Roland M-BD1 Sound Module
The M-BD1 is a one space rack module that is quite simple in design. The front panel is your first clue that there is not much more to this module than the sounds. To left is a headphone jack and master volume knob. Moving right, you'll see an LED display that displays patch numbers and values of other parameters as well as showing messages. Continuing right, you'll see a few buttons that assist in navigation. All modules in the "Sound Expansion" series has a matrix used for selecting parameters, such as reverb, chorus, pan, level, etc. Using the select button, you choose a row in the matrix, and then select one of four function buttons to get to the particular parameter you want to edit. It may sound a bit more confusing than it is...once you work with it a few times, you've got it. And finally, an on/off button for power is also located on the front. The rear panel is as straight-forward as it gets. There is a port for a power cable (no wall wart!), a MIDI in, out, and thru, a pair of outputs, and a pair of inputs for those who would like to mix the signal of another source with that of M-BD1's. This is nice if you don't have any spare channels in your mixer.
The M-BD1 is 28-note polyphonic, which is ample for doing bass and drum parts... you would have to orchestrate an extremely busy rhythm section to eat up all of the polyphony! The unit is also 8 part multi-timbral, which is plenty. A global reverb and chorus (including several reverbs, delay, and a few choruses) is included, and the level of each can be adjusted per part. The effects are clean and useful, as well as being simple!
So how does thing sound? In a word, great. First, the basses. Roland sampled different tones from players you'll recognize: Marcus Miller, Abraham Laboriel, and John Patitucci. There are 99 patches in there including just about every bass sound you can imagine: slap, electrics, fretless, acoustic, harmonics, slides, nuances, etc. All of the sounds are pleasing and easy to play. With a bit of practice, you won't believe how real your bass lines will sound!
The drum sounds are just as impressive. Again, Roland used some superb drummers to help make these sounds the best available. Abe Laboriel Jr. and Bob Wilson were recorded, and patches include some general loops, a large variety of bass drums, snares, hats, cymbals and more. In addition, there are several stick techniques available to add in a sequence to keep the "live drummer" feeling alive. Besides a few electronic sounds, this module is filled with acoustic sounds only... if you're looking for more synth drum and bass sounds, there are other modules to consider.