's always a mixed blessing.

When it comes down to it, the 909 has a good range of sweet spots on the kick drum voice, but a lot of it simply isn't very useful in production. The Tempest has a lot more variety and it's harder to find the sweet spots for a particular type of sound, but given the versatility of the voice I'm still convinced that given some time we're going to get sounds that rival every aspect of the 909/808 benchmarks people are putting up, and all in one box.

All that being said, I perfectly understand why someone would want a 909/808. The simplicity of the controls and workflow is a big selling point and you know you're going to get what you're looking for. When you're in the midst of the creative process nobody wants to stop and try to program a sound when they're deep in the groove. That's why we're doing some sound design contests, see what the Tempest is really made of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubtek71 View Post
I think file one is the 909 and file 2 is the Tempest. File 1 sounds a lot more clear on the kick. A little bit more bouncy. And the hats sound crisp. File 2 seem to have a bit more of a dull thud or splat on the kick.
I prefer file 1.
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Looneytune
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Originally Posted by Pym View Post
I actually agree with this, but it's a limitation of programming, not of the sound engine. The raw 909 sound has very little sub bass in it (we've been A/Bing a dry 909 and 808 with Tempest at the office for a few weeks now) and it gives it more clarity. Add some highpass filter to that kick with an envelope control and you'll get a lot more smack without losing the sub. Add some feedback to the transient and some a noise mod to the tail and you'll give it a lot more character. That's not something you can do with the 909 because there simply aren't enough controls. Of course it's really hard to nail any kick in that last 10% because of the overload of parameters on the Tempest... it's always a mixed blessing.

When it comes down to it, the 909 has a good range of sweet spots on the kick drum voice, but a lot of it simply isn't very useful in production. The Tempest has a lot more variety and it's harder to find the sweet spots for a particular type of sound, but given the versatility of the voice I'm still convinced that given some time we're going to get sounds that rival every aspect of the 909/808 benchmarks people are putting up, and all in one box.

All that being said, I perfectly understand why someone would want a 909/808. The simplicity of the controls and workflow is a big selling point and you know you're going to get what you're looking for. When you're in the midst of the creative process nobody wants to stop and try to program a sound when they're deep in the groove. That's why we're doing some sound design contests, see what the Tempest is really made of.
I love the Tempest Chris don't get me wrong here.
It is my go to machine for bass!
I make a killer bass on it!
Thanks for the contribution.
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6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneytune View Post
No no no no no!
These are not samples these are sounds made by the Tempest.
looney, all the sounds in OSC3 & 4 are samples and that includes the 909 sound kit you probably got on DSi forum


about sound quality and especially sound character, this is a very subjective thing. tempest has the typical DSi sound, punchy midrange modern sounding. it's a DCO synth so maybe not as organic as a VCO drum machine using discrete components but the analog filters are very warm and the analog compression and distortion are pretty musical as well. i won't lie the 808 & 909 are my favorite sounding drum machines, and i'm fortunate enough to own them both and they sound perfect to me without even any tweaking, with tempest it definitely takes more work in the sound design department to make things interesting, fortunately it's an extremely intuitive and well designed unit and i think it can definitely add something great to the table if you just let it do its thing and not obsess over emulating the aforementioned machines..
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Thank you for useful test. 909 is really differs from Tempest.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneytune View Post
No no no no no!
These are not samples these are sounds made by the Tempest.
wtf.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanax View Post
l tempest has the typical DSi sound, punchy midrange modern sounding.

but isnt that a rather typical SMD sound? like many of this type of devices a bit thin in the lowend energy and brittle in the highs?

The circuit in a 909 is not special at all.. but it does a hell of a loud punchy output... but one that distorts in itself..When you pump the master up it even compresses on the mix bus so much it gets into distorted territory. But that sounds nice.
All the op amps in the 909 are the rather warm but fuzzy sounding type you find in many japanese gear from that time.. Its ment as an audio op amp and it has a nice colour to it.. But colours the sound heavily and distorts easily. You can hear that in single outs versus the mix out in a 808 or 909 how much extra distortion just the extar 2 opamp stages for the summing make..

