The Roland SPD-SX is arguably the most popular drum sampling pad around.
Drummers from all over the globe have been using this drum pad and the prior iteration, the SPD-S, for many years to integrate electronic sounds into an acoustic setup.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the SPD-SX in detail, looking at the core features, applications, and what to expect upon first use.
Overview of the SPD-SX
The Roland SPD-SX is Roland’s “most advanced percussion pad” featuring nine velocity-sensitive zones, allowing you to play samples or loops with ease.
Take a listen to some of the preset kits below.
Import your own samples with 4GB storage
Under the hood, there are three multi-effects engines, tons of included sounds, and 4GB of internal storage.
Whether you like the pre-packed samples or not, you also have the option to import custom WAV samples from either your library or somewhere like Splice.
Imported samples don’t only have to be the sounds of instruments. They can also be full-blown backing tracks.
The recorded samples included are very much usable, but I love the option to import your samples via USB or using Roland’s Wave Manager software.
I also love processing samples inside Cubase with plugins, like Soundtoys for example, prior to importing them to my SPD-SX.
Programming kits is a simple process and the SPD-SX provides us with 100 kits to edit to our liking.
Excellent user experience
Changing kits is as simple as pressing either the plus or minus button on the front of the sample pad. The kits load relatively fast, and I haven’t experienced any lag issues like I used to with the SPD-S.
You’re not limited to changing kits with just the plus and minus button either. The top left and right shoulder pads on my SPD-SX are programmed to choose the kit I’m on. It works great and is very intuitive.
I typically have a different sound configuration for each song in our setlist. The SPD-SX allows me to have different electronic or sampled sounds to match the album recording to the best of my ability.
One of the added benefits of having different kits for each song is that the SPD-SX can act as a setlist for your show.
As you move through the set, you can name each kit the respective song title to know what song is coming next. Very useful!
SPD-SX is powerful with a DAW
The SPD-SX is very simple to use alongside a DAW. Before adapting backing tracks into our setup, I used the pad as you usually would with a DI box.
For our backing tracks set up, I needed something that allowed me to start and stop songs reliably. The SPD-SX was perfect for this application.
No crosstalk issues
For example, some percussion pads can suffer from an issue called crosstalk. The concept is simple: hitting one pad may accidentally cause another pad to fire unexpectedly.
Crosstalk can especially be terrible if some of your pads are STOP and START triggers for your playback system. My SPD-SX has never had any crosstalk issues.
The pad I had prior, the SPD-S, had tons of crosstalk issues which led me to perform surgery on the sampling pad many times a year to minimize these issues. I eventually had to cut my losses and upgrade, despite the fear of the new pad suffering from the same problems.
Ins and Outs
The SPD-SX features two analog inputs, two analog outputs, two sub outs, a 1/4″ headphone input, MIDI in and out, USB MIDI, a 1/4″ footswitch input, and 2 1/4″ TRS trigger inputs for additional pads.
With my SPD-SX, I use two extra Roland PD-85 pads; one is to my right, and one is to my left. These two pads allow me to have access to the sounds on the sampling pad without having to move all the way over to the unit, which typically sits to my right above the floor tom.
In addition to the two pads, I had a MIDI percussion controller, namely the malletKAT, that would sit under my SPD-SX. The malletKAT f