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!
Demos & Media
Images from Roland U.S.