Synth Site |  Roland |  HPD-15

  HPD-15 At a Glance
Click for larger view arrowReleased: 2000  Specifications
arrowUser rating: 4.5/5 |  Read reviews (10)
arrowRoland News(362)   Streaming Video (80)
sserendipity (jonathan@full-moon.com) writes:
1. Control surface

Not being a drummer of any kind, I must confess that my experience with drum surfaces is very limited. I’ve screwed around with V-drums, and bang on a few pots and pans, but that’s about it. This thing was really great! You could mute a pad with one hand, and still bang it with the other, press deep on it to get pitch bends, or otherwise change the shape of the sound. The ‘feel’ left something to be desired – it wasn’t the nice open bouncy feel you get from a stretched drum head, but I think it would be hard to do what this thing does with one.

2. Sounds and fx.

a. This is the unit’s biggest let down. Was it just me, or did there seem to be more >melodic< instruments than drum sets? If I wanted to play the xylophone, I’d get a piano keyboard! The melodic instruments were less responsive to controller changes than for example the talking drums or tabla, and most of them were crap.

The african talking drums (change the pitch with the light beam controller), tabla (mutable; play with your fingertips) and other ethnic instruments were very fun to play, but the dozens of electronic drum emulations and ‘techno’ patches, with synth stabs and other early 90s pablisms got old really fast.

The worst part was the fact that no serious programming had been put into creating new sounds just for this instrument. This is absolute sacrilege. There was no wavedrum emulation, no attempt to even go in the direction of new sounds. The pathetic attempt to do so in the form of ‘industrial’ and ‘noise’ sets were just crappy noise samples, with no use at all – they just make very noisy soundscapes. No one’s going to hear this on a cd and say, ‘that’s that cool Handsonic sound.’

Overall, the sounds had a ‘sampled’ quality, albeit they were pretty good. Played in the middle of a loud mix, no-one would know you weren’t playing the instruments live, but play the same note twice in succession, in a quiet room and no-one will be fooled.

b. The effects were likewise tame, nothing interesting or even very useful in shaping the sound.. No resonant filters which the instrument was practically crying out for. What’s up with that? I’m supposed to get excited over a reverse reverb? Hey! It’s not the eighties any more!

Since you only have a single stereo out, you can’t add effects after the fact, except to the whole kit.

3. Programming and midi

a. It really didn’t seem all that programmable. You couldn’t for example set up to samples to crossfade on one pad, or do other forms of patch engineering. All in all it seemed you were expected to use the patches as they were, perhaps mixing instruments up to make your own ‘palette’ and assigning the various controllers to them. b. The midi implementation, as far as I could see, was adequate. It had local off, which was my main concern, and

4. Performance use a. There’s an excellent ‘roll’ feature, which allows continued holding of a pad to retrigger the pad, instead of working as a damper against further hits, but the button was hard to toggle while playing, and couldn’t be assigned to specific pads only.

Why didn’t they allow this to be assigned to something like a foot pedal, or make it a bigger button? I got into some kick ass jungle and bhangra style grooves just banging on the pads with it on, but it wasn’t set up in a logical intelligent way. b. The ‘loop’ section was a good step in the right direction, allowing you to create loops and then assign them to pads for triggering on the fly. However, the creation wasn’t something you could do easily on the stage, more of a set up presets and then play over them kind of thing. Hey! I can already do that with a cd player… c. The knob controllers were a pain to use – they seemed more designed for tweaking patches, than on the fly performance. The ribbon controllers seem under utilized in the factory patches, and I didn’t have time to program them.

All in all, it was OK. I might get one, just because it’s the only game in town, but it’s definitely marketed to the kiddy crowd.

Comments About the Sounds:
This is the unit’s biggest let down. Was it just me, or did there seem to be more >melodic< instruments than drum sets? If I wanted to play the xylophone, I’d get a piano keyboard! The melodic instruments were less responsive to controller changes than for example the talking drums or tabla, and most of them were crap. The african talking drums (change the pitch with the light beam controller), tabla (mutable; play with your fingertips) and other ethnic instruments were very fun to play, but the dozens of electronic drum emulations and ‘techno’ patches, with synth stabs and other early 90s pablisms got old really fast.The worst part was the fact that no serious programming had been put into creating new sounds just for this instrument. This is absolute sacrilege. There was no wavedrum emulation, no attempt to even go in the direction of new sounds. The pathetic attempt to do so in the form of ‘industrial’ and ‘noise’ sets were just crappy noise samples, with no use at all – they just make very noisy soundscapes. No one’s going to hear this on a cd and say, ‘that’s that cool Handsonic sound.’Overall, the sounds had a ‘sampled’ quality, albeit they were pretty good. Played in the middle of a loud mix, no-one would know you weren’t playing the instruments live, but play the same note twice in succession in a quiet room and no-one will be fooled.

(Thanks to sserendipity for this info.)
and www.zzounds.com for the pic

Links for the Roland HPD-15

There are no links for this model. Try the Roland links page, or submit one here.

SUBMIT LINK to this page
(Links submitted here will also be added to the manufacturer page)
Please tell us if any of these links are broken