What are 808s and how have they evolved over the years?
You have probably heard music producers talking about 808s, and how essential they are in music production. Over the years, they have been used in a wide array of genres including Trap, R&B, EDM and much more…These iconic drum sounds were made popular by Roland’s Rhythm Composer drum machine. The machine made its first appearance on the scene earlier 1980 but was discontinued three years later.
Nonetheless, in subsequent years Roland Corporation launched a new product of these drum sounds and they named it as Roland AIRA TR-8. This new version not only came with the TR-808 machine but incorporated the TR-909 drum machine as well.
808 kick in Hip Pop music
Needless to say, Hip Hop music stands out from other genres because of its unique booming bass sound. The music has always been majorly centered around the chief elements of a drum kit: the snare drum, bass drum, and the hi-hat. In fact, the heavy use of drum machines and classic drum samplers, especially the Roland TR-808 machine is what makes these sounds get an edge over the other genres.
Today, the sub kick is deeply associated with modern music, the 808, and trap music at large. Musicians are increasingly becoming enamored with this 808 sub kick because of its ability to tune the sine wave that constitutes the “body” of bass sound to any preferred note. Thus, you can achieve a double sound: attack transient, followed by a very low, tuned bass sound referred to as sustain and decay.
Furthermore, 808 sub kicks are melodic and percussive in nature, which makes it possible to be used as a bass instrument and at the same time in the capacity of kick drums to mark the downbeats.
Getting the better 808s
If you want to get the best out of 808s, consider the following;
• Choose the right sample
Selecting the samples that suit your genre is very important. If you load samples that don’t match the feel of your composition, you will definitely have problems when mixing. Remember, 808’s must sound nice before processing anything. You should audition several samples before deciding the best for your track.
• Tuning your 808’s
When your 808’s do not sit well in the mix, it’s because they are not in tune with the song you are playing. If you have problems with tuning your 808’s, I recommend the subculture 808’s because they are pre-tuned.
• Pair the 808’s with a kick
Layering your 808’s with a kick can add that extra oomph you have been looking for. However, you should experiment with kicks that are short and tight and have mid-range frequencies.
The Bottom Line
Summarily, 808 samples are prime for modern-day music production, and they are used from electronic music production to hip-hop to contemporary metal. They can, however, be difficult to mix, generally competing with such elements as your bass and kick, and if you cannot choose or process them properly they can easily mess up your mix.