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Cheetah £29.95 Mar 1986 YS3
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Rachael Smith
What's got long greasy hair, makes nasty smalls in the comer and creates one hell of a din laying into his kit? A drummer, that's what! Now Rachael Smith reckons she's found a more refined alternative - Cheetah's SpecDrum.
    Drummers are a real pain for a new band. When you're starting out you can never find one - and if you make it big they're always the ones who drive the sports cars into the swimming pool! Well, SpecDrum may prove the answer. For thirty quid you get a complete drum kit in the shape of a small box to clip to your Speccy's behind, plus a tape.
    The hardware contains the electronic wizardry that gives you three channels of percussion. And as nobody in his right mind would want all that mayhem beeping through the inbuilt speaker, you'll just have to connect it to a hi-fi or other amp via the attached phone, possibly using an adapter.
    Mind you, the really clever stuff is on the tape. Here you'll find your kit of eight digitally sampled sounds. You can use any three of them simultaneously - within certain limitations. SpecDrum comes with a standard rock kit, plus high tom or rim substitutes. The versatility doesn't stop at that - there's even the promise of further kits to come, such as a latin one.
    But back to the present. Once you've listened to the eleven examples you'll be dying to create your own tracks, building with rhythmic blocks, creating your patterns then linking and looping them into completed songs. And as the instructions are probably the worst part of the package you can take a look at how this process works here.
    There's a lot of memory for storing your tracks. You'll soon find that using the system becomes second nature to you. But the impressive feature is that quality of the sound - it'd easily do for demo tapes. That's why there's a synchro facility - I reckon a full MIDI interface would've proved far too costly. As it is, SpecDrum is unbelievably cheap and great fun to use. A definite hit.
Rat Scabies of The Damned once said that he took up drumming 'cos he liked hitting things. For all of you who've never thrashed a kit here's a quick run down of what you get.
Bass The one you paint the band's name on. It hits you in the pit of the stomach so use it to accentuate the beat.
Snare 'Toppy' sounding, it can be used for sizzling rolls. Found in most sorts of music, an optional voice allows for striking the 'Rim'.
Toms Mid and Low are standard with an optional High. Over-use these tuned drums and you'll sound like a bad disco mix but moving between pitches can work well.
Hi-Hat Your cymbal can be in two states, Closed, or for a real crash, Open. Use sparingly unless you're into HMO (Heavy Metal overkill).
Cowbell Goes great with yodelling. Not one for the rockers but it can be nicely funky if it alternates with your cymbal.
Claps Another disco one in the cymbal section. Use it for steady, repetitive rhythms.

YS Cross-references
pSpecDrum/Essex Logic ServicesYS17
Some info from Sinclair Infoseek+SPOT*ON

Rachael Smith has kindly authorised this site
Reviews in other magazines:
Crash (HTML)
ZX Computing
Popular Computing Weekly
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