Saturday, November 22, 2008

.44 Yamaha RX17 Digital Rhythm Programmer

Continuing with sharing drum sounds from the Yamaha drum machines I picked up on eBay, here are some drum hits from the RX17.

Both more modern and more latin, the RX17 seems to come from an entirely different generation of drum machines from the RX11 or RX15, being about half the size and sporting rubberized pads and buttons that give it a much more modern feel. It appears to be related to the RX21, but I haven't had a chance to use a RX21 yet.

Like the RX15, the RX17 has two audio outputs (left and right mono and headphones) and has Midi Out and Midi In. It contains 26 drum hits spread across 13 pads (2 sounds per pad). Like the RX11 and RX15, the RX17 also had limitations regarding which sounds could and could not be reproduced simultaneously. So, for an accurate RX17 kit, avoid using the Conga Muted and Conga Open sounds on the same beat. The same limitation is present for the Cuica High and Cuica Low hits, the Snare Drum and Rim Shot, and the Hi-hat sounds.

The following samples were taken from a RX17, serial number N201530.

Friday, November 21, 2008

.43 Yamaha RX15 Digital Rhythm Programmer

A step down from the more advanced and versatile RX11, the RX15 only has 12 pads for triggering 15 hits, all of which are routed through two audio outputs (left and right mono and headphones). Like the RX11, the RX15 was an 8-bit machine that lacked velocity sensitivity, but had options for accent control, volume, and panning for each onboard sound.

The RX11 and RX15 shared more than a similar design; they also shared their sounds. For example, the RX15's Bass Drum is identical to the RX11's Medium Bass Drum 1. The RX15's Clap hit is identical to the RX11's Hand Claps 1 sample, and so on. If you're just after the sounds from these machines, rather than trying to recreate the machines themselves, you shouldn't need to download the RX15 files in addition to the RX11 files provided yesterday.

The hits included here were sampled from a Yamaha RX15 Digital Rhythm Programmer, Serial Number 14798. For an accurate RX15 experience, do not trigger the Rimshot and Snare Drum (either Medium or Hi Tune) samples on the same beat. Also, the HH Open and HH Closed (Closed or Pedal) samples cannot be used on the same beat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

.42 Yamaha RX11 Digital Rhythm Programmer

About eighteen months ago, I decided that as happy as I was using Reason and Logic to make music, what I really needed was hardware. It's a phase a lot of us go through, I think, where we end up getting stuck for some reason and a new piece of gear or untested software seems like the easy solution for getting out of whatever rut we find ourselves in.

A couple of unsuccessful eBay bids later, I eventually picked up three Yamaha drum machines, the RX15, its big brother the RX11, and the more latin focused RX17. Of course, the first thing I did with the new drum machines was sample their sounds and drop those samples into Reason... which kind of defeated the entire purpose of getting them, but let's be honest, logic doesn't have much sway when you're stuck in this senseless gear lust.

What do I think of the samples? Well, if you take a second to download the samples, you'll hear that they have a lo-fi quality that only seems to get better when you throw additional distortion on top of them. I think they're especially suited for trip-hop, a genre I love to experiment with, but have never actually finished a song in, because of that lo-fi quality. With a little care and processing, you should be able to find a home for them in just about any genre.

Having said all of that, I think their greatest quality is that they aren't a Roland TR-909 or TR-808. Don't get me wrong, there's a reason those machines are considered classics, but if you're looking for something fresh (or maybe a little stale, depending on your perspective) then these cheap Yamaha machines are a great substitute.

An 8-bit drum machine from the early 80s, the following kit was sampled from serial number 19374.

Its built-in 29 drum hits could be triggered using its 16 pads and routed through 12 individual audio outputs 12 audio outputs (either via its 10 mono instrument outs, left and right mono line outs that also double as mono instrument outs, or headphones). The trigger pads are not velocity sensitive, but each drum hit can be tweaked with individual settings for accent level, volume, and panning, to give the hits a little emphasis when needed.

The RX11 could not trigger the Rimshot and Snare Drum samples on the same beat, so for a faithful recreation you should avoid using them together. The same limitation was present on Tom3 and Tom4 pads, the Bass Drum pads (meaning none of the Bass Drum hits could be played simultaneously), and the HH pads. Despite this limitation, any and all of the sounds could be used in the same song.

Additional sounds can be added to the machine via a RAM memory cartridge, but I haven't had much luck finding any of them. If I do manage to track one down, expect to find those samples here.