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Why Roland’s new 303 and 909 might even be better than the originals

One, two, three – Roland has finally made the 303 bassline, 909 drum machine, and VP-330 vocoder that so many people wanted. They’re small, they’re really affordable ($349-399), and they’ve got modern features. But after decades of remakes that strayed from the very things that made people love the originals, at last Roland has learned from their own legacy. So, let’s talk about what’s new and what, mercifully, isn’t.

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Watch these video reviews of 303, 909 and comparisons to originals

Now, with the embargo lifted on new Roland gear, brace yourself for a lot of discussion. On some level, any comparison of a $349-$399 new gadget to anything before it is a bit silly – when original 909s start selling for three figures, let us know. And I think starting with a direct comparison misses the point: the TR-909 and TB-303 sound terrific, and you’re unlikely to record or play either totally dry. (Classic records, uh, used processing too, ya know?) Relax and go enjoy a great drum machine and bassline.


Jeff Mills Strips Bare Electronic Technique, Wants to Liberate DJs

Exhibitionist2TrailerFR from AxisRecords on Vimeo. For all the multi-camera Boiler Room rigs and debates over how vinyl records make music more visible than on a laptop, there’s an elephant in the room. Most electronic music fans don’t have any clue what’s going on. And even if you do, most of the technique behind the records is invisible – doubly so when the prevalence of DJing emphasizes mixing over musical improvisation. So, Jeff Mills’ “Exhibitionist 2” project – a film and performance series following up on the video/music release of a decade ago – seems both compelling and aptly named. It …


808 Site Found: Five Drum Machines Now Live In Your Browser

It’s finally happened. The 808 is now a tab in your browser. And it’s brought friends. Sure, they’re called “hip hop, house, electro, techno, and acoustic” but – you’re not fooling anyone. (Least of all because some of those genres use the other machines.) That’s an acoustic kit, plus the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, Elektron Machinedrum, and Roger Linn’s Linndrum. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drum machines emulated in a browser. But coding for the rich Web, and browsers in general, have each gotten a lot better, so the experience has improved. And, crucially, this isn’t just a …


Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live

It’s “the science of being imperfect” – and Mad Zach is one heck of a mad scientist at it. We all know Ableton Live productions, even sometimes from fairly skilled music makers, can get painfully stuck on the grid. If that’s the disease, Mad Zach has the cure. Armed with Ableton Live and together with releasing a very special, very useful sound pack, this insanely-prolific DJ, producer, writer, and educator has some advice for how to get the soul and groove back in your machines. CDM teamed up with our friends at Beatport Sounds to work with Zach on an …


Before Computers, the Godfather of House Made Remixes with Razor Blades: Frankie Knuckles, RIP

The picture of old-school DJing is someone hauling around a crate of records. Frankie Knuckles, the house pioneer, was playing The Warehouse in Chicago and touring with reels of tapes. Remixing was something done with a razor blade. The saddening news has arrived that “godfather of house” Frankie Knuckles has died at the age of 59. His friend and collaborator David Morales shared the news via Twitter late Tuesday. (See Ben Rogerson’s report in MusicRadar, which comments a bit on the origins of Jamie Principle’s Your Love.) The man most associated with Chicago house music actually was born in the …


Roland Recalls TR-909 History in Aira Teaser; Reminds You Original Used Samples

Roland hasn’t been this buzzed about in a very long time. But in its carefully-calculated teaser campaign for Aira, the company is back in a big way. And we’re slowly getting to see the four Aira devices to be introduced this week. We know Aira will include a drum machine. We know there will be a TR-08. We know there was a video recalling the history of the TR-808. Now, Roland is talking TR-909 history. You can either take that to mean something about the TR-08, or that a TR-909 reboot will accompany the TR-08. Teaser campaign aside, fans of …