Roland TR-606
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Roland TR-606

TR-606, Drum machine from Roland in the TR series.

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content in English
Audiofanzine FR 15/03/2009

Roland TR-606 : Recensione di Audiofanzine FR (content in English)

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(Originally written by tetripor/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
Few connections but enough:

- The Midi connector allows syncing with any sequencer and the trig output allows you to sync any old cv/gate device. It's not high-end but it's still ok.

- Only one audio output but the unit has volume controls for each instrument.

The sequencer is also extremely simple but very effective. A 5-year old kid could create a loop within a couple of minutes. The internal memory is a bit low: 32 patterns max.

Although the device doesn't have any effects, you can hear some sort of auto-compression as soon as bass drum kicks in and that's what gives the device its groove, a slight pumping effect is audible on the hi-hat and cymbals with every beat: it grooves!

The sound possibilities are nothing out of this world, they can't be edited, and you'll only get an aggressive sound if you add a multi-effects processor. With a cheap guitar distortion pedal you'll get a low-fi hardcore sound...

UTILIZATION

Because of the few editing possibilities on the unit, you'll rapidly go back to basic rhythm patterns with sixteenth note hit-hats, a straight kick and an ultra kitsch snare... The craziest will probably try to play zouk with the snare, but that's been done so many times before that's it's easier to use a sample rather than buying this device. I haven't read the 200-page user's manual, it's more complex than a TR user's manual!

SOUNDS

I used it for minimalist acid house and techno rhythms. It surely still has a place in a hardcore or hard-tech setup nowadays but it can't compete with a Jomox or a good sampler... The sound is a bit too metallic for trip-hop and the break-beat possibilities have been used a thousand times. A TR808 sounds much better. This device has a very cold and synthetic sound, which can only be used today for minimal easy-techno-kitsch. As a summary, it's a great product if you want the '87 sound but it's no good if you want to create a new techno sound...

Toms sound awful and crash cymbals even worse... Once again, it's interesting with a distortion effect. External effects will help you discover its real potential.

OVERALL OPINION

I've been using it for 10 years for sentimental reasons rather than musical possibilities. Mine just broke and I will bring it to a service center again and again...

Its secondhand price increased a lot... It's almost overestimated considering it's not a rare collector's item and you can find it easily on the web. But don't forget it's already 30 years old and a 606 that starts having problems won't reach the end of the year. If you want to spend your money on it, test it before buying it.

Advise: I broke mine using a universal PSU so only use a Boss or Roland "authorized" PSU.

Think about it before buying one without a PSU.