From the Point of View of a Gigging Musician.
Long Term Review
I usually write reviews after
a few weeks of use on most of most pieces of equipment I purchase
or test. However the complexity of the SonicCell
is such that until recently I havenít really used the device
enough to comment on all itís aspects.
Having purchased the device in
December 2007, the initial plan was to make use of the Sonic
Cell as an SMF (Midi Backing Tracks) for my band to replace
our Korg Trinity. As the bonus the
Sonic Cell also serves as a USB Recording interface, and a
sound module as well as an SMF player.
As with most workstations the
Sonic Cell has in my view a steep learning curve to maximize
its use, and only after much work and help from online forums
and Roland support was I able to get my SMF files sounding
correctly. It is true that the device has a huge number of
functions that dedicated SMF players do not, but still a dedicated
SMF section or template would have been useful and saved a
lot of time and effort.
Once overcome however the SonicCell is worth its weight in gold, during our first function
it was apparent that it sounded as well or better than our
previous Korg and that load times for SMFs from the USB memory stick
are near instant as compared to lengthy load times from our
previous Zip or Floppy Disks. This allowed us to minimize
time between song changes and keep the dance floor moving.
Also useful is the play list editor
supplied with the device. This allows you to prepare predetermined
set lists in any order you wish and also adjust parameters
such as relative volume, EQ, pitch etc.
Furthermore having to carry one
desktop module in a small case relieves the load previously
burdened by our full size workstation in a hard shell case.
Roland have really thought out this little device,
the 128 x 64 screen allows for a clear display, while the
jog wheel and front panel buttons are easy to find and use.
The only minor gripe is the tiny volume wheel set at the front
of the unit, this can be impossible to adjust on a dark stage.
The full specification of this
device could fill pages, but as a summary, itís a desktop
synthesizer, USB audio interface and media player. I expand
on these three sections below.
carries a sound module comparable to a full blown Roland synthesizer;
in fact many users have suggested the sounds are based on
Rolandís Fantom range. 128 voice
polyphony is offered either in single mode or 16 part multi-mode. Nearly 900 presets are provided plus a full General
Midi 2 soundset. The unit can also
be expanded with two of Rolandís range of SRX cards.
I rarely use the audio interface,
but have tested it on occasion and find it adequate.† A combination
1/4Ē /XLR jack allows the connection of line level devices,
hi-z (guitars), or microphones with phantom power also available
for condenser microphones.
This is the main purpose for which
we have purchased this device. It provides compatibility with
the following formats: SMF 0-1/MP3/WAV/AIFF. These can be
loaded on a compatible USB memory stick and set up via the
bundled play list editor or chosen directly from the on screen
menu. As mentioned before SMF load time is near instant. With
the latest BIOS update a total of 399 files are allowed. (Previously
only 99 files were allowed). These have to be in a predetermined
In retrospect the SonicCell has completed the tasked for which we had purchased
it. A portable, lightweight and professional
sounding, SMF player with quick load times. It has
proved itself now over many gigs and I am sure we will be
making further use of its other features soon.
By Ernest H Slade
Download: Sonic Cell SMF Guide
For more information please