Sequential Circuits TOM

Sequential Circuits TOM Image

In 1985, the TOM was a really advanced drum machine, fully programmable and featuring digitally recorded drum sounds. It is similar to the DrumTraks, but much more advanced. Its sound fidelity is very electronic and it offers just eight of the most basic drum kit sounds. However, each drum sound has a much more flexible tune control than any other drum machine of its time, allowing you to change cymbals into gongs, for example. All sounds can also be layered, allowing for chord-like drum tones, tom rolls and all kinds of wacky sounds. You can also play its sounds in reverse and program the pan position and volume of each sound. Sounds on EPROM cartridges can add up to eight additional drum tones for different sounds. This machine is also MIDI equipped, able to transmit and receive all of its controller information including volume and tuning.

TOM's sequencer allows you to record rhythm patterns in real time or step time. It can store up to 99 patterns and each pattern can be up to 99 measures! As many as 99 patterns can be linked to form Songs. Sequencer memory holds 2,300 notes, but factory updates were available to upgrade that to either 5,000 or 10,000 notes - something to be aware of if looking to buy one of these. The TOM's memory is also retained via internal battery backup when powered down - these batteries had a 5-year lifespan. Program memory could also be saved/loaded to casette tape.

Sequential Circuits TOM Image

The TOM also featured an "Improv Factor" to create drum fills which can add variation to your patterns. TOM's "Human Factor" allowed you to program minor changes in the tuning and volume of your patterns for a 'humanzied' feel - before that term existed in the sequencing lexicon. The TOM also had a "Reframe" function that let you change the location of the down-beat in your pattern at the touch of a button.

In its time, the TOM was very advanced for a drum machine. Its only let-down was the quality of its sounds, which are nowhere near as warm or nostalgic as the Roland TR-X0X machines or the Linn Drums.

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20 Visitor comments
BIg Chris
December 21, 2009 @ 3:53 pm
Like Phil, I have to disagree with the last sentence in the review. I used a TOM when I was in a band back in 1996, before trading it in for an Alesis SR-16. I only did that because the TOM couldn't store an entire set on it, so we had to play to a recording of it on a DAT machine. I got so much greif from the rest of the band, because as they rightly pointed out the TOM sounded much better than the SR-16!
December 14, 2009 @ 3:52 pm
i heavily disagree with that last sentece...the sounds are very very very nice (from a deliberately-lo-fi-perspective), quite similar to an Oberheim DMX, but with even more punch.
December 13, 2009 @ 6:09 am
great machine...i learned how to program a beatbox on this one when i was a kid. then i got really disappointed in other beatboxes at first, because in no way were they as foxed out as this thing! the reverse, pitch change and so on storeable in every pattern makes it completely crazy...also with the cartridge it sounds like a linn-drum - i use it when emulating prince-beats...also juan atkins-model 500 stuff was made with this one...and it punches as a louisville slugger! go get one!!!
August 29, 2009 @ 11:22 am
Own this allready for a few months. We'll never part. The ordinarry drums who can be transformed to the weirdest sounds (reverse, roll, pitch change) make Tom tha bomb. It has a lot of force behind its sound. A little compressed and fat ! Tom uses cartridges for extra sounds who can easily switch live. I'm wondering if someone could sell me some extra cartridges :-)...
If you want wide range funky boogie sounds, choose for TOM. If you want to blast everyone away choose for TOM. You wont think you made a mistake.

(now this is propaganda, shiit !)
Mad Al
September 21, 2008 @ 4:18 am
There's actually a ninth basic internal "instrument" of sorts. Instrument 16 controls the trigger-out on the back of the unit, and can be programmed like any other drum instrument (only without pitch or pan information), putting out a 5V 10ms pulse on command.
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User Rating

Rated 3.84 (165 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 4 sounds
  • Sounds - 8 - kick, snare, toms 1&2, open / closed hat, clap, crash
  • Sequencer - 99 patterns, 2,300 notes (expandable to 5,000 or 10,000 via factory updates).
  • Keyboard - 8 Buttons
  • Effects - Individual instrument tuning, panning, volume
  • Control - MIDI, Clock in/out
  • Date Produced - 1985
  • Resources & Credits
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    Revised December, 2009

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