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Blog » Transistor Revolution Or Not?... MKII

15th November 2013  |  8 comments

Almost a year ago we asked the question; can a software instrument replace the original TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines?

After countless hours of research and development, extensive Kontakt scripting (and 25,000 samples later), we believe that we succeeded in faithfully capturing and offering the sound, tone and magic of these iconic drum machines in a software instrument - Transistor Revolution.

Whilst Transistor Revolution MK1 succeeded in capturing the 'authentic' sound and tonal variations of the TR-808 and TR-909, we soon came to realize that one important feature was missing, a feature that makes the original TR-808 and TR-909 so unique and fun to use - a step sequencer... This was confirmed by the many customer requests soon after release day.

Since its conception, Transistor Revolution has remained very close to our hearts. Our aim with Transistor Revolution was always to produce a product that could completely replace the hardware in our own productions, and so one year later we are proud to announce the release of Transistor Revolution MKII!

Transistor Revolution MKII has been fully redesigned from the ground up; now featuring an improved workflow and new graphical interface, an extensive 'TR style' 16-track step sequencer, unified instruments for both the 808 and 909, a dedicated 10-track mixer, a master tape section boasting individual tape saturation per sound, and much more.

In this blog post I will introduce some of the new features found in Transistor Revolution MKII, as well as provide video demonstrations of the instrument in use, courtesy of the creator - Matt Fudge.

Unified Instruments

Whereas Transistor Revolution Mk1 offered 10 individual instruments (one for each drum sound), MKII now features a single unified instrument for each of the TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. This significant re-design makes editing and processing the individual drum sounds a breeze, and allows for a much quicker, streamlined workflow, as well as seamless integration with our brand new in-built step-sequencer and live mode.

Check out the following TR MKII introduction video, where developer Matt Fudge gives a brief overview of TR MKII's new features.

Step Sequencer

The most significant new feature of TR MKII is its in-built step sequencer. Transistor Revolution now boasts an easy-to-use, 10-track, 16-step step-sequencer which can be used to seamlessly sequence any or all of the 808/909 drum sounds in real-time. Features include:

  • 16-steps, where users are able to input an accented or un-accented volume individually for each drum sound. The volume of the un-accented notes can be easily changed by the sequencer's 'un-accented volume control parameter'
  • Host tempo sync - Turn on tempo sync to automatically sync TR MKII's sequencer to your host/DAW. A 'rate' selector control determines the synchronised rate or speed at which the sequencer will move from one step to another. The sequencer can also be used in 'free' mode, where a knob allows fine adjustment of the sequencer speed.
  • Swing / Shuffle - The swing/shuffle knob determines the Swing/Shuffle groove of the internal sequencer by adding negative or positive delay to sub-divisions of each beat. A great way to add interest to your beats...
  • Pattern Load / Save - TR MKII is able to store 16 patterns on the fly, which can be recalled, copied and saved in real-time using the on-screen controls or by simply inputting the midi notes associated with each pattern. This is a great feature which makes building complex patterns, or switching patterns in a live situation an absolute breeze! The instrument ships with hundreds of pre-designed patterns to get you started - a great source of inspiration.

Check out the following TR MKII Step Sequencer video, where developer Matt Fudge demonstrates TRMKII's sequencer and its advanced controls:

Sound Editing & Advanced Sampler Options

As previously mentioned, TR MKII now features unified instruments which allow for extremely quick and easy editing of each parameter. As well as this new re-design, we have taken things a step further by adding an advanced sampler options page. Here it is possible to additional and individually digitally tune each sound type, as well as change the bit-depth, sample-rate and a low-pass filter amount for each individual drum sound. This opens up a lot of exciting possibilities for sound design, and massively expands the 808/909 sound palette!

Check out the following TR MKII Advanced Editing and Sampler Options video, where developer Matt Fudge demonstrates TRMKII's sound editing and advanced sampler options.

Track Mixer & Multi-Track Tape Machine

Another impressive new feature of TR MKII is its built-in track mixer and tape machine module. TR MKII features a 10-track mixer, boasting volume, mute, solo and pan controls along with a dedicated processing chain for each individual drum sound with EQ, Compression and a Transient Shaper. Additionally each channel has 2 effects sends (reverb or delay x 2) which are fully programmable and loaded with custom built Impulse Responses. The track mixer and processing modules/fx allow for complete mixes to be built within the instrument itself, great for both live and studio use.

The 'Master Page' features a multi-track tape machine module with input drive, tape volume and output gain for each individually drum channel. The tape parameters can be individually set for each drum sound which allows for either subtle or extreme tape effects.

