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Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine Reviews
A simply fantastic machine. I play in a band an also in a duo with two guitars and a drum machine (the band is the same just with a drummer as extra). Previously we had a casio RZ-1 drum machine which did the job but did not sound very good and was getting old. I fould the DR880 when looking for a new drum machine and watched a demo on boss's website. I was very impressed by the demo. The sounds are very realistic and it looks very stylish. When I got the machine I was even more impressed. It has a huge number of different kits and is easily programmable (though it does take time to programme a song exactly like a record). There is plenty of room for lots of patterns and songs and the machine can play virtually anything you want it to. It is easy to use and the wheel allows you to skip through all the songs quickly. The DR880 has massivly improved our duo's sound and also the sound on our recordings. It is probably the best drum machine out there at the moment and I can't imagine it being replaced for a long time. I would advise anyone looking for a great sounding new drum machine to get the DR800.
When I first started checking out this machine on line I found a surprising lack of reviews on UK sites and many on USA sites plenty of which I now strongly disagree with so though I would add my thoughts. To put things in context I am essentially an acoustic player but about a month ago dug out my Strat which had been languishing under the bed for too many years. I’ve never got into programming anything more complex than my video recorder but have some experience using a Yamaha AW16 G digital recorder so am fairly used to working with screens and menus. With the Strat unleashed I have got right into playing it more than I ever have done. That of course has led me to splash out on several bits of new gear. The Boss DR 880 is one of those bits and it arrived yesterday afternoon. My concerns about buying a drum machine were to get one that had good realistic drum sounds and was fairly easy to program. Within four hours I had managed to use EZ compose to program a rhythm, select a bass part, modify one of the guitar FX and store the lot in my user bank. AND COOK DINNER – though Boss can’t take any credit for that! This morning I’ve explored creating and storing a rhythm pattern from scratch by playing the touch sensitive pads to employ both drum sounds and bass lines. All fairly simple. I came across one problem where the manual didn’t seem give me the correct procedure for one operation but a quick call to the Roland help line sorted that one.
Most people seem to agree the drum sounds on the Boss DR 880 are superb and I can only second that view wholeheartedly. A vast array of kits and choices of styles and feels in the presets means that relatively easily you can without doubt get the sounds and feel that you want. As far as I’m concerned the guitar sounds are great too, though I’m not used to using guitar FX. However I have recreated the sound of my Fender amp (through the use of effects rather than amp modeling) which is what I wanted most.
Lots of good features – the tap tempo is great and separate outputs for the drums/guitar and bass will be valuable when recording. The TSC and Groove functions are a great addition also
I have read some criticism in the USA reviews that the chord programming for the bass part is limited. I haven’t got into this yet but have read the manual (clear to follow) and if you want maj7, min 9. dim, aug7 they are all in there. If you want to program a chord with a different root note (e.g. Amin with an F root) then you can. Doesn’t seem limited to me. You just need to check the manual quickly.
As with any other computer this does much much more than most people will ever need. Before you do anything else check the tuition video on Roland’s website.
The first few pages of the manual give you a good basic grounding and from then on I would suggest working out what you need to know and reading up while giving it a go. It took me a little while to get used to the fact that Boss handle things differently to Yamaha (eg you need to exit a screen before calling up a new one) but really you’ll learn a lot very quickly.
This is a terrific unit. I’m unlikely to use it live because it’s not - after all - a person, so you can’t interact with it, but at home it is fantastic to play along with and does have the feel of a good steady drummer.
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