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Blog » Transistor Revolution or Not?

21st December 2012  |  2 comments

To celebrate the release of Transistor Revolution for Kontakt player we wanted to pay homage to the classic instruments that started it all!

Liked or not, the TR-808 and TR-909 are among the most influential electronic instruments ever created. Indeed the sound of these classic analogue drum machines can be heard time and time again in electronic music spanning the ages.

But what were they all about? and why did they become so successful at various times in Electronic Music history?

We have delved a little into the background of these instruments to find out...

Revolution 808

Introduced in 1980 by a popular Japanese manufacturer of electronic instruments, the TR-808 was one of the first fully programmable drum machines that featured a sequencer and completely analogue generated sounds. Originally intended as a way for musicians to provide rhythm tracks to home demo's, the TR-808 was far from the marketing success it was hoped to be when launched. Due to it's analogue circuitry it couldn't compete against the realism of digital drum machines of the time and was seen by many as inferior. Even by the standards of other now vintage drum machines the TR-808 had no standard MIDI support and all programming had to be done with the internal 16-step sequencer.

What was seen as a limitation in the early eighties is now thought of as the TR-808's greatest strength. The fact that it is a fully analogue drum machine means their is a character and depth to the sound which, unlike digital drum machines, evolves as the machine is played and has an unmistakable low end punch and snap.

Although production of the TR-808 stopped in 1983, and only 12,000 were ever produced, by the time Hip-hop had reached popularity a few short years later the 808 - and especially it's bass drum - became the defining sound of the genre. The TR-808 is now considered to be the most recorded electronic drum machine of the last 30 years and is still used on countless songs and productions today. Although the TR-808 sounds are still widely used, most producers and artists are forced to arrange individual recordings from the original unit as the rarity, price and inability to fully integrate the machine into modern production environments have kept it out of reach... until today

Revolution 808 Features at a Glance



  • Intuitive user interface faithful to the original hardware.
  • Precision start point editing for tight drums.
  • 7 Layers of Round Robin sampling for unique variations between individual drum hits.
  • Long sample lengths which preserve the natural decay of the drums without truncation.
  • High quality effects including; EQ, Compression, Tape Saturation, Transient Shaping, Filters and Bit Crushing allow for premium sound shaping.
  • Sampled at 24bit 96kHz.
  • Designed for both production and the live performer.
  • Over 3600 unique samples which cover every possible tonal variation of an original TR-808.
Revolution 909

Originally developed as accompaniment for songwriters and backup for hotel lobby performers, the TR-909 was the last great transistor rhythm machine created by the same manufacturer of the TR-808. It was the second of designer Tadao Kikumoto?s two ground breaking instruments of the 1980?s - which also included the TB-303, and has an unmistakable sound that is unlike any other drum machine of the last 25 years.

Featuring a hybrid of analogue components and early digital sampling the TR-909 used the best technology of the early eighties to create it's unique sound. The Bass, Snare, Toms, Rim Shot and Clap all generated their sound using analogue technology and have a snap, punch and body that it unmistakably analogue. While the Hi Hats, Ride and Crash use 6-bit digital samples that allow for drastic re-pitching with aliasing and digital artifacts similar to other classic samplers of that era.

Forming the foundation for 90's House and a staple of techno, Hip-Hop and all styles of electronic pop for almost thirty years. The TR-909 drum machine has been used on countless records by artists from Jean-Michel Jarre and Daft Punk to Radiohead and Kanye West.

Revolution 909 Features at a Glance



  • Available in Standalone, VST, AU and RTAS instrument formats for Windows and Mac OS X via the free Kontakt Player from Native Instruments.
  • Intuitive user interface faithful to the original hardware.
  • Precision start point editing for tight drums.
  • 7 Layers of Round Robin sampling for unique variations between individual drum hits.
  • Long sample lengths which preserve the natural decay of the drums without truncation.
  • High quality effects including; EQ, Compression, Tape Saturation, Transient Shaping, Filters and Bit Crushing allow for premium sound shaping.
  • Sampled at 24bit 96kHz.
  • Designed for both production and the live performer.
  • Over 21,000 unique samples.

For the Early Birds and TR Purists...

We would love to hear feedback from those who have already purchased Transistor Revolution or played with the free demo version! Your opinion and thoughts both good or bad will help us with future Wave Alchemy projects.

Furthermore we would love to hear from anyone who has done an A/B comparison between Transistor Revolution and the original TR-808 and TR-909 instruments. Do you think that Transistor Revolution is good enough to replace the hardware in your studio?

Thank you for taking time to comment below.

The Wave Alchemy Team

Join the discussion

Toby
04/03/2013
I was pretty blown away with this! About as close as your going to get! And if you want to get closer... you'll have to buy the real thing! :)

Anyone looking for go to 808-909 sounds should give this a go!
wonder
04/03/2013
Best 808/900 yet!
Nice work.

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