Tag Archives: roland octapad

HXW / Avatar PD705 Review – Affordable Roland SPD-SX Alternative

I recently picked up an Avatar PD705 multipad / sample pad, and I must say that I am pretty impressed with this device. It is well built, triggers very accurately, has decent pre-loaded samples, multi-layering capabilities, a fair amount of editing features, USB import/export, and a large amount of expansion ports. That’s a lot of stuff for only $247, compared to Roland’s SPD-SX which is $719!

A cheap Roland SPD-SX?

The PD705 features 9 velocity sensitive The pads themselves feel good, and I’m experiencing no crosstalk, nor retriggering problems on all 9 pads. The built-in samples sound decent, not amazing, but not bad either. They’re definitely usable in a pinch. It has ports in the back for 4 external triggers (if you’re using splitters) or two dual zone triggers. It also has two foot switch inputs that can be used for hi hat control, bass drums, or changing patches. There’s two USB connections, A and B, one for importing/saving samples, and another for using USB MIDI. There’s also Stereo audio outputs, MIDI DIN connections, aux in, and headphone out.

The menu and controls are fairly easy to use once you get used to them and there’s the usual pad adjustments you’ll find in Roland devices such as threshold, sensitivity, muffling, tuning, pitch, velocity curves, MIDI, and several other settings I’ll go more into detail in my YouTube review of the device.

Importing samples is a bit cumbersome and not as simple as just putting some samples on USB and importing them, but it works and the final result is good. First you need to download Avatar’s Wave Manager software Then you assemble ‘kits’ within the software then import them into the device via USB. This can just be a bit time consuming because you can’t do much editing on the software, so you’ll still want to adjust your layering and other options on the PD705 once the kit is imported.

The good news it, it just works. Once you have your stuff imported and edited, you can create fully customized multi-layered sample based drum kits which play very well on the nice Avatar pads.

My biggest pet peeve of the device is the fact that none of the 4 trigger inputs default to a Kick sound on any of the preset kits. This is completely mind baffling to me as to why they would do this. Yes you can easily edit the trigger input to a kick sound, but I feel like most people will be plugging in a kick drum trigger into trigger input 1, and having it default to a hi hat sound is, quite frankly bizarre.

So which input is defaulted to kick? Switch 2! This choice is equally as bizarre. Why would anyone want a non-velocity sensitive switch input for kick drum over an actual trigger? Well they wouldn’t. Switch input 1 works as a hi hat controller out of the box, and I’m happy to report that both a Roland FD7 and KD7 worked perfectly for hi hat and kick drum inputs. 

Stay tuned for my full YouTube review on this device. Overall I think it’s very worth the money!