MR-808 is a mechanical version of the most famous drum machine

Anyone who has listened to any music from the 80s has heard the percussive effects of the infamous TR-808 drum machine. To the modern ear, it sounds like an antique. Being the most popular drum machine of all time means it must have some redeeming qualities, right?

[Moritz Simon Geist] decided he wanted nothing to do with the wimpy computer-based emulations of a TR-808. Instead, he chose a more mechanical version that puts robots inside a gigantic 808 enclosure to play snares, high hats, cowbells, and drums in time with any MIDI drum track.

[Moritz] calls his build the MR-808 and puts a real-life bass drum, snares, hats, toms, claps, and a ride into a 3.3 x 1.7 meter ( 10.8 x 5.5 foot) case. The sound triggers are handled by Max/Msp communicating with a pair of Arduinos to handle the solenoids and light effects. You can read more about the hardware setup in [Moritz]‘ behind the scenes look.

After the break you can see the MR-808 in action, both alone and by providing the percussion for [Moritz]‘ band. A very cool build that now cries out for an Arduinofied bassist placed into an overgrown TB-303 enclosure.


  1. Mojoe says:

    Really? A mechanical version of a machine? Imagine that.

  2. jeremy says:

    It’s an analog version of a digital machine, shut up.

  3. Ryan says:

    Always wanted to do something like this. Very cool stuff.

  4. UnaB says:

    I cant seem to get the audio to play past 33 seconds on 2 computers and 3 different browsers , HTML5 or Flash. Anyone else having the same problem?
    The video kinda hiccups and then no audio. Bummer.

  5. Moritz says:

    Thx for the hint, im just replacing the Video, hope that helps …

  6. Moritz says:

    Hey there, thanx for the hints, just replaced the video file, it should work now.


  7. John says:

    For me, the novelty wore off about halfway through the video.

  8. sm10sm20 says:

    Excellent project and beyond very talented musicians, might be listening to these guys more often.

  9. soopergooman says:

    Both Video’s are extremely excellent!!! I am Floored.

  10. Moritz says:

    Thx for the comments. I put some more music made with the MR-808 here:

  11. Like that! Where are you performing next time?

  12. bzroom says:


  13. Matt says:

    Great stuff! Very impressive.

  14. dizot says:

    This is absolutely awesome!

    In the words of the Beastie Boys “nothing sounds quite like an 808.” I was hoping to hear that really naughty slow decay sub-bass kick sound. You can get from a really low-tuned tom.

    Now run that kit through some distortion and bitcrushing :D

  15. GaryG says:

    erm… more cowbell? ;)

  16. xrayspex says:

    I made a midi controlled electromechanical bass rig a few years ago but it didn’t work out.

    It was always bumming cigarettes and constantly late for practice, if it showed up at all.


  17. dt says:

    cowbell needs to improve!

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