• SR88 Kontakt drum machine front panel UI

Memory Rhythm SR88

(3 customer reviews)

Original price was: €6.00.Current price is: €4.02. plus VAT

The cool Sound Master Memory Rhythm SR-88


“Filled with samples of each drum at every available filter setting, this slips into the mix as effortlessly as any Roland drum machine. ‘Velocity Retrofit’ opens doors to surprisingly subtle and expressive patterns. The SR88 is a great little instrument” – Sound on Sound magazine

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SR88 product shotThe Sound Master Memory Rhythm SR88 was a cool little drum machine from the mid-80s. It was all-analogue, built like a brick, and offered some decent basic sounds plus the ability to tweak them to a limited extent through a “tone” control (which was basically a low-pass filter strapped across the outputs). There was a step-time pattern sequencer in there too, though with no display it sometimes needed a bit of mental gymnastics to get the beat in your head into the little metal box.

The sounds have a great lo-fi vibe to them which we’ve lovingly captured at 24-bit. We multi-sampled each of the basic kit pieces – kick, snare, crash and hats – through the whole travel of the “tone” control, so when you change the TONE knob on the Kontakt interface you’re actually moving between separate samples of the sounds and getting exactly the same tonal shift as you get on the original machine. The hats on this have a lovely metallic sound which is pretty unusual for an analogue box, and the snare sounds are just classic 80s. The kick isn’t as thick or deep as the MR11, but it has a penetrating “pock” to it that cuts right through a mix, and that can be very useful in its own right in certain styles – very busy kick patterns will retain more definition with this kick, for example.

RM88 rear panelWe also discovered a really interesting and useful glitch. On the surface, the Memory Rhythm SR88 only offers those four sounds – kick, snare, crash and hats. But when you’re programming in step time, something odd happens in the SR88’s little brain and the sounds loop indefinitely for as long as you hold down the buttons on the box. The short hat sound becomes an extended hiss, and the crash cymbal and snare go on as long as you want them to. That seemed too good to miss, so we sampled those sounds too, again through the whole travel of the tone control, and called them snare 2, crash 2, and hats 2 and 3. We gave each of these “hidden extra” sounds an Attack and Decay parameter, so you can get “brushed cymbal” effects, or back off the attack transient of the snare, or get that 80s-style snare with a huge decay tail, or reversed cymbal effects… it opens up a lot of new possibilities!

There are also Pitch, Pan and Level controls for each individual kit piece, so you can balance them against each other. On the original box, sometimes getting the kick sounding right meant that the hats would take your head off; this way is much better!

Rounding things out is a comprehensive drums-based Processing section, offering bit-rate reduction (not an analogue thing, of course, but useful to have in the arsenal nevertheless), tape saturation, drive distortion, and a chunky compressor to lock everything together. Finally, hidden in the corner is a “Velocity retrofit” switch, which allows you to control the Tone of each kit piece not from the knob on the interface but from the velocity of your keyboard – just hit harder to get a brighter sound. The results can sound absolutely authentic to the 1980s original, or pumpingly grungy in a truly modern way, or anything in between, with a tone that can be locked in place by the panel controls or vary freely with the expression of your playing.

(All our Kontakt instruments require a full copy of Native Instruments Kontakt v4.2.3 or higher (including all versions of Kontakt 5). Kontakt Player is not supported: instruments will load, but will time out after 15 minutes. See the FAQ for further information.)

3 reviews for Memory Rhythm SR88

  1. W.TaylorRiley (verified owner)

    Ill start with what I didn’t like so much… unlike the other two reviewers, I haven’t heard an original, but I find this machine very intriguing. It’s 100% like a “poor man’s 808”. I wish the ‘original’ drums had decay settings, but not really much they can do about that, staying true to the original. The UI was a little misleading, I didn’t know which drum was which, playing on a keyboard. I did learn it however, looking “under the hood” as they say, in the ‘tools’ tab. Cymbals are on the black keys, drums on the white. After I figured it out, and found they use the same layout with the other drum machines, I quite liked the placement of midi notes. Almost like a real drum kit, drums low cymbals high! Haha…
    This machine does sound awesome though. The extra long samples are really cool and make for nice accents or transition type effects, super washy, and big. The kick is definitely more than a ‘pock’, don’t be fooled. It’s got a great transient and a full beefy body, but It’s very quick for sure. All the drums really come to their own buried under the drive, tape, and bit reduced, a little bit of comp is good too but I feel it’s a little redundant to have at this point, but it still sounds great and can really squash the drums so hard you won’t even recognize them.
    All in all a dope little machine!

  2. Robert (verified owner)

    I had one of these, or a very close cousin of this (mine was blue), back in the 80s. I have to tell you, I hated the pock-tick pock-tick. I wanted, but did not have, a real drummer. I’ve bought a bunch of Rhythmic Robot instruments, though, and every time I’d go to their site I stopped by and looked at the SR88. I guess I’m sentimental. I finally was buying a few other things and broke down. Well, there’s still that sound, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to program. And if you fiddle around with all those dials on the right (comp, bits, drive, tape) it sounds more like POCK! TICK! If you miss your old SR88 you can’t find a better recreation. It won’t be my go-to drum machine emulation, but when I want an SR88, or use it as an auxilliary rhythm instrument, it’s right there.

  3. joshua

    Sounds just like the original,rhythmic robot does it again,works flawlessly in kontakt!

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