29 March 2011

Not your average TR808

The Roland TR808 has to be my favourite drum machine ever, it's got such a classic sound I'll never tire of. However lots of you out there may be bored of it already which is why I've got something different for you today.

If you examine the right side of my TR808 here you'll notice three inputs and a little switch. "Hmmm..." you are wondering, "what are these for?" Well I'm glad you asked! First of all the little switch there disables (and then re-enables) the built in reverb on the clap. You'll always hear a bit of reverb on a regular 808's clap, however when turned off with a modification like this it can sound quite interesting, mainly because we're so used to the reverb on it probably.

The three inputs are audio inputs which, when connected to an audio source, uses that audio instead of the 808s regular internal audio for different parts of the drum sounds. Confused? I was at first too! Let me explain: Routing audio into input one will replace the noise source used for the snare, toms and the clap signal. So instead of the 808 noise circuit, you'll hear whatever sound you put in when the drum hit sounds.

Routing audio to input two will replace the noise source used in the cymbals, and hi hat, while routing audio to input three will replace the reverb of the clap with the audio.

But enough boring words, I recorded a sample of it using an RSF Kobol (more on this another time) as the audio in. Remember this is all just the TR808 main output, no reverb or other effects were used except for a tiny bit of compression (the kind that wouldn't make Bob Katz cry hopefully):

Modified TR808 by splitradix

Edit: Rick just commented below to let me know he's the one who modified this very 808! His website can be found here: www.electricmusicbox.com


  1. I Modded this 808 a few years ago for my friend Ross... I'd recognize it anywhere.. he sold it in germany a year or so back



  2. Hi Rick, I bought it in Germany a year or so back, looks like it's the one you modified! Did I describe the functionality of the inputs correctly? :)

  3. you did

    those are some of the mods on my Whittle 808.. before he did the devilfish 303 he did 808s... mine has extra memory and some other accent mods.. had i known ross would ever sell that i wouldn't have done the mods so count yourself lucky!