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Roland Rhythm TR-55

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Description
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
claves
The following voices are generated by shaped white noise:
snare drum
hi hat
maraca
cymbal

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:

waltz
slow rock
ballad
rock and roll
beguine
cha-cha
mambo
samba
bossa nova
rumba

Additional "variation" patterns:

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

Interfacing

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.
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Specifications
Type: Analog
Sound Engine: 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
Storage
Patterns User: 0
Patterns Preset: 16
Case
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
Production
Released: 1972

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References & Sources

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