The Roland/Boss DR-01S is an unusual box of drums. It’s designed for acoustic musicians, to create versatile and organic grooves in an unplugged environment.
It looks every bit like a drum pad that’s had its internal sound engine slid out to the side. It’s almost a pair of bongo’s or perhaps there are shades of PacMan eating a very large pill. Whatever images the shape conjures up for you what we have is a very different sort of rhythm machine. And I say “rhythm machine” because this is not a programmable drum machine. This is a box filled with predefined patterns and grooves. You’re not looking to create inspired beats with this machine, you are looking for good, solid accompaniment to your playing.
So, the first thing to know is that the big pad on the front, isn’t a pad at all, it’s a speaker. Now you’re getting it! The box can stand by itself and hold its ground amidst other acoustic instruments. It has a load of different acoustic percussion sounds inside 7 categories. Covering shakers, tambourine, conga, bongo, cajon, acoustic drums and metronome. It even has some sound effects – which you know are going to be just awesome! You can run up a sound from each category of instrument simultaneously. Each category has its own dedicated library of grooves. You can layer up combinations of patterns from whichever category you like and save them for quick recall. Some functions can be accessed via a footswitch for triggering sounds, patterns or adding a variation for complete hands-free operation. You could actually knock out manual beats with your feet, if you wanted.
There’s an auxiliary input for running something through the speaker and a line output for connecting up to an amp or larger PA.
Basically the DR-01S a tasteful box of decent and groovy accompaniment to your busking on the streets, or jamming with your mates. I’d like to see and hear it in action although I imagine it’s much better live than it is in a YouTube video.
The Boss DR-01S is £199 and available for preorder. More information on the Roland/Boss website.