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Cheetahsoft Ltd
Utility: Music
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne


IF YOU SAW the SpecDrum on BBC 2s Micro Live and were impressed, wait until you hear it through a decent amplifier. A musician friend of mine, to whom I took the SpecDrum for a professional opinion, is buying a Spectrum just so that he can run one.

The SpecDrum reproduces drum sounds through an external amplifier. Eight drums have been pre-recorded digitally and those are loaded into the computer from tape. They can then be played back, under the control of the Spectrum, up to four at a time and at any speed. You can use an editor to write a number of sequences - songs - or play the machine in real time. It can even be set to give out a sync pulse, so you can use it to build up a number of tracks or plug into a Midi interface.

Cheetah will be supporting the SpecDrum with extra software which will initially comprise extra drum sounds - the first is to be a set of Latin drums. The company then hopes to turn it into a device capable of emulating very sophisticated drum machines. Even in its basic form at £29.95 it produces results that sound the same as £200-300 machines, and it is much easier to use.

Each song - there can be 16 - is made of up to 255 steps - where each step is one of 64 different patterns - repeated up to 255 times. That is enough to write a very long song. The tempo is set overall as the number of beats per minute, but a pattern can also have its own tempo and so alter the speed as you go along.

The eight drum sounds built in to the SpecDrum are arranged over three channels. Channel one has a Kick Drum; Channel two has a Snare, Mid Tom and Low Tom; Channel three has a Cowbell, Hihat (Closed), Hihat (Open) and Claps. Only one drum per channel can be played but you can add one extra drum per beat to those three channels.

The tape has two extra drum sounds, Rim and Hi Tom which can be substituted for existing drums. Also on the tape are 11 demo songs, which provide a useful starting point for your own compositions.

If you have any money left after Christmas go and buy one and find out for yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Cheetah Marketing Ltd, 1 Willowbrook Science Park, Crickhowell Road, St Mellons, Cardiff. Tel: 0222-777337.

Not Rated