Roland S-760

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The S-760 Digital Sampler is probably one of the most complex musical instruments Roland has ever designed. Because of this, sampler novices and in some cases hardcore sampler users find the S-760 difficult to grasp. Unfortunately for the new user, the manual that comes with the S-760 is more for reference than for basic instruction. So a lot of musicians who are new to Roland’s architecture are likely to be confused by the rudiments of Roland samplers and miss out on the S-760’s power and flexibility.

Even though the S-760 can be used from the front panel, its real muscle comes from the CRT and mouse interface. In this article I’ve focused on using this more than the front panel. If you don’t have the OP-760 option board, don’t panic: We’ll cover some front-panel editing as well.

700 Series Architecture

Before we can get into instructions on how to use the S-760, it is crucial that you get an idea of the Roland Sampler architecture. As on all samplers, the most basic unit in the S-760’s architecture is the sample. A sample on the S-760 can not be played multimbrally over MIDI until it is placed into a Partial, that Partial is assigned to a Patch, and the Patch is assigned to a part in a Performance. Luckily there are some shortcuts to creating Patches and Performances, as we’ll see.

The Partial has two uses in the S-760. The first is for setting up velocity and controller crossfades between samples. We can combine up to four mono or two stereo samples to be crossfaded in a Partial. This is done in the Partial SMT (Sample Mix Table). The Partial mode also deals with the S-760’s synthesis functions. With the S-760 you can have one to four samples in a Partial, all of which will share the same filter, envelope, and LFO settings.

Patches are essentially keyboard layouts or instruments made up of multiple Partials, each of which is set into its own MIDI note range. Unless the Partial is set into a key range within a Patch, there can be no connection between the Sample and the Patch information.

Once a Patch is created, you can place it into a Performance and set it to respond to a particular MIDI channel. Performance mode is the multi-channel, multitimbral mode on the S-760. If you are acquainted at all with the structure of the Roland JV-series synthesizers, you’ll easily see the connection between a Performance and Patch on the S-760.

Volumes are collections of Performances. You have up to 64 Performances at once in the memory of the S-760, all of which can be saved to and loaded from disk as part of a single Volume. In general, you only have to concern yourself with Volumes when you want to organize your files to save to disk or to use functions such as Volume Dump.

The S-760’s operating system allows you to save items at various levels in the hierarchy that we’ve just outlined. Each time you save, all of the items contained at lower levels within the saved item will be stored to disk along with it, unless you specify otherwise (see below). For example, if you save a Patch, all of the Partials and Samples within it will also be saved. If you should save a Volume, then edit one of the Patches within it and save the individual Patch, this Patch will be saved into the Volume file, overwriting what was previously there.