Rockula! wrote:The other problem is that my pad seems to be malfunctioning right now (wouldn't ya know it, just after the warranty expires)
I found this when i was researching to buy one.
"Here's a quick and easy fix for the famous dead pad problem!"
A very well thought-out user interface, combined with the ability to do more than you might imagine make this little gadget a winner. Initially I used it only to augment my acoustic kit with samples of auxiliary percussion, but it was surprisingly easy to get into the other features. You can play a sequence live on the pads and save the whole thing as a sample, which helps get around the polyphony limitation if you're building up something elaborate. With a Compact Flash card installed, the extra storage allows you to trigger some extremely long full-quality samples. The external controller and foot switch inputs can be programmed to do almost anything. Think beyond drums: the SPD-S is deliciosly versatile.
READ THIS! Others have correctly reported that false triggering and dead pads can appear after only a few months of use. The good news is that it can easily be fixed by anyone with a Phillips #2 screwdriver and reasonably good hand skills. WARNING: I'm an experienced technician. Don't try this unless you're comfortable working inside electronic equipment. What you need to do is carefully clean the contacts on the ribbon cables that connect the pad sensors to the main circuit board. To do this, turn the unit over, remove the stand adaptor and the 15 screws that hold the bottom on. Slide the bottom up and back to clear the switches, controls and jacks on the rear apron. Remove the 3 screws holding the foil shield over the main circuit board, and fold the foil back. CAREFULLY pull out the two ribbon cables from CN11 and CN12. Use a clean WHITE eraser to gently clean the oxide from the silver contacts on the ends of the cables. They will get visibly cleaner. Turn over each cable end to make sure you've cleaned every contact. GENTLY plug the cables back in ALL THE WAY, making sure they're the right way around (the correct directions are shown in white ink on the main board). Carefully reassemble the unit and test it. Chances are the problem pads will be completely restored. NOTE: doing the above WILL void your warranty. Attempt it only if you're confident in your abilities, and you want to fix your beloved SPD-S without spending a dime or waiting for weeks.
Slightly overpriced perhaps, but overall the SPD-S is a lot of creative power in an appealing versatile package. If it was $100 less, I'd probably have a second one by now.
It's very tough not to fall in love with this thing - try one out in a music shop and see what I mean! A quick flip through the manual and a glance at the rear panel reveals the great thinking that went into this product. It's worthwhile even if you "only" want to use it to add dozens of top-quality sounds to your setup. The fact that you can store tons more of your own sounds on Compact Flash was the clincher for me. But think beyond the obvious - there's a LOT that can be done with the SPD-S.
The ability to play standard WAV files is great. The effects are a little mid-grade, and the sampling inputs are a little noisy, but it's more than possible to make top quality sounds with this unit.
Ease of Use:
I get frustrated easily with clunky programming interfaces, but once you've gone through a procedure once with the SPD-S manual on hand, you'll never need to look it up again. The multi-function buttons light up and flash to remind you what you need to do, and the prompts in the LCD window make sense. Experienced gearheads could probably get by without ever cracking the manual.
Roland was hard to reach, didn't offer quick turnaround for professional users, and wouldn't supply service materials, thus necessitating my vigilante repair described above. Roland service is generally okay, but unspectacular.
I'd buy another SPD-S in a heartbeat if anything happened to my current one. Ideally, I'd have two or three. I do a regular gig with only the SPD-S and two foot switches. Try THAT with anything else that costs $500 and fits into a laptop case. There are a couple of things I'd like to see improved, like faster importing of WAV files, or more sensible choices in ribbon cable contact plating materials (see above), but overall this box is a great tool, and can bring new creative possibilities to almost any setup.