When Drum Machines Hit The Tape: An Interview With Goldbaby

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Hugo Tichborne is the man behind Goldbaby Productions (or simply Goldbaby), and his mission was and still is quite simple: to create the best vintage drum machine samples on the market.
Ok, we all know there are tons of similar samples, both free and payware. Goldbaby’s added value? Recording the drum machines onto some good old tape machines and sampling them as carefully as possible (last but not least, selling them at affordable prices anyone can afford).
Goldbaby’s latest releases are Tape Drum Machines vol.1 and vol.2.
The first volume features Linn LM-1, MBase01, Roland TR-505, Boss DR110, Sequential Tom, 4 In The Floor, Yamaha MR-10, MRX-185, Emu Drumulator and MPC The Kit (and a bonus rom based 808).
The second volume features: Linn Drum, CR-78, TR-626, DDR-30, Bohm, DR-55, RPM-40, RX-5, KPR-77 and the Synsonics Pro.
In both cases the Tape machines used are Ampex valve 1/2 inch 2 track, Otari MX5050 1/4 inch 2 track, Teac A-350 Cassette Deck and the Hitachi 3 head Cassette deck.

In total, you get respectively 1482 and 1838 samples (ouch!) at 24bit resolution (for those who care, the audio card used in the process is the well respected Metric Halo ULN-2), and the drum samplers supported are: Battery 3 and Guru.
Of course you can get just the raw samples and import them in your favourite sampler (better if it has a round robin layering feature, like in Battery or Guru, it makes the thing even more realistic since it emulates the non-linear behaviour of the original drum machines).
By the way, as stated in the manual, the supplied Kits only use a small portion of the samples on offer in the sample folder. It means you can have fun (or lose some sleep, or both) creating your own kits.
Maybe Goldbaby should set up a forum where users can share their presets, I’m sure it would be appreciated, especially by lazy users like…erm… me!

As expected, these libraries give justice (and probably more) to the original products. The audio quality/dynamic is way better than most of the similar samples I’ve used.
And besides the famous names, it’s really a good thing to have some of these obscure/exotic drum machines sampled here: for example, the Synsonics is getting a lot of use here lately!

Anyway, listen to the demos on the website, but at 29$ each these are a steal!

We’ve asked Hugo to tell us something more about him, his business and the new product he’s working on. Here’s Mr.Goldbaby in his own words…

Hugo, you’re definitely one the most know drum-machines freak of the interweb! How did all this begin? Did you get a drum-machine as a gift from your parents when you were a kid, or what?

I started getting into music technology and electronic music in the mid 80’s. Working after school polishing floors just so I could save enough money to buy a 2nd hand Moog MG-1, my first synth. I still have it! The first drum machine I ever played with was a Yamaha RX7. I couldn’t afford it, but use to go down to my local music store every weekend just to “test it out”. They must of got sick of me! However I didn’t seriously get into drum machines until I bought an MPC60… The Roger Linn masterpiece. Then I bought a TR-606, TR-808, CR-78, CR-8000, DDR-30, Mbase… Now I can’t be stopped! I also met Steve who is serious collector. He has well over a hundred vintage drum machines. A very handy guy to know if you want to record drum machine samples! I just hire what I need when I need it. He has some rare and crazy stuff…

What’s the main reason behind the “let’s print it to tape” concept? It’s the saturation, the smoothing of some frequencies/transients, or it’s just the fact for those of us grown up with the sound of tape in the ears, well, that’s what our ears expect to hear?

I have always known that drums sound good on tape. I use to work in recording studio which had a Fairlight MFX 2 and a Studer two inch 24 track tape machine. The Fairlight was an incredible hard disk recorder and editor. Incredibly advanced and sounded great…. but we always seemed to go back to tape when recording drums… You’re right… it’s the saturation, transient smoothing and frequency response. Or maybe it’s just voodoo! What ever it is… I like what it does to an 808 BD!

Herbert, the dj/producer/composer, talking about originality once said in an interview “if you’re using a 909 drum machine, like, I don’t know, twenty-five thousand other people in the world, then it’s going to be a lot harder to sound original”. Does that make you feel guilty for spreading even more 909 sounds around the world?

Drum samples are just tools. The way you use them can differ completely to the way someone else uses them. I know customers who use the 909 to make Drum and Bass, House, Techno, Hip Hop, Dub Step… the list goes on. I just supply the tools. My customers supply the originality… Remember the the TR-909 was originally designed to be a realistic drummer. It failed dismally at that. Instead it became the futuristic drum sound that helped shape modern dance music. There have been countless 909 samples available since sampling began. My mission was to create the best 909 samples available.

Do you use software drum-machines? 

Personally I have been favouring Guru as a software drum sampler. Very powerful and inspiring tool. Fill it with Goldbaby samples and then ba boom! Also been using uTonic… it is a great software “analog” drum machine. I still have time for my old stuff. The character and limitations of those old device really make you concentrate on the simple ideas. A drum sampler with only 5 seconds of sampling time for instance, gets you working creatively to overcome it’s lack of memory. A synth with no midi gets you playing it live. Plus a healthy dose of nostalgia always keeps my studio full of vintage gear…

Would we ever see from Goldbaby a plug-in a-la Virtual String Machine by GForce? I mean a virtual instrument still based on samples but with actual controls?

Hell yeah! Sign me up.
Unfortunately I have absolutely no coding skills. However if a software developer ever wanted to do something with me…. I wouldn’t complain.

I’ve read you’re working on a new release. Could you tell us something more about it?

Next product is based around the SP1200 and SP12. Think dirty 12 bit samples through SSM2044 analog filters (more info on this famous chip here)! Really enjoying my time with these two legends. The first time I sampled through it I used the 808 as a sound source. Playing back the 808 bass drum through the SP1200 I was a little disappointed to the hear the gritty 12 bit aliasing… then I routed it through it’s internal VCF…. aaaahh that’s better, a whole lot better! That 12 bit aliasing works magic on snares and HH. The filters really warm up the Toms and Kicks… Such a deferent sonic character to my other 12-bit sampler the MPC60…

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