KORG DDD-1 Drum Machine
Two main features make the DDD-1 stand out from its current rivals in the Roland and Yamaha camps - touch sensitive pads and plug in ROM cards for new, sampled sounds.
The former mean you can write real time patterns, putting in all the accents and stresses in volume a real drummer would do, just by hitting the pads harder.
The ROM sheets, no thicker than credit cards, slot into four ports under a hinged cover at the front, and certainly open up possibilities - replacing all the bass drum, snare and tom sounds in a pattern with gunshots and tuned broken glass, for example. Your boring old four-to-the-bar rhythms suddenly become highly inventive.
The Korg will hold up to 99 separate patterns, and arrange them in 10 songs, with all the repeat, insert, delete and edit facilities you'd expect of a modern drum machine. Little twists and bonuses include automatic flams (one of the white buttons on the left) with ten degrees of delay, and automatic rolls (the other button) programmable from quarter (slow) to 32nd (damn nippy) notes. Bit disappointed to find the rolls only worked when recording patterns not when you were just tapping along with the keys on playback.
Another endearing charm of the DDD-1 is its way of letting you do whatever you want with the 14, grey sound pads. You can assign each one its own sound from the internal choice of 36, or those held on the ROM cards. More than that, each pad can be then given its own tuning, decay time, and output level. You want 14 individually tuned cowbells, you got it, and the Korg will store up to six of these selections. Lots of accidental fun to be had writing patterns then, with a few pressed buttons, replacing all the drums at once with another selection.
Sounds can also be sent to one of the six, individual outputs at rear for separate eq-ing or panned into one of seven positions across the stereo spread.
Descriptions of the functions appear in a backlit LCD display, and you get the job done using a numeric key pad, data slider, and a series of smaller keys that move you from one department of the software — Play/Record — to another — Data transfer etc.
The sounds can be externally triggered via MIDI (including pads) or using an audio input to replace, say, a dodgy snare drum on one track.
The Korg does just about everything you could find on current drum machines, and all of it in one box. The facilities are certainly generous, but a digital drum box also has to be judged on its sounds. The Korg has a wealth of them. But if I had to listen only to the sounds and ignore the excellent facilities, I wouldn't price the DDD-1 that high.
Review by Paul Colbert
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