Ram Management

The addition of a fully customizable 'instrument settings' page gives you a wealth of powerful RAM saving options, offering the ability to change the playback mode of each sound individually or globally. Available sample playback modes include:

Analog - a unique drum voice will be generated for each beat (7 x round robins). This setting is useful for imitating the 'analog nature' of the original hardware instruments.
Digital - the same drum voice will be generated repeatedly. This mode is excellent for saving RAM and is also useful if the 'machine gun' effect is required.
SP1200 - Activates Kontakts SP1200 vintage sampling mode.
MPC60 - Activates Kontakts MPC60 vintage sampling mode.

Transistor Revolution or not?

We would love to hear feedback from those who have already purchased Transistor Revolution MKII or played with the free demo version!

Do you think TR MKII is good enough to replace the original TR-808 and TR-909? Your opinion and thoughts, either good or bad will help us with future Wave Alchemy projects. Please leave your comments and suggestions below!

A free demo version of TR MKII is available here
The full product can be purchased here

Join the discussion

Just a quick note to say that I am over the moon with Transistor Revolution MKII. I had contacted support as I was getting issues with clicking and I was helped through to getting it sounding smooth on my machine. The RAM management options are very welcome, and a quick change of my audio buffer settings made all the difference. Put the 808 kick through the UAD Little Labs Voice of God and tame it with a transient designer... WOW!
Nikola Gala
I have worked with 909-808 clones,sample libraries,all of them coming from quality companies and always thought that my 909 drums sounded quite convincing till I tried TR MKII demo,seriously,what have you done guys?!?
Going to get rid of all my 909-808 vsti and libraries NOW !!!
thank you so much!
Nikola Gala.
Michael Furey
Throughout the years I've collected a few special pieces of analogue gear from a list of personal 'must haves'. And though my collection is by no means vast, it certainly does contain a number of particularly lust-inducing vintage instruments.

For many years, the 808 and 909 machines have been among the top pieces on my analogue wish list. And of course I've spent a fair amount of time online checking around, hoping to find one or both of them in good condition from a reputable seller. However, I am so impressed and happy with Transistor Revolution that I've officially crossed the 808 and 909 off the list. In my opinion, TR really is that good.

It's become my go-to drum software in virtually every project I start. And because it's sound is so authentic, I've even created a few pieces that were directly inspired by it; pieces that might otherwise have never made it past the "quickly jotting down the idea on a piece of scrap paper while you're working out at the gym" phase, lol.

I'm a very happy customer, and I believe the guys at Wave Alchemy deserve due praise for their work. It's quite obviously a labor of love. And those kicks are so damn round and sweet ;)
Wave Alchemy
Hi Patrick! the whole WA team is over the moon to hear your positive feedback. Many thanks, we hope we can do just as good a job with up and coming instruments. Have fun! regards Steve H
Patrick K
In case I didn't make it clear in my earlier ramblings:

Yes, Transistor Revolution is definitely good enough to replace the TR-808 and TR-909 in my studio setup.

Using Transistor Revolution with Ableton Push has me thinking about relegating my original TRs to a display case.
Patrick K
I'm fortunate to have a real TR-808 and TR-909 sitting here with me. I love these machines, but Transistor Revolution IS my 808 and 909 when I need to be mobile... I've done the side by sides... my TRs are there inside my laptop for all practical purposes. Nothing can replace the visceral experience of sweating over the real deal, nor the accidents and craziness you might attempt when manically patching analog gear together, but Transistor Revolution delivers where all other TR-emulations of the past fail: the sound is there...all of it... every knob setting...end of story.

The step sequencer, updated UI, mixer section, and performance optimizations in MKII live up to the same lovingly-high standards established with MKI. Well worth the upgrade price.

Many thanks to Sounds Outside the Lines and Wave Alchemy for making plugins I'm actually excited to use.
Wave Alchemy
Hi Adrian, yes Transistor Revolution MKII comes with the MKI 'Legacy' version so you can load the original single instrument nki files to save on CPU power. You can also save CPU power in the MKII unified instruments by 'switching off' the playback mode for individual sounds in the 'Instrument Settings' page. Efficient Ram management is now possible with TR MKII.

Really happy you like the sound of TR! Have fun.
Can you still use the old version? Or can you just use one module, like for example, the 808 bass drum to save on cpu cycles?

I find that when using the whole of the MK1 version it could take up a fair amount of cpu, whereas sometimes I would sometimes only be using one or two sounds in any given track. I often delete the unused modules for this reason.

For me the main reason I love Transistor Revolution is for the round robin samples. They make for a really realistic sound. I used to own both an 808 and a 909 and it is this never hitting the same exact note twice that makes them (and Transistor Revolution) sound alive.

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