Date = 1981

Country = Japan

Type = Analogue

Drum Voices = 4

Rhythms = 16 (Program)

Rhythm Combining = No



When it came on the market in 1981, the Boss DR-55 Dr. Rhythm was without doubt, the first drum machine that practically anyone could afford. It would seem that there are a lot of people that list the DR-55 as their first drum machine purchase which retailed back then for around 80.

The Boss had no preset rhythms onboard, (apart from those pre-loaded at the factory which were swiftly erased for new patterns). This machine was specifically designed to be programmed. This was accomplished in step-time with six memory locations of 16th note patterns (4/4) with an A & B variation (i.e. 12 patterns) and two 12th note patterns (3/4) making a total of 16 possible stored beats.







There were only four drum sounds available, a programmable kick, snare and rimshot and a preset closed hi-hat pattern that played 8th, 12th and 16th note patterns, (or switched off entirely). The bonus was the programmable accent and the fact that the machine could even be synched to your arpeggiator or sequencer using the clock pulse or the CSQ jack. It does seem a shame that the hi-hat wasn't programmable and that there was no open hi-hat option but this thing was obviously aimed specifically at a budget market and sold by the bucket load.







The sounds themselves weren't Roland's best, but they weren't bad either. With outboard processing, the DR-55 could sound pretty decent. There's a lot of character in the sounds themselves which make it an easy machine to spot. It can be heard on a lot of early recordings by the then poor and upcoming artists around 1981. You can also hear the DR-55 on very early works by Thomas Dolby ("Therapy Growth") and demo recordings by Soft Cell.







The Sisters Of Mercy and The March Violets both used the DR-55 on their first albums and early singles before moving on to a TR-606 and Drumulator respectively. The DR-55 is a great piece of history with sounds that are still useful for electroclash or just a nod back to the records we all grew up listening to back in the day.







DR-55 Single Hits Pack - 24 sounds







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