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Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm


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Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm

Category:  Products / drum machines / old analog drum machines

Added: 04-Nov-07  |  Author: admin

New price: discontinued  |   S/H price: 400 quid

Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm

The Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 is a drum machine that was released in 1978.

Although the CR-78 is very primitive by today's standards, it was an important advance in technology at the time, and was used by many influential artists on a number of famous recordings. The wood effect cabinet and preset rhythms of the CR-78 such as Waltz, Bossa Nova and Rhumba suggest that it was seen by its designers as primarily an accompaniment for an electric organ, but the CR-78 went on to become one of the favourite instruments of New Wave and electronic musicians in the early 1980s.

The CR-78 used analog drum voices, which sounded very little like real acoustic drums or percussion, but nonetheless had a sound which some found pleasant and appealing. The unit also incorporated an early Intel microprocessor to provide digital control of various other functions.

Previous Roland drum machines had merely offered a selection of preset rhythms. The CR-78's key feature was that, in addition to offering 34 preset rhythms, it provided four user-programmable memory locations for storing user-created patterns. These could be programmed using a form of 'step-programming' with Roland's WS-1 add-on box.

The CR-78's front panel allowed the user to further customize the preset rhythms, by altering the volume balance between bass and treble sounds, canceling some sounds altogether, and adding ring modulation ("metal beat") to the cymbal sounds. Many of the preset rhythms have considerable character, and the ability to manipulate them further made the CR-78 surprisingly versatile.

A selection of preset fills and rhythm variations were also available, to either trigger manually, or automatically every 2, 4, 8 or 16 bars. Again, some of these have a lot of musical character, providing percussion hooks in synth-pop songs such as Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Underpass by John Foxx. It was also used extensively by Gary Numan on the 1980 album Telekon.

No digital control of tempo was provided on the front panel, only an analogue knob, however the CR-78 would also accept an external V-trig clock.

Some famous users of the CR-78 are Warren Cann of Ultravox, Fatboy Slim, Gary Numan, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Phil Collins (on the song In the Air Tonight), Blondie (on the song Heart of Glass), New Musik, and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.[citation needed] John Foxx's pioneering 1980 electronic album Metamatic used the CR-78 on every track.[citation needed]

Roland also produced a cut-down model, the CompuRhythm CR-68. This was essentially the same as the CR-78, but without programmable patterns, or the ability to fade drum sounds in and out. [1] At the same time Roland also sold the TR-66, a smaller unit which offered fewer preset rhythms and no programmability.

Sounds and rhythms

The CR-78's built-in rhythm sounds were a further development of those available on the earlier Roland Rhythm 33, 55 and 77 machines.

The analogue percussion voices consisted of: bass drum, snare drum, rim shot, hi-hat, cymbal, maracas, claves, cowbell, high bongo, low bongo, low conga, tambourine, guiro, and "metal beat" (a ring modulated accent that could be overlaid on the hi-hat voice). [2] The CR-78 had an accent control, which increased the loudness of certain steps in a pattern.

The rhythm patterns were: Rock 1, Rock 2, Rock 3, Rock 4, Disco 1 & Disco 2 (all available in 'A' or 'B' variations); waltz, shuffle, slow rock, swing, foxtrot, tango, boogie, enka, bossa nova, samba, mambo and chacha, beguine and rhumba. It is possible to select more than one rhythm at once, and also mute drum sounds from a pattern using the balance knob and dedicated cancel buttons.

listen to the Rhumba beat with metallic effect from the CR-78.

the classic CR-78 intro to Blondie's "Heart of Glass".

(from wikipedia)

Product Videos

Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 Demo

Brief demo of some of the features on the Roland CR-78 drum machine. Mostly playing around with rhyt...

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User Comments

Product:  Roland - CR-78 CompuRhythm
Name: Brian
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Hobby-ist
Date: 29-Jul-11

Great machine i bought mine complete with write pedal and on/off pedal all boxed with instructions for 40 in a junk
shop i have used it every day since if someone needs the instructions i will copy and post for the price of the

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Product:  Roland - CR-78 CompuRhythm
Name: saphi
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: part-timer
Date: 27-Jul-12

i am in france i have a cr-78 but she's broken problem with the battery as usual.
i am looking to find someone who can help me for the reparation.<


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