Sound Canvas SC-88 Pro

Since their introduction the Sound Canvas series of MIDI sound generators have proven to be popular and versatile electronic musical instruments. Wether for use in commercial recording studios, project MIDI studios or to play back MIDI files they have earned a reputation for being easy to use, reliable and affordable.

Now, with the introduction of the SC-88 Pro, the possibilities for external real-time control of a MIDI sound generator are now virtually limitless. With an expanded sound effects library, 40 megabytes of wave memory (providing 1,117 editable and 256 user sounds) and a computer port designed to interface with your Mac or PC this an invaluable addition to almost any studio.

GS Format Before getting into the SC-88 Pro we want to first take a moment to introduce Roland's GS format.

The GS standard has been been around since the SC-55 module was first introduced in 1991, and later enhanced with the introduction of the SC-88 in 1994, and unlike the General MIDI format, which contains 128 preset patches (sounds) and a few drum sets, the GS format is able to include new sounds and support new hardware features when they arrive, and unlike General MIDI the GS sounds can be edited with several filters and effects to get new, custom-made sounds.

A recent announcement from Apple Computer that it had licensed the Roland Sound Canvas sound set and GS Format extensions for inclusion in QuickTime 3.0 for Mac OS and Windows should also help ensure that the GS format continues to grow in popularity.

But with all the added features and expandiblity of the GS format there has also got to be a marked increase in the capabilities of the sound module that interpret the information that comes down the MIDI cable. That's where the SC-88 Pro comes in, and for a half-rack width box weighing in at less than 6lbs (2.6kg) it must be one of the most compact sound engines around.

Display Panel
Let's start off by taking a look at the front panel and in particular the large well illuminated display screen which lets you see what's going on inside the instrument.

There are several areas of the display which are dedicated to providing information such as the name and number of the current preset, as well as reverb, chorus, pan and MIDI channel settings. This information can be referred to at any time while the rest of the display gives information about each one of the thirty two channels.

As mentioned earlier the display is nice and bright and it's particularily easy to see at a glance what's going on. The MIDI channel number indicator is conveniantly located next to the main preset indicators which makes it even easier to see which MIDI channel is assigned to which preset. The area usually reserved for displaying the preset name also doubles as a readout when changing filter or vibrato and ADSR settings, it also tells you which effect is selected when editing the parameters of the built-in digital effects processors.

User Interface

Most of the controls that are used to make all these changes are also multi functional, including the buttons used to select EFX type, parameter and value. The same buttons are also used to select the vibrato, ADSR and filter settings. Even the volume control does more than merely control the volume, as a quick push will reveal. It doubles as a trigger allowing you to hear the currently selected sound without having to be near a keyboard. There's also a headphone socket which means you don't even have to have it hooked up to an amp while monitoring the stereo output.

Being a musical instrument that relies on multi-function controls to select and change various parameters, as opposed to a data entry area or a scroll wheel, the SC-88 Pro has a front panel design that is both easy to navigate and uncluttered which will help minimize the amount of time spent trying to figure out how to access a particular function or alter a paramenter, and also means you'll have to spend less time looking through the owners manual.

What use is a sound engine whithout great sounds?

The SC-88 Pro contains the same 128 patches found on all GM compatible sound cards and sound engines, from the Piano to the Gunshot. But thanks to wave technology the sounds are richer and fuller than you may be used to. In addition you can also get into the sounds and alter certain parameters, so you're not stuck with factory sounds that are impossible to change and make your own. There are also 42 different drum sets which give you added control over your music.

Main Features
A re-cap of a few of the main features

1117 Preset sounds
256 User sounds
42 Drum sound sets (including 3 sound effects sets)
2 User drum sound sets
128 Preset Patches (with Effect)
16 User Patches

64 User effects
Reverb (8 types)
Chorus (8 types)
Delay (10 types)
2 band Equalizer
Insertion Effect (64 types).


Audio Output:
(Rear panel) Output 1 - RCA/Phono L/R
(Rear panel) Output 2 - RCA/Phono L/R
(Front panel) Headphones
Audio Input:
(Rear panel) Input 1 - RCA/Phono L/R
(Rear panel) Input Volume controller
(Rear panel) In A, In B, Out/Thru
(Front panel) In B
Computer Interface:
(Rear panel) Mac/PC1/PC2/Midi (switchable)

Width 8 5/8" (217mm)
Depth 9 7/8" (234mm)
Height 2 7/8" (72mm)

5 lbs. 7 oz. (2.6Kg)

To contact Edirol check out their entry in our Manufacturers department.