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I would think that these sounds would be the sounds made by the classic drum machines. But I see many samples advertised as being "909 kick" for example, and these may be different than what the machine made. There might be a dozen 909 snares, for example.

What do these modern samples mean when they claim to be x0x?

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2 Answers 2

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The Roland TR-808, TR-606 and TR-909 are analog synthesizers with many adjustable settings, capable of creating a range of different sounds with different attack/decay envelopes and pitch. The TR-909's cymbal sounds are based on PCM samples, but all the rest is synthesized. Many different snare sounds can come out from a TR-909, so that's why there can be many different "909" snare samples.

The definition of 909/808/707/etc. percussion is, they are sounds that were either sampled from an actual Roland drum synthesizer with that name, or modeled after those sounds, trying to sound like the original.

The TR-707's sounds are all based on samples, not synthesized.

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Although piiperi's answer is accurate, I want to note specifically that the term "808 kick" has expanded to describe any electronic kick drum sound with a long tuned decay, which can serve as both the kick drum and bass instrument in a song.

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    The "808" has become so famous in hip-hop that it's referenced frequently, like in Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak. In that genre it often has a low booming sound that is very heavy in low-frequencies for subwoofers, straying from the original TR-808 bass sound. Here are some examples youtube.com/watch?v=08tdOHT_vJA
    – qwr
    Feb 24 at 22:52

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