Synth Site: Roland: SP-808: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Atom a professional user from New York, United States writes:
I have used the SP-808 for around three years- it was a pretty new item when I got mine. I have upgraded it to a 250 MB drive and the newer (SP-808ex) O.S. I would recommend it. I found it easy to learn, although I'd already had several years experience with a sampler, it was a completely different type of system. It is a very valuable tool for song writing, inspiring creativity. There are so many uses, and it fits well in between the complexity of a full studio and the less powerful "groove" samplers or phrase samplers. You can use it to make whole, complete tracks although lately I find it more of a scatchpad, whereby I begin tracks and then export them to the computer via digital i/o to finish them, not losing any quality in the recording. Where I find it most valuable is in live performance- Melange (www.melange.org) use two of them live. It allows me to play my songs live in such a way that they can be different every time- there is a great element of improvisation with the help of the SP-808. The internal effects are quite impressive, top-notch and useful, and the virtual analog monosynth is great. Some may not appreciate programming it by dialing in parameters but it doesn't seem to bother me, everything is set up fairly logically. One thing this box does not do well is drum programming. There is simply not enough polyphony to do it very well and no midi sequencing of the pads TR-808/909 style. Instead you put loops together in a graphical display to create a song- you can do this in step-edit, or in real-time record, then go back and edit. You can work with very short loops such as single drum hits, but it is better to let the machine assemble them into a longer phrase, otherwise you may have problems with disc access. Resampling also usually fixes that problem in other instances- that is bouncing two sounds into one, or resampling a sound with FX on it. If you enjoy working in a cut and paste style, you will like working with this machine. The d-beam is much fun, and I find pretty functional for controlling effects live (though I'm currently fascinated with my Kaoss pad). You may be concerned with the limitations of this box - there are several, but I think that is missing the point. It also does some things no other machine does. It's a phrase sampler which is very different from a "note" sampler- a keyboard or rack sampler attached to a synthesizer such as AKAI or E-mu are known for. Also I highly recommend the OP-1 output expander as it's a good idea to make a backup of your discs! When it comes down to it, the sound you produce with the SP-808 will be your own. -Atom

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Dec-27-2001 at 01:59
Pete a hobbyist user from London writes:
I just bought an SP808 and after reading some of the reviews here that seem negative(i know nothing about sampling and want to learn)I thought Id let you know that my mate suffered for a year with it(long learning curve)and now he is working on tunes with the 3 Amigos who work with Tom Jones.He did a remix of a 70's disco tune and they thought it was done in a pro studio.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-03-2001 at 20:32
Faxorgy from Australia writes:
Funny I don't have any of the problems people mention above. Use the ISO/FILTER in the effects patch assign effects to insert record tweak away and hey presto filtered sample.When performing intricate breaks probgram in step entry first then press markon then mark on and pad the track is assigned to pad erase the original track and insert the pad sample instead dead easy. I don't use a pc/mac for editing and I never get pops or clicks. Quite frankly it's the one piece of equipment I can't live without. A real do anything box with a Zen like quality about it. I think some of the people here need a major paradymn shift in think working methodology before ringing the most out of it. I know I did. Seriouse I'd give it a ten outta ten. Oh and heres a hint to you all feed samples through your v.synth it work like a hi-tech filter bank with delay and flanging/chorus.Simple an indespensible tool.

posted Monday-May-28-2001 at 01:57
patrick a part-time user from us writes:
Now that the price has come down a bit - it's simply the best value out there for a recording workhorse with outstanding effects. If you're not into using effects, this isn't the unit for you. The effects blow away most rack mount units, costing almost as much as the 808 itself. The sampler's only drawback is that it does not work well as a sampling drum machine for really fast drum breaks. If you're looking to sample individual hits to build drum loops in excess of 160bpm - you may have to do some resampling workarounds (of course you can string together break chunks very easily, and it's perfect for that kind of chop/rearrange stuff at any bpm - it's just when you approach maximum polyphony at maximum speed with really quick triggers than you have problems)- otherwise - if your computer has a zip drive - there is no faster way to lay .wav files to a hardware sampler than the 808 - plus the multitracker works flawlessly and it's very easy to pull stuff off of tracks into the sampler. As close to an all in one sampling workstation as you're going to get. You really can put together a whole track from scratch, and then perform it live. I've done it, and it's a joy to use

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-23-2001 at 04:20
a part-time user writes:
try resampling to add filters. also, bounce tracks to keep adding. i had the same frustration, but this method seems to work. also, i have an ex also and it works great as a master clock, just use it that way. i suppose it depends what youre using it with. i agree with you, the midi features could be improved upon, tough. i have to say its my favorite toy, though.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-23-2001 at 02:02
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