Roland unveils new SPD

Roland has released a new SPD-SX PRO, the first significant upgrade to the sampling pad in more than 10 years.

Visually, the new multipad device looks very similar to the model it is replacing, but under the skin, there are significant changes.

For players, perhaps the most striking (pardon the pun) change is the improved triggering on pads 1 to 3, the upper row of trigger bars. Pad 3, in particular, was prone to ‘flaky’ triggering, and all three were always less sensitive than the six main pads. The new version also boasts improved pad crosstalk protection.

The other obvious change is the enlarged display which is now a colour screen – but still not a touch screen.

Roland says the new instrument has been created to meet the demands of drummers, with the SPD now ubiquitous on stages around the world.

Improvements include additional trigger inputs (four dual-trigger inputs) and more outputs – six balanced Outs plus a stereo headphone output.

To augment the eight trigger inputs, there is a hi-hat controller input, allowing the SPD-SX PRO to be used as a fully functional mini drum kit for the first time.

The internal memory has been boosted to 32 GB, doubling the memory of the previous SE model and significantly increased from the 4 GB on the earlier SPD-SX.

Sampling capability has been enhanced, and users can now import virtually any sample format.

And onboard routing and sound shaping are also boosted, with new features like sidechain compression and transient control.

There’s new sound layering capability with mix, fade and switch options.

Where users previously had to buy a third-party editor app, the new SX PRO comes with a free program for Mac and PC that allows for real-time editing of settings and samples.

digitalDrummer attended the artist launch of the new multipad in Australia, and attendees – all gigging drummers – were noticeably excited about the new instrument.

Most of them asked the same question: “When can I get one?”. Almost as an afterthought, some pondered the price of the instrument, although few doubted that they’d be buying one regardless.

For the record, the SPD-SX PRO has a US list price of $1,199 – just slightly above the street price of the SE ($999). List price in Australia is $2,099, with shipping due to start next month.