Unfortunately as well, the
909's sampled drum sounds weren't actually that good, especially
compared with the LinnDrum which, at the time, was as near to perfection
as you could expect. The TR909 also retained the TR808's programming
method which involved first selecting a sound and then placing the
beats where you want them using the 16 buttons across the bottom
of the unit. The method was loved by many but compared with the
new 'real-time' input method used on the LinnDrum where you just
hit the pads and actually 'played' the sounds, it seemed a bit awkward
and old fashioned. And whilst the 909 was less expensive than the
LinnDrum, the Emu Drumulator had also just hit the streets for about
the same price as the 909. Once again, although brimming with innovation,
the 909 lost out to another American manufacturer and the 909 did
not become the success Roland presumably anticipated... well....
not in the product's lifetime that is.
Like the TR808, the 909 was relegated to the classifieds
and second-hand shops across the world. But like the TR808, it was
discovered again by the impoverished pioneers of the emerging 'dance'
music market. The 909 had a somewhat 'harder' sound than the 808
... its kick drum could really move air and the hi-hats were far
more aggressive than its predecessor and so the 909 won favour with
emerging artists who were experimenting with new rhythmic forms.
Of course, once the 909 had made its way onto a few significant
records, word got out that this was the beatbox to have and so,
like the 808, it became highly fashionable and sought after and
an old 909 that had previously been gathering dust in the attic
could exchange hands for $1,500 or more!
As with the TR808 soundset, I have used velocity crossfade
to provide the variable snare drum settings: