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Without these classic techno making machines the techno we listen to now would be hugely different.

So why on earth do we need a page about the best classic techno making machines ever?

I have a vintage streak in me and we must recognise a heritage that has made the techno industry what it is now. Without the listed machines techno would be a very boring place and completely different.

The machines have created the techno vibe, they have put musicians into the charts with a distinctive sound, and made clubbers go wild as the tensions that these machines can bring with them. Various genres have also been created with these machines- acid, rave and dance would not be what they are today. I would say that the classic techno making machines have been the building blocks for the various high end synths, softsynths, plug-ins etc.

So what are they? In no particular order:

Best classic techno making machines: 1. Roland TB303

classic techno synth tb303



I have to say that this is the revolution machine. Every chart on techno machines, every dance/ techno hit of the mid 80s through to the 90s featured this little silver box. It influence has even touched more modern machines and softsynths- there are effects around that state "TB303 sounding filter", or "TB303 Bass". Every dance/ techno synth has now got filters due to the success of this machine. Roland had the techno scene truely signed but with this silver box, wham, they sealed the deal.

Best classic techno making machines: 2. Roland TR909

classic techno synth tr909



Tadao Kikumoto is responsible for the designing of this fantastic drum machine (he also designed the TB303). The series of TRs before were good, the TR606 had cheesy sounds, and the TR808 was used mainly in the hip-hop scene, but when the TR909 joined in, it was a revolution. It was simple to use (a step-by-step drum inputting device was a genius idea) and the noise that was gained became a "spot the musician who had the beat". You could tell its distintive sound- pounding solid kicks and spritely loops. Many tried to re-create its sounds. Sample libraries house CDs full of various TR909 combinations, other drum machines made strange kicks to emulate but non could re-create. Only Rolands R8 became a good alternative but it was always in the 909s shadow.



Best classic techno making machines: 3. Roland JD800

classic techno synth jd800



Ohh now this is a machine. A hybrid of such. Roland knew how much people enjoyed the warm and great sounds of the digital machines, but they also enjoyed the twisting and sliding of an analog machine- so they made the JD800, digital yet analog synth. And what a synth it is. Slightly bigger than a house, this was fantastic. Its sounds (108 waveforms) were of great quality and with your editing facilities just a slider away, your waveform and hence your sound was limited by your imagination. Again it was used by a multitude of dance acts that wanted to give their sounds a professional touch- yet also sounding very different.

Please note, there does seem to be a bit of a Roland theme running through this list. Unfortunately Roland were kings of the dance synth and acts would be predominantly Roland based. They were the "in machines"- like the TB303- if you didnt have that noise you were behind the trend.

Best classic techno making machines: 4. Roland SH101

classic techno synth sh101



A TB303 stand in, the SH101 is still featured in music even today, and that is the actual machine, not an emulator.The SH101 is most known for producing cool bass sounds, and this is a major strenght because of the extreme resonance in the filter. With a bit of tweaking the filter can produce some interesting sounds- a great kick drum or a super deep sub bass.The Sh101 had great sound control with the sliders making sound alteration easy (you could even have a shoulder strap so you can wear it on stage).

Best classic techno making machines: 5. Roland Juno 106

classic techno synth juno 106



Name a rave or dance artist in the 90s and they had this synth sitting around somewhere in the studio room. It produced "that bass sound" and was primarliy used as a bass analog synth. Its sounds were limited but it did its job extreamly well. All of its functions are on separate front panel sliders and knobs and the architecture is very simple making it an easy synth to operate. A classic synth that sounds great.



Best classic techno making machines: 6. Korg 01/w

classic techno synth 01/w

If you wanted power instruments and wow! pads then this great synth is your machines. Weighing in slightly less than a car the 01/w was built to last on those gig rounds. The great trump card for the 01/w was its ability to edit waveforms. One of the greatest limit of the synthesis based on PCM samples was that the final program sounded almost the same as the starting sample. Now the wave shaping function available in the 01/w it enabled the user to modify and add new harmonics to the internal samples, creating sounds that were unobtainable using conventional filters. A revolutionary synth.


These were the main diet of techno musicians. As time goes on I will add more to the list, but should you get any?

Well...no. The TB303 goes for (at least) $800 and the TR909 roughly the same. They are not worth that much especially when you consider the alternatives. Softsynths have made a complete open playing field and they are hugely adaptable, and offer endless bolt ons- whereas the machines- once you have one thats it, no more sounds apart from what you have (the JD800 and 01/W offer extra sounds via cards but that is extra money). You need to check out here to get the softsynth version of one of the classic techno making machines, the TB303, for free .

Also, how about sample libraries? These offer free sounds from the above machines, they have been sampled to death, completely check out the free techno samples page (look especially out for AnalogueSamples for some really cool samples from the classic techno making machines.