Roland TR808 vrs Roland TR909

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Roland TR808 vrs Roland TR909

Postby wiss » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:31 am

I've been very thankful to own both at the same time and both be in perfect working order.

I've owned the tr909 much longer than the 808 and have enjoyed it since day one. When I got the tr808 I was a little iffy about step writting. I have always used pattern play(SCI drumtracks) or midi (909 sequenced by mpc 60)...lets just say, I will never sequence a drum machine via midi if it has step programming...

anyways.....I've been doing a lot of side by side with the tr909 and tr808.


The 1st thing I noticed was how much different the two really sound...of all the sample disk I have owned there wasnt much difference between the two outside of the kick/bass. I will have to say the 808 sounds much better all around.

The 2nd thing I noticed is how much better the "groove" sounds and feels on the 808. I can program the same pattern have the same accents and the 808 just has a groovier feel to it, while the 909 sounds stiff.

outside of midi, more memory via cards, more editing, and real time play the only thing the 909 out shines the 808 in...... is with classic 4 on the floor house beats.
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Postby OriginalJambo » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:46 am

From the samples I've heard the 808 and 909 are completely different beasts. I think which one is better is simply subjective - almost like the sound of the 80s vs the 90s.

Personally I prefer the thin and punchy vibe of the 808.
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Postby Z » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:02 am

Back in the late 80's / early 90's I was lucky enough to own both machines at the same time. Actually, I bought the 909 first and later found the 808. I ended up selling the 909 in the mid 90's when techno was getting pular and 909's were fetching aound $600 (more than double what I paid for it). At that time I also had the R8M with the Dance card and I thought it represented the 909 sounds pretty well. I've kept the 808 for years because its souns best suit my style of music.

Also, I added the Kenton MIDI kit to my 808. Since then, I have pretty much just used the 808 as a sound module since it also give dynamic control of the sounds.

I have since regretted selling my 909, but last year I acquired a DrumStation. I would have to say that has the best replication of the 808 & 909 souns I have ever heard.

Like OriginalJambo said, they're 2 different beasts, but certainly compliment each other. For dancey music, I always liked using the 909 kick, 808 hi hats and both machines' snares.
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Postby Tyler2000 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:15 am

is the 909 sample-based? I had always though it was analog, but I watched an electronic documentary and a roland rep. said it was sample based....
so what do I put down here now?
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Postby wiss » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:18 am

Tyler2000 wrote:is the 909 sample-based? I had always though it was analog, but I watched an electronic documentary and a roland rep. said it was sample based....


the hit hats and cymbals are samples...
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Postby voltageHead » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:22 am

I have always wanted to try a tr808 or tr909.They look like sweet machines.I own the tr606 and tr707.I use the 707 with a jomox mbase.
I have heard that samples just don't quite have the same sound or feel of the real things.

is the 909 sample-based? I had always though it was analog, but I watched an electronic documentary and a roland rep. said it was sample based....

I have read that the 909 used samples for cymbals and the drums were analog.
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Postby Joey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:00 am

i'd like both :)

but i'm probably going to end up getting a jomox instead.
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Postby space6oy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:01 am

your 808's like new, wiss - how do their claps compare?
that's one standout difference between mine, my 909's clap is huge in comparison...brighter & more full. might just be my 808's being a little worn out though.

edit: not like that's the only difference, just the one i'm i guess kind of annoyed by...since i wish my 909's clap was in my 808...something like that.
Last edited by space6oy on Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby wiss » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:22 am

space6oy wrote:your 808's like new, wiss - how do their claps compare?
that's one standout difference between mine, my 909's clap is huge in comparison...brighter & more full. might just be my 808's being a little worn out though.




the big difference to my ears, the 808 is a little "warmer and softer" and longer..

I think I would perfer the 909 if it was a longer sample
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Postby ramos » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:00 am

space6oy wrote:your 808's like new, wiss - how do their claps compare?
that's one standout difference between mine, my 909's clap is huge in comparison...brighter & more full. might just be my 808's being a little worn out though.

edit: not like that's the only difference, just the one i'm i guess kind of annoyed by...since i wish my 909's clap was in my 808...something like that.


There is a way to check the white noise level inside the 808.

edit: see above description of the sound, warm, soft and long is pretty accurate.

When i picked up mine, the claps sounded dull, and the volume was too low. I got it serviced and they discovered that someone had messed with the white noise pot, now it sounds awesome, and was returned to factory spec.

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Postby space6oy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:16 am

ramos wrote:There is a way to check the white noise level inside the 808.


nice - know you had yours serviced by someone to take care of that, but any idea how it was gone about? i'd be a little timid about messing with mine, but if it was something simple i'd give it a shot...
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Postby ramos » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:32 am

I have no idea sorry dude, but if you get the schematics, you should be able to find it.

I know he used a multimeter to check it, and the screw was wound up too high, the schems will have the factory settings.
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Postby ThinkTanx » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:34 am

I would love, love, love to add a TR-808 to my Machinedrum UW and TR-909! They are so friggin' expensive these days though. If I can find a decent deal on one, I'm gonna be all over it. Really wish they had MIDI. Can they still be retrofitted somewhere, or do you need to find one that has already had it done?

As far as tempo goes on the non-MIDIfied 808's, do you have to just kind of do your best with the dial and the tap tempo or is there some way to input a precise BPM that I'm not seeing?

Cheers.
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Postby space6oy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:45 am

ThinkTanx wrote:As far as tempo goes on the non-MIDIfied 808's, do you have to just kind of do your best with the dial and the tap tempo or is there some way to input a precise BPM that I'm not seeing?

might if you have it chained as master to another piece of gear w/ a display...if the other display would show the change in the master's tempo and not just hold whatever its tempo was set to originally before it was set to external...
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Postby pelican » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:10 am

I had both at the same time in perfect condition. I only miss the 909!! I sold both and got a machinedrum. My 909 was WAY snappier and punchier and groovetastic than my 808.
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