8-bit is the new cool! Weirdly, that seems to be as true today as it was back in 1984 when Korg launched their first digital drum machine, the SuperDrums DDM-110. Complete with 8-bit PCM samples, accent control, a sophisticated yet easy-to-use programming interface, and a DIN sync socket (no MIDI yet…), it was in many ways ahead of its time. The sound is far from naturalistic, but it's got that typical 8-bit crunch and power to it that really sets a mix pumping, with the kick and snare sitting very well in all kinds of electro / house styles. The hats also tick over very nicely, with a bit of a fizz to the high-end courtesy of those crusty D-to-A converters. We've interpolated a medium Tom to go with the high and low ones, so you can do proper 80s-style drum solos!
The key to the SuperDrums sound is the meatiness of its kit pieces. A bit of research reveals a frequency response that tops out around 7.5kHz, giving everything a super-compressed and surprisingly warm attitude with a great deal of weight. This is an ideal soundset for holding down more pumping, hi-energy styles. If you want laid-back, take a look at WurliBeat
, because this certainly ain't it!
Unfortunately for Korg, the DDM-110 came out just as the world was getting its head around MIDI, and DIN sync was starting to look a bit yesterday's technology. This plus a supremely dodgy blue-and-orange front panel colour scheme may account for the fact that these little beasts are, despite their lo-fi old-skool cool, rare to find nowadays.