But that gives the sounds a body.. the distortion figure of the amps...

An 808 with more modern op amps sounds like a DR.böhm..and the drumsounds get way more realistic than the electro drum sound of the 808..
So the typical 808 sound is in big parts generated by the used op amps..


These modern smd amp designs are cleaner, they are desigend to not alter what they get from the sound generating circuits..But often weaker powered than on the old machines.

And the caps are often smd types to that give very clear highs but unpunchy bottom..
The japanese caps roland used are just the opposite of that. They are more in the muffle department.

But thats part of the roland sound..The smoothing helps..actually tames the hi hats.. Or on a 303 a high resonance it still is not eating your ear off because of the muffle caps..

So the old style output stages do a good part in that what we know as the fat analog sound.
And maybe its that what we miss with the modern designs and what makes us to use vintage preamps for them...
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7th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneytune View Post

Who ever said the hats are boring on the 909! They are my fav
That was probably me.

I personally don't care for the hats on a 909. I love the bass drum but the hats are kind of meh. Just a personal observation.

I'll go climb back under my rock now.
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Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
wtf.
yeah my bad, ahh who cares anyway!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanax View Post
looney, all the sounds in OSC3 & 4 are samples and that includes the 909 sound kit you probably got on DSi forum


about sound quality and especially sound character, this is a very subjective thing. tempest has the typical DSi sound, punchy midrange modern sounding. it's a DCO synth so maybe not as organic as a VCO drum machine using discrete components but the analog filters are very warm and the analog compression and distortion are pretty musical as well. i won't lie the 808 & 909 are my favorite sounding drum machines, and i'm fortunate enough to own them both and they sound perfect to me without even any tweaking, with tempest it definitely takes more work in the sound design department to make things interesting, fortunately it's an extremely intuitive and well designed unit and i think it can definitely add something great to the table if you just let it do its thing and not obsess over emulating the aforementioned machines..
Yeah okay they are the samples, just had it confirmed.
Who said anything about obsessing about emulating?
I never said this you are saying this.

I don't emulate I buy the real thing! I did this as a simple test as a few peeps asked for it and I delivered!
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7th May 2012
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File 1 has a great snappy snare and file 2's kick is more 808'ish.
I like #1, and assume it is the 909. A moot point since I can't afford either unit, so I'll just slink back to my korg electribe sx.
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7th May 2012
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Not disagreeing with your point here, but wanted to clarify some of the "whys" that you mentioned:

It doesn't really have anything to do with the parts being SMD or not, just the quality of what's inside. Surface mount caps and resistors for example shouldn't affect the sound too much.

I'm not totally positive about this, so take it with a grain of salt, but my understanding on the highs issue is thus: Some older opamps/VCAs/VCOs/VCFs/whatever have a natural low pass or low shelf effect on the signal since they don't react fast enough transitions. In some cases this is a trade off... you can allow faster transition times by removing an RC circuit on the CV line, but it increases the time needed for the voltage to settle after fast transitions. With the older chips and designs most of the time they err on the side of stability of the circuit.

With a lowpass filter (like our Curtis chips) you ALWAYS have a low pass effect going on; when the filter is fully open it is still cutting frequencies above our range of hearing. The trick is balancing the top to the bottom so you get enough low end coming through without causing the highs to be dulled even when the filter is wide open. We did a lot of double blind listening to samples and Tracy, Mark and myself pushed VERY hard to get the filter opened up more on the top end because the samples were losing too much of the high end. The low end is "slightly" less at frequencies below 30Hz because of this, but in practice it's hardly noticeable since there's so much low energy anyways.

We could artificially mimic a lot of what the old circuitry did by limiting the sample rates and forcing slower slew of the voltages, which would give some parameter changes and automation a different characteristic. The problem is you can achieve this sort of behavior by clever parameter tweaks, but would not be able to get the high end back if you wanted it. Always a balance.

