"Easily The Best In This Class!"
This reviewer purchased this item from Same Day Music.
Sounds are great! Only a couple exceptions so far: None of the Cross Sticks really sound much like cross sticks, but more like rim taps (no biggie). The metronome sound is not loud enough (hence the '8' rating), but I'll experiment and see if I can replace the default with something that cuts through better.
Overall this is an awesome sounding unit. I can't imagine a genre that it can't cover very well. I haven't even twiddled with any parameters yet, just factory settings and I am very impressed. Sounds on the Alesis SR18 are just a tiny bit richer (I tried both side-by-side), but the DR-880 has more/better features by far!
The few bass sounds I've listened to sound pretty good, but I'm a bass player, so I doubt I'll ever seriously use them.
The work flow takes a bit of getting used to, but is a breeze after a short time, especially if you READ the manual! I always do anyway. Lots of useful info on the display, 3 banks of pads (giving you 60 sounds per kit!!) and the EZ compose features are very cool. I also like the favorites buttons; what a great idea for testing pattern arrangements without creating a song. Having headphone and instrument inputs on the FRONT is a thoughtful feature also (hate having them on the back!).
I suggest when you first get this unit, just browse through all the menus; you might be surprised (I was) and the depth of available features and settings you get. I played around a little with the groove feature and I can tell it' going to be a great creative tool, but I haven't done much with it yet. If only it had a separate volume control for the metronome...
Ease of Use:
It's not hard at all to get some killer drum tracks (I use this almost exclusively for recording) in a very short time with this unit. Everything is laid out nicely. Real time recording is a breeze, but...
One rather major problem I have is with step recording. For me, it's very hard to tell what measure I'm in! There should have been something to mark measures. There are numbers, but if you have quantization set to 16ths or higher, you don't get a whole measure on the display, and once you scroll, it's easy to lose your place. This makes step recording rather more tedious that it could be. This is really the only serious drawback to this unit, and even that's not major enough to nullify all the other great features!
Perfect. I know the housing is plastic and therefore requires appropriate care, but it's still a well-made unit, sharp looking. I noted the button/pad material on the Alesis SR18 was the more rubbery, dust-magnet type. While that gave them better grip than the DR-880, I still like the feel of the DR-880 buttons/pads better, and they are easier to keep clean and nice looking!
I know it seems unfair, but I always give support a 6 if I've never had to use it, simply because I have no experience to assume that it either shines or sucks!
However, in fairness, I always explain that also!
This is NOT a cheap drum machine. At twice the price of the Alesis SR18, it really needed to impress, and in my opinion, it did! I still found it kind of hard to pay what I paid for it, but it really does come pretty close to being worth it.
I'd say if you have the extra money, go ahead and spend it on the DR-880, but if money means more than anything else, you may be close enough to being happier with the SR18 to be more comfortable with it. I don't think the SR18 would disappoint, but you would be missing a lot of very useful features.
The Wow Factor:
As I said, I tried the DR-880 and the Alesis SR18 side-by-side, in my home, for several days, and the 880 pretty much blew the SR18 away, on features if not on sound. I admit I wasn't blown away by the 880's sounds the first day, but as I continued playing with it, it really grew on me. I got the SR18 a few days later and kept saying to myself, "This is nice, but..."
I love the 880, and it's truly a joy to work with (or even play with!). The sounds are awesome (just a tiny bit less rich than the SR18), and it really does inspire a little more creativity in the rhythm part of my compositions.
I would have to come into a good chunk of disposable income if I were to start looking for something better any time soon. I am sure there might be high end machines that would be more awesome, but I seriously doubt that anything in the $500 or less range could hold much of a candle to the DR-880. The Alesis SR18 came close, but came up short of features, as I am sure just about anything else would.
Step recording is kind of yinkity-dink, but everything else is very nice. If something happened to mine, I'd WANT to replace it, but at the price, I'd have to hope I would have the extra cash on hand; otherwise I might have to settle for less, at least for a time.