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Kawai R100 drum machine

Article from Making Music, May 1987


A very clever device. You can tell the number of drum sounds from the spec. What you can't see is that the programming pads are touch sensitive and that every sound is individually tuneable at every moment. Some drum machines might let you pitch a tom so it's high during one pattern and low in the next. The Kawai lets you determine a different tuning on every beat so each of those digital samples can play a wild scale within a single pattern. You can alter the tuning, panning and volume while recording, or edit them during playback. Essentially this supplies hundreds of sounds, a wealth of effects and mucho varied drum programming within every pattern, not just from program to program.

Parameters are accessed using two group select buttons and eight tabs (which double as the volume/tune controls). The backlit LCD display is not vast, and has to cram in its information, but it does supply helpful bar graph readouts indicating pitch and level. There are plenty of opportunities to break songs and chains into their separate bars, find them quickly using the numeric keypad on the right, and repeat sections or jump back and forth, saving on memory space.

Liked the idea of the overdub track - very cunning. After you've planned all the patterns into a song you can select just one sound and overdub its contribution. It runs on a separate 'track' alongside the previously recorded material all the way through the arrangement. So even if some patterns are repeating, there's one element - be it ride cymbal, hi-hat or snare - which is always different from moment to moment. Adds life, but doesn't complicate the programming.


A few small, fiddly details get in the way of complete adulation. The touch sensitive pads were fine at the lower end of the dynamics but coarse on the final line between loud and very loud. And tempo should have had its own knob, like output and metronome volume. Much more immediate than tapping buttons and waiting for a display to catch up with you. Sample quality is good, with a basic, useful mix of dry ana ambient drums, but that's one area where spec and memory change faster than Dirty Den's girlfriends. Likely to be sized up against the Korg DDD-1. The latter has the benefit of additional, plug in sounds, but the R-100 is triumphant on facilities. One of the most versatile drum machines I've seen.


PRICE 1445
SOUNDS 3 bass drums/3 snares/hi-mid-low toms/ 2 rides/2 crashes/china/cowbell/ claps/shaker/agogo/conga/timbales/ tambourine/claves
OUTPUTS stereo/8 individual/MIDI in-out-through/clock in-out/sync in-out/footswitches for hi-hat open-dosed and start-stop
PROGRAMMING AIDS eight pads, repeat key, flam key, timing adjust
DIMENSIONS 344(W) x 251(D) x 74(H) mm

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That Was Then

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Pine Essence

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - May 1987

Gear in this article:

Drum Machine > Kawai > R100

Gear Tags:

Digital Drums

Review by Paul Colbert

Previous article in this issue:

> That Was Then

Next article in this issue:

> Pine Essence

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