Synth Site: Roland: SP-808: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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andy a hobbyist user from usa writes:

I'm thinking of getting an SP-808 or an SP-808ex. I have heard that you can upgrade the normal 808 to the ex operating system.

I have one question for anyone who knows out there: Once you upgrade to the operating system of the EX, does your regular SP-808 operate identically in every way to the SP-808ex that you buy with the operating system already installed?

I want the newest version, but I think the ex looks like a fischer-price toy. I prefer the black of the normal 808.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Feb-21-2005 at 11:12
its good just only cuz u got it for only $400!its only a phrase recoder and hard to be a decent sampler,the sound quality is so-so,the only thing i like is the step-modulator(u so called built-in v.a.?!!)but its only present as one of the effectors,so if u choose it u can get other effects.yes,its an integration of several things,but everytime u only can use only one or two at once.if ur serious on drum sampler,get a mpc any day,ok,only the price can make ppl think they got a treasure,a so-so gear,if not,the price will not drop so fast.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-18-2004 at 19:36
DJPro a part-time user from USA writes:
Overall, this is a great piece of equiptment for the price. Unfortunately, it's so easy to use that you'll get bored of it fairly quick. What I really do enjoy about it is the fact that it is a lot of different things all in one box. I've used this to record live performances, as sample-based drum machine, as an independent FX box, as well as many other specific purposes. I find that the integration of all the different parts inside of the unit is allright (it could have been a little better--take for instance, the Fantom series workstations).

As an FX box--this unit is great (D-Beam is a neat toy to play with for FX!)... As a sampler--this unit is okay (I hate the 4 voice polyphony limit!)... As a virtual analog synth--this unit is decent (Just wish that there was a better MIDI implementation for all of the variables and that the VAS wasn't treated as an effect--it should have had it's own audio channel).

But then again--I got mine for only $400--and it has improved my music so much that I couldn't imagine getting rid of it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-18-2004 at 16:47
Silverblade a professional user from UK writes:
OK so the SP808 is now "old", replaced by the 808EX and now the MC909, but theres still life in the ol' beast yet.

Its a cracking piece of hardware, portable, tough (for a plastic unit) and brimming over with live and studio based attributes.

Zip disks arent the most stable format when needed for real time sample access and various reports of crashed or lost material are floating round the net on various forums, but I never had a single problem (and I pushed this puppy to breaking point)add to that the freeware PC-808 software, allowing transfer of wavs to and from your PC based zip drive and the benefits of this format outway the niggles...!

OK so the D-beam is pretty gimicky, but give it time and it can be used to create some seriously twisted soundscapes, perfect for adding some originality in your 4/4 dance mixes..

Effects wise, around for hours...and then play some more.

As for the multitrack..a little bit restrictive with 4 tracks, but if you get your head round bouncing and plan your tunes well, its not a problem (sometimes less is more)

Roland shot themselves in the foot when they brought out the EX model in all its pink bubblegum glory. It took about 5 minutes for the original 808'ers to figure out that you could simply exchange your internal zip 100 with a 250 version and load up the EX's operating system, ending up with a brand spanking new EX model still in its sexy black housing. Roland were asked if they would bring out an "official upgrade pack" for the 808' was the answer, so needless to say sales weren't as high as Roland hoped for their new unit, hence the current "end of line price" of £400...a seriously limited shelf life.

I sold my 808, not because it was bad, but because I needed to move on, I learnt a lot from it, expanded my sample library ten fold, and appreciated the "on the fly" knobs and buttons approach that you simply cant get with "Computer studios". I recently constructed a DJ rig for a colleague with 2 808's running alongside his turntable setup... his sets have moved into a completely new territory, with live interaction, sampling and some serious showboating. It truly is an inspiring piece of kit, ideal for DJ, Bedroom and professional artists.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Apr-25-2003 at 08:30
Analog Kid a professional user from usa writes:
The SP-808 is like a beatiful girl with bad teeth.

It's hard to praise it too much... and yet it's just such a fantastic box that it's impossible to ignore.

There have been three versions released so far. The original black, the fisher price EX and the Edirol A6. The first to are 100% compatible, but I have no idea what happens if you try to put the A6 OS on a SP-808. The A6 can interface hard drives though... i still cant imagine why the SP-808 doesn't. :(

I have lost at least 200mb of data because a zip went bad in the middle of a project. Back up often.

The things that make the SP-808 great are unique. For one thing, It's certainly better looking than the Akai. Lovely glowing red pads (wish they were velocity sensitive), knobs, sliders, Dbeams... If your serious about using it the interface is no problem. It's not instantly intuitive, but neither is it needlessly obtuse. It's a great expansion for a Roland Vstudio, giving you a nice input section, step sequencers, flexible phrase sampling, and nice editing capabilities. It can also serve as a stand alone recorder for a basic setup.

The biggest problem comes from the lack of internal ram. If they had put a 64mb S-760 engine inside it they could have expanded the polyphony, offered synthesis and Roland,Akai sample support and basically ruled the planet. Then again the MC-909 has internal ram and all it does it clever variants of phrase sampling. What does Roland have against loading sample instruments from Akai, or even their own format?!

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Apr-02-2003 at 17:11
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