Updating a classic is a dangerous ploy – we find out if Roland succeeds in our Octapad SPD-30 review
There are some bits of gear that are just, well, born perfect. I can think of a few guitars that fall into this category, but the original Octapad is another seemingly timeless design. This performance pad for drummers and percussionists has been imitated by many over the years (a testament to just how ‘right’ the original design was), but nothing has really got those important details quite right.
The SPD-30 is the latest unit in this prestigious family. Does it fill its ancestors with pride, or is it a ‘black sheep’? We give it some stick, in our Octapad SPD-30 review.
Fifty Built-in Kits
The Octapad SPD-30 is built with the familiar design common to the Octapad range. Eight, heavy duty rubber pads feature across the top of the unit, with controls to the right, housed in a robust unit that is easily strong enough to withstand being hit with a wayward stick. The pads themselves have slightly more raised design than the SPD-SX. That is, the pads have a distinct, separating channel that runs between each pad.
According to Roland, this is because the pads are designed much like its V-drum triggers, and the separation is to minimise cross-talk. Whilst I have nothing to directly compare with to test the effectiveness of this, I will say that the pads are superbly responsive and sensitive, and I didn’t experience any odd mis-triggers whilst playing.
As you might expect from the brand the rules the digital percussion world, the SPD-30 is loaded with high quality drum sounds. Fifty kits are available, across a myriad of genres. Controls are neatly arranged and clear in their function, whilst the large, back-lit screen provides all of the information you might need.
As with all of Roland’s drum products, the user interface is with controls allowing tuning, muffling, pitch sweeps and much more to be edited easily.
The effects unit featured on the Octapad SPD-30 is equally well equipped. Four separate effects are available simultaneously, in a chain that includes ambience effects (7 varieties), EQ, a limiter, and multi-effects (30 different types).
Unlike previous Octapad models, the SPD-30 has a phrase looper. This allows phrases to be layered on top of each other, with 3 layers available per phrase. Up to 50 phrases can be stored to the unit. This is a stroke of genius. For those who perform live, the ability to store backing phrases and loops opens up the potential for immensely complex and sophisticated percussion patterns- all of which can be triggered with ease.
If you would rather use triggers, however, four dual-trigger inputs and a hi-hat control input, allow the unit to be played like a conventional kit. Alternatively, hook up some acoustic drum triggers for the ultimate integration with a standard kit.
They were the guys that devised the whole concept of the Octapad, and perfected the percussion performance pad, and it really shows here. The sounds are awesome, and really well-chosen. If you’re not happy with them, the can be easily tweaked. The construction is super robust, the pads are responsive and expressive, and the user interface makes navigation a breeze.
Add in a comprehensive FX unit, the ability to use external triggers, and the phrase looper, and you have a truly worthy addition to the Octapad range. An Octa-triumph.