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!

Lookup Roland SP-808 / SP-808EX Prices

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57 Visitor comments
September 26, 2010 @ 2:30 pm
Although sampling is pretty straightforward, the effects routing of the SP-808EX gives me a headache. It's a shame because many of the effects are excellent. I really don't care for the workflow of this device (even though piecing a simple song together is relatively easy). All that effort spent digging through sub-menus just to throw a couple phrases together (4 note polyphony mono/stereo)? I might as well stick to my "not pink" Zoom ST-224.
September 6, 2010 @ 1:21 pm
New Facebook user group for SP-808/ex users/owners.!/group.php?gid=148191118546770

Please join up and upload pics, links, patches, or anything else pertaining to this beauty. You can even spam your sale here if you're trying to get rid of an 808.

Long live the coolest sampler ever made! ;)
January 8, 2010 @ 12:20 am
This machine is awesome. When it came out it was super expensive, something like $1200 ($1400 with the OP-1 interface expansion.) Plus it looks really cool in the dark. Roland gear adds warmth to almost any sound so all your samples sound good and meaty not trashy and canny sounding. I still use mine this untill this very day and learn new things every now and then when Im playing around. I don't suggest bouncing too many tracks on this puppy though, overall sound becomes mashed up without a proper compressor to give each instrument it's fair share of the song or remix. Someone once told me a Modonna remix was done with the machine upon its release, but I don't know which song specificly or the artist/remixer's name. Find one of these and buy it if you really want to step up your sampling game and have fun on pro equip.
September 2, 2009 @ 2:26 pm
I actually do have one of these for sale...Love it but I haven't had a use for it lately. It's probably one of the easiest samplers I've ever used, truly a classic piece of gear. It is an original 808, but I upgraded the firmware and I even upgraded the zip to a 750, so I can load tons of samples onto it. It's awesome if you are using it in a midi setup!
September 1, 2009 @ 2:43 am
If anyone has one of these for-sale, I'd prolly love you! I had one years ago and it played a huge role in my live shows at the time. It sadly was stolen. I have yet to find a machine that pleases me as much as this one did. I know sadly that zip disks are a thing of the past, but why can't Roland update that aspect of this machine alone???
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User Rating

Rated 3.8 (311 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 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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