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The Roland Octapad has been with us since 1985, when the original PAD-8 version made its debut.
Several generations later, this latest SPD-30 model combines the traditional eight-pad, stick-friendly layout with a plethora of onboard sounds and effects, an audio input and a phrase looper. It’s equipped with both standard MIDI ports and a USB connector, and you can also plug in a USB memory stick for increased storage.
The SPD-30 is mains-powered via an included power supply, and the only other thing in the box is a printed instruction manual. Other manufacturers take note: this comprehensive and informative tome is a veritable breath of fresh air compared to the afterthoughts that come with some of the other units covered here.
In use, the V-Drum-derived pads are supremely bouncy and wonderful to play, and are large enough to provide decent targets. The unit is also equipped with five inputs for optional external trigger devices, such as kick pedals and snare, hi-hat and cymbal pads.
Assigning note numbers to the pads once you’ve hooked the SPD-30 up to your DAW is a simple task, thanks to the large, bright LCD display and ample navigation controls. You just hit a pad and turn a knob to set the note number that the pad transmits to your software, and there are enough pad sensitivity options to satisfy even the fussiest percussionist.
There may be no assignable knobs or faders, but if you’ve ever waved a drumstick in anger, this thing will induce a grin from ear to ear. It’s simply fantastic.