Sunday, 15 February 2015

Roland TR-606 Drum Machine

The Roland TR-606 Drum Machine, also known as the Drumatix was produced between 1981 - 1983/84.
It was designed to accompany the TB-303. This was the same year of production of the CR-5000 & CR-8000. The TR-909 would first appear in 1983.
Roland's main competitor, Korg, released the KR Rhythm 55 at this time.

This was one of the last drum machines produced by Roland that used analog synthesis to make its sounds. Sampling technology was getting cheaper and would soon make these old skool drums unfashionable.
As with all trends, the circle has turned and anything analog is valued again.

Programming the 606 can be a bit tricky and the sounds are artificial. The 80's was all about "realistic" sampled drums so these babies lost their appeal.

Today, they sell for upwards of $700 USD.

We have 7 sounds: BD, Smare, Low Tom, High Tom, Cymbal,  Open High Hat, Closed HH.
The 606 has a small mixer above, but no individual outs for the sounds. There are mods from Kenton & Analog solutions that will add these individual outs, along with lots of other things.

We have DIN sync in/out (no midi). Its easy to sync to your 303 or anything else that uses this Roland standard.

Programming is done via the Track/Instrument knob & the Mode Knob.
It can store up to 32 patterns & 8 songs. I really like how you can switch between Pattern Play and Write mode while the drum is running  This makes it easy to switch  & edit patterns during a live performance.

The run/stop button is there on the left.

There are two modes : Track & Pattern.
When writing new patterns you use the write/pattern mode - easy it's it !!!
You can link up to 4 connecting patterns in Pattern / Play mode.

From the left we have the 9V DC in, the mono audio out, headphone out, and trigger out.
The triggers are esp useful. They utilize the Low Tom, & High Tom to trigger external synths.
Trigger out  is +14 V, 20 ms pulse --- so it should trigger most modules.
I used to use these back in the day to sync my Korg SQ-10 sequencer with DIN Sync gear like a TB-303, and it works quite well.

On the left we have the 5 pin DIN Sync socket. That switch allowing you to choose between slaving it or using the 606 as master is a beautiful thing.

Synhouse MIDIJACK DINSYNC   & Analog Solutions can add a MIDI jack.

 And she also runs on batteries... making this very portable.


1. Kenton Mods.
2. Real World Interfaces (Devilfish)
3. How to program a 606 (video)
4. HyperReal
5. ExFade Mods
6. SynthMuseum
7. Analogue Solutions Mods
8. Burnkit2600
For more info on the history of  Roland Drum Machines click here

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