An edited version of this text also appears in
Vol.15 No.3. January 1999

Review's by Chris Carter


This sounds promising if a little adventurous, a history of Roland synths on a single CD-ROM.

First off are 20 banks of Juno106, including plenty of wonderfull hard-edged synth percussion, speaker busting bass thumps and tones, all nicely mapped accross the keyboard. Other Juno 106 gems are some resonant buzzy basses, some typical Juno cheezy pads and organs, trilling LFO patches and a dozen or so looped sequences, phrases and bass lines.

Next up is the underated SH1 with 7 tracks of some thick multi-sampled basses, filtered squarewaves, raspy sawtooths and the like, all very nice. A couple of synth percussion kits are include with some dangerously subsonic bass drums and razor sharp white noise hi-hats, mmmm.

The dual oscillator SH2 follows with an interesting, if limited, selection of rich and unusual patches including some great percussion kits and looped sequences.

Believe it or not there is only ONE bank dedicated to the wonderful SH101, surly one of Roland's best monphonic analogue synths. All you get are ten, slightly dated, 1 bar looped sequences and that's it ! Similarly the pseudo-modular Sytem100 only gets three banks of naff sounding percussion effects, and the dinky but versatile MC202 is represented by a few throwaway novalty sounds.

The MKS80 on the other hand is given 11 banks of fat basses, hard-sync patches, chord stabs and a dozen or so sprighly sequences, all top quality.

The Jupiter 6 and 8 are also well represented in banks 60-73, with growling and sweeping filters, percussive decays, multi-sampled brass, metalic percussion and some unusual random special effects patches.

There are also a handfull of banks courtesy of the VP330 keyboard vocoder, although I think the programmer was wearing earmuffs as the patches sound strangely muted. The inclusion of some animated and inventive rhythmic vocoder loops redresses the balance though.

The CD ends with a dozen or so ready-made stereo rhythm tracks, complete with intro, outro, bass line, synth sequences and effects, just add your own vocals, rapping or scratching. These rhythms probably sounded great five years ago but they sound a mite rusty in 1999.

I felt midly disapointed with this CD. Where are the classic Jupiter 4, SH5 and SH7 keyboards ? And no Roland history lesson could be complete without the wonderous System 700 and 100M modular synths, pretty big ommisions in my book. Come on guys how about HISTORY OF ROLAND Vol. 2.

But these points aside there are some marvelous patches here, all very analogue sounding and many well suited to dance, hip hop, techno, ambient and electronica in general. The are probably too many surplus loops and phrases (with some suffering from distincly uninspired programming) and all the loops lack any indication of their BPM, a recurrent failing with Dicovery CDs. However, there is still enough raw material here for more than just a handfull of projects and it's a particularly tempting buy at this price.

3 out of 5

Cat No. DF-SD0020R

£49.99 Akai format

£44.99 Audio format

Available from Turnkey

Copyright © 1999 Chris Carter / SOS Publications.  


TR 808 and TR 909 SAMPLE CDs
Two CDs, each full of TR 808 and TR909 samples and nothing else may not be exactly original but Discovery have put a lot of effort into these releases. The layout, track listing and even sleeve notes for each CD are almost identical so it makes sense to combine the reviews.

Each CD is divided into three main categories, raw unprocessed sounds, treated and effected sounds and complete phrases, rhythm tracks and break beats. To ensure the best possible reproduction any percussion voices with variable controls have been sampled with the control knobs at various positions. For example, there are 11 tracks for the bass drum, with each track set to a different Decay/Tone (808) or Attack/Decay/Tune (909) setting and with each track containing 10 samples, with the controls set from between zero and maximum for each sample (a total of 110 bass drum samples on each CD!). This method is used throughout resulting in approximately 450 samples for each of the individual TR 808 and TR909 percussion sounds alone, quite impressive and a great source for making-up custom TR kits. In addition to these samples are a dozen or so banks of effected percussion sounds, processed by various reverbs, or gated reverbs.

There are also 10 tracks on each CD devoted to mainly hip-hop and rap style break beats, grooves and loops. Some of these are quite long, complete with intros and outros and most sound fine and perfectly usable, but there's nothing truly outstanding, and some are just faster versions, which is a bit cheap especially considering that there are no BPM figures, a pretty essential requirement in my book.

