In the box, inside the world of the computer, sound has few limits. It’s clean, it’s pristine; mimicking perfectly-miked drum kits or high-fidelity sounds is as easy as dialing in the gigs of samples you’ve assembled.

But … wait a minute. It’s too clean. There’s something beautiful about a digital circuit, screaming and crunching as it cranks out every last bit. Those bits … hurt. There’s some personality to a peculiar machine that seems like it crawled out of a heap of circuit boards, staring back at you, blinking – winking?

And in that world of anthropomorphic alien sound machines, Austin, Texas’s Dr. Bleep has stood apart. We admired the digital grunge of his creations before. “Rad-fi,” he calls it, in marketing speak. Now it just got a whole lot more useful, because of the brave new wonder of MIDI. Now you can live in the post-digital fusion of 80s-tinged, pushed-to-the-bleeding-edge digital microcontroller sound with clip automation in Ableton Live, or what have you. (Or, better yet, plug it into some other MIDI find on eBay. I’m not a hipster, I swear, though I might dress up as one for Halloween or play one on the Internet.)

The result is a drum machine that doesn’t sound like other drum machines.

US$75 if you like to solder. $110 if you want to get playing right away. Shipping mid-November.

And, here’s a win for digital: you aren’t limited to the sound a particular analog circuit happens to make. You can use the nice samples included, or hack in your own – see the hacking guide.

drum midi assembled


If you’re reading this and you were an early adopter of the Dam Dam or original Bleep Drum, the same hacks work, and there’s even a kit to retrofit your previous board with MIDI. I have to admit, MIDI is what held me back from craving one of these before. Now that you can use it in a rig, I’m sold.

But let’s run the specs again:

– Four sounds, two with pitch control
– Four selectable sequences
– Record patterns just by playing them
– Tap tempo
– Reverse mode
– Hypernoise 30XX mode
– Stereo 1/8″ output

Good stuff.