November 14, 2006

909 + 303 = 1212. I guess.

by Chris Randall

I've been keeping an eye on this new company D16 Audio Group for a bit now, both from a professional standpoint (in my role as VP of Audio Damage) and as an interested bystander.

They released a 303 emulator called Phoscyon a couple months back, and someone tipped me to it via the AI tip line (I forget who, so sorry for not giving you props). The thing that caught my eye was the UI, obviously done in 3DS Max (which is my own chosen medium of UI design; I can see it a mile away.) In any case, we were like "well, they're certainly on the right track."

Today, they announced Drumazon (glamor shot pictured above), which is a 909 emulator. The one thing I'll say about these guys is that they don't do anything by half measures. Both of these plugs seem to be incredibly thorough representations of their respective inspirations. I haven't nutted up and bought either of them, nor downloaded the demos (available for the 303), but I've listened to the audio demos, and they seem to have gotten quite close to the mark with both.

Anyways, if you make the crazy electronic dance music all the kids love today, you probably want to take a gander at these two. $117 for the 303 and $163 for the 909. VSTi only, but both Win and UB OSX.



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Nov.14.2006 @ 8:53 PM
It wasn't until I read the post that I realized it ISN'T hardware.

Nov.14.2006 @ 10:43 PM
Meng Qi
I always wish this can be a hardware. Or a software core with a hardware controller.

Nov.14.2006 @ 11:19 PM
How many 303 and or 909 emulations does the world need?

Nov.15.2006 @ 12:07 AM
Chris Randall
936. And with these two I think we're almost there.



Nov.15.2006 @ 7:22 AM
Not that I object, but I find it ironic that a genre with the futuristic name "techno" is so obsessed with 20 y.o.+ drum machines. (I don't know exactly how old the 909 is, but you get my point.)

Nov.15.2006 @ 8:05 AM

Well, the early Techno people were big on stuff like the Roland R-8 and Korg 707 (Not to be confused with the Roland tr-707), and the Acid House people were big on the Roland tr-909 and tb-303. I don't know at what point the term Techno grew from meaning the futuristic (at least at the time) dance music from Detroit, to meaning all electronic dance music in general... but the term "Techno" meant only what is now described as "Detroit Techno" back in 1987.

But even going back to the Roland tb-303, musicians started using the 303 because it was cheap! I remember even back in the very early 90s seeing one in my local second hand shop for $50 (and that is well after the whole acid-house thing). The first people weren't using it because they thought it was the be-all end-all synthesizer (like the cats who worship the 303 nowadays), but because it was a wicked sounding little machine they could pick up for next to nothing. This was of course back when electronic dance music was actually underground, so people didn't have dollars to drop on the newest equipment.

The modern day equivalent to the 303 would probably be a cheap laptop with free software... Something that a kid can pick up for dirt cheap and start cranking out some underground music with. And in 20 years rich white guys with lots of dough will be buying the old laptops that urban black kids are creating the next-great-music on today. :)

But I am rambling... Yes, I do find it ironic that electronic musicians seemed to be obsessed with 20 year old machines.


Nov.15.2006 @ 9:34 AM
Another factor is that in the late 80s-early 90s, much of the new hardware was really dreadful. For a while there it was almost nothing but romplers, and ones with bad, no-knobs interfaces at that.

Nov.15.2006 @ 11:10 AM
There's something that RexRhino & caceaelian alluded to; namely that "Techno" refers to the late '80s early '90s Derek May influenced quantized electronic music.

IMHO you can instantly date how old a person is by their use of the word "Techno". Most people who are somewhat familiar with current electronic genres (house, trance, D&B, etc.) will rarely use or misuse this term, i.e. calling house music "Techno". Those people over 30 or those unfamiliar with Dance music will often use "Techno" as a blanket term covering all types of electronic music.


Nov.15.2006 @ 11:29 AM
Regarding vintage machines, I wonder if 20 years from now all the musicians will be scrambling to capture that special "digital" sound, and collecting middle of the road digital devices from the early 2000s. Much like everyone is trying to get a vintage analog sound these days. Maybe we'll start seeing effects boxes with special "solid-state chill" akin to "tube warmth".

Nov.15.2006 @ 11:47 AM
"Those people over 30 or those unfamiliar with Dance music will often use "Techno" as a blanket term covering all types of electronic music."

I'll plead guilty with exceptions. I am over 30 (40 to be exact). I use "techno" as a blanket term for all the stuff that resulted from that first wave of techno artists (Derek May, Juan Atkins, et al). Techno didn't end in Detroit. All that Tresor/Berlin stuff from the 90's is still very much techno, and Basic Channel, although deeply dub influenced, is still techno to me.

Slayer is still rock even though it doesn't sound at all like "Rocket 88".

It's not that I'm not aware of all the various dance music subgenres around now; I'm just bored and disgusted with the balkanization of music. It's made an evening at a nightclub one suffocatingly bland experience: Oh great, I'm in for an entire evening of "Uplifting Trance". Really, do we need to distinguish between different types of trance? Should I dress according to genre? What shoes go with deep house?


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