But generally the samples on both CDs are very well recorded and faithful to the original machines, though I'm not sure about the inclusion of the processed samples, personally I prefer to add my own effects.

These dedicated CDs have almost every imaginable combination of TR808 and TR909 sounds you could think of and for a tenth of the price of the real things these could be essential buys for anyone wanting that authentic 80's retro Roland sound.


TR808 Audio CD

Cat No. DF-SD0230

70 min.


4 out of 5


TR909 Audio CD

Cat No. DF-SD0240



4 out of 5

Available from Turnkey  

Copyright © 1999 Chris Carter / SOS Publications.  


This article also appears in SOUND ON SOUND magazine Vol.14 No.3. January 1999

Review by Chris Carter

Vintage is one a series of retro/analogue sample CDs from Discovery covering electronic instruments dating as far back as the 1950's. This disc is divided into two partitions. HARD:A begins with a few banks of assorted pipe organs and hurdy gurdys and even an Ondes Martenot (an early synth from the 1950's). Odd choices maybe but they could sound OK in the right context, though not exactly vintage, more like ancient. Things improve with the DX EP, OB DECAY and SEQUENCER DECAY banks. These have some perky DX7, OBX, Moog and Prophet 5 patches, which also work well in the lower registers for bass sequencing. These are followed by a few banks of an unnamed Oberheim and Prophet 5 brass stabs and organ samples, all pretty standard stuff.

Bank 10 includes some nice ice-pick sharp vco-sync patches (synth uncredited). The Akai programs include too much delayed pitch modulation but as the raw samples are unaffected you can reduce this effect. Banks 11-13 are a selection of bland but pleasant enough analogue basses, pads and brass patches, again the synth is uncredited. From bank 14 onwards things definitely improve, with a great selection of synth basses including numerous Roland SH2, MC-202, Roland MKS80, Mini and Memory Moogs, Prophet 5, Pro One and even a couple of DX7 samples.

Bank 14, Neo303, sounds almost too good to be an authentic Roland TB303, with some very smooth sounding filtered samples and which in all probability have been emulated using a keyboard synth, nice samples though. The last few banks include a respectable selection of patches from Roland Juno 60, JX3P, SH2, Jupiter 8, Korg 800DV, MS20 and Yamaha CS30 synths covering fat (phat) basses, bright lead synths, sweeping filters, sync patches and filtered noise samples.

HARD:B is a mixed bag of real (non electronic) percussion, analogue rhythm machine samples and very weird special effects. The percussion sounds are taken from Roland TR808, TR909, TR606 and TR626, Korg KR77 and KR55, Linn Drum and a Simmons kit. With a couple of basic (but authentic sounding) TB303 multi-sampled programs in amongst them. You are offered a couple of basic multi-sampled kits from each drum machine, which sound fine but don't expect anything that will blow your socks off. Though it's nice to see the Simmons and Korg KR series represented (if slightly noisily), after the current 808 and 909 overkill. Banks 11-14 include some very usable percussive synth sounds from Roland, Korg and Yamaha and there are four SAMPLE DJ banks with some pretty run of the mill drum loops, stabs, hits and pads, quite where these fit in with the vintage theme I'm not sure but all is forgiven with the last half a dozen SPECIAL EFFECTS banks. These cover everything from cartoons, industrial, jungle, space and sea sounds through to Xmas and dinosaurs. These aren't any old BBC type SFX these are some of the wackiest, unusual and downright odd sounds I've heard for ages and are infinitely usable, but definitely NOT vintage.

Don't be misled by the cover, which shows a montage of a massive, fictional analogue modular system, this schizophrenic CD-ROM doesn't have any modular synth samples, contemporary orvintage and some of the banks give a distinct impression of being afterthoughts or fillers. However, at this price I don't think many buyers will be too disappointed. Just don't expect 100% vintage, analogue or otherwise.


304 programs

2181 samples

Cat No. DISR-10


Available from Turnkey

3 out of 5

Copyright © 1999 Chris Carter / SOS Publications.  

This article also appears in SOUND ON SOUND magazine Vol.14 No.3. January 1999
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