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Re: Rise of the machines

Some things that always frustrated me about the MC-505:

* The percussion sounds are grouped into huge mute groups which generally
didn't match the way I wanted to break things up. Since I don't think you
could use the the rhythm kits as instruments, you were basically stuck.

* Too many sounds in a rhythm kit. How can that be a bad thing? I don't 
60 or more sounds to choose from when writing a groove. I want a small set
with good tweakable parameters. Instead I'm octave-shifting up and down
looking for the desired drum hit.

* Saving patterns requires stopping playback.

* Fiddly, fiddly, fiddly.

Some things that I liked:

* RPS was fun. A pain to program, but having a good set of RPS phrases was 
simple way to start building material. Muting and unmuting tracks isn't the
same thing since it keeps things in the same position in the pattern.

Other drum machines that I've owned:

* Korg DDM-110 and DDM-220. (I've actually still got the DDM-220 Super
Percussion). Really cheesy. A relatively tedious step time interface for
recording. I used to program complicated polyrhythms on these. I must have
been really dedicated at the time. On the other hand, I recently found some
tracks recorded with them and they were at least interesting. I did the
score for a play largely with these machines assorted delays and reverbs 
a bass player.

* Korg DDD-1: Noisy, relatively low-quality samples. A buggy, crash-prone
MIDI implementation. On the other hand, it had a nice version of
motion-sequencing. I've got recordings from the time when I had this 
and I find myself missing it.

* Alesis SR-16: Lots of nice presets. Decent sounds. The pads never felt
comfortable to me and I never really did much programming on it.

* Roland MC-505: See above. End result was that I did some stuff on it, but
it never inspired me to go in and crank out patterns.

Other electronic percussion:

* Roland HandSonic: Still have it. In fact, this through a delay line is
essentially my only percussion instrument right now. Don't even think about
trying to do much with the sequencer on this, however. The sounds are 
if not stunning. The effects are good but could easily have been a lot more
versatile. For example, they are basically the same effects as on the 
and that machine has 3 knobs that it uses to great effect for live
manipulation while the HandSonic which also has 3 knobs doesn't do diddly
with them.

* Emu Planet Earth: Best damn percussion sounds I've dealt with once you
forgive its lack of a tabla. On the other hand, you've got to either like
the kits Emu has put together or burn a bunch of channels to get a
combination of sounds. Burning a bunch of channels would then have required
a mapper of some sort for use with the HandSonic. It's also back to the
problem from the MC-505 of having too many sounds in a preset rather than a
few really good, really tweakable sounds.


* I kept being tempted by an Emu Command Station because of the quality of
the sounds on the Planet Earth. My reaction when I played with them at
guitar center was fiddly, fiddly, fiddly.

* A Korg Electribe has some attraction for the price and the immediacy but
it blows the immediacy by requiring that it be stopped to do some things
like tweak the swing setting.

* The Elektron Machinedrum is cool, but at that price I'm a bit frustrated
that it only maps MIDI velocity to volume and for that matter doesn't even
record MIDI velocity.


* A real "MIDI looper" should arguably support: record/play sounds/end loop
and set the tempo based on that.