Legendary EDM Gear
Modern EDM can be traced back to a few iconic pieces of gear. This legendary EDM gear is still widely used today if you can find one. In the ‘80s, analog electronic instruments were becoming more available in the United States. Thanks to technology, anybody could set up a studio in their house and create from there. The limitations of these vintage pieces of equipment helped to shape the sound. As with most new forms of music, using the instruments in ways not thought of helped propel the movement.
Let’s begin by paying homage to another forefather of EDM, Bob Moog. When the Moog Mini Moog first went on the market in 1970 it changed the face of electronic music forever. The innovative layout and features were complimented by filters that were envied by all other synth manufacturers at the time.
Dave Smith (one of the forefathers of MIDI), also played a huge role in EDM history via his famed synth, the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. Created in 1980, this synth had 5-voice polyphony with two oscillators per voice. It also had patch memory storage for 40 presets, unheard of for its time.
In the last article we spoke of New Wave music’s role in EDM. A signature of that sound was the Yamaha DX7. It was one of the most popular digital synths ever due to its crystal clear sounds and emulations of acoustic, string, wind and percussion instruments. Several famous artists such as Depeche Mode and the Talking Heads popularized this synth.
For bass there was nothing badder than the Roland TB-303. Originally marketed to guitarists for accompaniment, the TB-303 was a bass synthesizer with a built-in sequencer. Like Roland’s other iconic drum machines, the TB-303 became popular years after production ceased when DJs and electronic musicians began to manipulate the machine into new forms of dance music.
Speaking of iconic drum machines, no EDM gear list would be complete without Roland. Like the TB-303, the TR-808 drum machine also became popular long after it had gone out of production. It might be the single most important instrument that helped create the sounds of early Hip Hop and Techno music. It became so popular that you can still find renditions of its sound in all kinds of contemporary sample libraries, synthesizers (including the new Roland Aira line) and virtual instruments. The TR-808 was analog and easier to program than most drum machines of its day. It also allowed for step-writing which allowed musicians to slow the tempo down, enter rhythm events and then speed it up.
The Roland TR-909 was a hybrid machine in that it had analog circuitry but three of the eleven percussion sounds (crash cymbal, ride cymbal, hi-hat) were sampled. This drum machine was only in production for a single year. The 909 was Roland’s first rhythm machine built with MIDI.
When mentioning famous engineers such as Bob Moog and Dave Smith, another name belongs aside these legends and that is Roger Linn. The Linn LM-11 was the first drum machine to feature sampled sounds. Several features like loop recording, quantize and swing, live on to this day. The LM-11 can be heard on countless records in the ‘80s. Linn’s claim to fame is his design of the Akai MPC60. This first MPC (MIDI Production Center) is considered a perfect fusion of computing and hardware design. It combined a drum machine, a MIDI sequencer, and a sampler in one fairly portable box.
Legendary EDM Gear
The legendary EDM gear we mentioned can be found for hefty prices on eBay, but if you’re not a stickler for original hardware, many of the sounds can still be obtained today. In the next article we’ll discuss the basic tools you need to create EDM.
Check out some of today’s EDM gear here.
Written by: Headsnack