Hands-On Review:Dr. Groove meets Dr. Sample

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According to the philosopher E.F. Schumacher, "Small is beautiful." To which I'd add, "Affordable, feature-laden, and user-friendly ain't bad either." Which pretty well sums up both the Dr. Groove rhythm machine and the new Dr. Sample phrase sampler - two machines that pack a whole lot of portable punch singly, but really come into their own when combined. Dr. Groove is a solid rhythm machine when used alone. Loaded with phat drum and bass presets that cover all the crucial genres coupled with serious realtime control features, Dr. Groove is a for-real beat factory.

Likewise, Dr. Sample turned a lot of heads when it was unveiled at Winter NAMM in L.A. With CD-quality sound, easily mastered sampling and looping capabilities, and a robust, realtime pattern sequencer, it serves up a whole lot of functionality at a price that works for fiscally-challenged remixers, DJs, and musicians.

But put these two devices to work for you in tandem, and you'll have a modestly priced workstation that's a viable alternative to higher-end gear such as Roland's heavy-duty SP-808 e-Mix Studio. Simply slave Dr. Sample's MIDI out to Dr. Groove and you've got all the tools you need to build killer dance music. Or techno grooves to die for. Or just about any other musical creation you can conceive of. Pair these two doctors' specialties and you've got an instant groove clinic.

Dr SamplePhrase sampling simplified

In designing their earlier SP-202, Boss came up with an affordable device that beginning samplists, DJs, hip-hop artists, and rappers could quickly master to craft pro-quality samples. With the introduction of the new SP-303 , the Boss engineers have raised the bar by outfitting it with features unmatched by any other phrase sampler in its price range. Retaining the compact size and ergonomic smarts of its forerunner, the SP-303 ups the ante with CD-quality sound, 8-note polyphony, a powerful realtime pattern sequencer, and 26 world-class effects.


The Standard recording mode gives you 31 seconds of mono sampling at 44.1kHz - true CD-quality audio. Two alternate recording modes offer more sampling time and let you create "Lo-Fi" effects. But if 21 seconds of sampling time seems a bit lean, don't despair. Simply pop in an optional 64MB SmartMedia card and you've now got 33 minutes of CD-quality, mono sampling capacity. Store your killer samples on these cards and you've got a virtually unlimited sample library. And with a SmartMedia card reader you can readily import samples into your PC or Mac. With a world of cool loops and samples out there on the Web, your SmartMedia cards become simple conduits for importing .WAV and AIFF files into your sampler.


Serious sequencing and syncing juice

The new, onboard pattern sequencer lets you create complete songs by arranging recorded samples on two banks of eight trigger pads. (Insert a SmartMedia card to access two additional banks.) The sequencer stores up to 7,500 notes in internal memory. The BPM control easily adjusts sample tempos while leaving pitch unchanged. Use the quantize function to correct timing inconsistencies - a boon when drum programming. The built-in effects processor is loaded with 26 pro-quality effects like reverb, flanger, delay, and Voice Transformer. Phat algorithms such as distorion, filter, Slicer, Isolator, Lo-Fi, and Vinyl Simulator give you a heap of flavors to stir into your mix.


Dr GrooveDr. Groove's in the house

The DR-202 's legacy can be traced all the way back to the Dr. Rhythm machines of the late '70s. Incorporating today's technological advances, the 202s have come a long evolutionary way from those predecessors while retaining classic sounds from venerable beat boxes like the TR-808, TR-909, and TB-303. There are presets arranged in style groupings for everybody and every project here: hip-hop, rock, jungle, drum 'n' bass, techno, acid jazz, house, and more. Hip-hop alone offers over 100 patterns. Acid jazz is another genre with an especially rich range of pattern choices. With 24-voice polyphony, 256 drum and bass sounds, 128 drum kit and 400 pattern presets, it could be a while before you get around to creating your own. Not to mention putting the stuff created in your Dr. Sample to work.


This isn't your father's beat box

The sequencer has three tracks; one each for rhythm, bass, and an external source for your Dr. Sample or other MIDI gear. The DR-202 has serious potential as a live instrument. The Low button's hands-on feel is great for cutting and boosting basslines while the Roll button houses 67 ultra-cool drum rolls. Use them with the cut-off, resonance, and decay controls, plus the tap button and effects to generate enough performance variations to keep the rave going all night long. Get 'em both and save a bundle!


Recognizing the incredible synergy you get from marrying the DR-202 with the SP-303, the folks at Musician's Friend have come up with a sweet package deal. Forget those high-end, pricey workstations. Put these two Doctors to work for you and you'll quickly be up and running, creating killer songs and patterns that sound like a million bucks.


Save some serious bucks when you buy the DR-202 and SP-303 together.


Features & Specs



SP-303 Dr. SampleSP-303 Dr. Sample
  • 44.1kHz CD-quality sound
  • Onboard sampling expandable with SmartMedia cards
  • 8-note polyphony
  • 26 quality effects: Reverb, Tape Echo, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo/Pan, Distortion, Overdrive, Fuzz, Wah, Octave, Comp, Equalizer, Lo-Fi, Noise Gen, Radio Tuning, Slicer, Ring Mod, Chromatic PS, Voice Transformer
  • Realtime sequencer with quantize function
  • Luminous sample pads with Gate, Loop, Reverse triggering
  • 3 realtime control knobs
  • Imports .WAV/AIFF files via SmartMedia cards
  • 24-voice polyphony
  • 256 drum and bass sounds
  • 128 preset drum kits
  • 400 preset patterns
  • 64 user drum kits
  • 100 user patterns
  • Classic TR-808, TR-909, TB303 sounds
  • Vinyl sounds
  • Lo-Fi drums
  • Synth basses
  • Various sound effects
  • Authentic, editable groove patterns
  • 3-track sequencer for rhythm, bass, and sampler/MIDI devices
  • Advanced realtime effects control
  • Roll button with 68 drum-roll types