Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm

Roland CR-78 Image

The CR-78 is a really great little box from Roland. It's a classic analog Rhythm Machine, not a drum machine, and was the first to use a microprocessor. It has 34 built in preset rhythm patterns which can be varied at the push of a button. These patterns include Rock, Disco, Waltz, Shuffle, Slow Rock, Swing, Fox Trot, Tango, etc... Some are cool, but the ability to vary them gives you some creative control.

As for the drum sounds, the CR-78 offers 14 very electronic yet analog drum tones. Sounds include Kick, Snare, Rim, Cow Bell, HiHats, Cymbals, Congas, Bongos, Tambourine and Guiros. With 11 variation effects and the ability to adjust Tempo, accents, and fade in/outs the CR-78 is still capable of producing nice rhythms for use in ambient, HipHop, dub, and other electronic forms of music.

The CR-78 could also be programmed using the standard TS-1 Memory Write Switch or the rather hard-to-find WS-1 programming switch. They allow for pattern programming via a step-programming method similar to that on the TR-808. You program 2 bar patterns one voice at a time and up to 4 voices can be simultaneously played. Each of the four voices can be independently muted from the front-panel allowing for building up and breaking down your rhythm patterns. Patterns can also be set to fade-in/out. User patterns are stored to battery-backed memory.

The CR-78 also has external trigger using 24ppq V-Trig clock pulse. It has a very unique and familiar sound that has been used in all forms of HipHop, R&B and electronica, whether sampled and processed or straight out of the box itself. It's used by Underworld, Fatboy Slim, BT, Gary Numan, 808 State, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Ultravox, Jimmy Edgar, Genesis and Überzone, Blondie, Brian Ferry, Men Without Hats, John Foxx, OMD, and many others.

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21 Visitor comments
dr. motte
January 12, 2010 @ 4:57 am
a must have in the early 1990s for techno...
November 15, 2009 @ 10:39 pm
You don’t need a TS-1 write switch to program the CR-78. I use the SEQ-303 freeware synced with a Kenton Pro-2000 CV converter. I guess any CV converter could do as long as it has a clock out. Instructions for programming are found here: (he uses a Korg ER-1 but its much easier using a computer). On another note, apparently Darryl Hall used the Rock 1 preset on a lot of their songs. He talks to Chromeo about it on his website.
July 15, 2009 @ 3:56 am
recently re-discovered the cr-78 in Annie Lennox's cover of No More I love You's. Unique!
June 10, 2009 @ 10:35 pm
You hear this rhythm box all over older Genesis records but the most memorable song featuring this machine is Phil Collins "In The Air Tonight." Mike And The Mechanics got alot of use out of it too. Hmmm, I wonder if it was the same machine and they all just shared using it? With some compression and high quality reverb this unit still cranks out some great sounds. Still commands a lot of jack on the auction sites, too.
April 28, 2009 @ 4:23 pm
Also used by New Musik
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User Rating

Rated 3.88 (241 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 - 4 voices
  • Sounds - 14 tones: Kick, Snare, Rim, Cow Bell, HiHats, Cymbals, Congas, Bongos, Tambourine, Guiros
  • Controls - Tempo, accent, fade in/out
  • Patterns - 34 preset rhythms
  • Memory - 30 programmable presets
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer : Rock, Disco, Latin
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - Trigger out, 24ppq (0-5V) V-Trig clock pulse
  • Date Produced - 1978-81
  • Resources & Credits
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