Main Details
Maker Boss Brand Roland Company Dr. Sample Brand
  • 4 × Voice (Mono)
Form Factor Portable
Signal Path Digital Hardware (including Analog Connections)
Made In Japan
Date Produced 1998
Weight 3 lbs
Power Source Battery Powered
Notes The SP-202 is a sampler in Roland's SP series. It offers four lo-fi sample rates, from 31 to about 4 kHz, providing 20 to 260 seconds of sample time via built-in microphone, Mic or Line inputs. It has six built-in effects: Pitch Shift, Filter 1 & 2, Time Stretch, Ring Modulation, and Delay (which is actually not delay at all, but a second copy of the effected sample being played in an overlapping loop, with position adjustable relative to the first sample - extremely useful for making drum beats). The filters and ring mod can be applied to input sounds. The other effects can only be applied to samples. The BPM function calculates the BPM from the sample length for easy loop/BPM syncing. The sampler can be battery powered, on six AA batteries.

Sample editing and effects editing is limited. Effects are set with a single knob. Samples, once recorded, can't have their volumes altered. It also lacks any re-sampling abilities. The machine has four voices, but one sound can "cost" more than one voice: a non HI-FI sample is one voice, a HI-FI sample is two voices, a HI-FI sample with an effect on it is three voices, etc. (HI-FI is, of course, relative). The limitations of the voicing system mean that, when layering sounds, playing a new sample often removes one of the samples already playing (though this can be avoided with careful mental math about voices used by each sample). The pitch shift effect, however, does not cost a voice, and can be used simultaneously with other effects.

The SP-202, fortunately, behaves well when pressed to its limits. Unlike its successors (the 303, 404, 555, etc), the user can "mark" (chop), reverse, add and remove effects, and tweak the knobs at any speed without fear that the machine will hiccup, even if it's also simultaneously being fed a very fast stream of MIDI data.

Though its specs aren't much on paper, this gritty sampler's bass-heavy sound and sample-garbling low bitrates have found it a niche, in spite of its limited feature set.

The SP-202 has been used by Fatboy Slim, TOBACCO, and cLOUDDEAD, among others. The beats and instrumentals on cLOUDDEAD's debut album consist primarily of samples played on the SP-202.
Type: LCD
Indication: BPM
Parameter: Volume
Control Type: Rotary Pot
Parameter: Tap
Control Type: Momentary Push Switch
Parameter: Control
Control Type: Rotary Pot


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