In the box, inside the world of the computer, sound has few limits. It’s clean, it’s pristine; mimicking perfectly-miked drum kits or high-fidelity sounds is as easy as dialing in the gigs of samples you’ve assembled.
But … wait a minute. It’s too clean. There’s something beautiful about a digital circuit, screaming and crunching as it cranks out every last bit. Those bits … hurt. There’s some personality to a peculiar machine that seems like it crawled out of a heap of circuit boards, staring back at you, blinking – winking?
And in that world of anthropomorphic alien sound machines, Austin, Texas’s Dr. Bleep has stood apart. We admired the digital grunge of his creations before. “Rad-fi,” he calls it, in marketing speak. Now it just got a whole lot more useful, because of the brave new wonder of MIDI. Now you can live in the post-digital fusion of 80s-tinged, pushed-to-the-bleeding-edge digital microcontroller sound with clip automation in Ableton Live, or what have you. (Or, better yet, plug it into some other MIDI find on eBay. I’m not a hipster, I swear, though I might dress up as one for Halloween or play one on the Internet.)
The result is a drum machine that doesn’t sound like other drum machines.
US$75 if you like to solder. $110 if you want to get playing right away. Shipping mid-November.
And, here’s a win for digital: you aren’t limited to the sound a particular analog circuit happens to make. You can use the nice samples included, or hack in your own – see the hacking guide.
If you’re reading this and you were an early adopter of the Dam Dam or original Bleep Drum, the same hacks work, and there’s even a kit to retrofit your previous board with MIDI. I have to admit, MIDI is what held me back from craving one of these before. Now that you can use it in a rig, I’m sold.
But let’s run the specs again:
- Four sounds, two with pitch control
- Four selectable sequences
- Record patterns just by playing them
- Tap tempo
- Reverse mode
- Hypernoise 30XX mode
- Stereo 1/8″ output