Sorry, reading back I sounded like a sarcastic teenage girl. It's, like, called MIDI, duh!
Originally Posted by ark
I earnestly meant that you can program in a MIDI host and simply play the drum machine via MIDI IN. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of Boss' really terrible interface. I still can't fathom how they can make such and advanced bit of technology at the same time it is painfully remedial.
You are correct in that you cannot output patterns. Huge fail on boss' part.
You are also correct that the "dump" method is pretty bizarre. They've gotten the complicated part out of the way with allowing USB/MIDI for transfer, but then require the issues you've referred to.
The absolute worst part of this machine is the inefficient way "patterns" are used. Perhaps it is a english/japanese language gap but there is nothing patternlike about this.
for example, if you have a drum pattern that's 4 bars but you want an 8 bar bass pattern over it, you can't just overlap them. You have to store 2 unique patterns one with one half of the bass, and a 2nd with the other half. with the exact same drums over it. Then you play "pattern 1" then "pattern 2" for your song.
Now do the math: say your drum part had 16 high hat notes, 8 bass drum notes, and 4 snare notes. Say your bassline had 32 total notes.
This requires you to store 2 patterns. The drums are storing 28 notes TIMES TWO. 56. The bass 32. That's 88 notes total. Lets say the song refers to "2 patterns" for a bit more storage required. 1 song referring to 2 patterns referring to 88 notes.
Now, lets pretend you could store the 16 high hat notes in its own pattern, 8 drum notes, etc.
Right there, you're only storing 28 drum notes, 32 bass notes and 4 patterns that can now be referred to and stacked however you'd like in that one song.
They would need a "pattern group" per count. So in the real usage its linear. A song is "pattern 1 -> pattern 2 -> etc"
this could be "pattern1+pattern2+pattern3 -> pattern2+3 -> pattern1 -> pattern1+pattern2 -> etc"
Of course that's really, really, really easy to do with external midi software.
Look at fruity loops' step sequencer for how it should be done. You should simply be able to say "pattern 1" is just highhats, "pattern 2" is a bass riff, and "pattern 3" is bassdrum. Then be able to program when the patterns play and don't play.
It is a massive waste of memory (which is ridiculously limited on this machine) to have a 16th note highhat pattern and then have to cut and paste it underneath any variation you want to use. you *SHOULD* just store that pattern once and declare "play patternXXX" every time you want to play it. Not store it over and over again...
And that's why I say that really roland should just get rid of the programming features of this box and create a box that simply stores/has sounds and takes midi in/out.
A $300 laptop can do way, way, way, way, way, way, way, more than this thing ever will.
You're quite right -- I can simply use the DR-880 as a sound module. What I was hoping for, though, was an easy way to take drum/bass patterns that I compose on a computer (e.g., using Ableton Live) and upload to a smaller device that is less complicated and fragile to use than a laptop. That's kind of why I bought the DR-880 in the first place, and I'm disappointed that it doesn't offer that.