The Misfit Audio Transistor 808 Cymbal module is a synthesized recreation of the legendary 808 cymbal sound with controls for pitch, color, decay, body and partial balance.

Cymbal Synthesis Primer

The following section explains how cymbals are synthesized in the classic Roland TR- and CR- drums machines. This will help you to better understand the Transistor 808 Cymbal module controls.

If you've ever tried to create a cymbal sound on an analog synthesizer, you might have used some sort of filtered white noise and quickly concluded that this doesn't work well. Though cymbals don't generally have an identifiable underlying root pitch, they're a unique amalgam of pure noise and somewhat random pitched content, generally described as a "metallic" tone. This randomly pitched metallic characteristic is why white noise fails miserably when attempting to synthesize realistic sounding cymbals. 

We don't know how they arrived at this, but the key to synthesizing Roland-style cymbals lies in using four or six pure square waves, tuned to random intervals (the frequency span is generally from around 200-800 Hz, though it's not that critical). On its own, this creates a fat, huge atonal mess, but patch this "noise hash" through a steep highpass filter, and you're left with a surprisingly realistic cymbal tone. (Incidentally, the TR-808 used a "hex inverter" logic chip that's simple to mildly "misuse" in order to create six simple square-wave oscillators.)

The above description above is a simplified a bit - an actual TR-808 then splits the cymbal oscillator "hash" in order to replicate the higher pitched initial segment of the sound and the lower pitched "body" of the sound. These use separate amplitude envelopes and are filtered a little differently, then mixed together. This is accurately replicated in the Transistor 808 Hats module. The TR-808 hats use the same six-square wave oscillator source with its own associated filtering and enveloping. 

Inputs, Outputs, and Controls

Trigger In jack- A 5V trigger received at this jack will trigger the cymbal sound at its "normal," unaccented level. The LED lights when the jack is triggered. 

Accent In jack- A 5V trigger received at this jack triggers the cymbal sound at its accented level set by the Accent Level knob. The LED lights when the jack is triggered. 

Pitch- Adjusts the pitch of all six square wave oscillators simultaneously. 

Accent Level- Sets the volume of the accented cymbal from 100%, meaning it will be the same volume as an unaccented trigger, to 400% meaning it will be four times louder than unaccented triggers. 

Accent Level- Sets volume for closed and open hat sound when the accent inputs are used. 

Color- This crossfades between the lower three and upper three oscillator square waves. Lower positions emphasize lower harmonics; higher positions emphasize higher harmonicss. Center position mixes all six waves evenly.

Decay- Sets the decay rate of the cymbal sound.

Body- Controls the frequency of the master highpass filter. Lower settings create more body; higher settings will be thinner. 

Partial Balance- Crossfades between high and low filtered and tones. The high partial tone has a faster decay than the low tone. 

Out jack- Outputs the closed and open hi-hat sounds.