Review By: Template3
Price: CAD250.00 CAD USED
Ease of Use: This sampler is based on the S-10. But it has improved polyphony and a few changes in the architecture. Like many of Rolands synths this was easy to start with. Buttons like Rec, Load, Save made this a no brainer. But I had a month off and really started to play with this thing and am still surprized what you can do with 1.1 sec. Some editing is easier than other. The Auto Loop function is useless, and manual looping can be tedious. But most of the other editing is straight forward after a quick refrence to the manual. The manual is short but bursting with useful information, though you may have to look a bit to find what you need.
Features: Samplebox. OK fairly short sample time here. A total of 4.4 secs that is split between 4 banks. These banks can be combined which is nice. Total polyphony is 16 but as you split/layer or assign each bank to a different MIDI channel it goes down from there. And as I mentioned you can assign each bank to a different MIDI channel and a separate output, I beleive it was to facilitate working with their guitar synth somehow. Unfortunately you cannot increase the pitiful memory. It comes with the extremely outdated Quick disk drive. A 2.8 inch disk that is not synonomous with quick. Roland had a large library of samples to get you started (these are all available for download at sgroup or lilchips).The MIDI is good you can even SYSEX your samples if you don't mind waiting 4.4 forevers.
Sound Quality: Just like all their synths some of Rolands samples are better than others. I find thier piano not bad (they squeezed a piano in 4.4 secs !!!) But I don't use too many of these samples. I found I liked making my own wierd ones better. Now if you can get a short enough sample you can combine two sounds into one bank (1.1 sec) and by using a velocity switch you can play the second sound. This is not easy nor for the fainthearted. I find lately I use my computer to do alot of the work (record, edit, and usually compress). Another trick I've used to overcome the time limit, as the sampler changes the pitch the time corresponds, so record and change the pitch on your computer then sample it. The sound definatly suffers, but for live nobody's ever came up to me and complained.
Reliability/Durability: When I first bought it in 1996 there was a power issue. How embarressing I was at this HUGE gig and I was using it to play bass when it just ... stopped. Reluctantly I opened it up and and found a transister in the power section had a cracked solder joint. It worked ok but the dust and smoke from the gigs was killing the disk drive. So I retired it, then in 2001 the drive died, permemntly I thought. After taking it to a Roland reapair center they just counld't fix it. So it sat. Then in 2004 I thought I should ask someone in a discussion group, and sure enough I got some anwsers, and had my drive working again that night. I think this drive will last a while now.
Customer Support: Well I know one place I won't take any of my equipment. I will search for a decent repair center. I've said in other reviews that I've had good and bad from Roland. When this one went to the repair shop it was bad.
Overall Rating: I got this used in 1987, and would definately try to replace it if any thing happened to it. But would not nessesarily recomend it to anyone. I just happen to have a large library of s-220 sounds that I use live. To migrate to another sampler would be ... well ... work (I hate four letter words). It is annoying having to load 4 disks for 4 sounds, but it's easier to use than my s-550.