Not Just Another Rhythm Box
When I first heard of the DR-01S Rhythm Partner by Roland I wasn’t immediately excited about it: my thoughts were that it was probably just another “rhythm” box with pre programed sounds, nothing that would really appeal to an electronic musician. Then I started to think of the possibilities that something like this could offer to my performance. There’s plenty of drum rhythm boxes that are great to use as a backing track while one shreds on a guitar or ukulele, but most of these boxes have a lot of the same sounds, no machine has ever really dedicated to the variety of acoustic sounds like the DR-01S has. As much as I love programming drum machines to my own liking, sometimes it’s nice to have a device you can just turn on and immediately start jamming on top of without having to worry about and external sound source, syncing of devices and so on.
Patterns And Sounds
The DR-01S has the variety of sounds you would expect from an Acoustic or Reggae band. It offers a variation of 35 Shakers/Maracas, 57 Tambourine/Claves, 53 Hand Clap/Bongos, 30 Congas, 61 Cajones, and on top of all the acoustic sounds we also get 99 regular drum patterns. Although you can’t program individual steps of each instrument you can choose what instruments play on each pattern and the variation of each instrument. You can also save up to 50 Favorite patterns which can easily transition between each other with the click of a button or the stepping of a foot switch (sold separately). All sounds can be mixed or turned on or off resulting in plenty of variation possibilities.
Apart from having a high quality BOSS speaker which can get surprisingly loud, the DR-01S also features a Line Out, which allows you to plug it into any mixer or speaker system using a 3.5 to 1/4 cable. On the back of the machine we find a spot for six AA batteries as well as an Aux In, which is great for immediate access of the built in speaker when using with external devices.
There’s three time signatures to choose from on the DR-01S, 4/4, 6/8, and 3/4. There’s also a count in and metronome button that can be toggled on or off on the spot. My only gripe about the DR-01S is the lack of MIDI. It would have been great to have the ability to easily sync it with other electronic gear, but I know this item wasn’t geared towards electronic musicians, although many of us would have enjoyed some acoustic sounds playing along side our synthesizers.
With its small foot print, sexy wood finish, built-in speaker, battery operation and Line Out, I think the DR-01S covers very specific needs for a solo musician or for someone who doesn’t necessarily need or care for having too much control over drums. With the DR-01S one can easily cut out a few steps setting up for live performance by simply clicking play and immediately having an organic backing track to jam on top of. I feel we really needed a device whose main focus was acoustic sounds, and Roland has done a fantastic job with this. Priced at $229 there’s no reason to skip this little gem.
Price: £209 / $229.99
Pros: Compact Form, Built-in Speaker, Battery Operated.
Cons: No MIDI or sync I/O, No DC adaptor Included.