From direct emulation to abstract translation, these modern day 808 recreations put their own spin on programming rhythms on a 16 step machine.
Being that Roland only made 12,000 808’s it’s only natural that the internet did what it does best: reimagine the sought-after machine for anyone with an internet connection. Below are just some of the various ways people have conjured the spirit of the 808 for today’s creators.
The most full-functioning 808 web experiment is the io808, created by Vincent Riemer in 2016. While it doesn’t use actual 808 samples, the sounds come pretty damn close to the real thing. For those of us who don’t own an 808, this kit is a fun alternative.
html5 Drum Machine
The html5 Drum Machine, built by DreamPipe, is more of an 808-influenced web drum machine than a direct clone of the 808. It riffs on the 16 step layout, color palette, and instrument selection of the original machine and, unlike the original machine, allows you to export patterns as WAV files.
Crossing the line into 808-abstraction is the 808 Cube. As its creators Chrome Cube Lab put it, it’s “A mash up of cultural icons popular in the 1980s, a spin on drum machine step sequencing, and a repurposing of the Rubik’s cube for rhythm exploration.”
Okay, this one isn’t on the internet, but we had to include it. The MR-808 by Sonic Robots is an IRL installation. This recreation explores how moving from computer programmed sound into the “real” world introduces imperfection into sound. It includes recreations of nine of the 808’s sounds including the Snare, Bass Drum, Hi-Hat, cabassa, Clave, Ride, Clap, Toms, and Cowbell. Watch the video to see it in action
Tinkering with this machine and its clones act is a valuable lesson in understanding rhythm, timing, and even the importance of space in a beat. These recreations, most of which are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, are as much educational tools as a musical instruments.
Chris Muccioli is a musican & multi-disciplinary designer based in Brooklyn, NY. He also happens to be Splices’ Creative Director.