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808 Day: meet hip-hop legend Larry Smith’s ‘New York’ model and find out why not all 808s sound the same

While 808 Day unites fans of Roland’s classic drum machine from around the world, it’s worth remembering that not all of these devices was born equal.

A case in point is hip-hop producer Larry Smith’s ‘New York’ 808, the machine used on albums and tracks by Run DMC, Beastie Boys and Whodini, and said to be the 808 that gives you THAT sound.

Hardcore 808 fans will tell you that no two models sound the same, the sonic differences being caused by the low-grade electronics used in the original hardware.

Check out the video above to learn why this particularly 808, now in the hands of Larry Smith’s son, producer Larry Smith Jr, is so revered.

Roland has also set up a special website (opens in new tab) marking the history and telling the ongoing story of the 808, which, of course, is still being sold in various forms to this day.

Ben Rogerson
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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