Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Korg DDM 220 - Drum machine

This drum was the big brother & the complement to the Korg DDM 110 (Super Drums).
It's full name is the " Korg DDM (Digital Drum Machine) 220 Super Percussion.
The  Korg DDM-110 had the sounds: Bass (kick),  Snare, Rimshot, High Tom, L Tom, Closed High Hat, Open HH, Cymbals, Claps (Trig).
The DDM-220 was more organic in flavour. Its sounds were Hi Conga, Lo Conga, Timbale, Wood Block, Cowbell, Hi Agogo, Lo Agogo, Cabasa, Tambourine (Trigger).
It was produced in 1985. Korg were trying to make a simple & affordable drum.
This was the same year that Roland produced the TR-727 (the TR707 had come out a year earlier and the TR-909 was produced in '83). The Linn LM-1 Drum Computer was released in 1980. It was the first drum machine to use digital samples and retailed for $5k.
So you can see where the competition was coming from.

 The knob "cabasa/tambourine" doesn't set the balance between the two sounds. 
Rather it's a volume level for both

Digital was all the rage. Sadly, with sampling rate of  around 15khz, the 220 used measly 8-bit PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) samples. Because of this, the drum gets lots of flack. I constantly see it being described as "cheezy" in a derogatory way. I think this is undeserved.

Yes...I agree that the sounds are dated and smell of the '80s. They stink like Gorgonzola at times but I do like my cheeze ... esp the stuff that smells like your joggers after a half marathon.

 The Cabasa & Agogo are kinda nice and hiss at you when you distort them by turning the volume all the way up. The drum really comes alive when to put it through phasers, delay & compression.
I wouldn't go as far as saying that they sound realistic. In fact, I can't say that any of these sounds recreate their real acoustic parents but I still like them in a kitsch way. 
Music at the moment is so clean and safe and "cool" ... this breaks the "mould".
For less than $80 I can't complain. 

And yes, programming is a pain in the arse. There are definitely too many shift+key+start/stop+key combinations.

The trigger out is handy for syncing it to external gear. 

There is DinSync (Korg not Roland Sync). Looks a lot like MIDI but it's not. 
This type of DIN-sync is analogue rather than digital. And to make things more confusing there are 2 types of DINSYNC. Roland uses 24 PPQN (Pulses Per Quarter Note). Korg uses 48 PPQN.

The Din-sync on the KORG 220 can be either master or slave. If you are hooking it up with other Korg gear (like a DDM-110 or KPR-77) syncronization is a breeze. But if you use Roland gear it will run that gear at twice the speed if the Korg is master. If the Roland gear is the master, then the DDM-220 will run at half the speed.
 Very complex rhythm patterns can be created with 2 synchronized units. The DDM-110 & DDM-220 are especially well suited for this purpose since they enable a combination of drums & percussion.

For more info on the history of Korg Drum Machines Click Here

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