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
January 25, 2013 @ 6:19 pm
Fun if connected on synth audio outputs and used as a multi Fx by the D beam.
January 19, 2013 @ 2:04 pm
@IAM ..I would bet that the drive you mentioned is compatible..but you are purchasing at your own risk..I have bought flash drives that didn't work and simply sold them as computer drives on ebay to recoup. As for upgrading the OS to the EX, you'll need a working zip drive on the unit to be upgraded; then create an upgrade zip disk using a PC zip drive so that you can format a disk with the upgrade files, upgrade the unit with your disk and after doing so swap out the zip drive with your flash drive and never look back. Remember, 512 MB is the optimal size capacity. Enjoy!
September 7, 2012 @ 1:04 am
Did I read somewhere that this part would be a suitable placement?

How would one go about reformatting the system to '1.20 OS' if the original disc-drive (ZIP) does not read?

Please offer any other cost effective alternatives if the above even works...?

It's worth upgrading for many reasons. Heh!
May 24, 2012 @ 1:41 pm
@paul r.evolve.r Correction: technically, ATAPI is a "true" IDE ..and the drive must support data access PIO mode 4, I believe UDMA 4 works for this. Certain CF to IDE may be compatible but most are not.. I have the PSI (brand) Model: IISDMC2.. they seem to have a current CF to IDE that will work but you may want to search for a multi card reader so you can use SD or your preference ..and be sure it's 3.5" size..I've also seen some solid state versions but I'd steer clear of that for obviuos reasons.. So there it is..I think that should get everyone in the right direction. Happy sampling!
May 24, 2012 @ 1:03 pm
@paul r.evolve.r I can't remember the manufacturer, it was a limited run of flash drives as replacements for 3.5" floppy; I think it was for a traffic light system? Search the specs..while there are a couple manufacturers out there that can produce these units (they state so on their website), they only respond to business orders for mass production rather than stamping out a single unit for a single customer.. but who knows, they may have had another run. Also, be sure to search replacement flash drives "for the Akai MPC series", this will be compatible with the sp808 for sure. GOOD LUCK!
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Rated 3.8 (310 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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