Not much is known about this obscure digital drum machine.

It appeared in 1984 shortly after the Emu Drumulator from unknown (Japanese?) manufacturer Sakata. However, it didn't achieve much success in that guise. Instead it is probably better known as the Hammond DPM48. Yes... the famous organ manufacturers licenced the product and marketed it under their name presumably to raise their profile at a time when organs were not exactly the hottest product in town!

Let's just say that neither company enjoyed a great deal of success with the product which is a shame because it wasn't actually a bad little beatbox at the time offering 22 sampled drum sounds, dedicated level controls and a host of individual outputs and synchronisation facilities.

On the surface (apart from its somewhat 'utilitarian' cosmetic styling) it looked good.

The blue 'pads' triggered the drum sounds (no velocity - on or off with 'accented' variations for dynamics as was common with drum machines of this era) and these lined up with the level sliders directly above them so that it was possible to mix the sounds 'on-board'. Some sounds (the percussion sounds such as agogo and cabasa) shared a common level slider but the output of these sliders appeared on individual outputs on the rear panel. There was also a mono mix output, a stereo mix output and a headphone output. There was even a separate metronome output.

It also offered DIN sync inputs and outputs that corresponded to Roland's spec making it possible to sync it to a TR808 or the Roland MC4B Micro-Composer.

So, to all intents and purposes, it offered a good spec. And it wasn't too expensive either with a UK price of £699, roughly half the cost of the contemporaneous Drumulator but with the advantage of dedicated drum pads and level sliders. You'd think it was destined for market domination. However....

It was an absolute bugger to use! Whilst a lot of thought had gone into playing and mixing the sounds, the programming method appeared to be something of an afterthought. You could only create drum patterns if the (optional) cartridge was present and even then, it was - shall we say - less than intuitive.

I had one in for evaluation with a view to buying one. On paper, it was almost perfect - 'realistic' drum sounds that would sync to our MC4B Micro-Composer, individual outputs for external processing and at a relatively affordable price. But the reality was very different when I came to actually use it!

Suffice to say, the DPM48 pretty much disappeared without trace and now simply exists as one of the failures in the annals of drum machine development which, in a way, is a shame because the sounds themselves were pretty good at the time and still give a good account for themselves today.

Samples donated by Terence 'Tramp Baby' Abney.