In my opinion (my personal opinion, not the DSI opinion since Dave has his own ideas on the matter) the problem comes down to a balance between what the instrument is capable of and what limitations you put in the UI.
I'll give a small example of what I mean with your observation on the sound: The design of the Tempest encourages sounds that are slightly louder in the high frequency range since when a user opens the filter, the tendency is to open it all the way. If we artificially limited this to say 90%, but allowed you to go to 100% using a soft param on the OLED, the typical sound that you made on the Tempest would be less crisp across the board since most people would never figure out that they could kick the filter up further. Since we received unanimous praise for the sound from our beta testers (some specifically noting that the highs sounded great), we ended up with the design that's in there now. Of course, we'll probably tweak the behavior going forward... it can always be better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioconsult View Post
but isnt that a rather typical SMD sound? like many of this type of devices a bit thin in the lowend energy and brittle in the highs?

The circuit in a 909 is not special at all.. but it does a hell of a loud punchy output... but one that distorts in itself..When you pump the master up it even compresses on the mix bus so much it gets into distorted territory. But that sounds nice.
All the op amps in the 909 are the rater warm but fuzzy sounding type you find in many japanese gear from that time.. Its ment as an audio op amp and it has a nice colour to it.. But colours the sound heavily and distorts easily. You can hear that in single outs versus the mix out in a 808 or 909 how much extra distortion just the extar 2 opamp stages for the summing make..

But that gives the sounds a body.. the distortion figure of the amps...

An 808 with more modern op amps sounds like a DR.böhm..and the drumsounds get way more realistic than the electro drum sound of the 808..
So the typical 808 sound is in big parts generated by the used op amps..


These modern smd amp designs are cleaner, they are desigend to not alter what they get from the sound generating circuits..But often weaker powered than on the old machines.

And the caps are often smd types to that give very clear highs but unpunchy bottom..
The japanese caps roland used are just the opposite of that. They are more in the muffle department.

But thats part of the roland sound..The smoothing helps..actually tames the hi hats.. Or on a 303 a high resonance it still is not eating your ear off because of the muffle caps..

So the old style output stages do a good part in that what we know as the fat analog sound.
And maybe its that what we miss with the modern designs and what makes us to use vintage preamps for them...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneytune View Post
Random compression WTF
It was not random!
You've compressed two things you are trying to compare, randomly. Makes it impossible to compare - see previous posts asking for you to run it without. That said you're comparing apples with oranges anyway, so you could add random reverb and cyclosonic panner for all I care.
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^ looneytune is just a lil looney !

@audioconsult: i'm sure you're right about all that, similar concepts are often brought up around here when comparing old moogs to new moogs, old samplers to new samplers, old analogs to VA's etc etc i agree with all this but at some point you have to draw the line with comparisons and maybe accept that things sound different. brighter, duller, harsher, smoother, ballsier, thinner... imo there is room for all of them and i like having different sonics in my arsenal even if my setup gravitates around vintage roland (101,303,707,808,909) of course if chris can tweak things to get phatter sounds i'm all for it but i'd be better interested in more drum synth oriented parameters, like a new window enabling easier analog drum creation & control (again a good example is the drum synth engine in machinedrum with completely dedicated and intuitive parameters wether kick,snare,hh,tomtom etc ) and of course the great features like fill & auto-fill on the 808, x0x pattern chaining and 303 slide,rest in tie for the step sequencer… those feature are to me just as important as sound which is why so many clones fail imo..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWiggly View Post
You've compressed two things you are trying to compare, randomly. Makes it impossible to compare - see previous posts asking for you to run it without. That said you're comparing apples with oranges anyway, so you could add random reverb and cyclosonic panner for all I care.
Not sure where you get random compression from
So you cant compare 2 drum files just becasue it has been compressed?
Fair enough then.
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Originally Posted by xanax View Post
^ looneytune is just a lil looney !

