I want a Roland SPD SX, but I have reservations

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Ok, so I’m looking at expanding my kit to include electronic samples. The unit I’m looking most is the Roland SPD-SX. I’ve looked at the other units, and right now this is the one I’m leaning towards. I don’t really want to get into my reasons right this second, but if they come up within discussion, no biggie.

At this point, I don’t plan on running loops (I’m open to it though). I want to use samples, and I think one of the bands I’m playing in could really benefit from it. We’ve talked about it, and they are on board with doing it in a few songs (but I’m hoping that number will grow as time moves on). Another reason why I’m looking at getting something is that I’m hoping that it will expand my repertoire in what I can do and what I’m capable of in hopes that I can get more work in the area.

I have a few reservations though.

Buying new vs buying used – I’ve always been wary of buying used electronics, especially instruments. There are usually no warranties (especially when buying off of individuals), so I would probably buy used from a store that had at least a 30-day warranty or something. I’ve had higher-end Roland stuff mess up before, and basically no one can fix them. If I bought new, I would have to pay extra, but maybe there’d be a little more peace of mind? I don’t know.

Another reservation is that all electronic-based instruments will become obsolete in such a short amount of time. One thing that combats this with the Roland is that WAVs can be downloaded, and these have a 4 gig capacity which will hold a crap-ton of WAVs and loops without having to drag a Mac around. Even still, I swear whenever I buy something like this, another product will come out in 6 months that does twice as much stuff and costs half as much (I’m exaggerating, but still). Maybe it’s just par for the course. I don’t know though.

What if I buy this thing and it just becomes a $500+ paperweight? What if it never gets used like I’m thinking or hoping? I could always turn around and sell it I guess, but then there’s the whole becoming obsolete/losing value thing. Roland things can hold their value, but a pet peeve of mine is to have something and never use it. There’s always that chance that I’ll never been in a situation where I’ll ever need it, and that really bugs me. Maybe I’m just overthinking this…

Not really sure what I’m looking for in terms of feedback. I’m not really looking for a “Please talk me into this” or “Please talk me out of this.” I think I’m just looking for your experiences with any of these thoughts, situations, etc. Thanks in advance!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I've been using my SPD-SX since late-2011, and there's not really a sonic obsolescence factor with such gear anymore. However there are improvements in features, it just depends what you need. I just load samples and hit pads, using only 10% of the unit's capabilities, and it does that very well. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it though, as the menu path can be frustrating, and it doesn't do some things I expected it to. But it performs well - hit a pad, get a sound.

A recent contender is the Alesis Strike Multipad, which also does way more than the typical drummer needs. I looked into it at a personal demo at NAMM, but I just don't need any of its bells & whistles. The unit has a learning curve, and is also a bit expensive as Alesis products go. And while still saving some money over the Roland, it wasn't attractive enough for me to make what would be a lateral move for me (I just need to hit a pad and get a sound.)

So, stick with the Roland.

Bermuda
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Though there have been a bit of reliability issues with some SPD-SX units lately it's probably the one with the most proven roadtime and ease of use.

It is probably time Roland did an upgrade, but as mentioned, how much do you really need it to do? More features would be for modern electronic music uses. The main reason for such a unit would in most cases just to be simple, portable and self contained. Heavy editing you do at home on the computer.

The new Alesis gets good reviews so far, but considering the issues with their electronic drum kits I just wouldn't go there. Even if the Alesis is good, I wouldn't support a company that puts out products like that. They definetly cut a few to many and the wrong corners.

Roland, though I may not be a fan of all their prodicts and don't really like the built in sounds of their drum kits have a pretty good history when it comes to reliability.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Do you mind sharing more on this?
Two things in particular don't sit well with me.

1) Each pad is assignable a main sound, and if desired, a sub sound. There are two sets of outputs: main, and sub. Are you thinking what I'm thinking, that the main sound goes out of the main outs, and the sub sound goes out the sub outs? Like maybe triggering a track where the main sound is a stereo mix goes to the p.a. and the sub sound is a click that goes to the monitor? Nope. And Roland does actually use the words main and sub for both. You'd imagine they'd be related. You'd imagine Roland would have enabled it as a useful function. Yes, I complained to them about it. Roland's workaround is to "link" two pads so that two samples will play through two outputs, which of course means losing the use of one pad. Why can't one pad that can play two sounds also send them out the two available outputs?

