Following hot on the heels of the news that it's acquired DW, Roland has now announced the release of the SPD-SX Pro - which will run alongside rather than replace the standard SPD-SX. The new electronic drum sample pad continues Roland’s lineage which began with the SPD-S, and continued with the SDP-SX by adding a whole host of brand new features from increased trigger inputs and audio outputs, enhanced audio compatibility, some brilliant visual features, and even sequencing capabilities! All of this, while still maintaining the same dimensions as the SPD-SX. Let’s dive in.
The upgrades start with the increased internal memory of the SPD-SX Pro - 32 GB, which is eight-times that of the standard SPD-SX. Next up, there’s a 4.3-inch colour display, which should make selecting and editing sounds a whole lot easier.
As with the SPD-SX, the Pro includes nine pads - a 2x3 grid of square playing surfaces, plus the rectangular edge pads. Each pad, in particular the ‘edge’ pads 1-3 have been tweaked to give greater sensitivity while further minimising crosstalk.
What’s more, the pads are now separated by fully customisable LEDs which can not only be individually colour-coded, but in the case of the horizontal LEDs, can remain on, only illuminate when the corresponding pad is hit, or react dynamically to the wave that’s being played. No more need for gaffer tape, then.
The real-time controls have also had a facelift, offering pad volume and pitch controls as standard, while also doubling-up as controllers for the new Transient shaping (attack and release), plus offering control over parameters within the editing screens.
Triggering and outputs
Roland has also adjusted the connectivity for the SPD-SX Pro, most notably by adding a hi-hat control input (so now a true SPD-SX Pro-based mini-kit is possible), plus this socket doubles as an expression pedal input for controlling effects and assignable parameters in real time.
As well as the foot pedals, there are now four external trigger input sockets - that’s four stereo, splittable to eight mono - allowing you to access up to 19 individual playing surfaces from a single patch!
The audio outputs have been upgraded too, offering balanced connections from both the main L/R outputs, and there are four assignable direct outputs on the SPD-SX Pro, which are also balanced.
Under the hood
Inside, as well as the 32GB memory boost, the SPD-SX Pro can now playback 48kHz (at 16-bit) with recognition for .wav, AIFF or MP3 files without complaint. It ships with 1550 sounds pre-loaded, with more available via Roland’s Cloud platform.
These sounds (as well as your own samples) can be assigned to up to 200 kit presets, which in turn can be arranged into any of the SPD-SX Pro’s 32 setlists - and Roland claims that switching between kits is “lightning fast”.
There are four effects processors, complete with side-chaining. But perhaps the most exciting new playback feature comes via the pad sequencing.
This gives you up to 16 steps per-pad, which are cycled through each time you hit the pad, opening up a world of flexibility when it comes to playing melodic and rhythmic phrases without having to spread each sample across multiple pads.
Similarly, Roland has added a new trigger playback mode which allows you to alternate playback between a pad’s main and sub waves with each hit.
Drummers have been using the SPD-SX as the centrepiece of click/backing track playback for years, and the SPD-SX-Pro now features some additional functionality in its click section too. Now, you can import your own sample as the click sound, with the ability to replace the internal click with an entire click track.
The SPD-SX Pro can be edited via Roland’s brand new SPD-SX Pro app for Mac/PC with comprehensive tweaking of your kits including sample assignment, layering, playback behaviour, volume, panning, tuning and much, much more.
The Roland SPD-SX Pro is shipping now, priced at $1199/€1199.