@audioconsult: i'm sure you're right about all that, similar concepts are often brought up around here when comparing old moogs to new moogs, old samplers to new samplers, old analogs to VA's etc etc i agree with all this but at some point you have to draw the line with comparisons and maybe accept that things sound different. brighter, duller, harsher, smoother, ballsier, thinner... imo there is room for all of them and i like having different sonics in my arsenal even if my setup gravitates around vintage roland (101,303,707,808,909) of course if chris can tweak things to get phatter sounds i'm all for it but i'd be better interested in more drum synth oriented parameters, like a new window enabling easier analog drum creation & control (again a good example is the drum synth engine in machinedrum with completely dedicated and intuitive parameters wether kick,snare,hh,tomtom etc ) and of course the great features like fill & auto-fill on the 808, x0x pattern chaining and 303 slide,rest in tie for the step sequencer… those feature are to me just as important as sound which is why so many clones fail imo..
Yeah I am Looney, I need some Xanax to calm me down!
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Originally Posted by ProfessorNick View Post
File 1 has a great snappy snare and file 2's kick is more 808'ish.
I like #1, and assume it is the 909. A moot point since I can't afford either unit, so I'll just slink back to my korg electribe sx.
Hey Nick file 1 is the 909 correct!
Maybe I should have just not compressed and uploaded the 2 files with no processing!

Peace!
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Originally Posted by Pym View Post
Not disagreeing with your point here, but wanted to clarify some of the "whys" that you mentioned:

It doesn't really have anything to do with the parts being SMD or not, just the quality of what's inside. Surface mount caps and resistors for example shouldn't affect the sound too much.
depends .. not much.. but a little.. Nichicon muse do sound better than surface mount subminature electrolytics.. and ther are no surface mount foil caps..or?

In any case the often "better" parts of today give a more neutral sound and the circuits are often "better" designed to dont do distortions.

We dont know how much of the internal distortion of roland drummachines is planed or just the result of budget choices. Just.. the foil caps roland uses are not the standard green drops.. they use transparent green drops.. and these actually give a finer sound than the regular type.. So Roland was not always going for the cheaper part. In some points they use bipolar caps even when the audible difference to polar ones at that position is only minimal.. but fine.

Or i ve heard that the power supply of the old moog modular is intentionally made more noisy ..by design.. to give the synth circuits a richer sound.
And that people that replaced the original powersupply with a more modern one also "modernised" the sound of the whole synth in a bad way..

So it is a good question whether a synth should be designed as clean or as dirty as possible.. Really a matter of taste ..

But i think its interesting that in instrument design the technical better part or circuit is often the less interesting sounding.. Dirt is sometimes what makes a sound rich.

Look in some old phasor designs.. like the Schulte compact phasing A for example..

This is based on 741 op amps.. When you use something more modern, the "jet" sound is gone.. the filters need their own dirt to sing.. as soon they get cleaner they just do clean phasing.. and you dont hear that anymore.. as cleaner the phasing gets as less sound it has to itself. So the distortions are actually giving the feedback loop the flesh it needs to sing..

Anyway.. On a modern serial product you cant use ancient components..
And you target also customers that want it to be like an mpc with extras and not a lofi sampler...
I personally dont think that a drum machine needs to be transparent on samples as long it makes them fatter as they are ..like an old emu...

Is it allowed to ask what op amps you use inside the tempest?


Anyway.. i am sure you made the best possible out of the tempest.. sorry to hear about the software troubles.. But at least you work on it and dont leave it for years as it is, as some other companies did in the past.. good luck
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Originally Posted by xanax View Post
and of course the great features like fill & auto-fill on the 808, x0x pattern chaining and 303 slide,rest in tie for the step sequencer… those feature are to me just as important as sound which is why so many clones fail imo..
exactly..

the performance aspect and all the little features that was developed during the evolution of hardware sequenced sound generators do matter more than the output amps..

a miami labs 808 is maybe not sounding like a real 808..but it has a good sound nevertheless.. also more neutral and less distorted like all modern designs.. but ok..

just on the performance side it misses the fill in/tab button and the A, A+B, B bank switch badly.. thats very performant parameters on a 808..

Modern designs dont have as much controls.. that limits a bit..
Actually great that instruments like the tempest have so many of them again..

