The DR-110 is a lovely drum machine. Much like a poor man’s TR-606, it has a wonderfully buzzy and metallic sound. And, unlike the 606, it has a clap. And what a glorious clap it is. Maybe the best clap in all drum machinedom? Maybe? It also has a positively bouncy swing to it. I like it almost as much as the 606, and even more on some sunny days. I can’t say enough good things about it.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to use this gorgeous sound in your songs unless you use it as a master clock because there’s no slave sync. No MIDI, no din sync, not even just plain clock sync. And Logic, my DAW of choice, seemingly won’t work as a slave. So that’s it. Game over. Time to cry and shut the 110 in a drawer, right?
Not so fast. Circuitbenders to the rescue.
The UK modders make an add-on kit that brings din sync slave functionality to your 110 so you can use it just like you would a 606. Additionally, the pattern will helpfully reset to the beginning when you press stop on the DAW, just as you’d want it to. (Apparently this doesn’t happen in some mods.) I was sold.
This was to be my first mod. I was confident. I had done quite a bit of work on other gear, and this didn’t look too complicated. I followed the instructions. I did everything right. I killed it.
Instead of holding onto the maimed drum machine and trying again later, I threw it away. I couldn’t stand the shame of having failed. I did, however, keep the mod in the hopes that someday my skills would improve enough to try again.
Moog Slayer filter mod to my Poly-800, and during that festival of shorts I realized that what killed the DR-110 was sloppy wiring on the switch and din socket. This time I would make sure the wires were trim and clean, with no opportunity for electricity to short between the solder lugs.
I followed the directions again, and aside from a little bit of trouble with the drilling, I managed to get everything installed pretty quickly. I was careful with the wires and proud of the job I did soldering them to the switch and socket. I double-checked my work, made sure I had indeed cut the fourth wire on the ribbon cable connecting the upper and lower boards, inserted the batteries, turned it on... and it played properly when I pressed start. So far so good. I took it upstairs to the studio, connected a cable from my Korg KMS-30 to sync it to my DAW’s clock, and it started up and stayed in time. By God, it worked.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried. It was such a relief to have it work. And now I could sync it to my DAW’s tempo. Happy days.
Bolstered by this success, I bought the Lil Erebus kit from Dreadbox. It’s now sitting in a drawer, dead, waiting until the day that I have acquired enough experience to get it to work. That day will definitely come though. I have no doubt about that now.