This is a rare little beatbox from the 80s.

Soundmaster had already enjoyed some success with their SR88 which was pretty much a clone of the Boss DR55 but their next product fell somewhere between the DR55 and the TR606.

It featured essentially the same programming method as the SR88 (i.e. it was dead simple) but...

It brought the sounds out on individual outputs. This in itself elevated the imaginatively named Stix above the competition at the time.

That said, of course, the sounds were limited offering just the bare bones - kick, snare, hi-hat, lo and hi tom and a cymbal. The sounds were also very 'analogue' and made up of simple sine waves for pitched drum sounds (kick, toms and the pitched element of the snare) and white noise for the snare, hats and cymbal.

But those individual outputs allowed these basic sounds to be transformed into something altogether different and in fact, the Stix may well have been the first budget beatbox to allow such facilities. It was modestly priced as well at around £100.

What became of the Stix is anyone's guess. I know I wanted one but couldn't quite stretch to it and by the time I could, the more capable TR606 was on the market for just a few £££ more. Although that didn't have individual outputs, it was a simple matter to add them yourself if you were handy with a soldering iron (as I used to be!).

I imagine that the Stix disappeared into relative obscurity due to poor brand image and, of course, being eclipsed by the TR606 but its sounds are highly reminiscent of the 80s and, as such, might find a place in your work.

I am extremely grateful to Chris Wright for the donation - he stumbled upon this, his first drum machine, whilst rummaging around in his attic recently and thought they'd be ideal for Hollow Sun.

You can see more of Chris's activities at his whimsical and humerous 80s tribute band's website: