Second module up for sale is the Roland M-BD1 rack-mount sound module. The is the second of two Roland sound modules that I had (the first being the Roland M-VS1).
Here are a few demos from the module recorded directly from the back with only peak normalization done…
I’ll have some pictures and posting details soon…
(Online Review from Harmony Central)
If you’re like me, you may own one or two “do-everything” sort of keyboards or modules that have a huge variety of sounds. Typically, these machines offer the general palette of sounds needed to target a large pool of buyers, and the patches are sometimes too “general.” I find myself looking for other avenues to strengthen some specific groups of sounds in order to keep my music professional and polished. Roland has recognized this need by releasing a series of “Sound Expansion Modules” and by continuing their series of expansion boards for their JV and XP expandable keyboards and modules. The latest module is called the M-BD1 Bass & Drums module, also available in an expansion board (SR-JV80-10). If you’re frustrated with the realistic bass and drum patches available to you in your current setup, the sounds available to you in this line may be just what you’re looking for. I’ll review the M-BD1 module, but the sounds in the SR-JV80-10 expansion board are identical.
The M-BD1 is a one space rack module that is quite simple in design. The front panel is your first clue that there is not much more to this module than the sounds. To left is a headphone jack and master volume knob. Moving right, you’ll see an LED display that displays patch numbers and values of other parameters as well as showing messages. Continuing right, you’ll see a few buttons that assist in navigation. All modules in the “Sound Expansion” series has a matrix used for selecting parameters, such as reverb, chorus, pan, level, etc. Using the select button, you choose a row in the matrix, and then select one of four function buttons to get to the particular parameter you want to edit. It may sound a bit more confusing than it is…once you work with it a few times, you’ve got it. And finally, an on/off button for power is also located on the front. The rear panel is as straight-forward as it gets. There is a port for a power cable (no wall wart!), a MIDI in, out, and thru, a pair of outputs, and a pair of inputs for those who would like to mix the signal of another source with that of M-BD1’s. This is nice if you don’t have any spare channels in your mixer.
The M-BD1 is 28-note polyphonic, which is ample for doing bass and drum parts…you would have to orchestrate an extremely busy rhythm section to eat up all of the polyphony! The unit is also 8 part multi-timbral, which is plenty. A global reverb and chorus (including several reverbs, delay, and a few choruses) is included, and the level of each can be adjusted per part. The effects are clean and useful, as well as being simple!
So how does thing sound? In a word, great. First, the basses. Roland sampled different tones from players you’ll recognize: Marcus Miller, Abraham Laboriel, and John Patitucci. There are 99 patches in there including just about every bass sound you can imagine: slap, electrics, fretless, acoustic, harmonics, slides, nuances, etc. All of the sounds are pleasing and easy to play. With a bit of practice, you won’t believe how real your bass lines will sound! I found a few I couldn’t stop playing, and with a sequencer, I could see how fun it would be to use a few different samples to add to the realism.
The drum sounds are just as impressive. Again, Roland used some superb drummers to help make these sounds the best available. Abe Laboriel Jr. and Bob Wilson were recorded, and patches include some general loops, a large variety of bass drums, snares, hats, cymbals and more. In addition, there are several stick techniques available to add in a sequence to keep the “live drummer” feeling alive. Besides a few electronic sounds, this module is filled with acoustic sounds only…if you’re looking for more synth drum and bass sounds, there are other modules to consider.
I found the M-BD1 so cool, I decided to get one. I don’t think there is anything that sounds quite like it, and it’s a must to have in your sound library if you have a use for these kinds of sounds. Sure, the operation is a bit cryptic…the lack of an LCD display is strange, and a few extra outputs might save the studio guy a few headaches, but you have to remember what this piece is about. When you purchase this module, you’re buying a ton of sounds to have at your disposal. And the price is so reasonable. I know that the M-BD1 will get my creative side going, and I would suggest that you give it a try as well!
Ben Kraft, Kraft Music
Kraft Music is a retailer specializing in keyboards, MIDI hardware/software, and recording gear. Their dedication to service and product knowledge matched with competitive pricing has made the company one of the leaders in on-line mail-order sales. Visit their site at http://www.kraftmusic.com.