Page 1 of 1

Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:35 am
by StepLogik
I've heard people say that the 909 sounds "better" when its played by its internal sequencer. I'm not sure what "better" means, but certainly that famous roland shuffle would be an aspect. However, that can easily be duplicated with other sequencers. I've also heard comments that 909 sequencer has some timing anomalies that give it its "groove". Is there any aspect of the sound generation itself that is different when the sounds are triggered from the internal sequencer vs. MIDI?

If you look at the schematics for the 909, the accent control doesn't appear to be binary. The CPU is generating envelopes on some of the accent lines to control the sound output. I'm not skilled enough to know the extent or to what end. Unless I'm misreading the schematic, it looks like the CPU cycles through a resistor array (6 resistors) to create a crude envelope voltage on the accent lines. The internal sequencer could be manipulating the accent lines to whatever effect in order to give the 909 its unique sound. Do you get the same "magic" when the sounds are triggered by MIDI?

The reason why I ask is because I'm considering getting an Octopus and if I did get one, I would sequence all drums from it instead of using the internal sequencers of my drum boxes.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:33 am
by Z
IN the early to mid 90's when I was much more involved with writing and recording, I used both 808 with Kenton MIDI kit and 909 via MIDI using a program on my 386 called Drummer. It was a grid style programmer with several levels of accent or velocity (maybe 8-10, I forget - that was 15 years ago). I used both 808 & 909 on same MIDI channel with the 909's sounds with thier fixed MIDI note numbers and assigned the 808's sounds an octave or so higher (kick on middle C, or note # 60, rim on 61, clap on 64, etc.). To me it was just like using the built in sequencers, only better. It's the same sounds, just triggered externally.

I think using the Octopus would be a great idea. I wish I had the money for "dubchild"'s that's currently on eBay.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:35 am
by supermel74
That's what people who own 909s say when they hear a machine that sounds just as good or better. If the newer machine also had an identical sequencer they would just drum up something else that supposedly makes the 909 unique.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:01 am
by nadafarms
I bet the 909 sequencer is more solid than ableton lives...

well the accents certainly affect the sound of the instruments quite a bit more than just volume level, they sound like the distort a bit or something.

when I record a bunch of separate parts into live using a 909 it sounds not as groovy as the 909 by itself I don't know why.

I would have to say yes there is a magic about the 909 sequencer and how they interact with the sound, can't you just sync octopus to the 909 or vice verse?

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:34 am
by StepLogik
nadafarms wrote:I bet the 909 sequencer is more solid than ableton lives...
About that there is no doubt. Ableton Live has the sloppiest midi clock of any DAW I've ever used.
nadafarms wrote: I would have to say yes there is a magic about the 909 sequencer and how they interact with the sound, can't you just sync octopus to the 909 or vice verse?
Yeah I can always sync, but it's nice to program the patterns all in one place :D

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:36 am
by justinvm
Well I couldn't say if the sequencer itself adds any sort of groove to the rhythm. But when voices are triggered the transients never occur at the same place twice, always shifting around some medium value. This just makes the machine harder to layer with others like the 606, 707 as you get phase canceling.

Sequencing with midi seems to be more accurate in eliminating the above problems. This is usually the case when I'm trying to use 909 in conjunction with a project in Logic. I tend to go for midi sequencing, especially since you can add many different velocity values.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:05 am
by StepLogik
justinvm wrote:Well I couldn't say if the sequencer itself adds any sort of groove to the rhythm. But when voices are triggered the transients never occur at the same place twice, always shifting around some medium value. This just makes the machine harder to layer with others like the 606, 707 as you get phase canceling.
That's probably the "magic" everyone talks about :lol:

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:31 am
by breitt
When I owned a 909, I used it briefly with a Manikin Schrittmacher. The results were far more "interesting" than using the 909's internal sequencer, but that was probably because with all the variables and odd time signatures, etc. of the Schrittmacher, the results were also far less predictable. Ultimately, I gave up the 909 for a Jomox Xbase 09 because I missed not having parameter locks.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:56 am
by Computer Controlled
justinvm wrote:Well I couldn't say if the sequencer itself adds any sort of groove to the rhythm. But when voices are triggered the transients never occur at the same place twice, always shifting around some medium value. This just makes the machine harder to layer with others like the 606, 707 as you get phase canceling.

Sequencing with midi seems to be more accurate in eliminating the above problems. This is usually the case when I'm trying to use 909 in conjunction with a project in Logic. I tend to go for midi sequencing, especially since you can add many different velocity values.

How would you get phase canceling on different sounds? If so, all drum machines would phase cancel their own sounds out. I've NEVER had phase canceling when i had a 606, 808 and 909 all going together. Yes there IS something to the internal sequencer. It's a bit loose. And nothing can replace that famous Roland shuffle. Not all the fancy pants midi sequencing in the world. But it still sounds good when being triggered with an external sequencer.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:33 pm
by justinvm
Phase canceling/distortion does not suggest that entire instruments are removed, rather aspects of them appear to be duller or thickened; given the phasing that is occurring, and or the sounds that are being layered.

If you try and sync a 606 to a 909 the transients of the kick drums will not occur simultaneously and often results in an overall weaker sounding kick. To me I describe this as cancellation... but may you have another reason?

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:35 pm
by syncretism
In my experience, it loses whatever mojo it has and finds good timing ;)

The 909's fun to use, but as others have said, it can be frustrating to use with other drum machines and sequencers. There are plenty of ways to add mojo to a robotic beat; I'd rather not have to wrestle with said mojo out of the box.

Still, if you don't require really tight timing, then that feel can be a real joy to jam out with, for sure.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:31 pm
by BritSynths
supermel74 wrote:That's what people who own 909s say when they hear a machine that sounds just as good or better. If the newer machine also had an identical sequencer they would just drum up something else that supposedly makes the 909 unique.
You've noticed that as well have you? Although not just about 909s

Many on here seem to live by the rule that..

Old = Amazing
New = Poor

But you have to add some vague non defineableness about the sound to quantify that statement

Having said that I got myself banned before for trying to state not everything old is great and will no doubt be crucified again for daring to have an opinion

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:38 am
by schmidtc
I'm sure you could do the exact same things using the 909 as just a sound module, but . . . Would it be fun? I definately enjoy the interface on a 909 more than any other drum machine, save maybe the 606. Using it as a controller has done a lot for my creativity flow, instant gratification through mere finger tapping.

Re: Roland 909 w/ Ext Sequencer - Loses the magic?

Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:04 am
by StepLogik
schmidtc wrote:I'm sure you could do the exact same things using the 909 as just a sound module, but . . . Would it be fun? I definately enjoy the interface on a 909 more than any other drum machine, save maybe the 606. Using it as a controller has done a lot for my creativity flow, instant gratification through mere finger tapping.
Its def a lot of fun to program. I'm still getting used to the tri-state mode of each step for the accent - I'm more used to on-off. Its different from the 707 in that respect. That shuffle is truly amazing.

I've almost got mine back to life (see the Help thread). I can't wait to start making tracks with it!!