memory, Dynamic Bank Switching, lithium battery, individual
in to the cymbal and hi-hat circuits, accent button, snare sound modifications, noise level control, switch replacement and new
© Robin Whittle, Real World Interfaces firstname.lastname@example.org 27 February 2020
(2020-02-27) I have a backlog of Devil Fish work, in part because I have been prioritising TR-808 work. For the first half of 2020 and perhaps longer I will be prioritising Devil Fish work on TB-303s and TT-303 Bass Bots, so it may be some time before I accept more TR-606, TR-808 or TR-909 work.
2018-12-18 update: The Quicksilver 606 system is no longer available.
>>> General Repairs
>>> Switch Replacement
>>> LEDs of various colours
>>> New Battery Arrangements for Retaining Memory Data
>>> 32 Banks of Memory
>>> Accent Button
>>> Individual Outputs
>>> Cymbal & Hi-Hat Audio Input
>>> Snare Modifications: Fixed or Switched
>>> Noise Source Level Control
>>> MIDI Sync In
>>> Other Mods
The pushbutton (tactile) switches of the TR-606 are open to dust. With months and years of use, the dust compacts in the contact area, leading to erratic behaviour. I replace the original ALPS switches with a functionally similar tact switch, made by Omron. The Omron switches are sealed against dust and liquids. I expect they will last for decades.
The switches should always be replaced, even if fresh switches have just been installed – unless they are these sealed Omron switches, or the sealed ALPS switches. Ordinary unsealed ALPS switches will not last very long. I don't install the sealed ALPS switches because I do not like their feel. See: ../dfish/tact-switches/ .
This is functionally identical to the 32 bank system described for the Devil Fish here.
This memory system enables you to play beats from the same pattern number (1 to 16, A or B) in other memory banks while the pattern is running. This can be done by flicking the toggle-switches or pressing the pushbutton, and it can be done for one or more beats at a time, in the middle of patterns.
The result is a style of improvisatory live performance which involves dropping in beats in an intuitive manner and potentially dramatic.
There are 32 combinations of positions of the 5 toggle-switches. The pushbutton switch reverses the function of the lower toggleswitch. If the internal sequencer is playing a given pattern, such as 1A, then by moving the toggle-switches you can select pattern 1A in any of the 32 banks. Since the sequencer reads from memory for each beat it plays, on the beat immediately following the change of switch positions, the sequence will read the drum and accent information from the memory pattern 1A in the newly selected memory bank. So it will play these notes from the newly selected pattern a fraction of a second after the switches have been set to the new combination. Of course when you leave the switches in a given combination, the sequencer keeps playing its patterns from that bank.
In principle, you can play from Track mode when changing banks, but this is likely to confuse the sequencer unless you very carefully organise the Tracks in all the banks you are selecting.
This system also multiplies the total amount of pattern and track memory by 32.Please read the above-mentioned Devil Fish memory page. The simplest way of understanding this system is that the CPU in the TR-606 accesses one "bank" of memory – which is the total battery backed-up memory of the machine. The CPU accesses this "bank", but in reality there are 32 such banks, and you control which one is currently being read and written. A good analogy is that the drum machine has 32 heads, only one of which is active at a time.
The 32 Bank Memory System is also available with a two channel Dynamic Bank Switching (DBS) system. This enables one or two externally applied Audio or CV signals, (with a threshold of about +1.15 volts) via two 3.5mm sockets on the left side of the machine, to alter which of the 32 memory banks is selected. This means that the internal sequencer will play different patterns and one or more individual beats from different patterns in response to these signals.
Please see the Devil Fish 32 Bank Memory system with DBS manual, which also covers DBS for the TR-606 and TR-808: http://www.firstpr.com.au/rwi/dfish/DF-32-Bank-Mem-DBS-Manual.pdf
There is an optional centre-off Enable switch for this, which enables or disables the two Audio / CV input detector circuits, and so their LEDs and address bit inversion circuits.
