Metasonix Announces Vacuum Tube Drum Machine

Metasonix, known for their vacuum tube synths has announced the D-1000, the first vacuum tube drum machine since the Wurlitzer Sideman of 1959. The D-1000 consists of only four sounds, 2 toms, a snare and a cymbal, although control voltage inputs provide additional flexibility.

Each of the tunable drums is made from a vacuum tube ringing bandpass filter, and can be tuned to sound from below 20 Hz to over 2 kHz. They are also tunable with external control voltages, allowing complex patterns to be built up with external CV or pulse sources. Resonance of each filter circuit is set by internal trimpots. The cymbal sound is an extremely primitive circuit, with white noise gated by a pentode tube. The cymbal’s attack is knob-variable and CV variable, from a sharp click to a soft whoosh. The four outputs mix to a single tube preamp that allows for overdriving via the mix-level controls.

In keeping with the primitive nature of the soundmaking section, the pattern sequencer is extremely simple. There is a single 8-pulse sequence with separate enable switches for each drum sound, set a toggle switch up to get the sound at that point, down for silence.

The internal clock is settable from 60 BPM to over 1000 BPM. There is also a “roll” clock signal built-in, to generate a faster drumroll on any drum sound by pressing a button (speed is preset with an internal trimpot). If you don’t like the internal sequencer, there are separate trigger inputs for each of the four sounds (the trigger pulse must be 0 to +5v, and less than 40 mS long). These trigger inputs operate in parallel with the built-in sequencer, so the D-1000′s sounds may be triggered by its internal sequence and external pulses at the same time. As a bonus, the three tunable drums can also be used as tunable bandpass filters, by feeding a line audio signal to each trigger input.

Ample inputs and outputs: mix output (with overdriveable tube preamp), separate outputs for each drum sound, external trigger inputs for each drum sound, and a main clock output (0-5v) for slaving external generators to the internal clock.

Specifications: Inputs and outputs 1/8″ jacks, except main mix output on 1/4″ jack. Enclosed in rugged, moisture-resistant ABS utility box with hinged lid, carrying handle and latch. Size with lid closed 12.25″x7.4″x6.5″ (314mmx186mmx168mm), weight (minus AC adapter) approx 3 lbs (2.1 kg). Power: 12-16 volts AC, 50/60 Hz, 1.5 amps. Uses Jameco 167151 AC adapter for power in 120v countries. Power inlet: 2.1mm coaxial jack.

Clearly the market for the D-1000 is not large, but there may be some individuals who are interested in exploring this yellow beast…

No pricing or availability has been announced. More information on the Metasonix D-1000.