Need some rhythm accompaniments for your acoustic instrument performances? You probably aren’t thrilled with most drum machines on the market and their sounds laying on the spectrum between “too techno” and “too sterile”. You probably aren’t super-keen on arranging backing tracks and playing them from tape, either.
While there are ways around that, Roland-owned BOSS went the extra mile and introduced a simple, cute drum machine designed to accompaniment players of acoustic instruments with organic-sounding percussion and simple grooves to get your song moving. The device is called the DR-01S and is fully self-contained, including a speaker and amplifier loud enough to cut through the sound of your instrument. It also has metronome, tap tempo, and count-in controls to make it more flexible. The unit is battery-powered, too, so it’s a truly portable experience with practically zero setup needed before the performance starts.
The DR-01S is very simple to operate with all the dedicated buttons and switches for selecting sounds, rhythm, and variation. The sound library comprises seven instrument categories including tambourines, shakers, congas, acoustic drums, a bunch of sound effects, and other types of percussion. Each instrument category has dedicated patterns that can be layered in real-time, together with patterns from all other categories. Up to 50 rhythm combinations can be saved for quick recall.
In case the built-in speaker and amplifier don’t cut it, the device is equipped with line-out for output to an amplifier or sound system, as well as an aux input to be used as a speaker for your portable audio player. The DR-01S eats up six AA batteries for power, or soaks it up from the included AC adapter.
A simple and organic-sounding drum machine like this can be a wonderful tool when you get the itch to sit down and jam without having to fiddle with software, computers, or more complex gear. The included rhythms out to be plenty enough to get an acoustic song started until you proceed with fleshing out the arrangement and adding further detail. There is no guessing as to what exactly you are doing at any moment, because there are no menus or shift-functions. Everything is laid out for you with dedicated controls, including volume, tempo, and time signature changes. These can be operated from optional footswitches, too, so live manipulation is a possibility during your performance.
The DR-01S looks like a well though-out product and we commend BOSS’s leveraging of its rhythm machine history to deliver such an intuitive, powerful portable percussionist.
Price and availability
The BOSS DR-01S is available now, priced at 230 USD. While we think the price could have been a tad lower, drum machine pricing tends to be on the upper side by default, so we can’t fault BOSS for making the most of the market situation.