The SPD-SX has three multi-effects units onboard: one master unit and two units that are assignable per kit. In addition, two dedicated front-panel knobs provide control of user-assignable effects. The bundled SPD-SX Wave Manager software for Mac and PC lets users import, assign, and organize samples and assemble kits.
As a major innovator in electronic drums, it’s not surprising that Roland would offer a percussion instrument that has sampling capabilities. What is surprising is that the result, the SPD-SX, is easy to use, lightweight (5.9 lbs.), and has a footprint the size of an LP album cover. That makes the instrument ideal for desktop use as a MIDI pad controller with a DAW, or as a highly portable addition to an acoustic drum setup. The SPD-SX combines nine velocity-sensitive pads with stereo audio I/O (including secondary audio outputs), MIDI I/O, a pair of footswitch inputs, and two USB ports. You can augment the SPD-SX with two dual-zone pads or any combination of four acoustic-drum triggers or single-zone pads.
The SPD-SX’s sampling features are rudimentary, but that makes the device a snap to use. You can capture sounds using the 1/4' inputs or load them via USB—16-bit, 44.1kHz WAV and AIFF files are supported.
The rear-panel input gain ranges from Mic to Line level in order to accommodate a variety of signals. The SPD-SX includes 2GB of internal memory that holds up to 180 minutes of stereo samples, and Wave Manager (Mac/Win) software is provided to manage and transfer samples and kits to and from your computer. The second USB port is used for moving sounds to and from a flash drive. Once you’ve sampled your sound, the LCD screen shows a waveform display where you can adjust the start and end points, edit the sample’s pitch, divide it, normalize it, or reverse it. The SPD-SX can also record a performance as a WAV file, resample a sound with effects, sample consecutively (Multi Pad mode), and combine two sounds into one from within the same kit.
The LCD is easy to read and many of the front-panel buttons are backlit in red—perfect for a dark stage. While the SPD-SX can trigger two samples per pad, it doesn’t allow you to assign individual samples to specific velocity levels. However, the Dynamics function can be used to simulate multiple velocity levels. To tailor things further, you can dial in the sensitivity, threshold, and velocity curve for the sound on each pad.
The SPD-SX’s tempo-synchronized master effects include Filter, Delay, S. Adobe photoshop cs6 mac osx. Loop (short loop), and FX (multi-effects). One master effect can be used at a time, but you have real-time control over two parameters for each effect. My favorite is the S. Loop and its speed control, which can be used to create stutter effects on the fly.
An additional effect can be assigned per kit. The SPD-SX’s USB connection allows you to use the device as an audio interface and send MIDI data over USB. And it is essentially plug-and-play: install the drivers and get to work.
BY JAKE WOOD It seems like almost every day technological breakthroughs are changing the playing field for musicians. One day it’s a hi-hat defibrillator, the next it’ll be a pair of 150,000-volt 5A light sabers. While that’s all good and fancy, it’s when an invention changes the way musicians express themselves that we have something truly special. Back in 2003, Roland ignored numerous requests for a kick drum Slurpee machine, and instead released the first-ever SPD-S sampling pad.
Suddenly, tech savvy drummers had an efficient means of triggering samples, loops, and playback tracks. Nine years later and still leading the charge on the imminent sampling-drummer-dominated future, Roland releases the SPD-SX, an instrument in a league of its own. Having listened greatly to user’s requests, Roland imbued its new sampling pad with almost everything a high-tech drummer needs, making gracious strides in the malnourished field of acoustic-electric hybrid drumming. Rather than just spit out another typical lunch tray of drum pads, this unit is a powerful sampling machine, a juggernaut of simplicity and execution, and a tool for more than just drummers. With a versatility that has yet to be fully exploited, the SPD-SX is a double agent by design, effortlessly elbowing its way between a drummer’s floor toms or a DJ’s turntables. FIRST DATE Within minutes of unwrapping, most any tech savvy musician will be sampling snippets from his or her favorite mp3s, uploading the most extreme metal kick tones, and playing along to factory-installed dubstep wobble-bass loops. Although the manual is necessary for fine-tuning elements, overall its plug ’n’ play design will make that first date a breeze with minimal awkward silences.
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