E-MU SP-12 Turbo Drum Machine

This video, via Analog Audio, takes a look at the E-MU SP-12 Turbo – a vintage drum machine from 1985:

The SP-12 (sampling percussion with 12 bit sampling) is a great American drum machine. It is like a deluxe version of the Drumulator – but with 12 bit instead 8 bit sampling and with sampling functions.

In 1985 this was fantastic – the most other drum machines needed new sound chips for new samples. On the SP-12 you could record your own!

The SP-12 is very flexible – for every beat and every sound in a pattern you can set volume and pitch to your needs, similar to the Sequential Circuits Drumtraks.

It is a studio machine with single outputs for drum sounds, MIDI, Clock IN/OUT and more…

 The sounds are original factory drumsets. No additional effects were used.

If you’ve used the E-Mu SP-12 Turbo drum machine, let us know what you think of it!

11 thoughts on “E-MU SP-12 Turbo Drum Machine

  1. I have used it on every song I have recorded since 1990.

    It is incredible, makes Maschine and every other “drum machine” look like a toy.

    Sample a 909 into it and pitch down the sounds, you have never heard a kick drum like that.

    Simply the best sampling drum machine ever.

  2. Damn, if youre gonna put up a video showcasing your drum machine, at the very least clean the dust off that bad boy. Shits criminal. Just sayin.

    1. Those are traces of use on the surface, not dust or dirt! It was heavily used in the past 27 years, it’s not new – just sayin…

  3. Our early 90s live rig was an SP-12, an MMT-8, an MKS-50, and a D-50. At some point there was an EII in the mix also. All those 5-1/4″ floppies…

  4. Oh, so those were the factory sounds? I heard those sounds on so many dance records back around 1986/87. Now I’m really disappointed at how lazy those dance music producers were back in the 80s to have been using the best sampling drum machines of that era, but not actually sampling their own drum sounds. At least the hip hop guys using the SP12 back then always sampled their own sounds.

    1. Why MUST people diverge from the presets, or somehow they are lazy, or untalented or scumbags or some such adjective?

      People don’t tell pianists they are lazy because they are sticking with the piano’s preset. Or a sax player, etc.

      Millons of people attend music concerts with all the musicians using “presets” on their chosen instrument. You may argue, that’s only because they can’t change it, but I argue it’s because those instruments work well for that music.

      I say, use presets all day long if it sounds good, and no one should complain unless they want to get rid of every real instrument on the planet, etc.

    2. The preset sounds are excellent, and if you’ve used the instrument, you’d know that you can manipulate them. Different sounds are targeted for different (analog) filter settings on the outputs. The samples are of drums recorded by Prairie Prince, legendary drummer for The Tubes. I used the SP-12 on almost everything I recorded for years–both as a sampler and using the included sounds. The toms were amazing.
      “At least the hip hop guys using the SP12 back then always sampled their own sounds.”
      Maybe some of them, but most of them were sampling other drum machines, like the TR-808, or sampling a record (Amen break, Funky Drummer) Either one isn’t really that much more creative than using the presets. Making up your own shit on a modular synthesizer and sampling it IS much more creative than using the presets. But all of the above are legitimate ways of creating art.

      And what Michael Bauers says.

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