SoundMaster Stix ST-305

SoundMaster Stix ST-305 Image

When the BOSS DR-55 appeared, it was the first affordable drum machine featuring programmable patterns rather than presets. It soon had a competitor in the form of the SoundMaster SR-88, which was so similar in appearance and sound to the DR-55 that it might make you wonder why Roland didn't sue SoundMaster out of existence. Roland clearly didn't, as the SR-88 was followed by the ST-305 "Stix". In terms of features and sophistication the Stix is somewhere between the BOSS DR-55 and Roland TR-606, with programming like the DR-55 and individual volume controls for each instrument like the TR-606. While it was soon eclipsed by the TR-606, which featured a higher number of patterns and the ability to chain them together into songs, the Stix does offer individual audio outputs for each sound. There is also a trigger input and two trigger outputs - one a constant clock pulse and the other programmable via the accent.

The sounds on the Stix are limited to kick, snare, high tom, low tom, closed high hat, open high hat and cymbal. There is also the accent, which has its own level control and affects all instruments on each beat it is applied to. Patterns are limited to six with sixteen steps per bar, and two with twelve steps per bar. Each pattern can be programmed as a single two bar pattern (A and B) or as two one bar patterns (A or B). In addition to playing one bar repeatedly or both in succession, there's also a "fill in" mode, where bar A plays repeatedly until bar B plays once at the end of every four, eight or sixteen bars.

Overall the Stix is a fun machine despite its limitations. It has a subtly different character to the contemporary Roland TR-606 and Korg KPR-77, while also benefiting from separate audio outputs as standard. It's unlikely that anyone has used the Stix on a really famous recording, but the cheap price of the SoundMaster drum machines probably means that many electronic musicians learnt their craft on one!

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12 Visitor comments
May 11, 2012 @ 5:40 pm
Fantastic video by Analog Audio! I absolutely love mine as it was my very first drum machine. Learned so much on it. Got it for $40 at a pawn shop.

They don't come up that often but when they do they're still cheap. $200-$300 seems to be the going rate.
March 25, 2012 @ 3:23 am
Hello everybody! I'm lookind for Soundmaster Stix ST-305 for adout long years. Could someone help me to buy it. It needs me for lthe electropunk sessions!!!!!!
Thanks everyone....
Paul Morison
February 27, 2012 @ 9:09 am
Hi can anyone post a schematic please-mine is dead!
February 26, 2012 @ 3:39 pm
One of my favourites...
Main output is weak, but individual outs work fine.
Some samples are available here :
November 21, 2011 @ 3:47 am
It has cv in/out. IT HAS CV IN/OUT. Seriously, that should be printed in large, flashing letters. It can drive sequencers and easily sync with other stuff, making it a genuinely useful instrument to this day an not simply a fun conversation piece/sample source like so many other early machines. From what I understand it has proper 16 step-by-step drive, meaning you can do all sorts of fun stuff with uneven external clocks, something that is a hassle in Sync24 and Midi. Draks is obviously on to something here; if you can trigger stuff of the toms like a 606. I want one.
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.08 (66 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 Tones
  • Sequencer - 16-step sequencer with Fill-in and Variation effects
  • Patterns - 8 programmable rhythm patterns (six 16-step, two 12-step)
  • Songs - None
  • Effects - Accent
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - 8 rhythm patterns
  • Control - Trigger IN/OUT
  • Date Produced - 1981
  • Resources & Credits
  • Image & review by Chris Wareham

    Reviewed November 2009

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