Roland SPD-20 Drum Machines

I can confidently assure you that Roland SPD-20 Drum machine is one of the easiest to work with. Perhaps I found this easy to use and program because the TD7 I had used earlier was rather difficult to handle. The buttons on this machine does exactly what they are supposed to do. This made it possible for me to use the machine as soon as I got it, without even going to the trouble of reading the instruction manual.
However, the manual is well written and gives you valuable tips on short cuts that can be effectively used. For example it tells you that you can skip trough patches faster by hitting the button for opposite value, while holding down the one you want. To illustrate, when you hold down the up/value button for a list of instruments you press the down/value button, you will find that you run through the instrument list much faster than otherwise.
This tip is particularly helpful since the machine lacks a numeric keyboard. This unit features 8 pads, 14 note polyphony, 4 type effects and more than 700 excellent instruments. This is pretty good for a machine of this kind. In addition, it has midi in and out, 4 inputs for triggers, and a stereo L/R outs as well as a headphone jack. With so many features this machine rates at the top of its category.

Hooked to a FD-7 highhat controller and kick trigger this unit is like a small drum set that can be taken around without any trouble. It is possible to add a couple of PD -9 pads if you have them. The only thing that you can say against Roland is that they have no plans make advanced models of this and are in fact preparing to produce SPD-S with sampler.

What would be wonderful if features of TD-8 are incorporated into drum machines like this one. The technology to make this possible is available. Anyway, this machine is eminently suitable for home recording studios or for adding acoustic drums for a live performance. You can, for instance, add a set of timbales for a bongo or conga player without requiring extra hardware.

In such a setting the timbales will have 4 different sounds and snare as well as cables and a couple of crash cymbals. It does not require an expensive onboard sequencer, thus keeping the price down. You can play around with two possible sounds for each pad because the pads have excellent response. There are at least 16 velosidy curvs. This makes it possible for you for example, to have two crashes on one pad, one with a longer decay so that the crash lingers when you strike it harder. Assuredly, the machine is of excellent quality.

Though the effects are good, effect editing is rather limited. It would be advisable not to go in for a lot of effects. The snares, higbats, cymbals, hand percussion as well as the kicks are very good. However, it would be better if these could be equalized and the machine had a master EQ. All in all this unit has excellent sound quality, the pads respond easily and the velosidy curvs help you to adjust the response exactly as you want it. Electronic drums are not quite like the acoustic drums and this difference has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If you want to use acoustic drums to do all that the single unit of electronic drum machine does you will have to carry a crushing load of drums. Acoustic drums depend on the quality of the microphones.

More over, acoustic drums will soon an amplification system which means that unless the amplification is adjusted carefully the sound produced will be nightmarish! Thus, in the final analysis, electronic drums will be not only be a safe bet but will be easier to transport.