I can install a red pushbutton switch, like that in the memory system and like the Accent button of the Devil Fish, located to the upper right of the volume control, which activates the Accent whenever it is pressed.
I install a 3.5mm socket on the rear panel, just to the right of the Hi-Hat volume knob. This is an audio input which takes over from the internal six square-wave oscillators which are used for the Cymbal and Hi-Hat sounds.
This is not an audio trigger. It is a sound source for being filtered, gated, distorted and filtered again when one of these sounds is triggered. If you put a bright, continuous keyboard sound such as a chord into it, then you get metallic, shimmering fizzy Cymbal and Hi-Hat sounds which are tonally and harmonically related to the chord. Low input levels result in clear tonality. Higher levels result in fizz and hiss – but the relation to the chord is still audible.
Here are some sound samples. The main long file is for those with patience. It gets pretty wild a the end. The 32 second excerpt dips into some mild-mannered and wild sounds from the long file. These are presented as SoundCloud pieces, but the compression used by SoundCloud does not allow the full sound quality to be perceived. I have provided a 44.1kHz stereo WAV files which have no such limitations and higher-bit-rate MP3 files:
SoundCloud Flash-player and link:TR-606-cymbal-hi-hat-mods-32-sec-excerpt by Robin Whittle
||Noise pulse contains more mid and low frequencies and so is somewhat louder.||Tone
has lower frequency.
||Noise pulse contains still more mid and low frequencies and so is significantly louder.||Tone
has lower frequency and is louder.
I can install
a MIDI Sync In system for the TR-606, which uses the Sync Socket for
MIDI In. It also drives the Sync Socket, so it is possible to use
the Sync Lead ( ../dfish/#sync-lead)
- which is an option for the TB-303 Devil Fish with MIDI (In or In and
Out) - to drive DIN/Roland Sync to up to three other devices. If
there is no MIDI Sync input to the machine via the Sync Lead, or if the
Sync Lead is used on a TR-606 without this MIDI Sync In system, then
when the lead enables four Sync devices to be linked together.
One must be the master and the others slaves. The TR-606 will be
the master if its Sync switch (the slider switch next to the Sync
Socket) is set to Output.
I can install a three position toggleswitch which disables either the Hi Tom or the Lo Tom. The idea is that if you only want one Tom sound in the pattern, but want to use the other Tom's Trigger Out capability, without hearing that other Tom, then you can disable the sound of the Tom you are using for Trigger Out.
I do not have any mods for the kick drum or other drums which I can install inside the machine. Various things could be done, but there is almost nowhere to mount the controls. The TR-606 has an extra circuit board just behind the front panel compared to the TB-303, so a Devil Fish style front panel cannot be contemplated.
I think the TR-606 kick is a unique and excellent sound – better in some ways than the TR-808. The TR-808 has a single Twin-T resonator which rings, after being excited by the trigger pulse. In the TR-808, there is a circuit to change the frequency of this Twin-T resonator in a simple manner so the start of the sound is at a higher frequency, before switching to the lower sound. This gives an initial click or pulse-like nature to the sound.
In the TR-606, there is no such switching. There are two Twin-T resonators. They both start in phase, due to the trigger pulse, and then go out of phase since they are at different frequencies. So there is a solid start to the first cycles of both resonators, with a big positive edge – then they resonate freely and generally won't be in phase after that.
Please think very carefully before attempting electronic work on your own. The following information is not for people who are new to electronics. All the information you need is here, provided you have the required electronic skills. Please do not ask for further details! Nonetheless, if you find something here confusing and can suggest an improvement, please let me know.
The switch replacement is rather tricky, because the Omron B3W-4040 tact switches have stems just a little to wide for the TR-606/TB-303 buttons. Please see ../dfish/303-mods/ for instructions on cutting two slots in the stem so it becomes springy, and will fit nicely into the TB-303 and TR-606 buttons.
The B3W-4050 switches are available from Farnell / Newark. Please see the Devil Fish page for further information. If you would like to purchase kits of 25 Omron switches cut and ready to install, please see: ../dfish/#tact_switch_kits .
