Roland TB-303 & TR-606, May 1982 advert
Pic: retrosynthads.blogspot.com

Roland TR-606

Second-hand value: £250-400

Produced: 1981 – 1984

The 606 is probably the first of the genuine vintage classics on our list. This simple all-analogue unit was released in 1981 as the partner to the TB-303. As the budget unit in Roland’s range at the time, its feature set was much more basic than the flagship TR-808, but what you get for your money is a bare-bones analogue unit with just as much character as its bigger brothers.

There are only seven sounds on offer with the 606, but they’re all excellent. The kick is a little flat but comes to life with compression. The snappy snare cuts through the mix incredibly well. The toms and crash cymbals are less distinctive but classic analogue sounds nonetheless. The 606 also boasts some of the best analogue hi-hats you’ll find anywhere. Silky and organic, somewhere between the sound of an 808 and a 909 hat. Sync the 606 to an external DIN SYNC clock signal and you can even manipulate the decay of the hats in real time using the tempo knob. Is it a deliberate feature or a lucky accident? We’ll probably never know.

There’s no clap, but if you really need one then the omission’s easily remedied by using the trigger outputs to control a Boss HC-2 (essentially a TR-808 clap circuit in a stompbox-sized case):

Some might argue that the only way to get the most out of the TR-606 is to modify it. Even if you don’t go all the way and add knobs to control the pitch and decay of the sounds, individual outputs are a must, allowing the drum sounds to be processed independently. If you do decide to go down the full-on modification route, the 606 can be turned into something altogether more flexible. There are plenty of DIY guides to be found, or companies such as Real World Interfaces and The Beast who can do it for you.

The sound of the 606 never achieved the iconic status of the 909, 808 or even the 707, but it crops up in just about every electronic genre you can imagine, whether it’s being pressed into classic techno mode by Richie Hawtin for his Sheet One album, laying the groundwork for electro-house on Mr Oizo’s ‘Flat Beat’ or being turned inside out by the likes of Autechre, Aphex Twin or Squarepusher.

 

14th January, 2014

Comments

  • Wow no Tempest !
    Great Great Post ! Thanks

    Report
  • Roc – the Tempest’s in there!

    Report
  • SP1200 > SP12

    http://youtu.be/iAZO3XBtUzE

    Report
  • thanks for this. i was looking at the tanzbar but i didnt know how cool the machinedrum was. another one to check out.

    do a feature like this on analog synths! 😉

    Report
  • no oberheim dmx? no dynacord ADD-one?

    Report
  • Jomox xbase 888 is killer once you change the sounds in it

    Report
  • @KV the 1200 has no ROM sounds so it’s definitely a sampler and not a drum machine. I agree it’s better than the Sp12. Both incredible though.

    Attack, please do a Ten Of The Best on samplers. MPCs, SP1200 etc. Keep up the great work!

    Report
  • id replace the 606 with the 808, but then again I haven’t owned either of them :p

    Report
  • IMHO, the video featuring the Machinedrum does not make it justice.
    Some thing like the link below or any demo video from Mr Dataline can provide a deeper idea if its capabilities, just my 2cents…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtxX0VEpMSI

    Report
  • 707 is boys noize go to drum machine. He’s got a super modified one and an orignal

    Report
  • 707 clap isn’t so bad imo!

    Report
  • Casio RZ-1 is truly horrible. Worst $25 I ever spent.
    Volca Beats?
    Any MPC should of been on there.

    Report
  • Repeat until fade: an MPC is a sampler, not a drum machine; an MPC is a sampler, not a drum machine; an MPC is a sampler, not a drum machine…

    Report
  • korg volca toy

    yet….
    no oberheim dx/dmx
    no sequential drumtrak
    no sequential tom
    no simmons :-O
    no dynacord add one
    no pearl syncussion
    no LINNDRUM?

    really poor list made by roland fanboy

    Report
  • Too true on the Volca, didnt think as first look but when you get on one its fun as hell!

    Report
  • @Gertie i love lots of the drum machines you mention but i suppose this feature is meant to represent the ideal proportion between money, fun and sound you can get nowadays, and, let’s face it, the best part of roland tr series can match this.

    Report
  • I’d add jomox 999 here as well as linndrum

    Report
  • you are a douche for missing mpc

    Report
  • @won… MPC is a sampler, not a drum machine. Doubled-douched.

    Report
  • “MPC is a sampler”
    What do think a SP12 is? It plays samples……

    Report
  • Bull. If the SP is mentioned here, then the MPC series should have been represented…

    Report
  • Tr 808 is the best

    Report
  • What the hell??? Why isn’t the Linn LM-1 on here? And if you’re gonna add the DRM1, you guys might’ve well put the SDS-V on this list.

    Report
  • Guys complaining about drum machines not being mentioned…..
    MAKE Your own LIST.

    Report
  • Hi guys! Which make of drum machines do you recommend me?

    Report
  • where is the Analog Rytm?????

    Report
  • Why an SP12 and not a SP1200?? Why a Tempest and not a LM1??? Best hardware drum machines in what sense? Poor columnists here…

    Report
  • Wow I like these reviews. I’ve been using drum machines for about 7 years now, and I’m thinking of switching over to a simpler version of one, well at least simpler to use (not simple in functionality). Anyone ever used the BeatBuddy (their site is http://www.mybeatbuddy.com )? It looks pretty cool, but I am not sure if I should get it. I’m really thinking of getting it, can anyone tell me if it’s worth making the switch??

    Report
  • Best drum machine ever: The one that has the sound you want.

    Report
  • RZ-1 is *horrible*. It is so bad, I actually bought one new in like ’83 and played with it for like 2 weeks… it’s timing was sloppy, sounds were dull and I ended up taking it back and getting a TR-505… which was no great DM either, but at least had a snappy kick.

    Report
  • Zoom RT-234? It’s cheap and incredibly flexible.

    Report
  • I agree with dagan,
    I have the orginal Zoom RT-123.
    The button layout is very intuitive – unlike anything else in this review.

    Report
  • The RZ-1 is actually really useful, just not as a main instrument. I find it is best used being run by another box to cut sounds in as accents and fill. As a main or only piece, it’s really going to let a lot of folks down, it’s all about the faders and the outputs, one per instrument, give you all manner of processing options to takes it’s admittedly cheesy sound to a level far beyond it’s capabilities.
    Now for the “why not this…” part, Electribes, personally I would replace the Volca with them, but that’s me.

    Report
  • Where is the Sonic Potions LXR???

    Amazing drum machine for the price.

    Report
  • lol how the hell you put aSP12 and no MPC. this is bullshit preference based article

    Report
  • nice to see the Tanzbar and MDS-1 in there…
    but I NEVER see a list like this include any of the Zoom RT-series, which had a kind of sequencing that has yet to be re-created in any other machine.
    Their “Groove Play” mode allowed you to play multiple patterns (of arbitrary length/meter) simultaneously… with velocity and time-alignment control by pads… somewhat a hardware pre-cursor to Ableton clip launching…

    Report
  • Don,t forget the sounds u hear r fatten up with a analogue filter (white box on top) a Niio Iotine ?. Only whant to say the sounds r more thin without the filter.

    Report
  • I mean the dsi ?

    Report
  • I think they missed the awesome Anolog Rytm by Elektron. This thing is a real killer.

    Report
  • I don’t think the Analog Rytm had been released when this article was written had it? Same with the Roland tr-8 which probably would have made the list too if it had been available at the time

    Report
  • For me Elektron Analog Rytm far ahead!

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how

x

A WEEKLY SELECTION OF OUR BEST ARTICLES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX