Free Online Roland TR-808 Drum Machine Emulator: HTML-808

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This is a free web application that emulates the famous drum machine Roland TR-808 with high accuracy. For those who don’t know what a drum machine is, it’s a device used to program drum patterns. Snare, hi-hat, clap and other instrument samples are also available to make a groovy beat. HTML-808 programs drums just like its real life counterpart. The only difference lies in the lack of variation switches and pattern recording knobs at the top left. For newbies, all you have to do is to set the tempo of the beats, lay down the beats with the switches, and hit Start. There are a total of 16 instruments you can use to program your drum track. Out of these 5 are toggles. The sound of instruments can also be changed with a couple of knobs. The only thing missing here is an export function to save the drum pattern you just on your computer. Nonetheless, you can save the progress of your beat.

html808

TR-808 revolutionized the music industry (especially hip-hop) as music producers weren’t dependent on drum samples anymore. HTML-808 seems to be a well designed HTML5 homage to its real counterpart. Most of you might be wondering how to use this awesome tool to drop a dope hip hop or electronic track. I’ll show you how I recorded HTML-808 using Audacity and composed a short sample track including inputs from Scribble.Audio.

So let’s explore HTML-808!

How to Program Drums using HTML-808

One thing that I didn’t mention in the introduction is that there are a total of 16 patterns that you can experiment with. These are divided into 4 tracks each making the structuring of the song easier.

interface html808

So to start, I selected the first pattern of the first track with a tempo of 120 beats per minute. You’ll have to use the tempo knob patiently because it’s very sensitive. I selected the Bass Drum and filled in a couple of beats in the switches. The next step is to add the snare, but I decided to experiment with the clap. Adding the Closed Hi-Hat filled up the whole sequence. Instruments have 3 properties that you can manipulate with their respective knobs. You can change the audio level, the tone and the decay of an instrument. To change the pitch of an instrument, you can fiddle with the tone. Decay tweaks the tail’ instrument to make it sound longer or shorter.

The final result was satisfactory, so I saved my progress from the bottom left. It’s time to save the beat with Audacity.

How to Record Drums from HTML-808 on Audacity

Launch Audacity alongside HTML-808. Set the audio host as Windows WASAPI and make sure the audio channel is stereo. Start recording and make sure that Audacity is armed for recording first as HTML-808 might have a delays when switch to some other tab or program.

html808 audacity

I imported a WAV recording of a synth I made on Scribble.Audio and synced the track with the beats I made with HTML-808. Some reverb and phasing on the synth made it sound better. Here is the 19 second sample I made using drums I programmed on HTML-808 and synth I recorded on Scribble.Audio:

I know it sounds boring and repetitive since I didn’t have much time to experiment around, but you can do a lot more on HTML-808 with patience, creativity and focus.

Final Words

HTML-808 is an awesome web application to use in your music production or just to play around. However, I wish the developer adds keyboard controls and an option to record the programmed drums. I give this free online drum machine 5 stars for its perfect emulation of the TR-808.

Check out HTML-808 here.

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[Total: 4 Average: 4.3]
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