Yoshinosuke Horiuchi has released SC-808, a freeware 808 drum machine emulation powered by the SuperCollider audio coding platform. UPDATE: The paid version of the plugin called SC-808 Advanced ($29) is now also available – read more info below.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Can we really experience anything objectively?
Do we have free will, or is morality deterministic?
How many different sources for 808s are too much?
These are just some of the problems that plague the modern mind.
However, the last one in particular I feel is pretty straightforward to answer – you can never have enough 808s.
I won’t waste time talking about the original 808 drum machine. After all, it is the Citizen Kane of drum machines, the Macbeth of grooves, the Sgt. Pepper of cowbells. You know it. You love it. You use it. You have 17 gigabytes of it.
So, what sets this one apart?See also: BPB Cassette Drums – Free Drum Machine VST/AU Plugin
Yoshinosuke Horiuchi’s free SC-808 drum machine is built on the SuperCollider platform, an open-source, cross-platform audio programming environment.
Horiuchi claims that it’s “the most flexible 808 emulation ever” and that does appear to be the case. The thing is, the SC-808 does not use samples as the sound source but is instead built from the ground up completely.
The fact that the software is running on SuperCollider comes with a pro and a potential con.
SC-808’s source code can be freely edited, meaning that one could customize and fine-tune the emulation exactly as they would like it. I’m no coder by any means, but even I was able to understand the basic gist of it. If you’ve ever edited a Reaper plugin, you’ll know just how easy and intuitive it is to mess around with audio code.
Here’s how the developer describes this feature:
The modifiable and customizable feature by coding is the most iconic feature of the SC-808 and that is different from the original TR-808 and its software clones. That is, the users can access the SuperCollider code (which is also called the “Circuit”) and make their own custom 808 with ease. Something like this wouldn’t be possible with any other virtual 808. I included a few modification examples with tutorials for beginners.
Conversely, SuperCollider needs to be routed to your DAW (and vice versa) externally as there’s no built-in VST support of any kind. How the routing works is beyond the scope of this article, but below you’ll find a handy diagram provided by the creator. The basic idea is that your DAW should send MIDI to SuperCollider and receive audio from it.
Again, here are some useful tips from the developer:
The basic method is very similar to using an external hardware synth in your DAW. You are sending MIDI messages from the DAW to the instrument. After that, the synth outputs audio signals and the DAW receives them. SuperCollider works as an “external synth” and the DAW has to set an external MIDI track and a receiving audio track.
In practice, the routing will vary from one digital audio workstation to another. As for third-party software, Soundflower should be able to do this on Mac and the JACK Audio Connection Kit should work for Windows and Linux.
The core version of SC-808 is free. You can download it from the developer’s Patreon page, install it, connect it to your DAW, and make some cool 808 sounds with it.
That said, an “Advanced” version of SC-808 featuring full tuning of every sound, different filters (Moog, 303, and HPF), and more, is coming out sometime before the end of August. If you’d like to support the creator (and nab a copy of SC-808 Advanced once it comes out), you can support them on Patreon.
SC-808 Advanced is now available. It costs $29 and introduces a number of new features. It is an experimental 808 with synth-like functionality. Modulate your 808 drums with an LFO or use advanced filters and envelopes.
Here’s the full feature set:
- Additional Knobs for more precise sound design
- Filters – TB-303, Moog Ladder, and HPF
- Add and changeable over 100 filters of SuperCollider
- 16 LFOs
- Separate out
- Support the Modification
SC-808 Advanced offers individual filters and modulation sources for each instrument. So, you can have one set of filters and modulation on the bass drum and a completely different setup on the snare. Otherwise, the workflow is almost the same as with the standard SC-808 version.
SC-808 Sample Pack
Yoshinosuke Horiuchi also released an SC-808 sample pack. It contains over 4,000 samples of the SC-808 drum machine.
The sample pack is included in the SC-808 Advanced Bundle – Essential, Everything, and Apex. The SC-808 Advanced bundle and the SC-808 Sample Pack are available from only $29 – Essential.
More info: Yoshinosuke Horiuchi’s Patreon (requires an installation of SuperCollider)
Wow, while looking for ways to use this, I see there’s pratically zero open protocols to send and receive midi or audio. Yes, there are ways, but many are proprietary or expect to be loaded as a VST plugin. Anywho, back on topic. I love drum synthesis, so it’s always nice to see people explore the idea.
This isn’t the best I’ve heard, it’s not the worse either, although the clap sounds like… clap. (yep, I went there, gomenasai)
Very interesting to have the source code and see how things are done, be modified or even ported to other languages that could be used in a simpler manner inside a DAW. :D
Yes, it’s very nice that the instrument is editable. Btw, the virtual 808 from Roland is free throughout August.
Nice! And I was just getting started on learning SC programming during quarantine…
I’m definitely gonna give this a try.
Better try this!!
That thing is pure evil. Total nerdfest. Wuv it! o_O;
The envelope graphical editor has a bug here, the handles should be clicked several pixels under their position. I wish they’d fix that. Also maybe make them primary and the text-based editor secondary.
Let’s be frank, the thing is far from being the paramount of user-friendliness. Macros would be welcomed too. That said, powerful tool. Scary powerful.
Yoshinosuke Horiuchi… Is it the guy behind HY-Plugins by any chance?
Nope, not the same developer.