Behringer RD-9 Review

Our first contact with the RD-9 dates back to the Superbooth 2019, where the Behringer booth featured a dozen freshly released synths, as well as RD-808s and RD-909s. They were still only prototypes at the time. If the RD-808 was well advanced, the RD-909 was only in its infancy, with settings still missing drawn on the cover (percussion potentiometers). However, the prototype was partly functional and was already running. We were more impressed with the generous size and advanced features than the sound. But with Luigi Scarano at the controls, this first version of the RD-909 was going to be reviewed from top to bottom, both in terms of the sound engine and the operating system. Result, two years later, a very different BAR renamed RD-9, fully pumped up, ready for EDM productions around the world…

Advantageous proportions

Right out of the box, the RD-9 impresses with its size and the generosity of its controls. Its 48x26x8 cm for 3 kg, its 36 potentiometers, its encoder and its 58 switches are all invitations to programming. The build quality is very good, with a metal underside, a very rigid plastic cover and plastic sides. The potentiometers seem robust, without however being screwed to the facade. Some are harder than others, which seems to get better with use; so much the better, because their smooth hood and their relative proximity can sometimes get in the way. The color codes are reminiscent of the TR-909 (the red font has however finally replaced the orange), the RD-9 by largely taking over the organization (sounds and steps). This one is very well thought out, with familiar or clearly identifiable sections.

The drums offer different sound settings and individual buttons (select/solo/mute/assign to effects). A row of 16 illuminated switches is used to program the steps of the sequences. There is also a 4-character display (7-segment diodes), transport controls, a Tap key, selectors for the different sections of a sequence, automatic step or note repeat keys, time division selectors , a synchro button, an effects section and two volume potentiometers (general and headphone). All this is very generous and plays a big role in the ergonomics of the machine, much better than the TR-909, whether for gaming or programming.

All back!

RD-9_2tof 11.JPGA quick look at the back reveals equally generous connections: power supply terminal (not glop) with attachment device (glop), power switch, TRS headphone output, TRS mono line output, effects return ( input to final mix), USB type B socket (Midi only, limited to notes, transport of the sequencer and changes of sequences/Songs), Midi DIN trio, 10 individual instrument outputs (the use of one of these removes the instrument of the main output), 3 trigger outputs (one assignable to the percussion of your choice, 2 driven by the rimshot and the clap, thank you!), as well as an input and a synchro output. Apart from the last two in mini-jack format, all the audio sockets are in 6.35 jack format. We regret that Behringer did not renew the stereo output of the TR-909, with fixed position of the percussion in the stereo field. But that would have complicated the circuitry, especially the send/return bus to the analog effects.

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Hybrid generation

RD-9_2tof 07.JPGLike the TR-909, the RD-9 mixes two technologies to produce its 11 percussions: analog synthesis (kick, snare, toms, rimshot, clap) and sampling (hi-hats, crash, ride). For the latter, it is an identical reproduction of the sampled part of the TR-909. The development team succeeded in reproducing the technology used at the time, namely an Eprom/variable speed clock hardware system on three separate channels. Then, the analog D/A conversion part is identical to the TR909, same 6-bit resolution, same 18 kHz frequency. A remarkable attention to detail, which guarantees the sonic authenticity of the cymbals, unlike software emulations. We feel that Luigi is a TR-909 enthusiast and that he hasn’t given up on the sound…

Each instrument has specific settings, taking everything found on a TR-909 while adding three settings activated with the extended mode (ignored otherwise). The kick is the most complete: tune (envelope on the global pitch), volume, attack, decay, to which have been added the pitch envelope on the oscillator and the pitch of the oscillator. We move on to the snare, which uses the four original settings: pitch, volume, filtering and timbre. Then come the three toms, each of which can be adjusted for pitch, volume and decay. We go to rimshot and clap, whose only settings concern the respective volumes. Next comes the hi-hat, whose overall volume and decay times for open and closed modes can be adjusted; Added to this is the overall pitch in extended mode, which is very useful. Finally, the crash and ride cymbals, whose respective volumes and pitches can be adjusted.

Overall, the RD-9 sounds very much like a TR-909, with a remarkable punch, devastating kick, explosive snare, sharp clap, chiseled cymbals and very selective accent. It will be beneficial to use the separate outputs where the signal is logically higher than on the main output, especially for separate external processing by percussion. The RD-9 allows for great sonic variety with its well-chosen additional settings. Too bad we can not save them or transmit CC Midi, we remain in a direct analog control, like the ancestor. But nothing shocking about that…

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Boosted sequencer

RD-9_2tof 05.JPGThe memory of the RD-9 contains 16 banks each containing 1 Song and 16 sequences of 64 steps. It comes with 256 excellent patterns signed Ben Booker, demonstrating its intrinsic sound qualities, whether in the imitation of the TR-909 or the many additional functions. The 16 sequences can be used in fill-in at any time, allowing to spice up the rhythmic live. You can also repeat a group of steps (1, 2, 4 or 8). You can still cut a percussion on the fly, isolate it, create a ratchet (rolling percussion with 1, 2, 4 or 8 repetitions of the same duration). With a value of 8, the repetition is so fast that the sound is modulated into the audio, transforming it dramatically! And to humanize the game a little, nothing like a little Swing (25 to 75%).

