Roland established itself as the premier manufacturer of multipad electronics with the introduction of the Octapad Pad-8 MIDI controller in 1985. Additional products, like 2003’s SPD-S and 2011’s souped-up SPD-SX sampling pads, gave drummers nearly limitless options for uploading and triggering original loops, one-shot samples, and playback tracks from pads and external triggers.
To serve those with simpler needs, limited space, and tighter budgets, the company recently developed the SPD::ONE series, which comprises four compact single-trigger pads with limited but purposeful functionality. The line includes the snare-centric Electro, the auxiliary instrument–focused Percussion, the bass drum and percussion–filled Kick, and the WAV, which has twelve empty memory locations that can each hold up to three layers of original 44.1k/16-bit audio files and an accompanying click track. The Electro, Percussion, and Kick pads list for $249, while the WAV costs a bit more ($299). We got our hands on the Electro, Percussion, and WAV to review.
All SPD::ONE pads have the same physical traits. They measure roughly 5.5″x6.5″x2.25″, with a 4″x5″ rubber playing surface and a control panel that includes four parameter-adjustment knobs.
The Electro and Percussion pads have knobs for changing sounds (1–12), tuning (+/- twelve semitones), effects (delay time or reverb amount), and master volume. Each preset includes two sounds, which are toggled via a small “Inst Variation” button located between the volume and effects knobs. The back panels of these two pads have a stereo headphone output, a mono master output, an on/off switch, and an AC power input (adapter not included).
The WAV pad has knobs for the memory slots (1–12), the headphone output, the mix balance between the click and playback WAV files, and the master volume. The small button on this pad is labeled “All Sound Off,” and pressing it mutes whatever WAV files are playing at that moment. The back panel has stereo headphone and master outputs.
All three SPD::ONE pads can operate on battery power (four AA batteries are included), and they include a removable metal mounting bracket for affixing the pad to any straight rod up to .5″. The side panel features sensitivity and threshold adjustment knobs and a micro-B USB input (cable not included).
The teal-cased Electro SPD::ONE is filled with mostly snare-type sounds. There are six different claps, eight snares, two rimclicks, two shakers, two hi-hats, and a pair of effects hits (sub bass and air horn). The twelfth slot is customizable, so you can drop in your own samples by connecting the pad to a computer via a micro-B USB cable. If you’re looking to add some classic Roland electronic snares, claps, and snaps to your acoustic kit, this is the one to get. The tuning feature allows you to manipulate the samples up to an octave higher or lower than the original sample. This provided plenty of options for making incremental changes or to pitch the samples super-high or low to achieve more extreme results. I also discovered some unique melodic capabilities by tweaking the tuning knob as I played the pad. The effects are fairly limited; turning the FX knob to the left adds reverb, and turning the knob right increases delay time and pitch modulation. You can’t blend the reverb and delay, but the effects sounded nice and provided just enough ambience and texture to inspire some spacy, dub-type grooves.
If you’re looking to add more organic sounds to your setup, the SPD::ONE Percussion pad includes tambourine, jingle bells, shaker, guiro, cowbell, hi-hat, ride, crash, China, snare, rimclick, conga, bongo, timbale, vibraslap, windchimes, triangle, gong, and timpani samples. Like the Electro pad, the twelfth preset is user-defined, so you can import custom WAV files to that slot. The effects and tuning functions are the same as they are on the Electro model.
While I found the Electro pad to be more inspiring when playing groove-based music, the Percussion pad provides more versatility for situations requiring sound effects and auxiliary instruments. The tambourine, jingle bells, guiro, gong, triangle, windchimes, and vibraslap sound very realistic, while the drums and cymbals have a more one-dimensional flavor that works best when playing electronic-based pop and dance music. Again, I found some inspiring textures when I increased the effects level and improvised melodies using the tuning knob. The jingle bell and triangle presets were my favorite sounds to manipulate in this way.
If you need more flexibility beyond a single customizable preset, then the red-cased WAV pad could be a good option. There are twelve blank presets, and into each you can layer up to three separate audio files. Those three files can be configured to play every time the pad is struck or only when the pad is played within predetermined dynamic ranges. Depending on how the WAV files are named, the pad can treat them as continuous one-shots (i.e., repeated strikes layered on top of one another) or monophonic one-shots (where successive strikes mute the previously triggered samples). For longer phrases, such as backing tracks or drum loops, you can configure the files so that the initial strike starts the sample and a second strike stops it. (The WAV Pad contains the same 4GB internal memory as the SPD-SX.)
Within each of the twelve preset folders, which are accessed when you connect the pad to your computer, are two subfolders. The one labeled Master is where you drop the audio files you want to trigger. The folder labeled Click is where you can drop a WAV file of a click track that’s time-aligned to the audio you want to trigger. The click track will start playback when the pad is struck, but it will only be sent to the headphones output. This is a great feature for drummers looking to lock in with ambient samples, abstract loops, or full backing tracks with periods of silence in the audio. As long as your set list doesn’t have more than twelve songs that require loops or backing tracks, you could likely use the super-simple SPD::ONE WAV for a playback rig rather than a more expensive and extensive laptop- or tablet-based system. I’ll take it!
Although not included in this review, the SPD::ONE Kick comes with twenty-two bass drum and percussion sounds, and it includes reverb and distortion effects. Original audio can be imported as well.