The Roland TR-505 Rhythm Composer contains a group of samples mixed from both the TR-707 and TR-727, and featured 16 drum tones, with 48 patterns and 6 songs of memory. Basic and affordable, it did not offer tone editing capabilities or individual drum outputs. It did host an extensive MIDI section, making it ideal alongside a computer or sequencer.
The TR-5050 is 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.
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.
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.