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Roland Rhythm TR-55

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    The Roland Rhythm 55 (sometimes known by its model number, the Roland TR-55), is a preset drum machine (or "beatbox"), produced by Roland in 1972. It was one of a trio of drum machines released by Roland that year, offering features intermediate between those of Rhythm 33 (TR-33) and Rhythm 77 (TR-77). "TR" stands for "transistor rhythm". The Rhythm 55 had analogue voice circuits to produce its drum sounds, and offered approximately 20 permutations of preset rhythms.

    The Rhythm 55's drum voices are listed below. (They are the same as for the Rhythm 33.) The sounds are generated by analogue synthesis techniques, and, as is typical with this technology, the sounds themselves, although possessing a certain musical charm, are not particularly realistic imitations of their acoustic namesakes. The following voices are generated by "tuned resonance" type circuits:

    bass drum
    low conga
    high conga
    cow bell
    rim shot
    The following voices are generated by shaped white noise:
    snare drum
    hi hat

    The only control on the front panel for adjusting the sounds is a balance control, which alters the relative levels of the bass drum and the cymbal/hi hat/maracas sounds.

    Rhythm Patterns

    The Rhythm 55 offers the user around 20 preset rhythms. There is no way to adjust the preset patterns per se, or to program your own patterns. The only control available is a (uncalibrated) knob to adjust the tempo, and a push-button which doubles the tempo. However, it is possible to select more than one rhythm at once, and also to effectively "mute" drum sounds from a pattern using the balance knob (see above), thus providing more possibility for rhythmic variation than might initially seem feasible.

    Main preset patterns:

    slow rock
    rock and roll
    bossa nova

    Additional "variation" patterns:

    "2 beat":
    bass drum
    bass & snare drum
    foxtrot 1
    swing 1
    "4 beat":
    bass drum
    bass & snare drum
    foxtrot 2
    swing 2
    swing 3


    The Rhythm 55 can not interface with other instruments (e.g. to synchronize its tempo with another machine). The Rhythm 55 has a mono audio output, available on two unbalanced phone connector sockets—one socket is high impedance, the other low impedance.
    Type: Analog
    Synthesis: Subtractive
    Pattern Engine
    Programming: Presets
    Pattern Notes:
    Preset patterns - waltz, slow rock, ballad, rock and roll, beguine, cha-cha, mambo, samba, bossa nova, rumba

    2 beat variations - bass drum, bass & snare drum, foxtrot 1, swing 1, march, parade

    4 beat variations - bass drum, bass & snare drum, foxtrot 2, swing 2, swing 3, tango
    Sounds Per Pad
    Sounds Per Pad: 2
    Sources: Synthesizer
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 2
    Timbrality: 2
    Tuning: Standard
    Modes: Mono
    Patterns User: 0
    Patterns Preset: 16
    Case: Desktop
    Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Start / Stop Pedal, Switches
    Display Type: LED
    Dimensions (WxDxH): 380 x 235 x 130 mm / 15 x 9.3 x 5.1 inches
    Weight: 4 kg / 8.8 lbs
    MIDI / Sync / Trigger
    Audio Outputs: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
    Audio Output Count: 2
    Audio Output Notes: Lo / Hi outs
    Power: 120 AV
    Used: $350 - $550
    Released: 1972
    Manuals & Documents

    YouTube Videos
    References & Sources
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