I fell in love with the Roland R-8/R-5/R-70 in a local music shop window in 1993. Unfortunatly, I had no job, no cash, and no credit. However, some fool let his R-5 go, so I ended up buying one of these about 4 years ago in a pawn shop for $150 Australian dollars (around $280 U.S) It was a bit beaten, and some of the pads did'nt work properly. I took it apart, and cleaned the drum pad contacts. That seemed to fix the problem.
I found the sounds hard to get used to at first, but now I quite like most of them. You can knock the sounds, but they're different, a little weird, and yet quite realistic. Try finding that in another machine! The bass drum samples can benifit from a little bit of roll off in the mid to high frequencies. I feel that improves the sound of the kicks, as all of them seem to contain too many mid and high frequencies. I find that with other drum machines. But of course, real bass drums make this "thuddy" sound! But most engineers roll off the high and midrange with EQ, just like I've done with the R-5. I think that the intension with the unit was to make it realistic- then you can alter the sounds with external EQ or reverb. I don't apply reverb to the bass drum sounds, as that does'nt sound very good. But the snares, which are just "O.K" without reverb turn out pretty good with some reverb, and the lovely cymbals become even better with a little reverb. I route the bass drum to a seperate output (with EQ), then run the snare and cymbals out through 1 assigned ouput, through a parametric eq unit, then to a reverb unit. This is a simple but effective way to improve the sounds. I use a Roland anolouge parametric eq (Model RPQ-10) This is one of the best sounding parametrics I ever heard. I gives a sheen a lustre to the cymbals and snare which seem totally natural and not harsh. I recommend that unit too for use on drums ,instruments and vocals.
I hope I helped salvage the good but not great R-5 sounds, that in my opinion sound just O.K because they lack processing. However, you have more control over the sound as a result. Pick one of these up if you see one! They're unique!They're pretty rare! You have been warned!