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In-depth Feature:  Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1
Nick B writes: .

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About Those Inputs
The 2 inputs (A or B) can either be used as external triggers for internal sounds (eg: from external pads or sound sources) or, and this is where it can get pretty interesting, routing audio signals into the Machinedrums internal filters and FX. For instance, you could send a drum loop (or anything else) triggered from an external sequencer locked to the Machinedrum, then filter and tweak the sound against the pattern that’s playing. It’s very cool. The FX and routing can be tweaked in real-time just like any of the other voices. Inputs A + B are treated separately, allowing 2 separate sources to be processed although I couldn’t see a way of linking them for stereo operation.

Creating Your Own Patterns + Songs
Basically, there are two methods of inputting your patterns. Grid – (play then record) the good old real-time record way.
In Grid, choose the voice you want to program then selecting any of the 16 drum pads will play that voice at the position you choose. EG: pads 1,5,9,13 with the BD (Bass Drum) voice will give you a 4-on-the-floor BD pattern.

Record – (play and record together) hitting any of the 16 pad buttons will play that voice, keep on layering up the voices you want to create the final pattern. To delete the voice press Exit/NO and the selected voice pad. This was the one area where I felt the SPS-1 had a weak spot – it would be useful to have a metronome sound to get you started when recording a pattern. It is possible to write a quarter note hi hat part in grid mode to give you the timing reference before you record in overdub mode but I’d rather not have to.

Once you have created your patterns, chaining them together into songs is simple and intuitive. Each pattern occupies a row within the song pattern list, each row displaying the pattern location, number of repeats as well as some nifty functions such as setting the start point of the pattern playback and the number of beats after the playback point – effectively, you can make up many ‘new’ patterns from an existing single pattern using this method and create time signature shifts easily.

One other nifty feature is the ability to trigger patterns from note on events, effictively allowing the SPS-1 to act like a traditional sampler. Of course, you can also trigger individual sounds via midi should you wish, using the SPS-1 as a sound source only, though this would be under-using the unit IMHO.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Machinedrum Website
  • Machinedrum official samples
  • Drum machines @ synth site
  • SPS-1 Demo Song (10mb mp3)
  • Discuss SPS1 @ TGS

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