Why should anybody want an OG 909/808 nowadays?

Been wondering why so many (techno) producers still have an original 909 and/or 808 in their studio?
No doubt these machines are iconic and for sure sound great but considering their price and functionality compared with clones and high quality samples I don‘t really get it.

Is this something one could only understand when using them IRL or simply a kind of nostalgia?


Simply because itd be cool to have a pice of gear like that.
If you had a choice between a Nisan MR2 or a Ferrari, would you take the MR2?


… if you love them too much …


For me in this case it‘s more like would you take 3 modern Ferraris or one from 1985? :sweat_smile:


I completely disagree.
Granted there are some decent 808 clones, but it’s still not the real thing.
Those Roland reissues seem awful to me, I dont even count those.
Samples definitely dont count.

I do think the vintage stuff is over priced.
And if I was shopping with getting the best bang for my buck ideology, it definitely seems like an odd choice to get an OG 808.
Nevertheless that’s not why people buy them.
It’s because they want an original


I’ll continue the car analogy.

Best car I’ve ever owned was a 1972 mini. Fucking wonderful car.

BMW make really nice Mini clones these days, but I’d rather die than sit in one.

If I’m ever lucky enough to be able to buy another OG mini, I’ll be a very happy boy.

That’s probably how a lot of 909 and 808 owners feel.


I’ll riff off that too.
A modern VW bug is superior in every way if considering buying a car that ls safer to drive, better AC, more comfy etc.
I’d take an original over the modern one easily


i would take a Miami and save the rest for food and vacations!


As a software engineer, I spend $3k or so every few years on a MacBook Pro or similar. I see no problem with spending $3-$5k on an iconic drum machine that will continue to last for decades with basic service if you think you need it.

There are other threads that debate musicianship, but the reality is that once you have basic skills, music is a meme game like any other form of art. You need the symbols of office for clients to take you seriously, and for some musicians that’s an OG 808, 909 or 303. Or maybe a 1200 and an MPC of some kind.

Or maybe you always wanted an 808, finally made some cash, and decided to buy one. Still less than the depreciation of a new BMW-Mini (which is a 1/2 series under the Mini drag) in the first year or two.

They might even be useful tools.

I’m happy with my TR-8s - it gives me easy access to the vintage Roland sounds with a reasonable amount of tweakability. The MD is good for more intense sound design. I’m more likely to get a Rytm, Syntakt and Pērkons before I spring for vintage Roland hardware, but that’s just because I don’t feel the need.


THIS all the way!
I think that part of the equation is often over looked.
My Octatrack has survived through 3 laptops.


This is a cool thread

How often does someone’s initial invention stand strong against time?
These inventions can be like placeholders.
So good that they are revised and remade over the years.
A lot of them become better; but for everyone something was changed when the first was made and used.

Getting to use a piece of reality from many years ago.

I’m toasted :smirk:
Maybe I should be in a different thread… :wink:


Last year I got to borrow a real 909. I A/B tested it with the Roland VST and couldn’t really tell the difference. I was even able to get identical looking waveforms for the BD (had to dial it a bit differently on each, unsurprisingly). Not really worth the expense at this point if you ask me. Also a stupidly large object!


Sometimes it’s not just about A/B audio comparisons.

As someone pointed out above, the 808 is 40 years old and still kicking.

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Ive got a couple of old synths, an MS20 and an SH101.
They’re sometimes a pain in the ass, but they are a joy to play with. I wouldnt change them for the smaller more convenient modern alternatives.

Drum machines are no different. Some people just want the Original.


The classic car analogy is pretty apt - you don’t buy/own/maintain a classic car for the convenience.


Why a reason could not be just their sound? And things like that:


I’d buy dinsync versions instead of old ones and still save £1000’s

But I’m also quite happy with behringer , Roland attempts, sample packs and vst’s
I probably use the basic ableton drum racks more than anything else.

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soundwise it’s a bit of a pea under the princess’s mattress for me. RD-9 gets real close but then I’ll hear an actual 909 on its own and just know that close still isn’t the real thing. if people stop paying insane prices for the originals, i’d consider it (or a DinSync RE-909 as a next-best)

I built the SR-909 Replica and Im about to build the RE-808 as soon as the cases get shipped.

Your getting a brand new 909/808 in 2022 if you go this route.

I’d say the main reason is the confidence that these original can sound really good (as evidence from the last 40 years shows). Most of the sounds are analog so you do get some interaction between voices that you don’t get with samples. It’s subtle but it’s there. Is it a necessity? No.

It’s also about the sequencers and the limiting workflow they provide overall.

I like to start tracks with a particular drum machine (909, Tanzbär, soon 808, etc…). Get a really good groove going and sort of play the machine while sampling it.

It just tends to end up sounding better when done as a cohesive instrument, subjectively of course.

So to answer the OP’s question. You’d probably need to try it in person and see if it’s special to you or not. On paper, it doesn’t make any sense.


I had the opportunity to use OGs, frankly I hated it. I don’t like vintage gear in general and much prefer modern alternatives for many reasons. But of course, YMMV and these are collectables… some people just enjoy the beauty of old instruments and having a piece of history in their hands.