Someone has documented the individual output mod at Hyperreal, but I do not recommend this approach. ( http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufacturers/Roland/TR-606/mods/roland.TR-606.indiv-outs ). My approach involves 3.5 mm switch sockets, which take the signal after the resistor which is driven by the wiper of the volume pots. For instance this is after R57, R102, R108, R109 and R149 as shown in the schematic at: http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufacturers/Roland/TR-606/schematics/roland.TR-606.schem-6.gif . This way, the mixing bus consists of a wire running along the connectors themselves, rather than the need for a separate wire from each connector to bring the signal back to the PCB for mixing when nothing is plugged into the socket. So you have a common ground wire running to all sockets, a common mix wire, and then each socket has a wire coming from the resistor on the PCB. All you need to do is isolate the ends of those resistors from the mixing line. This involves a bit of thought, but it is obvious once you have the board in front of you. Just use a sharp knife to cut the copper tracks.
I mount the sockets between and to the left of the relevant volume control, with the socket for the Cymbal / Hi-Hat input mod to the right of the Hi-Hat volume knob. The centre of the holes should be about 8mm above the lower edge of the outside of the case.
The Cymbal / Hi-Hat input mod is straightforward. There are three wires to the socket. Ground, the signal to the socket (its "normally closed" switch contact) and the signal from it (the tip of the plug drives this, if a plug is inserted). When you plug a signal into it, the internal noise source is disconnected and your external signal drives the Cymbal and Hi-Hat circuits. You only need to cut the circuit board track at one point. Looking at the bottom right of the schematic (URL above), you need to isolate the mixing point of the six square-wave oscillators (that which is common to R227, R228, R229, R230, R231, R232 and R210) from the track which leads to C92 and C96. It is quite obvious when you look at the PCB.
There are some other mods, like making the trigger outputs be driven from the Accent and Cymbal rather than the Toms. This is obvious when you look at the schematic.
My Snare mods are as follows: Add a 0.1uF cap across C52, replace R107 with a 470 ohm and replace R110 with a 33k. This lowers the pitch of the Twin-T oscillator a little and boosts its mix level relative to the noise component.
If you are interested in weirdo snare sounds, perhaps you might like to boost the level of the snare white noise source, or provide an external input in its place so you can plug whatever you like into it. To boost the noise generator, put a resistor across R117 (say a 2.2k or a 1k) and then adjust TM3 to give a much higher level. With the TR-808, this can create really loud snare noise sounds and big rumbles in the Toms. At high enough levels, the noise breaks through even when no drum circuit is triggered.
The Accent switch is straightforward. Connect the normally open contacts of a quality switch such as a C&K 8125 SHZBE across the emitter and collector of Q10.
If you need tiny toggle-switches, I highly recommend the C&K Tiny Toggle range, such as the T101 SHZQE solder tail, thread mounting single pole changeover switch, the double pole T201 of the special three position changeover T211, which I use in the Devil Fish until version 5.0 in 2018. http://www.ckcorp.com/ . Distributors and global parts searches are available from http://www.electronet.com/ . Some useful electronics distributors include: http://www.farnell.com/ , http://www.digikey.com/ and http://www.mouser.com/ . The T211s in solder tail configuration can sometimes be found at https://www.onlinecomponents.com .
The TR-808 is an excellent drum machine. I am now doing revised versions of the Sound Mods and 4 Level Accent mods which I have been doing since the early 1980s. Please see: ../tr-808 . In March 2018 I have some sound mods for the TR-909: ../tr-909/ .
I don't have any sound mods for the TR-707, TR-727, TR-505 or MC-303, though I can install multiple banks of memory in all these machines. As with the TR-909, this memory (say 8 or 16 banks) is controlled by two push-button switches and a 15mm high 7 segment LED display. It is not possible to do the dynamic switching of banks with the MC-303, TR-909 or TR-707 which I can do with the TB-303, TR-606 and TR-808.