Both Alesis and Roland have been producing multi-pad electronic drum pads for a long time, and both get a few entries on this list. But we have to start with the Octapad from Roland because everything else is still playing catch-up to this iconic machine.
The Octapad SPD-30 Version 2 is the reinvention of that classic Octapad, and while it’s not the flashiest in our list, it piles on the features and functionality like no other device.
The pads themselves come from Roland’s V-Drum technology for their high-end electronic drum kits. This brings accurate triggering with great isolation between the pads. On the back are four dual-trigger inputs and a hi-hat controller for expanding the Octpad into a whole mini-kit. The display is huge with ample buttons for navigation and sound loading, and each pad has an LED indicator for smooth operation in low light.
The original Octapad was just a MIDI controller whereas the SPD-30 is packed with 670 instrument sounds. With version 2, they’ve increased the number of kits to 99, taking in traditional sounds from around the world, classic and contemporary, ethnic and banging electronic dance music styles.
You can chain kits together to quick changes during a live set. You can customize the sounds with the onboard controls in terms of tuning, muffling, attack, pitch sweep and much more. At the end of the chain is a multi-effects engine with 30 types of effect plus EQ, limiter and reverb.
The innovative Phrase Loop function lets you build up percussive phrases with up to three layers of overdubs to create your own recallable patterns. You can store up to 50.
The SPD-30 is a solid percussion machine that everyone else tries to emulate. The only thing lacking is the ability to load your own samples so if that’s important then maybe you’ll want to check out some other options like the Roland SPD-SX.
Street Price: $729
Roland Octapad SPD-30