How do I record the drums from the BR's built-in drum machine?Although you can record the drums (in bounce mode), there's usually no reason to. The drum machine has its own fader and is synchronized with the audio tracks. So there's no need to record them to a pair of audio tracks (the drums are stereo). When you bounce your tracks for your final 2-track mix, the drums will be included and recorded in the mix. Until then, don't worry about recording the drums.
Some BR-600 users want to record the drums in real time while tapping out a beat on the BR-600's velocity-sensitive drum pads. Again, although you can do this in bounce mode, it's not a good idea. Once you record the drums as audio, you're very limited as to how you can edit them. A better way to record a beat in real time is to capture it as a BR drum pattern according to the instructions on pages 145 to 147 of the BR-600 manual. Then you can play your custom pattern or, better still, use it in a drum arrangement. A custom pattern can be up to 999 measures long. So, you could record all the drums for your entire song as a single, realtime, custom pattern. However, it's usually more practical to create a series of shorter patterns and fills and chain them together in an arrangement. This gives you more flexibility in editing, changing tempo, and changing song length. You can save up to 100 custom patterns with each song.
Although they don't have velocity-sensitive drum pads to tap on, BR-864 and BR-900CD users can also capture custom drum patterns in real time using the six buttons below the track faders. There are twelve drum sounds arranged in two banks, so you can only access six drum sounds at a time. The buttons aren't velocity-sensitive. However, you can adjust the velocity using the Track 1 fader control. See pages 96 to 99 of the BR-864 manual, and pages 126 to 129 of the BR-900CD manual. There's a good video demo of these techniques on YouTube. It's for the BR-900 but the BR-864 is almost identical. Worthwhile for BR-600 users too since the techniques are very similar.
Which memory cards work in the BR?The Roland website lists many compatible cards including SanDisk and Lexar which are widely available. See www.roland.com.
I have a standard (blue & red label) SanDisk 256MB CompactFlash card, as well as a SanDisk Ultra II 1GB CompactFlash card. Both work well in my BR-864. I also have a Kingmax 1GB CompactFlash card which works well too, and it cost a lot less than my SanDisk cards.
Two members of the BossBr group have reported using A-Data 1GB CompactFlash cards successfully in their BR-600s. However, at least two other members bought the same card and found that it wouldn't work in their BR-600s. So be careful with that one. See the BossBr group message thread for more info.
I think the best advice for buying memory cards is to purchase them from a local retailer with a good returns policy. Then you can confidently buy the cheapest card you can find and, if it doesn't work in your BR, take it back and try a different one. Sometimes even expensive cards need to be exchanged. When I bought my SanDisk Ultra II, I was disappointed with its speed. After speaking with SanDisk tech support, I took it back and exchanged it for another of exactly the same type. It worked much better.
If you like shopping online for the best price, try printing out the web's best offers and taking them to your local retailer. Sometimes they're willing to match the online offer after factoring in the shipping costs. That way, you get the same price as you would have paid online, but have the advantage of being able to exchange it if it doesn't work in your BR.
Can I use a memory card that's larger than 1GB?The BRs use the Fugue flash file system licensed from Kyoto Software Research (www.kyoto-sr.co.jp). Because this file system is based on Microsoft's FAT-16, it uses 16-bit sector addressing. That means it can address a maximum of 65,536 (2^16) disc sectors. Each sector is 16KB so the maximum bytes addressable is 65,536 * 16KB = 1,048,576KB, which is 1GB.
Although I haven't tried it, my guess is that a larger card would probably work, but you'd only be able to access 1GB of its capacity due to the 16-bit sector addressing in the BR's file system. So why bother?
A firmware update would be required to increase the 1GB limit. This could be accomplished by changing the file system to FAT-32, but that would likely mean a complete re-write of the operating system (plus a new license agreement with Kyoto Software Research) and I think it's very unlikely that Roland will ever do that for the existing models. A more feasible solution would be to modify the operating system to allow for multiple disc partitions and provide a way for the user to select the active partition. In this way, you could have a 4GB card, for example, that's divided into four 1GB partitions. It would be like having four 1GB memory cards, but you wouldn't have to physically swap them. Instead, you'd just go into the Utility menu and set the active partition to one of the four partitions on the 4GB card. I think this is something that Roland could easily do, but somehow I doubt that they will. It seems more likely that they'll eventually just introduce a new line of BR models with FAT-32. So, the current line of BRs will probably always be limited to 1GB.
Why do I hear reverb in my recordings even when I turn the EFFECTS button off?Switching off the COSM EFFECTS button disables the Insert effects but not the Loop effects. By default, the reverb send level is set to 10 on the input, rhythm (drum machine), and all 8 tracks. If you want to remove all reverb, you need to reduce these to 0. See this Roland HELP DESK article. The send values for the Chorus, Delay, and Doubling loop effects default to 0.
In the normal (Input) recording mode, loop effects can be heard during playback but they aren't actually recorded to the tracks. However, in bounce mode, the loop effects will be recorded. So, you don't have to pay too much attention to the loop effect send levels until you bounce your tracks.
Which power adapter do I need for the BR?The BR-600, Micro BR, BR-532, and BR-864 all use the Boss PSA series of power adapters. Their output is regulated and delivers up to 200mA at 9vDC. You should not use an unregulated power adapter with a BR series recorder. The actual part number of the required power adapter depends on the voltage of your country's electric power system. So, you'll need a PSA-120, PSA-230 or PSA-240. Boss also offers the PSA-120S which is similar to the PSA-120 but comes with a longer cord (3 meters), smaller wall wart, and higher current capacity (500mA).
The BR-900CD comes with the Boss PSC series power adapter. It is also 9vDC regulated but has a much higher current rating (1000mA) which is needed for the CD burner. Part numbers are PSC-100, PSC-230, and PSC-240. Alternatively, you can use the Boss PSB-1U power adapter with the BR-900CD. It is rated at 2000mA.
Are there any alternatives to the Boss power adapters?You can use any regulated power adapter that meets the same specifications as the Boss adapters:
- Input Voltage: must be compatible with the AC electrical supply of the country in which the BR is to be used (120 volts in North America, 240 volts in the U.K., etc.)
- Output: 9 volts DC, regulated
- Current: 200mA or higher for the BR-600, Micro BR, BR-532, and BR-864, and 1000mA or higher for the BR-900CD
- Connector: Standard Boss power connector which has an outside diameter of 5.5mm and an inside diameter of 2.1mm. The tip (inside) is negative and the barrel (outside) is positive.