If you like your drum machines old school, analogue and ruggedly individualistic, you're going to love the ADS?7 Mk2.
AVP Synth is a Moscow-based company who have tinkered with small analogue drum boxes, desktop analogue effects and analogue monosynths in the past. The ADS?7 Mk2 is their biggest project yet — a seven–voice, discrete, analogue drum machine with onboard sequencer, MIDI, CV and individual outputs. It follows the window-rattling traditions of the greats by putting all the controls you need directly in front of you. The seven drum voices are custom-designed, through-hole analogue circuits: bass drum, clap, closed hat, open hat and three 'generators' which are flexible enough to yield kicks, snares, toms, cymbals, percussion and special effects. There are no menus, digital control or presets (except on the sequencer).
The sequencer occupies the bottom third of the front panel and consists of 16 step buttons, a handful of mode buttons, a three-digit LCD display, a tempo knob and a single transport Start/Stop/Record button. Sixteen banks of 16 patterns can be programmed in classic X0X fashion, or recorded live. As well as sequencing the seven drum voices, you can also sequence up to four external CV triggers or 16 MIDI triggers, which means you can involve external samplers, modulars or synthesizers.
The build quality feels reassuringly solid. All knobs are bolted to the front panel and exhibit no wobble whatsoever. The casing is steel and the back of the unit offers plenty of grown-up connections. MIDI input and output are on 5-pin DIN. There's a pair of stereo mix outputs and seven individual outputs, one for each voice, all on quarter-inch jacks. The four previously mentioned trigger outputs and seven individual trigger inputs are on 3.5mm jacks. The external power supply is 15V AC wall-wart.
The cornerstone of every drum machine is of course the bass drum. The ADS?7 offers six sound-shaping controls for its offering, plus a volume control. There are two main elements, Tone and Click. For the tonal part, you have pitch, decay, sweep and level. For the click part, you can adjust tune and level. Tuning will allow the Click to go into low enough frequencies to make a short kick drum without using the Tone part at all, effectively giving you two kick drums for the price of one. The Tone sweep allows you to add a longer 'body' with some classic 808-style pitch envelope. Six parameters for an analogue kick drum is quite generous and as such, there are plenty of tonal possibilities. The end result is always a kick drum, but by combining Click and Tone, you can achieve anything from short snappy 'pock' sounds to long room-shakers, and believe me these kick drums have plenty of low end.
Moving on to the clap, there are four parameters plus volume and pan controls (every drum voice has a pan parameter except for the kick drum). The clap is again made of two parts, both based on a noise source. The first is an enveloped noise sound where a fast AD envelope repeats two or three times to emulate the...