Friday, April 25, 2008

I fucking *LOVE* the MachineDrum

I <3 MachineDrum.

Thursday night, after a long frustrating day at work, I came home and I just needed to do something creative...I had to make some music and just relax. Since the modular is still down without a case, I fired up the MachineDrum and dug into making a pattern; something I hadn't done in a while.

I quickly started to remember why I told Surachai that it was my "desert island" piece of gear. If someone came into my studio and said "All this shit has got to go...you can only keep one" it would be the MachineDrum, and I feel this way now more than ever.

Starting off, designing a "kit" is extremely intuitive and the range of "machines" is pretty impressive. My favorites tend to be the E12 (E-Mu SP1200) and the TRX (Roland TR Series) and, of course, the ROM machines (playing stored samples). With all of these machines, you have a serious amount of tonal control; pitch, decay, filter, ring mod, sample start/end, retrigger, delay send, verb send, and more. The more you think about each machine as "tone generators" and less as "drum sounds" the more flexible the MachineDrum becomes in your hands.

Where the MachineDrum really shines though is it's sequencer. From a basic overview, the sequencer is a simple 808/909 style sequencer, with each machine in the kit having it's own track (16 in total). However, where it really takes off is with the sequencer's "Parameter Locks". At any step that is enabled to trigger a sound, you simply hold down the button for that step and tweak any of the parameters for that machine and at that step, those parameters are used. It's like super easy DAW automation; it can even be tweaked in realtime record mode. At any step, if you don't like some parameter locks, just hold down the button for the step again and click in the appropriate param knob and you clear the lock. You can use this to make accents, change filter freq, or even program melodies (have to do by ear, but possible).

It doesn't end there though, each MachineDrum kit has 16 LFOs. By default, each LFO is setup to control it's own track, but simply turing the first parameter knob allows you to assign any LFO to any track and then to any parameter on that track. There are also settings for LFO trigger/reset as well as two separate LFO waveforms with a blend between the two shapes. A couple of the LFO shapes are actually Attack-Decay envelopes, allowing to you use the LFO to program step triggered envelopes.

There's also a great Mute mode (allowing you to mute tracks while play back for performance) a realtime (vs stepped) recording mode, and all sorts of other bells and whistles. All together it makes for a damn fine music box. I feel calling it a drum machine really limits what it's capable of.

Here's the pattern I came up with Thursday night. All MachineDrum...track mutes performed live as I was recording the clip.



I'm now on the hunt for a MonoMachine. After browsing through the MnM manual, I see the same well thought out flexibility as I do with the MachineDrum. Anyone looking to off a MnM SFX-60 MKI, hit me up. Why the MKI...well cause it's gonna be cheaper, but mainly because the MKII is thinner and having it next to my thicker MKI MachineDrum would drive my OCD "fucking crazy". XD

10 comments:

J.w.M. said...

Better lock that MachineDrum up, because I absolutely LOVE the sound of that track. Absolutely 100% my choice type of music (ambient noise, cool beat, etc.). Superb!

synthetic said...

http://www.modularsynth.net/viewtopic.php?t=1305

synthetic said...

^
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FYI, That was a Monomachine Mk1 for sale post.

synthetic said...

^
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FYI, That was a Monomachine Mk1 for sale post. I should have mentioned that instead of just dropping in a link, sorry.

felix said...

I noticed, thanks!

Unfortunately, with the EU->US$ exchange, it's a little to much for me right now.

It's actually a little too much for me *right now* anyway...I need to wait for my economy stimulus check to show up ;)

Jae said...

Hilo!

Do you have the UW Machinedrum? I'm seriously considering one of these and cant seem to decide if the sampling/resampling ability is worth the extra cash.

also, your blog is fantastic, I'm in the process of trying to build my first modular and you're posts are extremely informational.

J

felix said...

Hey Jae,
I do have the UW version and it's definitely worth it IMO.

I've never actually used it for sampling, and haven't even loaded in my own samples, however, the sound shaping ability that the ROM Machines have (the sample players) is outstanding! You have control over start and stop of the sample, retriggering as well as retrigger time, decay, etc. I find that most of my favorite sounds come from manipulating the ROM Machines...and I haven't even changed the default sample set yet!!!

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, I'm glad so many folks are getting good info from it. I promise to post more often ;)

consumed said...

this is a great recording of the MD!
i have a lovehate relationship with my MD.
somedays i think to sell it, and others i think its essential.
are you using the default sample rom here? the sounds in your recording dont quite sound like the stock machines.

felix said...

Thanks! After listening to your demo, I'm well complimented by that!

I *think* it's the default sample ROMs. I bought my MD used and those are the sounds that were on there when I got it (judiciously tweaked in that example though). They very well could be the last owner's sounds.

jenny said...

What's with the MD Love Hate. I'm the same. And this track makes me Love.