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 Post subject: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:05 am 
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Looks like I finally got in :mrgreen:

I'm not just new to the forum, but the SP range as well. I'm in the market to buy a brand new 404, was pretty much dragged into wanting one after watching an insane amount of 404 videos. There's a few things have left me sitting on the fence about it though, things I can't check for myself since there's no store close enough with one in stock right now for me to check these things.

Reading the official Reference Guide, I wasn't able to find the following:

- How to set the Pan of a pad
- How to load individual samples from the SD card into the 404
- How to change the pitch of a sample by speeding it up or slowing it down

The whole idea of me getting one is to try and master it to the point where I can use it as my only tool, and be completely DAW-less. I also like to Wild-Camp so I'd be bringing it with me every time I do so, regardless of destination. So when I say DAW-less, I really do mean DAW-less.

And this is why I'm on the fence about it. I really do love the 404 from what I've seen and heard of it, but unless there is the ability to Pan somehow, that really throws an epic spanner into the works since, for example, without Panning, I'm buggered if I know how I'd be able to resample a stereo mix to another pad, stuff like that.

Loading individual samples into the 404 from the SD card has me completely baffled as well. Since I don't actually own a 404 yet, I can only go by the Reference Guide, and it's weird because at no point does it tell you how to select a sample and load it onto a pad.

As for pitch, again, really weird, it's as if they expect you to use Pitch Shifting to do that. Surely each sample pad can have it's pitch adjusted, right?

If not, that's really unfortunate (for me), at least unless there are work-arounds. I'm perfectly happy with work-arounds, just as long as there are some, but unless I'm missing something here, the 404 is unacceptably primative. Surely no pad sampler should be without the ability to alter the Pan and Pitch of it's pads, surely not.

Anyway, this is getting lengthy so I'll leave it here and hope someone has info or workarounds for these things. I seriously, desperately, want to buy a 404, use it as my only tool, and bring it on my Wild-Camping adventures, but I guess we'll see, it all depends on what comes of this thread I suppose.

Cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:31 pm 
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Hello and welcome fam!

To answer your questions :
1. There's no panning options on SP. Couple of tricks to deal with this, my favourite is to upload a stereo sample with one channel louder for the amount you need it to be.

2. Software is called Wave converter, you get it with purchasing new SP, or you can download it from Roland site for free. You need to format your SD on SP, that way it's prepped, and once you fire up the software you can place each sample to its designated bank / pad. It's visually the same as SP, so it's a breeze. You can also import directly, but I prefer the software, much faster and cleaner imho
Once you place your SD in SP, there's no need to 'pull' anything. It's all there where you placed it

3. You have both pitch and time stretching (bpm) options on SP. Not the greatest, but it can pull some interesting results. And yes, it's individual to each pad (each pad can be tweaked for itself - volume, bpm..) except for pitch - you'll have to resample it with the pitch you want
You could use DJFX LOOPER with CTRL 2 set almost all the way to the right (almost key word here), and you'll have your sample pitched as well as slowed down. There really are different tricks to dealing with these issues, and it's precisely these CONS that force you to approach it differently, and in turn it creates unique results.

Peace

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 3:38 pm 
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Thanks for the tips, homie, still not sure though :lol:

I'm looking at the 404 as a standalone device, so I can't rely on bringing samples into it through computer-based sample transfer. I might be camping in the middle of a forest and want to work on something on the 404, so I would not be near a computer and don't even want to have to use a computer even when I am near one.

Has to be standalone which I believe the 404 is, but how? Like if I start a new project where all the pads are empty, how do I pick, say, a specific drum sample from the SD card and load it onto a specific pad, and continue like that until I have the pads loaded-up with the samples I need? I keep seeing stuff about loading samples but all it appears to do is load a whole set of samples from the card in bulk. I can imagine that would be a real time-saver for certain tasks, but how do you load individual samples you created and saved to the pads previously after sampling stuff?

Can't get my head around how it's done, it's really odd trying to figure-out a 404 before even owning one and never having used one.

