The SC-880 is one of the last and best GM modules offered by Roland. It offered full compatibility with General MIDI (GM), while at the same time elevating the sonic capabilities of this machine to new heights – drawing from samples and sound from Roland’s own JV/XP series. It is also compatible with the General Standard (GS) format. The SC-880 is a 32-part, 64-voice multitimbral sound module, and thanks to this, “it can produce the sounds of a large ensemble. It is the ideal sound module to use with sequencers or personal computers”. The SC-880 contains 1,117 high quality tones and 42 types of Rhythm sound sets (including 3 sound effect sets). These include the same sounds as the SC-55 / 55mkII and SC-88 / 88 Pro, allowing SC-55 / 55mkII and SC-88 / 88 Pro song data to be played back correctly.
A wide variety of effects are provided: 64 types of multi-effects, eight types each of reverb and chorus effects, 10 types of delay, and a 2-band equalizer. In addition, the values of relevant parameters can be set for each effect, allowing professional-level manipulation of sound.
There are 256 user tones and 16 user Rhythm sets, allowing the user to create their own tones and Rhythm sets. The parameter list is not as exhaustive as – say – Roland’s own JV-1080 or 2080, but there are enough to provide satisfying customization of sounds, like vibrato, filter, and envelope.
A very cool feature of the SC-880 is “Patch mode”, which lets you layer up to 6 parts to create complex sounds. This mode is the most powerful feature of the machine, and where the best sounds are created. There are 256 on-board preset patches (hear examples from all these patches below), and you can create 128 user patches.
The SC-880 also provides a “Performance mode”, which stores settings for all 32 parts. There are 8 preset Performances suitable for the following styles of music:
Hip Hop Set
…and of course you can create eight of your own Performances.
The on-board Multi-FX is phenomenal, and allows to create very interesting patches, and give them that full-sounding “sparkle”. There are many effects to choose from, ranging from the more common reverb, delay, eq and compression, to the more esoteric like phaser, flanger, enhancer, humanizer, overdrive, distortion, auto-wah, hexa-chorus, rotary, pitch-shifter, rotary and many more, and also combinations of effects.
This is really a good alternative to the JV-series – if you don’t need all the parameter manipulation, but fast access to great sounds, it’s a very valid machine – and you also get many samples that are not on the stock JV series, and thanks to the Multi-FX, many new pro-effects also.