DSI Tempest Drum Machine

Dave Smith Instruments Tempest analog drum machine

Dave Smith Instruments has introduced the DSI Tempest Drum Machine at the 2011 NAMM Show.

The Tempest is a collaboration between synth design pioneer Dave Smith and longtime friend and fellow instrument designer Roger Linn. Smith and Linn first talked about creating a new drum machine a few years ago, when the announced the Boomchik, a design we called the sexiest NAMM vaporware, because it was just a design concept at the time.

Now their collaborative project has a new name and has turned into a product that they expect to ship later this year.

The Dave Smith Instruments Tempest Drum Machine

The Tempest drum machine marks the first time a product will carry both the Dave Smith Instruments and Roger Linn Design logos.

“If you’re going to make a drum machine, who better to have in your corner than Roger Linn?” said Smith, referring to Linn’s legacy as inventor of the digital drum machine.

Though Smith is also responsible for some fine drum machines—most notably Sequential’s DrumTraks and Studio 440—Tempest is his first to utilize analog synthesis to generate the sounds.

“We’ve designed a very flexible new synth voice for Tempest,” said Smith.

Linn added, “The design of Tempest reflects a rethinking of what a drum machine needs to be in the current era. It’s not so much a drum machine as a new musical performance instrument for the creation, manipulation, and arrangement of beat-oriented music, with an intuitive and efficient use of human gestures.”

Tempest’s 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads are arranged in an 8 x 2 array to facilitate both real-time and step entry of beats. Two pressure- and position-sensitive Note FX slide controllers provide a unique new method of performance and control.

“We’re very excited about Tempest,” said Smith. “It’s an instrument with a lot of personality and it’s great fun to play. It has been a long time since there has been anything new in the drum machine world.”

More important – it sounds pretty wicked! Details and video demo below. Check it out and let us know what you think of the new Tempest drum machine!

Tempest is expected to be available by June 2011 with a projected MAP of $1,999.00.

Features of the Dave Smith Instruments Tempest drum machine:

  • Each of the 6 analog voices has 2 analog oscillators plus 2 digital oscillators (with a large bank of included samples), Dave’s classic analog low-pass filter with audio-rate modulation, an additional high-pass filter, analog VCA with feedback, 5 envelopes, 2 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 6-voice analog synth. In addition to the 6 direct voice outputs, there are stereo mix outputs and phones outputs, plus 2 inputs for foot switches or expression pedals, MIDI in/out and USB.
  • The performance-oriented operating system, 90 panel controls, and bright 256 x 64 OLED display work together to provide a tightly integrated, non-stop workflow: record a drumbeat in real-time, switch to another drumbeat and use the lit pads to record it using step programming, switch to another drumbeat and record tuned keyboard parts, use the 2 touch controllers to to record real-time note or beat-wide parameter animations, use the generous sound controls to edit any of the drum sounds, tweak the analog effects or drum mix, arrange beats in real time and record the live arrangement into a song, enter/exit Song mode and much more, all without ever stopping play.
  • 16 pressure- and velocity-sensitive lit pads are arranged in a 2×8 configuration, providing intuitive access to all your fingers and providing the ideal compromise between the popular 4×4 pad arrangement (popular for real time programming ) and 1×16 arrangement (popular for step programming) because Tempest does both. The pads can be used to play 32 drum sounds (2 banks), mute/unmute the 32 sounds on playback, play and arrange 16 beats in real time, play one sound at 16 tunings (in a variety of scales) or 16 velocities, or as 16 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 momemtary “stutter” effect when the pads are assigned to play beats. Use the Sustain button on tuned parts like a keyboard’s Sustain pedal, or to choke drum sounds or drumbeats when the pad is released.
  • 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, or control similar parameters affecting the entire beat.
  • A variety of unique effects are provided while maintaining a pure analog signal path: 1) Stereo analog compressor and distortion circuits affect the stereo output mix, 2) beat-synced delay is achieved by generating additional delayed note events within the sequencer, and 3) 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.
  • Compact and portable: 15.4″ L x 9″ W x 2.5″ H

37 thoughts on “DSI Tempest Drum Machine

  1. Analog drum machines are still alive! This is excellent!
    Although I prefered the original Linndrum II name, it seems to carry on the legacy whereas the name makes it sound more like a DSI thing.

    Perhaps Dave Smith thought it wasn't fair to call it the Linndrum instead of the Smithdrum or SmithLinnDrum which just sound horrible 😀

  2. Exactly. Its way out of my price range. Even if I had the money I do not think I would spend that much on it.
    It's not like they built it by hand or anything.

  3. did you know that moog keyboards also do not have sample import? they suck titties, goddamnit! completely ridiculous for modern synths not to have it

  4. On the linn website, Roger states that this is NOT the Linndrum2… He's still working on that with Dave Smith. From what I can gather, this is something completely different to keep us busy in the meantime… The price is much higher than most people would like.

    Does it import samples? Is there synth/effect automation (hopefully per-step)? There are still a bunch of specs needed to make a value judgement on this gear.

  5. "The Tempest drum machine marks the first time a product will carry both the Dave Smith Instruments and Roger Linn Design logos."

    So that means you're paying for two designer name-brand logos.

    I wonder how many will buy this, record it on a DAW, then to only have their listeners download as an MP3 and listen to it on their iPod earbuds?

    1. Naaa – it means that you’re paying for people to build something that’s insanely awesome, the old school way, with real analog synthesis and boutique shop overhead.

      They’re charging what it actually takes to have a profitable company that makes cool gear like this.

