Tempest Analog Drum Machine Review

Sonic State’s Nick Batt reviews the Tempest Analog Drum Machine – a partnership between two of the most respected names in electronic music gear, Roger Linn and Dave Smith.

More background info on the Tempest below.

If you’re a Tempest user, let us know what you think of it!

The Dave Smith Instruments Tempest Analog Drum Machine

Each of the six analog voices has two analog oscillators plus two digital oscillators (with a large bank of included samples), the classic Curtis analog lowpass filter with audio-rate modulation, an additional highpass filter, analog VCA with feedback, five envelopes, two LFOs, an extraordinary variety of analog modulation routings, and stunning sonic quality, warmth, and punch. Although optimized for drum sounds, it excels at tuned sounds as well, and even doubles as a six-voice analog keyboard synth.1

Sixteen pressure- and velocity-sensitive lit pads are arranged in a 2 x 8 configuration, providing access to all your fingers and a compromise between the popular 4 x 4 pad arrangement (popular for real-time programming ) and 1 x 16 arrangement (popular for step programming) because Tempest does both. The pads can be used to play thirty-two drum sounds(two banks), mute/unmute the thirty-two sounds on playback, play and arrange sixteen beats in real time, play one sound at sixteen tunings (in a variety of scales) or sixteen velocities, or as sixteen time steps for step programming. The ROLL button permits creating drum rolls or repeated groove patterns by varying pad pressure as the beat records, and doubles as a momentary “stutter” effect when the pads are assigned to play beats.

In addition to the six stereo direct voice outputs, there are stereo mix outputs and phones outputs, plus two inputs for foot switches or expression pedals, MIDI in/out and USB.

Two pressure- and position-sensitive Note FX slide controllers permit real-time recording of note or beat-wide sound parameter changes into the drumbeat as you play. For example, record simultaneous filter frequency, tuning, envelope decay, and pan changes for each note. The Playback key permits using the slider to override these parameters on playback, which can be recorded back into the beat. Plus, the sliders can be used in performance to alter beat-wide sound parameters like low-pass frequency or resonance, high-pass frequency, envelope attack or decay, and more.

A variety of unique effects are provided while maintaining a pure analog signal path:

  • Stereo analog compressor and distortion circuits affect the stereo output mix
  • Beat-synced delay is achieved by generating additional delayed note events within the sequencer
  • A beat-synced “stutter” effect is created entirely within the sequencer by looping short portions of the drumbeat on demand

The degree of swing timing can be adjusted in real time during playback. Roger used his entire bag of tricks to make the swing sound very human and natural.

For a little more info – see the Sonic State write up, this Tempest Drum Machine tour from Roger Linn himself and and Linn and Smith introducing the Tempest.

3 thoughts on “Tempest Analog Drum Machine Review

  1. Great review, without it I would have never know about the inability to recall patterns via midi. I am curious about what you said about program changes too. I dont quite understand what you were saying the limitation was with that. If you could elaborate that would be great.

    Despite these limitation I will still be getting one, I just want to know up front what I will be missing.

    Also, do you think these things may be implemented in future OS updates?


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