But look on the 808 with its limited feature set..

there are over 50 buttons and knobs for that limited feature set..and almost all of them get touched during a stage performance..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pym View Post
Mark and myself pushed VERY hard to get the filter opened up more on the top end because the samples were losing too much of the high end. The low end is "slightly" less at frequencies below 30Hz because of this, but in practice it's hardly noticeable since there's so much low energy anyways.
So you shifted the spectral balance a little towards the highs?
Maybe thats what i hear there thats a bit against my personal preferences..

Is it thinkabel that such a global balance could become a user tunable setup parameter like a global tune offset for the filters? or is that manifested in the circuit design now?
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The 808 and 909 use discrete parts for sound generation to begin with and then op amps with a rather limited slew rate take away a little top end (it still goes A LOT higher than 20khz) and add a nice, punchy distortion. Those film caps are good enough for the task, they're inexpensive metallized polyester.

In the Tempest you've got the sound-generation on a chip, some VCA's, op amps with a rather higher slew rate (this is what I guess at least), SMT parts are all that fits so film caps are out of the question (they tend not to survive the baking process), so you're basically stuck with rather nasty sounding ceramics in the critical range. Also consider that with everything packed densely you probably have to limit the analog circuits range severely to block interference from all those digital circuits.

It's perfectly possible to build amazing sounding analog circuits with todays off-the-shelf parts (including SMT parts if you use through-hole in some critical places), but the complexity and space requirements for something like the 909 would not fit easily into the Tempest's footprint - and not allow for the modular structure.

I don't think the "spectral balance" is the issue here, the sound simply isn't there.

You've basically got to choose between the best sound and the best features. Unless you want to end up with something as pricy and complicated to keep up as the Jomox Sunsyn.


Moog never intentionally build a noisy PSU, that's just how it came out. The Minimoog is another happy accident, I think.
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they both sound like something you could easily make a nice track with, sonically speaking, but i'm not really sure why the beat is different. so... why is the beat different? ... idk perhaps it would be more interesting and/or useful if the same beat were programmed for both examples... who knows? because they are, after all, both completely different beats. plus, it's pretty simple to roll off the highs on the the hi-hat on the second example. i know i would do that. anyway... thank you for posting examples- confirms my desire for a 909! btw i have Tempest (among MANY drum machines...) and I love it. it's just so versatile, deep, and beautiful- i have to say, my general opinion is that any of its perceived sonic shortcomings are likely down to programming ability.

Last edited by charles chocula; 7th May 2012 at 03:28 AM.. Reason: comma haha
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The Miami doesn't really cut it for me either, unfortunately.

What I'd really like to see is a modern sampler/drum machine like the MPCs with all the modlern bells and whistles and the glorious sound of the oldschool samplers with punch, grit and discrete analog filters and quick VCAs, and some simple discrete analog building blocks to make drum sounds from scratch.
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Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
Moog never intentionally build a noisy PSU, that's just how it came out. The Minimoog is another happy accident, I think.
maybe.. thats what the guy that did the synth service for tangerine dream in the 70´s told me.. But intentionally noisy or by lucky accident..
Its interesting that the technical inferior powersupply can be the one that leads to a better sound of a synth..

Also the old cole resitors with their little more noise add up in a synth circuit.. and result in a warmer sound.. you cant even buy cole film resistors anymore.. they are all metalfim by now..
Looneytune
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#59
7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
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Very interesting info here guys, thanks for sharing!
Yeah I hear most cats that want the 808 SOUND reach for the Miami.
Never used one though, I am curious to listen to one though!
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7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
T Also consider that with everything packed densely you probably have to limit the analog circuits range severely to block interference from all those digital circuits.
That is also a factor that can lead to brittleness in the highs.. interfearance with the high frequncy circuits of the processor..when you look in older digital analog instruments and see how much effort they made sometimes to isolate the boards with ferrit beads all over the place.. But all the modern machines dont need that anymore because it sits all on one board anyway... thats makes one wonder a little...
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