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The Marvellous Mechanical House Organ
November 7, 2012 9:45 AM   Subscribe

MR-808 is a replica of the famous 1980s electronic drum machine TR-808 – with robots playing the drum sounds.
posted by dng (23 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure 808 State would approve.
posted by howling fantods at 9:53 AM on November 7, 2012


it's taking out you suckers and it don't know how it did it.
posted by LouieLoco at 9:54 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


jwz had a blog post about this today. He also picked out a link to the same guy's building the perfect clap. That 808 clap sound is such an iconic and yet odd noise. It doesn't really sound like hands, nor anything else specifically mechanical, so building a clap robot is kind of amazing. He went with wood-on-wood; too bad, I was kind of hoping for a meat puppet.
posted by Nelson at 10:01 AM on November 7, 2012


This is awesome.
posted by pashdown at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2012


I wanted to enjoy this but the video gave me a seizure.
posted by entropone at 10:09 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always love the "robots playing instruments" thing, but I’m not sure how this is an 808 besides the fact that there is a kick, snare, etc.
posted by bongo_x at 10:16 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Nothing sounds quite like an 808..."

Now I'm going to listen to that album all day.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:17 AM on November 7, 2012


Awesome. Now do a 909, a 505, and a 303.
posted by The World Famous at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2012


Needs more robotic mannequin parts.
posted by chambers at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2012


the same guy's building the perfect clap

Robots and synthetic biology? Truly a renaissance man for the 21st century! Although I don't understand why chlamydia needs to be improved.
posted by grouse at 10:47 AM on November 7, 2012


Aside from the ingenious use of that stringed thing for the cowbell, this sounds precisely nothing at all like an 808, which sounds precisely nothing at all like actual instruments.

(FWIW, to accurately replicate the 808 snare sound live: A couple sheets of printer paper on top of a pile carpet, struck with a drumstick. Replace the paper often.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:50 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aside from the ingenious use of that stringed thing for the cowbell, this sounds precisely nothing at all like an 808...

Totes agree with all this, and the video was edited such that I wasn't sure what was going on...But damn, that stringed thing sounds exactly like the 808 cowbell. Uncanny. E for effort. A+ for cowbell. D for there being nothing remotely like the gut-punch of the 808 kick.
posted by Zerowensboring at 10:58 AM on November 7, 2012


I could really enjoy a salad with this.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:05 AM on November 7, 2012


I think this is great, and they did about as good a job as can be expected of duplicating the sound, but come on, that can't really be the point of a project like this, can it?
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next up: A robot barista, MR-COFFEE.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2012


Should replace the instruments with robots hitting a button on an 808. That will satisfy the robot peeps and the 808 peeps. Instrument peeps can go play the lute at a ren faire or whatever instrument peeps do.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple sheets of printer paper on top of a pile carpet, struck with a drumstick. Replace the paper often.

Not an 808, but the bottom of a metal cookie tin struck with a drumstick sounds exactly like a generic mid-80's synth-pad percussion patch. It's uncanny.
posted by ovvl at 11:43 AM on November 7, 2012


I'm assuming the reason the cowbell sounds right is that it is synthesized on the 808 with a couple of oscillators tuned to specific frequencies- something that is easy to simulate with stringed instruments. Sustained oscillators that change pitch dramatically are a lot harder to pull off; also, white noise is hard to create acoustically, especially in a controlled way. Both of those characteristics are central to most of the 808's sounds, other than the cowbell.
posted by ianhattwick at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty cool, but this thing doesn't sound anything like an 808.
posted by interrupt at 4:07 PM on November 7, 2012


Pretty cool, but this thing doesn't sound anything like an 808.

That's true enough, but even an 808 doesn't sound the way most people think an 808 sounds. Nine times out of ten, it seems like people who talk about an 808 sound are really thinking of an 808 and a 909 played at the same time - or even just a 909. I've got a folder on the desktop of my studio rig full of samples I've made to use when someone asks for an 808 but then doesn't like what an 808 actually sounds like. And the 505 is the great unsung hero of drum machine sounds - everybody loves that sound, and nobody seems to know that it was the sound of the "cheap" Roland drum machine.

I guess my point is that yeah, this doesn't sound a thing like an 808, but that's not that big of a problem. "808" has just become sort of shorthand for "old-school drum machine" more than an accurate descriptor for a specific set of drum machine sounds.

(And don't even get me started on the R-8 and the R-5, which I still think are the best drum machines ever made.)
posted by The World Famous at 10:28 AM on November 8, 2012


"808" has just become sort of shorthand for "old-school drum machine" more than an accurate descriptor for a specific set of drum machine sounds.

I guess that depends on who you’re dealing with. I’ve never heard that, but I’m sure it’s possible that it’s "Kleenex" for some people. I would think of it more like "Les Paul". If you pull out a Tele you’re going to get funny looks.
posted by bongo_x at 10:44 AM on November 8, 2012


I don't mean that people really intend to use it as shorthand for "old-school drum machine," but that even quite sophisticated electronic musicians I've worked with will often say something like "an 808 kick would sound great there" when what they really mean is that an 808 kick sample combined with a 909 and a 505 mixed low, with some compression and other effects would sound great there.

I would think of it more like "Les Paul". If you pull out a Tele you’re going to get funny looks.

Yes and no. I think of it this way: On a song I released with a band I'm in not too long ago, there's a guitar part that everyone who hears the song seems to love - particularly those who are music producers and guitarists. And nearly everyone comments on how it's one of the best Stratocaster sounds they've heard in a long time. And they're right - it's a great Stratocaster sound that I created by playing a Gibson Flying V. When they say "Strat sound," I know what they're talking about, even if I might choose something other than a Strat to actually get the sound. Same thing with the 808.
posted by The World Famous at 12:02 PM on November 8, 2012


I gotcha now. And we’re agreed.
posted by bongo_x at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2012


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