A French built a perfect handmade clone of the TR-808

Écrit par Trax Magazine
Le 04.07.2016, à 16h13
03 MIN LI-
Écrit par Trax Magazine
Looking for an analogical clone of the TR-808? The solution might be in South of France. In Carcassonne to be accurate, where a hardware enthusiast developed a breathtaking drum machine. Named 8raw8 and sold as an expander (without the original sequencer), the beast works in MIDI and spits the same classic sounds of the TR. As warm and as powerful and decently priced. What’s his secret? The answer is here with the quiet initiator of the project. By Arnaud WyartTranslated by Antonin Pruvot


“To get that sound, there’s no way around it. You need to be rigorous.”


How is the 8raw8 project born?

I’m an electronic engineer and a big fan of analogical devices (I also DJ in Carcassonne’s Bar à Vins). We find the 808 everywhere in electronic music, it’s a classic but it’s overpriced. After trying the original, of which I love the sound, I managed to get one for myself and I opened it and started to check what was inside. At first, it was just having fun with my friends, but it quickly escalated.

It doesn’t look like an 808. Are you focusing on the sound?

Yes, I like to go to the bottom of things so I stayed focused on the sound of the 808. I left out all the details that make Roland’s drum machine. For example, I took out the sequencer so I could only keep the analogical voices. Many people ask me for a sequencer but if I make one, it has to be basic, like the 808’s one. It’s a device of its own. Yet, there are many simple sequencers (hardware or software) for a reasonable price on the market. You just need to download Ableton Live or Logic for instance and you’re good to go.


How did you get that authentic sound?

The electronic circuit/system is the same. To get that sound, there’s no way around it anyway. It starts with a really rigorous selection of the components. You need to know that there are a lot of counterfeit pieces sold very cheaply as originals. But the smallest mistake in that process and it spoils the hardware and the final result. So, to build the circuit and put together the components, I used the initial technical blueprints.

Do you manage to find all the parts easily?

I order all the resistances, capacitors, etc., in fact all the passive components, in Europe. I buy the rest wherever I find it. In Turkey, I found a batch of diodes that I couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s also about luck. Anyway, it’s a daily quest to get my hands on rare stocks.

Tell us about the 8raw8’s design.

The final design is the same as the one of the first prototype, only a bit improved. I put knobs because it’s prettier and more comfortable to use. The device is compact and only supports MIDI format. I didn’t want to put small USB connectors, I don’t like it. It fits nicely in any home studio. The design is very simple and pure. It’s a bit street. A bit underground. The opinions are mixed. Some love it, some don’t.

You worked alone on this project?

I worked a lot on my own, mostly on the circuit conception but I had a little help. Some electronic experts gave me a hand in the last phase of the project.

And your opinion about cloning?

This kind of project has been done in the past so I don’t think there’s an issue. Roland never came to me at the time. Anyway, they are more oriented on digital, with the TR-8 for instance, and honestly, I don’t think it’s any harm to them. My project stays confidential and targeted at nerds. Though, I’m not going to go and present my product at a fair right next to Roland without asking them first. It also the reason I ‘d rather stay quiet, noticeably with the design. I didn’t want to write “808” with big letters on my device.

Have you had some feedback on the first ones you sold?

Yes. I sold one to a famous Bordeaux DJ, he’s really happy with it. For now, I’ve had nothing but good feedback. I am finishing the first 10 lot and it’s already sold out. There are also a lot of orders waiting. Since I’m the only one making them, homemade, I will probably hire a few people to ship all the orders on time. Besides that, there are other projects that I’m considering but in a different spirit. It stays confidential… I’m currently going through the paperwork to have a licensed commercial activity. Then I’ll start a small business to keep the adventure going.

Technical characteristics of the 8raw8:

– 11 analogical voices + accent

– Separate output for each voice

– Master output

– Ultra Fast MIDI treatment

– BassDrum Tune Mod (to modify the kick’s pitch)

– Handclap VCA Mod (to filter the calps)

– Aluminium frame

– Alpha potentiometer 

– Rotating knobs (Moog type)

– Dimensions: 435 x 290 x 90 mm

– Weight: 3kg

– Homemade

Price: 599€ (pre-orders only)

More info on the website: 8raw8



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