KORG DDM110 / 220

In 1985, Korg produced a pair of budget digital drum machines in the form of their DDM110 and DDM220.

The DDM110 offered 'kit' sounds (kick, snare, etc.) whilst the DDM220 offered Latin American percussion sounds (congas, timbale, agogos, etc). In many ways, as you can see from the photos opposite, they were the forerunners of their current Electribe products in that they performed one task and did it well.

Each beatbox had nine 8-bit sounds. In keeping with drum machines of this era, sample rates were limited (15kHz is one rumour giving a theoretical bandwith of less that 7kHz!). Indeed, the two DDMs sound very lo-fi and 'crunchy' but not without appeal and character even today.

I remember I was very keen to get a DDM220 for its Latin American percussion sounds (I couldn't afford a Roland TR727!) and I had one in for evaluation. First impressions were good - it was easy to program and I thought that the sounds (at the time) would be very good for adding some 'spice' to a track. Until I hooked it up to my Roland MC4B Micro-Composer that is....

The DDM and the MC4B both sported a DIN SYNC connector, a 'standard' at the time for synchronising devices and this was an important consideration for me choosing the DDM220. However, whilst the Roland's spec was 24 pulses per quarter note, the DDM's (rather bizarrely) was 48 ppqn. What this meant in practice was that if the DDM was the master, the MC4B ran at twice the speed it should and if the MC4B was the master, the DDM ran at half the speed it should!

I tried all sorts of solutions (including programming patterns and/or sequences at half/double speed!) but with no success - the DDM just didn't fit into my setup and so I didn't - or rather, couldn't - buy one.

Some years later, I was able to get my hands on both models which I sampled on (I think) an S3000. Despite their sonic limitations, these are useful sounds in any number of musical applications.