Recreating the famous Roland TR-808 bass drum sound

The Roland TR-808 has a legendary status. Roland released the TR-808 as a good and cheap drummachine for making demos. It is not at all sounding as realistic and fat as the LinnDrum, it sounds rather thin and synthetic. But because it was cheap it got used a lot, in early hiphop, soul and disco music. And it’s still being used A LOT!

Most fans of the TR-808 are in adoration with the sound of the bass drum. It’s a very low sounding sound for which its decay can be set to a slower/longer setting for getting these supper low bass drummmmm kind of sounds. Indeed: a super cool sound.

It uses the simplest waveform of all waveforms: a sine wave. Maybe that’s the reason why it still works in almost any type of music, because it’s so pure, just a sine wave pitched real low. Nothing fancy or special.

Because it’s so simple this sound which has turned the TR-808 in a classic is actually a sound which can be recreated with most synths. In Reason it can be done using a Thor or a Malström synth-device. Listen for example to my example below. You will hear 4 bass drums which are at the same peak level (the perception of the power of these sounds differs although they are all set at the same level). Only one of them is a true analog Roland TR-808 bass drum, the other sounds are: 2 Thor versions and 1 Malström TR-808 BD simulation. Can you tell me which one is the real TR-808?


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