Maybe that's important, maybe not. But I really could have used it.

This one is important.

2) You cannot change the pitch of a sample as a function of the pad. The sample has to be copied, then adjust the pitch, then save as a separate sample. It's a pain if I simply want to take a sample up or down a little, because the unit can't handle non-destructive samples. Even the cheap Alesis SamplePad and PercPad units let you tune the sample on the fly without modifying the actual file. Yes, I generally have the pitch where I need it before loading the sample, but there are times I would like to have one preset where a handclap is normal, and another where the same handclap is pitched higher, without having to load separate samples. There's plenty of RAM, but that's not the point.

The unit is very menu-driven, and I still find myself going down the wrong path after all these years. I suppose if you use and program it on a regular basis, it becomes easier. But it possesses little of the intuitive operation that the V-Drums do, for example.

I had consulted with Alesis on developing a simple pad, where you load samples, hit a pad, and get a sound. You can adjust volume, dynamics, and pitch, and that's about it. That's what most drummers need, and they shouldn't have to pay for features they're not likely to use, such as sampling, looping, or EQ and effects. But, Alesis' answer to that was the $300 SamplePad Pro, which had some unfortunate hardware and software shortcomings. Then their Multipad came out, which is extremely capable, but has a lot of extra features, and is priced accordingly, I think just $100 under the Roland.

So, stick with the Roland. It does reproduce samples nicely and it's unlikely you'll exceed it's capabilities.

Bermuda
 
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electrodrummer

Senior Member
Ok, so I’m looking at expanding my kit to include electronic samples. The unit I’m looking most is the Roland SPD-SX. I’ve looked at the other units, and right now this is the one I’m leaning towards. I don’t really want to get into my reasons right this second, but if they come up within discussion, no biggie.
Fair enough. There are other options, but if that's what you want, cool - your decision.

Buying new vs buying used – I’ve always been wary of buying used electronics, especially instruments. There are usually no warranties (especially when buying off of individuals), so I would probably buy used from a store that had at least a 30-day warranty or something. I’ve had higher-end Roland stuff mess up before, and basically no one can fix them. If I bought new, I would have to pay extra, but maybe there’d be a little more peace of mind? I don’t know.
You need to be aware, there's a known issue with the SPDsx - the sockets come away from the board - power and audio, etc. Google this.

Another reservation is that all electronic-based instruments will become obsolete in such a short amount of time.
Nah. I still gig some edrum gear I bought in 1981 - and plenty of stuff from the past 3+ decades I've been hitting electronics. The whole planet still uses 60 year old SM58s. Guitarists love 1960s Strats. Acoustic drummers hark after 1958!

Dunno what you want from this post, really!
 

charliedrummer

Senior Member
At this time of year I think it's always best to wait until after Winter NAMM to see if there are any upgrades from Roland and Yamaha.
 

KEEF

Senior Member
Long time spds-x user - doing exactly what you want from it. Hit pad get sounds. All coming from a desire to do 'just a little more' than other covers bands. I play hand claps,tambourine,cowbell etc etc with various external triggers around the kit ( the left foot heel to my HH toe is easily the most used) and one or two longer samples - the intro to The Who 'Won't get fooled' for example .
I have also just started midi'ing my light show with it as well - which is a function of it I've only just discovered!
The ONLY issue I've encountered is the (well documented) occasional failure to power up - which is countered by holding the power button whilst hitting bottom left pad. Don't know why that works - but it always does. Definitely not perfect in every way, but probably the best option out there.
 

charliedrummer

Senior Member
FYI - I just received an email from Roland about a special promotion whereby if you purchase an SPD-SX, they'll include a bonus pack of 10,000 samples and the editor application. I know nothing about the quality of this package but it seems promising for someone considering buying one of these units.
 

Craig J

Senior Member
FYI - I just received an email from Roland about a special promotion whereby if you purchase an SPD-SX, they'll include a bonus pack of 10,000 samples and the editor application. I know nothing about the quality of this package but it seems promising for someone considering buying one of these units.
can you forward to me please? thanks :)
 
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