Regards the pitch, it sounds as if we're stuck with pitch-shifting then, which is a bummer but doable I suppose.

Regards the Panning, you mentioned there's a few tricks for that. The one you mentioned would be no good for me since it requires a computer, but what was the other one?


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:34 pm 
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You can record directly to a certain pad, either via built in mic, or via plugged in mic, or something like that (even hand recorder, and then line out to SP's line in) or just taking line out from your turntable and plugging directly to SP's line in / external source.
Say, choose bank A, pad 3, hit external source, balance the sound, hit record, and that's it. You've recorded your sound to bank A /pad 3 That way you don't need a computer. When you format the SD card on your SP, it automatically assignes bank and pads - so whichever way you choose to load the samples to your SD card (and using the mentioned software is the quickest imo) - when you take that card and load it into SP, that's it. If you used the software to load samples, they will be on the pads you placed them :) my English sucks, so maybe I'm not explaining right, sorry for that.. But, bottom line is that you can either use only SP (recording via line in, directly from your turntable, CD or whatever, or via microphone) or pre load samples.
As for panning, few of SP's efx sorta mimic it. Like MFX 22 (C.Canceler) if I remember correctly xD I don't use that one ever. But I occasionally use MFX 3 (chorus) on mono samples, with CTRL 3 set to around 11 o'clock, gives out kinda nice stereo width leaving the middle empty for kick, snare, and what not.
You'll figure it out fam, don't worry.
Also, but this is my personal preference, there really isn't nothing wrong with prepping samples (I'm talking about compression, hiss removal, slight EQ tweaks, and so on) on your computer or wherever prior to loading them on your SD. Majority of work you WILL be doing on 404 anyway, so it's cool to have a decent sound to begin with :)

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:01 pm 
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Loopmantra states it all pretty much. Just a question, are you aiming to sample when wild camping as in on the spot there and then? If so, and you're not bringing a laptop (I don't really blame you on that, too much risk haha), then there's nothing stopping you either bringing your phone loaded with samples and then plugging it in, hitting external source and sampling into pads; or simply have the 404 pads loaded before you go (loaded via the converter for the 404 into the SD card which you then pop back into your 404). Hope this was a useful input to your decision making?

Hope you get your mind made soon, would be sick to see you get into the SP! :)

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:35 pm 
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My deepest respect to the two homies helped out on this, but I think I must be suffering some sort of mental block!

Buggered if I can understand the sample import thing, even after what has been explained here. My understanding now (and correct me if I am wrong), is that there is no way to put a specific sample on a specific pad unless it is either done through the software, or sampled directly onto a specific pad by the 404.

It cannot pull a sample from its SD card for that purpose, am I right?

If so, are you saying that the total amount of pads (120), is also the limit of how many samples can be held on the SD card regardless of its size? Sort of like, there is no such thing as a project file, so basically each SD card is treated as a project so you would need a separate SD card to act as each project?

Then again, the manual does state that you can load a sample onto a specific pad. It even states that you can select multiple pads and it will fill them in sequence or whatever. The bit I don't understand is that it tells you how to load a sample on to a pad, but it does not tell you how to actually select the sample you want to load. I mean, at a bear minimum surely it gives each sample a number from 1 to 120, you turn a knob to select the number, and then hit a button to load it into the selected pad or whatever. But there is no mention of anything like that, the manual completely skips the part that should explain how to actually select the sample you want to load.

I don't understand how I can load a sample into a pad unless I can select the sample, otherwise how does it know which sample I want to load into a pad? I really need to get my head around that part before I can consider buying it.

So from the responses here it sounds as if I cannot do that directly on the 404, yet in the manual it says I can, but doesn't tell you how :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:58 pm 
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My knowledge on this method is limited (please someone correct me if I’m wrong/miss anything) since I don’t use it BUT you could put the samples into the import folder on the SD card when in ur pc, bring the SD card back into the 404, then utilise the import function and THEN move the samples from the pad it was placed in to any other pad of your choice via the exchange function. Using import will bring them over 1 by 1 just filling each pad chronologically.

