Saturday, December 11, 2021

Kawai R-100 drum machine "What good is playing loud if you can't play soft?" advertisement, Keyboard 1986

Kawai R-100 drum machine "What good is playing loud if you can't play soft?" full page colour advertisement from page 11 in the November 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

This gorgeous advertisement appeared in Keyboard Magazine from around November 1986 to February 1987. Somehow Kawai found a little hole in time between promo'ing their K3 ad they had been running, and a K3/K3m/computer ad that kicked the K100 to the curb in March 1987. 

It deserved more. More real estate. More promo. More time. 

This thing is still a beast. A living, breathing animal. Seriously.

You see, I'm not just a fan of the R-100, but also a trained biologist. Botanist/zoologist to be exact. Sure, my last 25+ years in Marketing may have dulled some of this here scientific noggin (*points at head*), but if there is one thing I can still do, it's identify the life cycle of living, breathing organism. And included in that category is gear that would follow the classic Keyboard Magazine life-cycle. NAMM article. Spec sheet. Ad. Review.

Take the R-100 for example. 

I first tagged a wild R-100 specimen while hunting in the forests of the September 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine. Even though I had just entered university as a science undergrad, I'd like to think my catch-and-release game was already in top form way back then as I flipped through a Summer NAMM article and found this write-up under the "Drum Machines" subheading.
"Kawai continued to expand their line of professional products with their R-100 drum machine ($795). The R-100 has 24 32kHz, 12-bit companded sounds on board, including agogos, timbales, and china bell. It also has a selectable clock rate, tap tempo, individual outs, stereo outs, MIDI key assignments, and real-time tuning.
To put the time period in perspective, also roaming the forests of theis September 1986 issue was Korg's new DDD-1 drum machine ($999.95).

Needless to say, I tagged both for future observation and data collection before pushing forward in my quest to find more info on this new Kawai drum machine.

It would be a few months after that initial interaction that I would see the elusive R-100 again while staked out in my little observation hut. I remember I was sipping some hot chocolate I'd made by the fire pit when I saw fleeting images darting across a deer path. 

Two shadows leaping through the underbrush toward a stream. 

I squinted... remained motionless... and there, in the Spec Sheet section of the December 1986 issue of Keyboard (a month after it's first sighting in an advertisement - okay, no life cycle is perfect), crouched down along-side a K3m, quietly drinking from the stream, was another sighting of the R-100...
"The R-100 digital drum machine features touch-sensitive pads which trigger 24 12-bit/23kHz sampled sounds. Real-time control is provided for tuning, panning level, and sensitivity of each sound. Memory capacity is 100 patterns, 100 songs, and 10 chains. The unit records velocity, tuning and stereo pan for each note. Song position pointer and MIDI data dump are included in the MIDI implementation. The clock rates are variable and a sync-to-tape function is included. Other features include song overdubbing, programmable tempo and volume changes, and ten separate programmable outputs (two stereo, eight direct). The R-100 drum machine :$795.00."
But as I moved in for a closer look, the R-100 caught my scent and they both took off into the night brush. I returned home, telling the tale of this second sighting of the R-100 to all that would listen. 

Then, FINALLY, while walking through the dense woodlands of the February 1987 issue of Keyboard, I found what I was looking for. A review of this magnificent beast by Dave Fredrick!

The article starts, as most reviews do, with a brief intro that includes this rather scientific, fact-based observation on the rather short history of the digital drum machine:
"In as little as six years, we've seen the digital drum machine evolved from a $5,000, 15c rhythm device to today's fully dynamic, keyboard-controllable, tunable, user-sampling MIDI drum machine. And most of these instruments are priced under $1,000. Ain't life grand!"

Grand indeedy!

After a nice thorough review of the instrument, the reviewer concludes with what would become general consensus pretty much everywhere - Kawai had a winner on their hands with the R-100. 

Yes indeedy!

Dave especially liked some of the new features not yet found on other drum machines, like being able to individually assign instrument, tuning and pan placement for each key on a MIDI keyboard, and the "repeat and jump structure" of the pattern sequencer. 

I would have to agree. To this day, the R-100 is one of those pieces of gear that will always have a place in my heart. And, on my specimen table, where it sits waiting the next chance to be turned on.

More Kawai to come in the near future.

1 comment:

Gef said...

Love reading about all this stuff!
Have a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2022.
Looking forward to more reminders of wonderful kit from my youth. Keep it up; your time and effort is really appreciated.

Post a Comment