Ambika analog drum voice card?

Would something like an analogue 909/808-style kick, snare, or tomtom circuit fit on an Ambika voice card?

Only you have to do all the hardware & software design.
Maybe including a mod to the mainboard software.
You may produce something close soundwise only modifying the voicecard software of the current voicecards (especially the 4P I think).

Shortly after the Ambika initial reveal, pichenettes mentioned plans in the future for maybe both an analog drums card and a ROMpler card. If that ever happens… maaaan!

@thijs pichenettes did moot the idea of producing an analogue drum-synth card (I think with 3 sounds per card), and possibly also a sample-based drum/perc card also, so it’s already on the cards. I don’t think Ambika voicecard development is currently a priority at MI Towers, though.

@MicMicMan I did spend a while attempting to synthesise drum sounds on my 4P card-equipped Ambika, and didn’t achieve anything very satisfactory, to be honest. That may well be down to my lack of skill as a synth programmer though. That might be a good challenge for someone, actually- create a 6-part drum-synth setup on the Ambika using the existing voice cards. That was my plan, but I kinda gave up after failing to create a satisfactorily thumpy, 909-style kick.

Incidentally, the manual for the Waldorf RackAttack module (which I’m sure can be downloaded from somewhere) has an interesting tutorial section at the back demonstrating how to recreate various classic analogue drum sounds.


…or you could build a 808 kickdrum/snare/whatever ( ) and modify the voicecard firmware so it can just send a trigger signal to your drum voice (using eric’s trigger generator network)
Things to take into account:

  • original 808 drum modules need /- 15v. You can use a dc/dc converter from Murata or Tracopower (they cost something between 15 and 25 eur) to obtain/- 15V from VCC or +5V pin
  • you will not be able to modify anything (decay, tone, tune, level) via MIDI. To do so, you will need to hack the 808 design, maybe using vactrols or optofets (I’m not sure the 500K decay pot on kickdrum will be easy to replace…)

Things might be easier on Anushri, since you could just send a trigger signal to your drum module…
Here’s my 808 kickdrum prototype (based on original/eric’s schematic + decay and tune mod), I’m currently waiting for the PCB…

@shaduz The motivation behind having it on an Ambika voice card is that you’ll be able to edit, restore and sequence all parameters with ease. Even though I said 808/909-style, something like the Jomox MBase11 and M.Brane11 is probably much more interesting…

The downside is that the Ambika hardware doesn’t necessarily lend itself to drum-programming. Having said that, the 8x buttons with bi-colour LEDs could function as two rows of 8 step x0x-style on-off buttons. You’d need to write a custom OS to take advantage of it though. The current builtin step-sequencer, being monophonic, wouldn’t be ideal for drum programming, unless you can live with only one drum sound playing at a time. Actually that’s how the Monomachine drums work, which has always struck me as crazy, to be honest.


@thijs totally agree, there’s no use on Ambika of such a thing if you can only trigger it.
I’m more interested in a standalone midi-or-cv kick drum at the moment (of course buying a MBase11 would be a fair solution in this regard, but that does not involve any soldering iron…)
Anyway I still have three slots free on my Ambika, and I’d be more than happy to fill them with drum cards :slight_smile:

@shaduz my Ambika is fully-stuffed with 4P cards now. I intended to leave 2 free for drumsynth cards, but pichenettes implied that they might not appear for quite a while, so in the end, I caved in and just ordered another 2 4Ps. I half regret not plumping for the SVF cards instead, but there’s no denying it does sound great as it is, and having the option of assigning all six voices to the same part, for 6-voice polyphony is really nice, so I’m not going to buy more cards for a while. If/when the drum cards do appear though, I may be very tempted to get another Ambika, and stuff it with drum and SVF voice cards.


not sure it’s really essential to use a ±15v supply for getting something close to the original 808 sound.
I know that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to achieve a 808 sound with the current voicecards and software. I was really speaking about updating the firmware. The Anushri kick is pretty good and only suffers from 8 bit resolution - the ambika voicecards are designed to work over 12 bits, which should improve the result a lot while still being very similar in their principle.

There’s also potential for more esoteric, one-off voice cards. How about a Speak & Spell voice card, or a SpeakJet or SoundGin one?

Or less esoterically (and this has already been mentioned), a simple FM voice?


I’m now imagining an Ambika Ultimate Analogue Groovebox Edition…

MicMicMan, personally I’m not that interested in exact 808 or 909 replicas. Much more interesting would be to use the circuits as starting points just as Jomox did with the MBase11/M.Brane11 and the xbase 888/999.

@thijs the RackAttack has an interesting voice architecture, that’s capable of producing a wide range of drum and percussion sounds. Of course, it’s completely ‘virtual analogue’. I don’t know how feasible it would be to recreate something similarly flexible in the analogue domain. Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to get many such voices onto a Ambika format voice card.


I was hoping for a 606/303 soundcard :slight_smile:

@dude163 unfortunately, there’s no way you’re going to get a fully-analogue emulation of all the 808 or 606 sounds in an Ambika voice card form-factor.

To be honest, though I do love the sound of the 606 and 808, I’d prefer something more flexible, that could produce a wider variety of sounds. Basically a 2-voice analogue synthesiser with a set of controls optimised for percussion-generation. I’d probably want at least one tuned waveform oscillator and a white noise and maybe an LFO for each voice. The tuned oscillator would need to have sweepable pitch over a wide range. I’d also want super-snappy envelopes, ideally with different kinds of slopes, ie linear, and some kind of adjustable curve. Filters would be cool, too, of course.

Dunno how possible any of this would be.


Totally different but well worth a try is the EMU Procussion. Its that good that i have 2 of them just in case one breaks - each one for under 55 from EvilBay.

Forget Roland, a TAMA Techstar is pretty cool :slight_smile: I own a 2-channel module and it’s great for mid-80s Simmons sounds and 909-ish kicks

The Techstar is great indeed : it allows for deep kicks, nice snares and the clap module is massive.
I am just not satisfied with the hats.

Is this possible?