Added: 03-Sep-07 | Author: admin
New price: discontinued | S/H price: 100 - 150 GBP
Roland S330The Roland S series has held as a tradition the ability to add an expansion board giving you the addition of mouse control & monitor screen viewing... This started with the S330 & S550, & continued onwards with the S760/s770 models... This screen add-on, if you get it on a secondhand unit allows all the editing functions to be performed on screen... This may be helpful, but don't let it make you overlook other things... Here's a screenshot of the VGA monitor from the S330
In common with other samplers of this age/budget range, you get a basic 1 Mb ram, (2Mb on the S-550)... These Roland units allocate a top sampling rate of 30K & 15K as the other option... Like the Emax & Akai S900, the Roland S330, S550 and W30 are 12 bit machines, but the Roland line-up does offer less sample rate choices than the Emax, and thus you might get a subjectively better sound out of an Emax if you go for the higher sample rate (48k) when you need detail over sample length.
The Roland S330 is 16 voice polyphonic & splits its sample time into 2 'banks' which can't be joined together for long samples (the S550 devides into 4 banks, again which cannot be joined together)... This is a bit of a problem for longer loops cos with the limited memory this 'devide' feature of the ram means 7.2 seconds max sample time on the S330 PER BANK at the highest 30k sample rate, and generally the sample organisation is a bit cryptic on these Roland units. However, the Rolands offer Polyphonic seperate outs over the other common 80's 12-bit samplers' usual mono seperate outs. This is not such a big deal with a hard disk system tho, cos you can create loops of stuff to input to the H/D. bear this in mind though, cos it could be important to you. The S330 is 8 part multi-timbrel, so it can play 8 sounds on 8 outs for a full arrangement if required.
The W-30 can be thought of as a keyboard version workstation of the S330/S550, & doesn't have the monitor/mouse option... Generally the W30 goes for more S/H than the rack versions because you get additional Rom waves, a physical keyboard, and a limited sequencer (keyboards are nearly always dearer than modules)... You also could find a S550/W30 with the old (now unavailable) SCSI option fitted, to which you could rig up a CD rom or H/D..... However, I'm not sure if any CD roms are available in a format for these machines outside of the Roland library... (SCSI was not available for the S-330).
I would rate the S330 & S550, & W30 as being my joint runner up choices after the E-mu Emax for a budget sampler along with the Casio FZ stuff... The W30 being a workstation also includes some rom sample banks for it's synth section to which you can add samples of your own, so think of the W30 as a synth with the addition of a sampler... The W30 can read the 'S' disks, but the 'S' samplers can't read the W30 disks without first converting them on a W30.
The Roland units offer a decent synthesis section, with resonant filters, LFO's & modulation section & envelopes. I know of one UK Dance man who uses a W30 to good effect to get 303 type sounds & the like, so you can get some good synthesis from these units.
I would maintain the quality of the converters & library of the Emax samplers along with their ease of use makes them a better bet for general all round use than these early S series Rolands. So put these Roland units on your try-out list, but always compare them with the Emax if possible before making a purchase descision. Also, the Emax utilizes all its sample memory to be available in any order of lengths you like, offers more choice of sample rates (5), and a higher top sample rate.
So... all in all, the Roland S330, S550 & W30 units are a safe excellent value for money item for some oldskool classic sampler grit... but check the competition.
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