■ Ahead of its time, the x8e is one of the first drum expander without any programmer but just midi.
The XE8 is a compact 1U rack-mount unit, with typical sampler Akai colors . Very essential interface in design: a couple of buttons and a slot card (the second one is, strangely, on the rear. A Shot/Copy push button allows the sound currently selected for editing to be triggered from the front panel (for test sound). Then two more buttons, marked S-Sel and P-Sel, which respectively switch between the internal and card sound banks when selecting sounds, and switch between the parameters . Two red minimal 2 x 2-digit L LED displays : one for the value of the current parameter and the other to show the number of the current sound.
■ In the middle a rotary controls with 11-position knob which selects the Play/Edit functions: Play, Program, Tune, Tune Modulation, Utility, VCA Modulation, VCA Envelope, Sweep Range, Sweep Time, Output, Note.
The other two are both dual concentric controls (like seen on akai sampler): the first is for data entry (middle ring) and sound number (outer ring), the second for volume (inner ring) and One-Shot Play Velocity (outer ring).
■The XE8 is a 16-bit drum expander, with internal 16 sampled sounds at 32 or 44kHz (depending on sound) then stored in 1 Mb of internal ROM, and two plug-in ROM cards (front and rear) for two more 16 sounds (a totale of 48). Any 16 out of the 48 sounds can be modified in various ways like pitch and decay and combined into each of the 32 programs-kit patch that the XE8 can store in RAM. All sounds are: four bass drums, three snares, three hi-hats, two toms, a crash cymbal, a ride cymbal, handclaps and generic "percussion"
■Sounds are arranged into 32 kits: each contains 16 sounds, and each of those 16 sounds is created from one of the 16-48 drum samples, modified by a variety of pitch and amplitude modulation effects, and mapped on to any part of a MIDI keyboard and can be recalled by traditional program change
■Special Pitch Sweep can be applied with an about two octaves range, for Simmons tom like. The VCA Decay Time, and Sweep Depth and Time can all be modulated either with Key Offset or Note Velocity.
■ Personally the interface is just a nightmare, when I sold this unit, the guy pretended the machine was not working due the total lack of easy logic in edit! Of course the tiny display does not help, but that's only a part of the problem. Also, for some strange reason, there were no trigger input for drummer. Not really surprised this machine was a commercial flop.