As for space, it is dictated by SD card size. I suggest 32 gb, I haven’t run into any issues. Plenty of space in that :)

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:55 pm 
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Also I think it may help to visually see what the software itself actually looks like and how it works for reference. Here’s a link

https://youtu.be/BAKFgVO7TBw

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:28 am 
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Jaytreaze wrote:
My knowledge on this method is limited (please someone correct me if I’m wrong/miss anything) since I don’t use it BUT you could put the samples into the import folder on the SD card when in ur pc, bring the SD card back into the 404, then utilise the import function and THEN move the samples from the pad it was placed in to any other pad of your choice via the exchange function. Using import will bring them over 1 by 1 just filling each pad chronologically.

As for space, it is dictated by SD card size. I suggest 32 gb, I haven’t run into any issues. Plenty of space in that :)


This. Homie is right 100% - though "import" function kinda slows down the process, much faster with Wave converter, since you can visually see the banks and the pads.

As for saving project files and such on your SD, there IS a backup option, but tbh I never even used it much, so it's better to wait for someone who can possibly explain it better.

(If you are worried about parameters when you turn off the SP - don't, everything except the efx is memorised (level, bpm etc). If you wanna save the sample with the efx you like, then you resample it to another pad with the selected efx, and so on)

Your whole work flow should be one of these two things :
1. Take your SD card, format it on SP, and then take it out, put it in your computer and load it with samples you wanna be using (and again, I recommend the WC software) - say bank A only drum loops and drum one shots, bank B instruments and so on (or whichever way you prefer it to be) - then when you take your SD, put it in your 404 and start it up, there's no need to call/pull anything from the card, it's automatically assigned and placed (if you are not using the WC software, but just copied random samples directly to SD, this is the time to use "import" function, and assign the samples to pads, but keep in mind, like homie Jaytreaze said, it will be randomly scattered that way. You'll probably have to exchange places, copy paste and what not.

Or

2. Format your SD card on your SP, and start recording, either via mic or line in - you select the bank and pad prior to recording, so you have control there as well.

The maximum amount of samples is what it is. But the length of the samples is determined exclusively by your SD card's capacity Workaround this one is that you use multiple SD cards, for example, I use higher capacity cards (16gb and 32gb) for live sets, they're packed with entire tracks and even entire half an hour to 45 min sets, with the exception of one bank always filled with one shots, vocals and such - for playing live
Small capacity cards (1, 2, etc GB) I use for storing one shots, loops and such, and I exclusively use them for producing / creating new tracks


Peace

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:17 am 
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Cheers homies, I got it now, haha, just spotted a give-away in the manual, and coupled with what has been explained here, everything has fallen into place now ... I think ... I hope :P

Thanks for the video link, Jaytreaze, totally understood that but like I said, I can only use it as a standalone device. To be fair, the 404 is quite a size already to be taking on Wild-Camping trips but at least its light. No way I'm dragging a laptop along as well and I don't own a laptop anyway. As LoopmantrA pointed out, I could always use my phone for mapping samples to the card, so at least I don't need a laptop. But I have no intention of using any external device to handle my samples if I can avoid it, not even my phone.

I understand the design of the 404 now, totally understood, and from the workflows pointed out by LoopmantrA, it looks like Roland designed the 404 with more of a DJ workflow in mind, but I guess it found its way into the hearts of Hip-Hop producers etc due to the way it works, the way it sounds (killer), resamples, and the on-board effects etc. It clearly has a good hands-on workflow and immediacy to it all, and I totally understand the attraction of that.

I'm not surprised it's become an iconic piece of kit, but man, I hadn't realised when watching videos of producing on the 404, the limitations they were working with. I'd read it had "limitations", but I had no idea they were as severe as they are when it comes to sample management ... I mean fucking hell, it's positively sadistic ... maybe the 404 engineer at Roland HQ in Japan has a twisted dark side :twisted:

I think I'll give it a go, it's too hard to resist, and anyway, I think I figured-out a way to have proper Pan control per sample, and from what you both describe, it sounds possible to load specific samples to specific pads with a bit of shuffle-workaround magic, and I don't mind workarounds. If not, I know a way around it using one of those workflows.

