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Sound Master | Stix ST-305


When the BOSS DR-55 appeared, it was the first affordable drum machine featuring programmable patterns rather than presets. It soon had a competitor in the form of the SoundMaster SR-88, which was so similar in appearance and sound to the DR-55 that it might make you wonder why Roland didn't sue SoundMaster out of existence. Roland clearly didn't, as the SR-88 was followed by the ST-305 "Stix". In terms of features and sophistication the Stix is somewhere between the BOSS DR-55 and Roland TR-606, with programming like the DR-55 and individual volume controls for each instrument like the TR-606. While it was soon eclipsed by the TR-606, which featured a higher number of patterns and the ability to chain them together into songs, the Stix does offer individual audio outputs for each sound. There is also a trigger input and two trigger outputs - one a constant clock pulse and the other programmable via the accent.

The sounds on the Stix are limited to kick, snare, high tom, low tom, closed high hat, open high hat and cymbal. There is also the accent, which has its own level control and affects all instruments on each beat it is applied to. Patterns are limited to six with sixteen steps per bar, and two with twelve steps per bar. Each pattern can be programmed as a single two bar pattern (A and B) or as two one bar patterns (A or B). In addition to playing one bar repeatedly or both in succession, there's also a "fill in" mode, where bar A plays repeatedly until bar B plays once at the end of every four, eight or sixteen bars.

Overall the Stix is a fun machine despite its limitations. It has a subtly different character to the contemporary Roland TR-606 and Korg KPR-77, while also benefiting from separate audio outputs as standard. It's unlikely that anyone has used the Stix on a really famous recording, but the cheap price of the SoundMaster drum machines probably means that many electronic musicians learnt their craft on one!

BrandSound Master
ModelStix ST-305
Engine TypeDigital
Voices (max)6
Drumskick, snare, high tom, low tom, closed high hat, open high hat and cymbal.
Sequencer8 programmable rhythm patterns (six 16-step, two 12-step)
ControllersTrigger I-O
Key typeN/A
Produced:1981 - 1981
Legend: Obvious Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable
VCO Voltage Controlled Oscillator DCO Digital Controlled Oscillator
LFO Low Frequency Oscillator Sub Sub Oscillator
VCF Voltage Controlled Filter VCA Voltage Controlled Amplifier
Velocity As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key. Aftertouch Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.
Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.

Manuals, patches etc.


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