Roland SP-808 / SP-808EX

Roland SP-808 Image

The SP-808 GrooveSampler was originally released in 1998 as an all-in-one phrase-sampling music workstation. It was released as part of Roland's Groove Gear. The updated SP-808EX (pictured) adds a cool new translucent design, many enhancements, and is now dubbed the e-Mix Studio. Essentially the SP-808 is a phrase sampler with a pattern sequencer, hard-disk digital multitrack recorder, high quality studio-effects, and more! Both machines are geared towards sampling musicians, remixers, broadcasters and DJ's.

The original SP-808 (GrooveSampler) can play up to four stereo samples simultaneously. If that seems a little thin, you can always bounce the samples down with any mixing, editing and effects you may have applied, opening up those tracks for more samples. It samples at 44.1 and 32 kHz sampling-rates, with a maximum sample time of 25 minutes of stereo 44.1 kHz sampling! Sample via analog or digital inputs, the SP-808 holds over 1,000 samples! Its sampler has a full set of editing features and some nifty tricks to make sampling very easy! BPMs of loops can easily be adjusted to match song tempo. All samples are stored/read directly from the 100 MB Zip Drive rather than internal RAM memory. AIFF and WAV audio formats are not supported as Roland is using their own proprietary sample storage method to maximize sample space on ZIP disks.

Studio quality effects include a filter, reverb, delay, pitch shifting, distortion, phaser, compression, Karaoke mode, and many more effects. There's also a D-Beam controller to tweak pitch and volume - Theremin style. Effects are realtime tweakable, but only one effect can be used at a time, so it pays to resample your sounds with effects processing to use more effects.

Recording is also pretty easy. Once you've filled the unit up with all your samples, they are available via the pads labelled 1 - 16. Like the VS-880, arm any of the four tracks you want to record to. Hit Record and trigger samples from the sample pads, add effects, adjust levels and do some panning. Songs can be recorded in real time or step time. The multi-track section has some nifty features of its own to make it quick and easy to use.

The SP-808EX (e-Mix Studio) has a virtual monophonic synthesizer for use with the step-sequencer and D-Beams. It also has new vocal and guitar multi-effects, a 10-band vocoder, Voice Transformer and Mic Simulator, plus dozens of DJ-oriented groove effects. A larger 250MB Zip drive replaces the original 100MB Zip for expanded sampling/multi-track recording time, up to 61 stereo minutes, compressed. Expansion options include the OP-1 interface (6 analog outs, 2 digital I/Os, SCSI) or OP-2 interface (XLR I/Os, digital I/O, SCSI). For use live or in the studio, the SP-808 offers a complete music production package!

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54 Visitor comments
March 12, 2009 @ 7:02 am
Well I bought this kind of on impulse, I'd been in the market for an MPC2000 for a while. and had looked at roland's SP-404 as a cheaper substitute that would still be able to meet my sampling needs. Anyway, long story short, i found the SP-808ex as a buy it now with zero bids and a reserve of $350. After about a 10 minute research session, i decided to go with it. After a week or so of using it i was whizzing through it like an old pro. I really like the interface, and how all the faders can link to faders in ableton and FLstudio. email me if anyones got any more specific questions, but it's a good one allright!
wet lettuce
November 21, 2008 @ 8:12 pm
cont.....The filter is the same horrible steppy rezzy one they put on all there groove stuff though.
You can run sounds and sample through the va synth in the fx bank and use the lfo and chorus/flange and delays.
For anything else there is only one fx unit, so resampling is neede to chain fx.
But really, mv8800 fx for £150 now days is nothing. Just watch your levels when using it as a real time fx box as it seems to have some sort of built in limiter that can effect your input evn when your not maxing.
The best way to use this box is to get sounds in as samples and work from there and export as phrases to your daw I find. I also use it as a S&R box to my mixer as well though...just watch those levels if you do, it doesn't cope well with them.
wet lettuce
November 21, 2008 @ 8:05 pm
My first bit of gear.
Forget trying to seq on this, the zip could never keep up lol Roland left a lot people feeling ripped of fo sure.
However the fx section is the same one including synth that they use in there mv8000/8800 today.
The fx are amazing for the price and it has a great vocoder too. The tape delays and verbs ae good too!
If you brought one today, i still love mine, it would be for sample mangling, it can't cope with seq and being used as a digi recorder as the zip glitches too much.
However, they are worth the money second hand for the fx bank alone.
October 22, 2008 @ 8:33 am
I must admit that I'm a fan of Roland, apart from this, the biggest leak in this Groovesampler is the reliability of the iomega Zip disc. You hit the buttons and after some months the disc has simply gone. So you been warned... You still there? Ok! This beast has a complete set of effects that I just find right for some well-done electronica. No chills here, but a good set of electro filters for you to use... Did I say the Analog synth emulation, or the Baseline with 16th sequencer? A PC/Mac editor should help in deep tweaks... You dive into presets and want to change'em, so time flies... I'm a lover of this underrated gear.
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  • 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 Stereo Voices
  • Sampler - 44.1kHz and 32kHz sample-rates, holds up to 1,024 samples (16 pads x 64 banks)
  • Sequencer - 64 songs, 2000 events per song
  • Filter - Filter effect: lowpass resonant, low boost; Isolator effect: isolate hi, mid or low bands
  • Effects - GrooveSampler: 99 preset patches, 99 user patches; e-Studio: 25 algorithms, 149 preset patches, 149 user patches
  • Memory - 100 MB Zip Drive (250 MB in e-Mix Studio)
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - MIDI IN/OUT, MMC, MTC, MIDI Clock
  • Date Produced - 1998 - GrooveSampler; 2000 - e-Studio

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