Not really possible for me to tell you if the Pan thing would work, not until I have a 404 in my hands and try it for real, but I think it will. Also, I can see now that the 404 technically does have projects, cause I read that up to 12 of those backups can be saved to a single SD card. That's a relief, since each backup could be thought of as a project, or in other words, twelve projects per SD card which is more than adequate.

Have to admit, when trying to get my head around it all, I kept forgetting that the 404 is capable of sampling times only limited by the card, which is pretty impressive and I can see now how that translates to having a massive pool of sound to pull from, and at the end of the day, that sound can be anything.

I get it; either sample directly or pre-prepare, and stay inside the 404 onwards.

Cheers homies, I'm really looking forward to getting mine, and I'll let you know how I get on with that idea for getting proper Pan control. Would be nice to repay the 404 homies with a proper, workable Pan solution!

BTW, just a word about LoopmantrA's English. It's spot-on, homie, I would never have known it were not your native language unless you had mentioned it. I'm from the UK, home of the English language, and I can tell you that most school leavers here in England these days have a way to go until they reach your level of proficiency in the language!

You come across as perfectly fluent in English, you do to me, anyway 8)


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:38 am 
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Good to read you got some clarity on this now! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the 404 once you got it!

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:55 am 
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I'll let you into a dirty little secret of mine, homie! I've never produced a Hip-Hop track in my life, so I'm curious to hear what comes out of me getting one myself.

The 404 seems like the perfect box for me to practice some first-time Hip-Hop, and it's cool I can drag it along on Wild-Camping trips. I don't have dreams of becoming a respected Hip-Hop artist or anything like that, it's just a bit of fun, but it's good to know the 404 is a tool that is respected in professional circles as well as by bedroom producers. That part is important to me because regardless of intentions, I wanted a tool that I can master and stick with regardless of how bad I am at it, or how good I get at it.

There's not many music-production devices out there that manage to solve that problem of over-complication, awkward form factor, and poor workflow, but the 404, despite it's shortcomings, seems to be the best box to overcome those things.

So yeah, can't wait to get my hands on it. I just hope the pre-purchase honeymoon period I'm going through right now, was worth it when I actually get to use it, haha ... hahaha ... hahahaha ... (nervous laugh).


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:01 pm 
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Everyone starts somewhere! I myself have a LONG way to go but once you clear the first hurdle, you begin to realise that you can take yourself where you want to be. 10,000 hours...

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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:58 am 
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As long as I produce something I'm proud of enough to release it on cassette and vinyl, I'll be happy and consider it mission accomplished. I said in my previous post that I have no dreams of becoming a respected artist. That sort of thing really doesn't bother me at all, but what does bother me, is the thought of having lived and died without having left some sort of trace behind, know what I mean?

Releasing something I'm proud of on cassette and vinyl as a limited edition, and charging a justifiably high price for it, is the best way I can ensure that a physical trace of my existence is left on this earth :lol:

True lovers of the formats genuinely treasure their vinyl and cassettes, especially when it's rare, expensive, or special in some way, so hopefully the 404 is the box that'll get me to where I release something to those formats.


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 Post subject: Re: SP-404A Pre-Purchase Questions
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:29 am 
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Well that Pan solution I had in mind works, but I just searched the forum before planning to make a post about it and the idea is already out there. It's a shame the Pan effect doesn't slow in sync with the BPM, cause then we'd be able to slow it right down to allow for longer samples. But at least we can pan so that's a relief.

Something is bugging me though, since every time I use a pattern, the resample button doesn't want to know. Since the whole idea behind this design seems to be resampling, I assume I can resample a pattern that's playing, but I'm buggered if I know how.

Is there a specific sequence of button presses or a "hold one button while pressing another" sort of thing to it? I basically just want to resample from a pattern, and if possible, have the resampling start automatically when the pattern starts, kinda like it does when resampling from another pad.


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