The programming is done either in grid mode or in real time. The grid mode works both sequence stopped and running. Transport controls make this choice easier. We select the percussion to enter and we light the steps where we want it to be triggered. The machine allows you to choose whether you want the modifications to be immediately saved or after a very valuable backup procedure. You can add accent, globally by step or for each instrument, by pressing twice on the desired step. Depending on the level set via the dedicated potentiometer, the accent acts on different predetermined characteristics for each percussion (attack, pitch, volume, release, etc., or even several simultaneous parameters). You can also enter the percussions in real time with the Trigger pad (one by one) or via an external MIDI controller, such as a keyboard or a multi-pad (several percussions at the same time, the velocity allowing to enter the accent by percussion on the fly).

RD-9_2tof 03.JPGA sequence can take different time divisions: 1/8, 1/8T, 1/16, 1/16T and 1/32. Rare function, the length of a sequence can be set globally or by instrument, from 1 to 64 steps: hello polymetry! For each step, you can also define a probability that a percussion will be played as programmed (0 to 100%); you can also enter a fla (repetition of 2 quick hits of a percussion in a time interval ranging from 0 to 24). All this further humanizes the rhythm. Direct functions also allow you to copy/paste/delete/extend patterns, which saves valuable time.

Finally, the RD-9 offers a Song mode allowing you to chain 16 sequence steps. Each step contains a sequence number from the current bank (1 to 16) and a number of repetitions (1 to 100). Once the first step is completed, the Song moves on to the next one. You can decide if it stops after the last step, loops back to the last step or loops back to the whole Song, great! We would have liked to be able to use the 256 sequences to create a Song (and not only the 16 of the current bank) and have more than 16 steps (for example 64). To circumvent this limit, you can chain several Songs, which will be read only once one after the other, with stop, looping at the last sequence or complete looping (as for the sequences of a Song), nice. Just like Sequences, Songs can be exported during play and re-imported to a DAW or the SynthTribe home app (settings and editing of sequences), which allows you to cross the limit of 256 sequences and 16 songs in a live context, well done !

Analog effects

RD-9_2tof 06.JPGThe RD-9 incorporates two analog effects placed in series, forming a bus to which you can route the percussion of your choice. If you use an individual output, the sound obviously bypasses the effects bus. The first effect is an attack/sustain envelope that obviously affects attack and level. This makes it possible to obtain compressed attacks and pumping effects (pay attention to the elevation of the noise threshold in certain cases). The second effect is a 2-pole resonant filter, capable of operating in low-pass or high-pass mode. The cutoff frequency varies from 10 Hz to 15 kHz. You can play it live or record the movements of the cutoff frequency in the current sequence, in real time or step by step, over 256 values. Well seen ! The quality of this filter is very correct and takes on its full meaning in the targeted styles of music.


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Today we find crazy people who offer TR-909s at more than 6,000 € and crazy people who buy them! When you listen to the RD-9, you come down to earth a bit compared to this astronomical rating, with a machine that is very faithful to the original, allowing you to cover the same musical styles (this is the essential thing when you ask yourself between the two), much more intuitive as the ergonomics have been improved. We keep the sound settings of the TR-909 to which are added new well-known parameters. The sequencer is significantly more efficient, with more memory, 64 steps, polymetry, tools for playing live, probabilities and other very interesting subtleties.

Not to mention the analog filter with automation and the envelope generator, which can be assigned any percussion. Too bad it only handles drums routed to the global bus, but that would have complicated the electronics considerably, as would making the global bus stereo with preset pans like on the TR-909. As for the connectors, it does not deviate from the original model by its generosity (apart from the overall mono output, largely compensated by the individual outputs) and sometimes goes further, with a solid Midi DIN / USB and several trigger outputs for s to interface with the modular world. We feel that the RD-9 was developed by a competent team led by a specialist in love with the TR-909. In short, for a very modest sum with regard to what is offered, here is an excellent BAR that we very gladly recommend to all lovers of the sound of the TR-909. Price/quality award without hesitation!

We wish to say thanks to the writer of this post for this incredible content

Behringer RD-9 Review