A Physically-Informed, Circuit-Bendable, Digital Model of the Roland TR-808 Bass Drum Circuit

Kurt James Werner; Jonathan S. Abel; Julius O. Smith
DAFx-2014 - Erlangen
We present an analysis of the bass drum circuit from the classic Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, based on physical models of the device’s many sub-circuits. A digital model based on this analysis (implemented in Cycling 74’s Gen˜) retains the salient features of the original and allows accurate emulation of circuit-bent modifications—complicated behavior that is impossible to capture through black-box modeling or structured sampling. Additionally, this analysis will clear up common misconceptions about the circuit, support the design of further drum machine modifications, and form a foundation for circuit-based musicological inquiry into the history of analog drum machines.