Roland TR-505

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Roland TR-505 drum machine.jpg
Manufacturer Roland
Dates 1986
Technical specifications
Polyphony 8 voices
Oscillator n/a
Synthesis type Digital Sample-based
Storage memory Patterns: 48 user, 48 preset. 6 Songs.
Keyboard 16 Pattern Keys
External control Midi In/Out

The Roland TR-505 is a drum machine and MIDI sequencer from the same family as the Roland TR-909, TR-808, TR-707, and TR-626. Released in 1986, the unit can be used to sequence short, punchy, 12-bit samples. The drum kit includes basic rock drum sounds similar to those of the 707, plus a complement of Latin-style drum sounds similar to those of the TR-727, which was similar to the TR-707, but it had Latin instruments instead of rock drums.

Drum sounds:

Low Conga Hi Conga Timbale Low Cowbell Hi Cowbell Hand Clap Crash Cymbal Ride Cymbal
Bass Drum Snare Drum Low Tom Mid Tom Hi Tom Rimshot Closed Hi-hat Open Hi-hat

The three pairs that cannot be played simultaneously are cymbal crash and ride, rimshot and hand clap, and hi-hat open and closed.


The TR-505 features five basic modes, including the following:

  • Track Play - plays whole tracks (arrangements of patterns to form songs).
  • Track Write - sequence patterns into tracks.
  • Step Write - sequence patterns by stepping through each position in the pattern.
  • Tap Write - sequence patterns by tapping drums sounds in real time.
  • Real time - play patterns in real time by tapping the pads.

Time signatures other than 4/4 can be programmed by changing the length of patterns and the scale, which actually refers to the signature ratio/swing.

Midi implementation

The unit handles MIDI quite capably. Each instrument can be assigned a level/velocity from one to five, a MIDI channel, and a MIDI note number. Individual pads also transmit MIDI data when tapped, although these aren't velocity sensitive. An accent can be applied to any position in a pattern and will affect all instruments triggered at that position by increasing their volume. The memory in the TR-505 can store up to 48 patterns in 6 songs.

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