Well this baby is the only thing new I have ever bought new. I don't regret a penny of it. Ok, first of all it has a layout like the neck of a guitar with six rows(strings) and 6 collumns (open string and five frets. Now for keyboard players this is not always good, but for anyone who knows anything about a guitar will feel right at home. The possition of the neck is adjustable so you have a ton of range (but not quite that of a real guitar, but then again this isn't a guitar) There is a wonderfull Chord mode which is able to make about 15 different guitar chords which are also programable. very flexable. Now on to the meat. This machine has 30 pads for assigning drums to it so you can have a really good kit that is fully assignable. it has around 180 drum sounds which are fairly standard. X0X sounds and all the other normal sounds. I am not going to go into stuff that you can read somewhere else, but instead tell you why its good and bad to me. It has 3 instrument tracks which really allow a song to flower. There are about 80 instruments to choose from. Although this is nothing compared to a full workstation, this is totaly portable. six AA batteries and headphones and you can be sitting on your couch (or floor in my case) working on a song. There is a really nice aspect of it also that I love to use, and that is that the drums receive external pitchbend info (unlike My SR-16). You also can control the decay of the drum and pitch level of the drum as standard. In otherwords, tune the the 808 clap sound down an octave (which is as far down as the 'pitch' feature will go), then you can pitchbend from that point of reference. The sequencer in it is simple, but it does the job. There is dumping of patches and sysex also for us CPU dudes. It was has no problem with MIDI volume. Now as far as having real hands on experience with other drum machines I can only say that about the SR-16 (which I will review sometime). There are many others that I have only fiddled with. Reguardless of my poor exposure to the others, I know that none of them offer the things this machine can do. I would not exchange it for any of them.
Well nothing is perfect. The memory is to small for what it is able to do (3 decent songs and you are in bad shape). I would say that is my biggest beef with it. It has a guitar input that boast a guitar tunner and a sort of 'analog MIDI guitar'. basically you need an incredably strong signal to be heard (or my machine is broke?). The tunner was so sensitive that you could never get the thing to actually say 'good'. I think Roland just added that so they could brag that it had 'so many features'. It only has one set of stereo out jacks (should have scrapped the input for the guitar and made room for some AUX). Which is ok if all you want is drums, but once you start to mix in other instrumemts, well you know. The MIDI notes that are used on your master keyboard will not always be the same for each assignable kit (I never use the presets, so I don't know if they are better). That was always odd to me. The 30/36 pads/notes are not velosity sensitive and are a bit small (but not bad really). Hmmm. Thats it