We’ve managed to get hold of an early unit of Behringer’s analog drum machine the RD-8. Yes it's an analog remake/clone/re-imagining of the classic TR-808.
We don’t make a habit of looking at pre production gear, but THE RD-8 has generated so much interest, we feel it would be rude not to. We're also told that this is pretty much the finished article.
The main difference from this and Roland’s own TR-08 (the Boutique model), is that this is analogue and is closer to the original in terms of size and also features separate 1/4 outs for the drums and triggers, whereas the Roland has audio outs on USB (which is quite handy for individual drum processing and recording)
The Behringer also adds more tweak ability to some of the drums - bass drum gets tuning (essential), clap gets a sort of reverb blend, hi-hats get a tone control too.
But that’s not all - the programming interface has been modernized to offer up to 64 steps per pattern, swing (not on the original) , flam, note repeat, random and probability.
In addition, there’s also an FX bus which has a Wave Designer (like a compressor/transient shaper) and a Low pass/High pass Resonant Filter (routing is both or none) - you also can record filter moves (freq only) into each pattern.
Bussing settings (as well as many others) can be stored globally, by song, or per pattern.
Gaz has been spending some time with the drum machine and brought it in to take a look.
First up, it sounds pretty good, the kick does have a considerable weight to it and the other voices are pretty dang close - although we know each 30+ year old 808 has it's own sound, I’m sure the real thing may be slightly
Operationally, it has way more programmability than the original with 16 songs, each with 16 patterns of up to 64 steps. You can create way more complex rhythms including a Polymetric mode - different beat lengths per voice.
We are told that they are about to push the button at the factory to start major production, so these machines should be arriving in the stores sometime soon, the price we’re told is round £299/$299. Build quality feels about right for the price.
This is one of Behringer’s most anticipated releases and we feel that they’ve got it about right - it sounds good and plays well, though there is a little programming learning curve.
Only couple of things: would be nice to be able to trigger each voice with it's own select pad rather than just the trigger button (all voices are available over MIDI), to be able to store voice level/tuning with each pattern would be nice. Oh, and if the USB was also individual outs as audio, that would be awesome - thanks.
However, this is still an impressive amount of drum machine for the money.
Bonus points for the title of the Trevor Horn production referenced...
The philosophy of designing organismic instruments