I read this article and i had a few thoughts:
Roger Linn Drum machine and timing Interview
Speaking of the old school boxes specifically. The linndrum is moderately reliable as to sync and very good with internal timing. It has such a cool pocket to it that i love. The main problem is that you simply can't record and overdub parts while it's synced to other devices and in context. Oh sure you can try. But as soon as you touch any of the drum pads while in record it slips out of sync and gets way out of time with the other instruments. I often solo the Linndrum or stop everything else to change drum parts because it simply sucks to do this in context. It's funny because we have an Oberheim DX and DMX here that are basically the same technology as the Linndrum. They both are 8 bit sample playback systems on a Z80 type processor. The Oberheim machines NEVER lose sync. You can overdub, spot erase, and change swing and other parameters on the fly and they stay locked on target. I asked Bruce Forat about this and he said they were always like that so it wasn't just my specific machine...
The Linndrum feels just slightly more organic though...
It's magic i guess!
I also liked a few other articles on the Attack Magazine site. There's one 'top ten drum machines' one which is informative.
The Roland TR-808 has quite a tight clock and feel as well. It is very solid but can feel 'swingy' in a great stand alone way. I use the swing term loosely because there is no swing built into the TR 808. But the snare on mine is always a little LATE while the hats are tight. This makes this machine feel very bouncy. There's no adjustment for that either. It only has Roland TR 808 pocket. I know the internet says it has no intentional swing. But something makes that snare late, i mean swing... Hmmmm...
Nice though. but it can be hard to get pocketed with other machines. Luckily it has several trigger outs so you can port it's swing to other sounds in other machines! As to the Roland TR 808 This page looks great for mods and sync / memory upgrades
PS: I do like Roger Linn's statement about engineering. The Linndrum was Designed to sound very tight but very specifically swingy when called for. I suppose this is why they put less priority on staying in time while you input notes. As long as it sounds great when you hit play again. You win!
::: IF :::