Having started out making drum machines as far back as 1963 (albeit under the brand name Keio), Korg took their time in coming to the digital drum machine market. They had released the DDM110 and 220 a few years earlier but these were very limited budget boxes.

This one, their flagship DDD-1, was released in 1986 for around $1,000. It came with 18 PCM samples and, as was typical of the day, these were short and had a limited (but respectable) bandwidth. Unusually for the time, however, the on-board sounds could be augmented through the use of memory cards which you could buy. Each card typically only carried about four or five sounds but they did allow you to get more from this drum machine than the competition.

The contents of up to four cards could be loaded at once taking the number of sounds available for use up to around 40 in total.... quite an achievement at the time.

The DDD-1 also had a simple mono sampling facility allowing you to augment the sound set with your sounds but this required the purchase of a special card.

The DDD-1 had 14 pads to which sounds could be assigned. Unusually for this era, these were velocity sensitive. Dedicated keys also allowed you to program in flams and rolls. There was also a TAP TEMPO button which was pretty unique for the time. On the rear were six individual, assignable outputs plus the main stereo pair. There was also a trigger output for synchronising older arpeggiators and sequencers but it also had MIDI.

Programming was by way of a 'matrix' - you selected the row and the column for the parameter you want to edit. It sounds a bit cumbersome but the functions were logically arraned into pattern editing, song editing, sound editing and system setting. The sound editing functions allowed you to adjust tuning +/- 1 octave, decay, level, velocity sensitivity as well as output assign.

The sounds weren't too bad especially at the time. However, the DDD-1 has to have to the very worst 'clap' sample ever - at first, I thought the sample was damaged!! The three toms suffer from being a bit noisy but this is only really obvious when listening to them in isolation.

The raw source samples and the photo are from denhaku.com, a Japanese website devoted to drum machines.

All sample editing and programming by Hollow Sun.