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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56 Visitor comments
August 23, 2011 @ 9:47 am
Simple question- without a zip disk in the drive will it give you an error similar to "zip disk error" or something close to that. I found one in a pawn shop but when powered up it gives that error msg. Ther is no zip disk in the drive but nowhere in the manual could I verify this- I don't want to pay 75.00 for a broken sp-808. Any advise on if without a zip disk would it give you an error?
August 19, 2011 @ 10:50 pm
Simple question- i found an sp-808 in a pwn shop for 75.00 (in fact they even put it on the "discount" table which is mostky very cheap stuff like most is under 50$. Well, when we poweder on the sp-808 iy lit up and then the screen said either "zip disk errror" or possible"zip drive error" or hell I can't rmbr exactly what it was but there wa no zip disk in the drive so my question to all u sp-808 users do me a favor and start up your sp-808 without a zip disk in the drive and tell me if says the same errors. If so, that's a good indication it works and I'll get it asap. If u can help pls
August 2, 2011 @ 1:14 pm
Amazing unit! I LOVE my unit! It's in MINT CONDITION after all these years!

I have a video of my unit so you can see how mint it is, you'll appreciate it!:
April 8, 2011 @ 7:26 am
I used to bring one of these and a bunch of Zips to all night parties in Brooklyn. It was the backbone of our set. The Zip is very noisy, but it is a very usable phrase sampler. It is a great sketchpad for banging out ideas (and also a solid 4 track recorder on top of that). This was one of the first box that was used a springboard for Roland's new effects platform.
January 19, 2011 @ 6:25 pm
I've had this for years. It shines in its effects processing capabilities. The monosynth is a bit thin compared to todays synths, but the unit is a very capable machine in capable hands. It's like a blank canvas waiting for sounds to manipulate and songs to structure. It's also very handy as a quick notebook sampler. I can spend hours with a mic plugged into the SP and just play [beep] ty riffs on my acoustic guitar with the effects and synth, then when I sober up I get to relive the madness all over again. Both MTC and MidiClock keeps options open in the studio too. steep learning curve
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Rated 3.8 (310 Votes)

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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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