This is what many drum machine fans were waiting for: following their remade 909, D16 has its 808 plug-in reboot, and it looks and sounds gorgeous. Here’s what’s new.
The TL:DR version here, if you followed my review of D16’s TR-909 recreation Drumazon 2, is this: Nepheton 2 is that, but it’s an 808. You have the same pattern sequencing and effects routing tools from Drumazon 2, with the same UI, but with the TR-808 model under the hood. It’s significantly different as far as sound (just like the original), but I’m glad not to have to learn an entirely different interface. (I will say, I think this looks a whole lot sexier in those dark gray colors, all other 909 vs. 808 discussions aside.)
I refer you to the Drumazon 2 review for a discussion of how sequencing, effects, and routing work. But let’s get onto the sound. And yeah… boom.
The moment you switch this thing on, it sounds terrific and 808-y, and I’m shaking the floors of the studio here. Don’t play this **** through computer speakers, please.
It’s the usual D16 deal – only better sounding and with more features than in v1. You get a pristine, accurate recreation of the original Roland hardware, with one-to-one parameter controls, when you want that OG sound. But you can also access new parameters and tons of effects and signal processing if you want to bend the TR into new territory. And that’s where I really appreciate D16’s approach, because it’s so refreshing to have both of those in one plug-in rather than having to pick and choose.
New in Nepheton2 from the original, those years ago:
- Enhanced cymbal generator (just as on their TR-909)
- 5 slots x 8 algorithms across two effects buses
- Editable drum map
- New pattern editor with piano roll-style UI
- Host synchronization is precise down to the DAW cursor position
- Patterns up to 64 steps
- Adjustable rate scale
- Drag and drop MIDI export
- Tag-based preset browsing
- Fit to the screen (multiple GUI sizes, HiDPI / retina support)
- Presets and patterns out of the box
And they’ve done a terrific job of all those effects and UIs; it really makes sense as a coherent experience, with exactly the tools you need for this sound.
A lot of what makes this great was in V1, too – a big booming sound, the ability to mute triggers rather than signal (so no clicks), and so on. This also saturates nicely as you crank up the levels per-instrument – though be careful, as D16 aren’t quite as conservative as Roland was with its emulation, and you can actually go too far with distortion.
But it’s simply a joy having the new, scalable UI and extra features. Now we’re just waiting on Nithohat 2, their TR-606. Oh, and they can do a TR-727 someday, and call it Cuba Libre or something.
I’m sure given the common engine and UI, some folks will complain about this being a separate plug-in from Drumazon. But I think there’s more than enough value in the two if you really want both. (Not to mention, the 808 vs. 909 divide among some of you is deep enough that you’ve chosen one team or the other already.)
There’s also something about keeping the character of the two drum machines separate. It’s hard to overstate just how much content there is in presets, too; there’s a bunch of inspiration there, and covering the gamut of genres is even arguably more important on the 808 than on the 909.
Anyway, it’s hard to add words – it’s all about the sound. Listen:
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Previously (and in more depth, since it did introduce the basic design that Nepheton 2 follows):