Unlocking Creative Possibilities: Harnessing the SPD-SX as a MIDI Controller

A Game-Changer in Drumming: The Roland SPD-SX

In recent years, the Roland SPD-SX has revolutionized the world of drumming and electronic production. This remarkable sampler/drum pad has redefined how drummers integrate electronic elements into their performances, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of both Roland’s electronic drum pads and the art of drumming itself. With its groundbreaking features and capabilities, the SPD-SX has quickly become a staple in modern drum setups, captivating musicians and pushing the boundaries of creativity.

In the past three decades, music technology revolutionized pop music by shifting from live instruments to electronic ones. Drummers on tour sought a solution to incorporate the sounds from these recordings beyond simply playing along to a pre-recorded track.

Enter the SPD-SX, a versatile device that caters to these needs. It not only provides a click track for the entire band but also empowers drummers to trigger backing tracks or individual samples, such as claps or 808 samples, while manipulating them using built-in effects. The SPD-SX goes beyond being a mere performance tool; it greatly enhances workflow by enabling users to record their performance audio and function as a MIDI controller.

By utilizing the SPD-SX as a MIDI controller, a whole new realm of creative possibilities unfolds. Let’s delve into the realm of production with the SPD-SX.

To connect your SPD-SX as a MIDI controller, follow these instructions:

First, download the appropriate USB driver for your operating system from the provided link. This will ensure that your computer recognizes the SPD-SX.

After successfully installing the driver, locate the “Menu” button on your SPD-SX device and access the Setup menu. From there, click on the “Option” button.

Within the options menu, switch the USB mode from Wave Manager to Audio/MIDI by selecting the corresponding option.

Remember, if you want to use the SPD-SX in its regular performance/sampling mode, you can always return to the menu and choose Wave Manager as the USB mode.

“The SPD-SX offers the capability to run a click track for the entire band while also providing drummers with the ability to trigger backing tracks or individual samples.”

To connect and configure your SPD-SX with your computer and DAW:

  1. Connect the device to your computer. Your DAW should recognize it automatically. If not, scan for MIDI instruments or check MIDI preferences.
  2. Once recognized, select a new kit on the SPD-SX. Access the “Menu” button, go to “Kit,” and choose the MIDI option.
  3. In the MIDI menu, assign each pad a MIDI note by inputting the corresponding MIDI number. Use the “+” or “-” button to change the number and sound.

This method works with most DAWs. In Ableton Live, MIDI mapping can enhance the SPD-SX’s versatility.

To utilize MIDI mapping with the SPD-SX in Ableton Live:

After connecting your device, access the preferences in Ableton Live.

In the “Link MIDI” tab of the preferences, set the SPD input and output to “On” in the “Track” and “Remote” fields.

Press the MIDI button located at the top right of the screen. This will allow you to choose any function within Ableton Live that you want to control using the SPD-SX. Simply play a pad on the device to control the selected function, enabling actions like track start/stop, scrolling between clip scenes, and triggering samples.

A helpful tip is to map different kits on the SPD-SX pads to various drum racks in Ableton Live. This enables you to navigate through different sample banks easily. Keep in mind that Ableton Live’s drum racks correspond to 127 MIDI notes, and the SPD-SX automatically assigns MIDI numbers within the range of 0-127 to the pads.

By utilizing different kits on the SPD-SX, you can generate drum tracks using a variety of samples and distribute them evenly. Each kit in the SPD-SX corresponds to a different MIDI note range and sample group, allowing for versatility in your drum tracks.

It’s important to note that Ableton Live’s drum rack layout is 4 x 4, whereas the SPD-SX is 3 x 3. To facilitate better visualization on the SPD-SX, consider organizing your samples in rows of three. This alignment will make it easier to work with and navigate the sample groups on the SPD-SX.

“Play vocal chops, FX, keyboard patches, and chopped-up record samples with expressive flair using the SPD-SX.”

MIDI Applications

With the SPD-SX as a MIDI controller, you can unleash your creativity in sample chopping and creation. Enjoy the convenience of playing your chops instantly without exporting. The device’s sensitivity and velocity controls enable nuanced drum sample performances, surpassing the capabilities of keyboard-based or smaller square pad MIDI controllers.

Quality is paramount, as the SPD-SX is designed for live performances and supports 16-bit WAV files.

Keep in mind that within a DAW, you can record performances using custom samples without the need to alter the bit depth.

Backing tracks & DJing

The SPD-SX offers a wide range of applications beyond drum sample chopping. You can creatively play vocal chops, FX, keyboard patches, and chopped-up record samples. In combination with Ableton Live, the SPD-SX allows you to run backing tracks, toggle between scenes, and control clip launching.

This versatility proves invaluable for complex live shows that involve numerous backing tracks and samples. Additionally, the SPD-SX can even serve as a standalone DJing tool. If you’re a drummer or enjoy the tactile experience of hitting pads while creating beats, using the SPD-SX as a controller opens up a whole new world of possibilities for you.