Roland SP-404
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Roland SP-404

SP-404, Sampler from Roland in the SP series.

MGR/Dave Small 12/14/2005

Roland SP-404 : MGR/Dave Small's user review

« Roland SP-404 Sampler »
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Have been playing acoustic and electric guitar for over 35 years, both professionally and as a hobby. Have a home recording studio and a home performance stage where we hold monthly house concerts. Play mostly jazz, light rock, and vintage country. Playing style: chord/melody, finger-picking; use thumbpick and Alaska picks on three fingers.

Purchased late November, 2005 by mailorder from Sweetwater. Price: $395, including shipping. Planned to use the device to trigger drum fills, intros, and endings in my one-man-band configuration. Also wanted to add a few sound effects. All of this is controlled by a foot pedal. The unit has met my expectations quite nicely.

The SP-404 has striking visual appeal: what appears to be a brushed aluminum finish with flashing amber buttons and a green pulsating light that flashes in time with the beat, or that just flashes when there is no beat. Nicely laid out control board; large buttons; well-labeled. I also like the fact that it is compact. Some might prefer a rack-mount version. Importantly, the manual is easy to follow, quite unlike some Roland manuals of years past.

I have not found a way to copy patches from one location to another and I do not think it has this capability. The internal memory is very limited and a couple of Flash cards will be needed for most users. You cannot turn off a sample while it is playing unless you first go to the Loop mode -- a minor hassle. The external mic jack accepts a quarter-inch plug; an XLR jack would have been nice also. These are not major complaints.

Build quality is first-rate. It feels light but solid. Controls will withstand normal-to-hard use. The most important thing is that the sampled sounds are outstanding; what you put in is what you get out -- no degradation of the signal that is perceptable. I am very satisfied in this regard and that is the main reason I am going to hang on to this unit.

The SP-404 really fills the bill as an entry-level and/or special-purpose sampler. After many experiences in using Roland equipment, it has helped to change my mind about Roland with regard to ease of use and decipherable manuals. On the one occasion I had to contact Roland customer service, the reponse was quick and informative (the call was about how to connect the SP to another MIDI device). In sum, I have no regrets about purchasing the SP-404. A happy camper.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com