Sunday, 15 February 2015

Ace Tone (Roland) FR-4

The MultiVox FR-4 is basically a Roland Rhythm Ace from 1967.
It's all very confusing at this period as Roland was yet to be born.

 The parent company was called AceTone and it was still licencing its products to companies around the world. In the USA, the FR-4 was sold under the name MultiVox.

There are 8 sounds available on the FR-4.

It looks very similar to the FR-6 which came out in 1972. I don't think there was ever a FR-5.
The FR-6 and FR 4 have the same patterns except for one.
The second last (from left to right) on the FR-4 is DISCO.
ON the FR-6 this is now SLOW ROCK

There are 20 Presets: waltz, disco, ballad, rock'n roll, rumba, beguine, mambo, bossa nova, cha-cha, tango, samba, fox trot 1, fox trot 2, swing 1, swing 2, swing 3, march, haba-nera, bass snare, bass.
 Pretty basic mixing of patterns. The preset rhythms include 2-beat and 4-beat variations with the sounds accented on certain beats. This helps to reinforce the rhythms.
You can play more than one preset pattern at once. Combining these with the two Beat buttons opens up lots of variation in pattern.

These old machines are beautifully constructed & rock solid pieces of hardware.
The balance control adjusts the balance between the base drum and cymbal sounds.

 The diode matrix for pattern generation ??? I don't have the schematics for this drum. If anyone out there does I'd be eternally grateful if you'd contact me.

As this is a very an early machine, inductor coils & tuned tanks are used to create the drum sounds.
Thus cloning would be very difficult. Some of the individual sounds can only be isolated by messing around inside the machine. I plan to try to get individual outs first, and maybe bypass the diode matrix rhythm selector and trigger the voices separately.

Sadly there is no way to sync this to external gear without moddification.

The plan is to mod this in the future. I love the old Roland drums. That's the voice board on the top.

This is the rear section of the faceplate with the red lamp in the centre. The voice board is in the foreground.

This is the power supply part of the drum. Do be careful ... 
high & lethal voltages that can kill are here

For more info on the history of  Roland Drum Machines click here

1 comment:

  1. did u ever get around to modding this FR-4 for ext sync?