  6. haha.. didn't think of that but you're right, it'll definitely up the price.

    but surely.. the sounds source is still important no matter how it is degraded along the way to the listener's mind.

    especially when it is about synthesis, crafting your own sounds

    just because your baby is going to eventually be stolen and spread around at low bit rates and then listened on subpar sound systems… do you really want to create it with something that isn't rewarding for you?

  7. In my experience, 99% of the listeners can't tell what is analog and what is digital.

    However, you are correct: create with what makes you happy.

    Personally, I'd rather spend 2 grand on a great laptop and a Maschine, but that's just because it suits me more.

  8. 2 grand wow when i first looked at it i thought it would be less then $1000

    they are probably catering to their fanbase and im not part of that demographic

  9. Roger's reserved the Linndrum II name for himself, he plans to release a very similar machine, except geared towards a different market.

  10. And the $4k giant DJ ipad. I really have to wonder wtf some of these companies are thinking. From a component standpoint, you can't tell me that the Tempest requires a $2K price point. But I bet they'd more than double their sales if the price were halved…

  11. I wish it was more affordable, but can understand why it is so pricey.

    The number of oscillators per voice is 4 (2 analog/2 digital, like evolver) and you get multiple voices. add in multiple analog filters, quality parts (i hope… that big sticker on the front has me worried), and r and d costs… $2000 might actually be reasonable…. it really depends on their margins…

    there is a reason why very few companies make analog drum machines anymore. THEY ARE EXPENSIVE!

  12. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have the ability to sequence other gear like an MPC. Too bad considering that is one of the best hidden talents of the MPC and it would take very little in the way of resources.

  13. this is almost like a tetra and a couple of evolvers with a decent set of controls and sequencing – the price seems a pretty good deal considering? Why would people think this needs to add samples? Do that boring shit in your DAW. Its a bit like saying the Roland TR-909 and 808 are no good because you are stuck with the analog voices….do people not get analog? Maybe they havent heard the difference?

  14. I think the price is fair given all the features. My JoMoX 999 might get a little jealous once I've got this beauty on my shelf. I've considered getting an MPC mostly for the live feel of the pads, but this is so much more up my alley. After drooling over the concept pics for so long, I'm really excited that this machine is really coming!!

  15. What is that yapping with attack times? Many ppl. have mentioned it countless times in different forums -i have made electronic music almost 20 years now and have never ever made a decision whether buy or not to buy a machine by its envelopes attack time.

    All machines are equal in that manner in my book. At least what comes to real usability. There is million things which are more important than that.

    Like user interface for instance. Sounds, feel, overall tone, filters, other parameters, durability, even looks.
    Price / quality ratio. Effects. I'd rather take 18db filter instead dull 12db (with standard 24db of course) before having a fraction of a second faster attack time.

    For me all attack times have been immediate. Could some one show me machine with a "slow" attack time and how it prevents using that machine?

  16. Did you mean that even if analog sounds different compared to digital it is AD / DA converters that decide quality of the final output?

    In analog machine there is no necessarily converters in signal path and i am sure that Dave and Roger knows very well which solutions have effect on sound and which not.

    If looking from longer distance sure there WILL be conversions before track gets to the listeners ears.
    Some music host web services do even their own when uploading tracks to their servers.

    So there might be double conversions where allready packed mp3 file is repacked to something else and it does not make any good to signal.
    From that perspektive could we say that all efforts to try to get warn "analog" sound are useless? I doubt that.
    Otherways we would propably still be stuck in 8-bit 22khz sounds.. . .

  17. It's not really about attack time. It's about finesse over the control of very short envelope times. When synthesizing percussion sounds, it can make a huge difference if the decay portion of your envelope is, say, 5 ms, 8 ms or 15 ms. If your digital envelope control's fastest setting is 1 ms, and then it the next fastest is 20 ms, that wouldn't really make a big difference for most keyboardists – but for percussion synthesis (and most electronic music genres), it's a deal-breaker.

    Old-school digital envelopes used to always be slow (think Xpander, JX-8P, Wavestation, Six-Trak, even uber-synths like Andromeda and OB-MX) so a lot of synthesists naturally poo-poo digital envelopes and LFOs. The fact is that they never had to be like that, and nowadays digital envelopes are usually just fine – I can vouch that DSI certainly got the envelopes nice and snappy on the Mopho!

  18. typical of both these guys to over price they’re gear. it’s not that brilliant, it’s not that different and it’s sounds are nothing new. as with the tetra and the like the 2nd hand market will be flooded with these as soon as people realise they’re just average. smith & linn have die hard fans and you’d never convince them that this was anything other than electro-god. i have a tetra and it’s ok, it’s not what people raved it to be…it’s just a good synth and it does what it does, it does it nicely but so do an awful lot of other hardware synths that don’t cost a third of what it does. by the time the glitch freaks have distorted and compresses the hell out this, you wouldn’t know if it was tempest or a circuit bent casio. if i have to buy a hammer to bang in the occasional nail i don’t always see the point in spending 5x the price just for the ‘name’ when something else is easily just as good. these guys make good gear but they’re also ripping people off as far as i’m concerned. if this upsets a few dsi/linn fans then it’s about time. wake up and smell what you’re shovelling!

    1. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Where is your gold record on the wall? A lot of Gold record musicans use DSI and love them. You’re entitled to your own opinons but you’re not entitled to your own facts. DSI always sends me their synths to sample and I enjoy them all. I would never insult them or their company. Oh and the fans, I would never insult DSI fans, either. You have a lot to learn in this business. Music is about image. And insulting people will not create a better image for yourself. I have sold millions of albums over the years. And I have millions of fans. Why? Because I produce music and leave the politcs to out politicans. Enjoy making beats in your bedroom.

    2. Maybe you could provide me a link to your music? I can usally see people through their music. Do you have heart and a good soul?

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