Roland SP-808 Groovesampler synthesizer

SP-808: The Monophonic Synthesizer

Monophonic Synthesizer

The Roland SP-808 Groovesampler is already an old sampler from the 90’s and nowadays they’re sold for very low prices due to the ‘problems’ of the Zip Drives and it’s disks.
But….it also contains an amazing monophonic synthesizer which can be controlled by the internal step sequencer or with an attached MIDI-keyboard.
I created a video to show you how you can play with the SP-808 Groovesampler synthesizer attached to a MIDI-keyboard.
For sure you will be much as amazed as I was when I dove deeper into this undiscovered gem.

Important notes

  • You need to have the e-mix Studio OS installed on your SP-808
  • You need to have a MIDI-keyboard
  • You need to match the MIDI-Channels on both machines. For the SP-808 you need to set the MIDI-Channel of ‘FX Ctrl Ch.’ as the internal synthesizer is an effect.

Click this link to see the video.

Synthesizer = Effect

Important to know is that the internal synthesizer is an effect. To go to the effects you need to push SHIFT + FX INFO and search of effect number 20.

Effect number 20 = SP-808's Synthesizer
Effect number 20 = SP-808’s Synthesizer


The possibilities of this synthesizer are huge. You can adjust a numerous amount of parameters giving you the possibility to create the sound you like. You can even control 6 parameters realtime with the 3 knobs + SELECT ROW. So, Cut Off frequency or Resonance are in your hands and also the standard effects like Delay and Chorus.

SP-808's Realtime effect controls
SP-808’s Realtime effect controls


The synthesizer is based on the JP-8000 engine and contains 2 Oscillators. This means you can create two sounds to play with. Only thing is that it’s monophonic and not polyphonic. With those 2 OSC you can choose between SAW/TRI/PLS and also RING MOD and NOISE additions are possible. Yes, ADSR-envelopes, LFO-envelopes, VCF-filters…it’s all there. So…it is a real digital synthesizer.

Step sequencer

Besides playing the synthesizer with an attached MIDI keyboard you can also use the integrated 16-step sequencer. Well….16-step is the maximum but you can minimise it to any wished step. You can adjust the volume, the speed, Portamento, kind of trigger, BPM based on song or manual….and again….the possibilities are numerous.

SP-808's Step Sequencer
SP-808’s Step Sequencer


If you feel your creativity is being hold down by the sampler and it’s wining Zip Drive, please consider using the synthesizer of this machine and a new musical world will open. For sure you will not be able to get all out of it because of the endless possibilities.

And like always I end this post by saying: KEEP ON GROOVING!

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