2 Bit Systems
Would you like to convert your computer to a
programmable drum system or sequencer?
DIGIDRUM is menu driven, the majority of
controls are obtained by using the main function keys. OPTION gets a
selection from the main menu which is permanently displayed across
the top of the screen. With each press of the button, the
highlighted cursor moves from one option to another, left to right.
SELECT gets an option from the active pull down menu and START
executes that option. Using these pull down menus may look cute but
unless you've got a mouse to flick over them they really aren't much
good. I found them slow and cumbersome. if you miss your option
first time round then it's back to continually pressing the Option
button until its highlighted again. I was constantly frustrated by
this procedure which I feel detracts from the ease of use. Don't let
my inability to handle this system put you off this program however,
as I enjoyed my time as a drummer.
All the sounds you hear within the program were
digitised using the 'Replay' Sound Sampling System from the same
authors. The eight drum sounds all 'recorded' at 10KHz are,
Bass-Drum, Snare, Lowtom, Midtom, Cowbell, Hi-hat open, Hi-hat
closed and Clap. DigiDrum can store up to 29 different patterns
using any combination of the drum sounds, these can be constructed,
edited and played at different tempo's. DigiSynth employs the same
method as DigiDrum except that the rate is recorded at 16KHz.
Within DigiDrum there are numerous sections all
connected to give you hours of enjoyment by constructing, editing
and compiling patterns to make songs. Functions include, selection
from any of 29 Patterns, Wiping (erase), Editing, Playing, changing
the Tempo and linking patterns to form Songs. All the patterns and
songs can be stored on either disk or tape. If you have a disk
drive, a catalog can also be displayed thus enabling easier
selection. Up to 16 files can be stored on disk although the
programmers don't employ the same procedure here as they do with the
menu. With the menu all you do is highlight your option and press
START. When loading files though, you have to type in the filename
and press return. I can't work out why they don't use the same
principle as the menu.
I would have liked the opportunity to send my
patterns to the printer so further study could be easier, however,
at this price I'm not going to make a song and dance about it.(!)
The manual is a small cassette inlay size typeset document which is
quite readable but it lacks in-depth information and clarity and I
found some of the instructions a little vague.
DIGISYNTH is not as complex as DigiDrum but
is still an effective program. Employing the same design structure
(and faults) it can handle such functions as entering Music,
Editing, Erasing, Tempo, Playback and Filing.
Entering the notes is achieved by using the bottom
two rows of the keyboard. Editing is by real time use of delete and
cursor control keys. As with DigiDrum whatever you do is seen on
screen immediately through a little grey window, in fact in this
program there are windows popping up and down all over the place and
what's more I couldn't seem to get rid of them. Never mind you
always get to see what you are doing.
You will probably have realised by now from the
lack of detailed musical comment that I know nothing about those
funny little things like notes, staffs, sharps and rests but I did
thoroughly enjoy myself creating as yet another unfinished
The manual is part of the DigiDrum manual and
again is a little sparse. The disk comes packaged in the now almost
standard hard vinyl case. All in all though DigiDrum and DigiSynth
are well worth £4-95 and when you've got tired of trying to beat
your last score playing that arcade game you could always come back
to this and write a different type of score!
REPLAY SOUND SAMPLING SYSTEM
2 Bit Systems
Real music from your computer?? Spoken words with
The Replay Sound System consists of a plug-in
cartridge and disk or cassette based software comprising of the main
program (Replay), sample sound files and supportive programs. All
the sounds in the DigiDrum/DigiSynth package are derived from this
system. Replay allows you to produce high quality digital sound
through your TV or Monitor speaker. Once a sound has been recorded
it can be played back without the use of the Replay cartridge.
To create effective and realistic sounds a good
quality tape recorder is required to play music or sounds so the
Replay cartridge can 'record' it. The sounds can then be saved to
either disk or tape. The cartridge comes with a lead about 18 inches
long terminating in a small 3.5mm phono plug which should be
inserted in any output socket of the recorder although the manual
makes no reference to this whatsoever. I managed to plug it into the
headphone socket after first getting a conversion unit as, like most
recorders, the headphone socket was of a larger size than the phono
The Replay program itself employs the same 'modus
operandi' as DigiDrum and DigiSynth. Functions include, Setup, Wipe,
Sample, Play and File as follows.
Set-up has three sub programs: Sample Rate
- lets you select the 'recording' quality/time. Using the SELECT key
you can choose to record your sample at six different levels from
6KHz (poor) to 21KHz (excellent). As the quality of the sound
improves the less recording time you have available. For example
with 6KHz you get 12 seconds and at 21KHz there are only 3 seconds
of recording time, but what a superb 3 seconds they are!! Storage -
just toggles the disk/cassette option and Calibration - which is a
handy section acting like a row of LED's to help you select the
correct output level of your tape recorder.
Wipe - has exactly the same functions as in
Sample - having pre-selected the 'recording
level' under the Set-up command this option records the input signal
at the current sample rate. When Sample is selected, the signal from
the tape player is audible through the TV. A 'Sample Length'
indicator shows the amount of time available for the sample sound.
Once the START key is pressed, the sample length starts to decrease
and your sound is recorded.
Play - as it says, highlight the option,
press START and whatever file is loaded into memory is played
through the TV speaker. The sounds produced can be altered by going
to Set-up and changing the KHz rate.
File - this, in my opinion, is wrongly
placed. Surely the file needs to be loaded first, then played? I
can't understand why the Play option is placed before the File
option which doesn't seem logical as you have to move the cursor
right round the menu bar. File lets you load and save your sample
sounds to disk or cassette and in the case of disk owners a Catalog
is an additional feature.
Once a file has been loaded or recorded the sound
waves appear in a window across the width of the screen giving a
visual effect of your sounds. A nice feature here is an editor
function which allows you to scroll from the start of the sound
sample to the end. Markers can be placed anywhere between the start
and end to let you either wipe the parts out you don't want or
alternately save only the section between the markers. If you only
use part of the time limit in 'record' you can add on more sounds by
moving the editor markers and recording sound from that position. In
this way it's possible to edit speech to your own requirements. As
with any program that relies on other equipment to provide the
conditions to enable it to operate the quality of sample sounds are
dependant somewhat upon the quality of your tape recorder.
In addition to the main program there are demo
sounds ranging from guitars to Captain Kirk in perfect voice! A
separate program is LISTed to disk to enable sample sounds to be
included in your own programs. This comprises of a couple of machine
code routines and all that has to be done is to find out the start
and finish address of the sample and away you go.
The package comes in a plastic case reminiscent of
a video box with a 12 page manual and even a wooden dowel for the
400/800 cartridge lid which has to stay open to allow the lead to be
plugged into the recorder. It is available for all 48K computers.
For those who have friends going green with envy whilst you're
creating sounds, there's something for them too, a simple space
invader game as a freebie!
Replay Sound Sampling System will cost you £39.95
for either Disk or Cassette and is available from retailers or 2-BIT
SYSTEMS themselves. The sampler was loaned by 2 BIT SYSTEMS to whom
I am indebted. One thing is for sure, I've no intention of being
without the Replay Sound Sampling System for long, I'm off out now
to buy one before they all get snapped up.