In the music business (as in life), very little is truly original and most ideas are usually a progression on what has come before. From the MiniMoog, for example, came the Odyssey.... the same basic idea but with ARP's take on the concept.

However, every now and then, the industry throws up a product that is so blatantly a rip-off of another that it's quite beyond belief that it was allowed to continue production.

One such product was the Sound Master SR-88. You only have to look at the panel to see that it's a clone of the Boss DR55 - it offers the same specs, the same number (and type) of sounds and pretty much the same simple programming and playback method. The sound generation process was also the same using simple analogue circuits to produce the four sounds on offer (kick, snare, hi-hat and cymbal).

Little could be discovered about the company Sound Master other than it was Japanese. Of course, as both machines arrived on the scene at around the same time, one can only speculate which came first - was it the DR55 that was ripped off by Sound Master or did Roland somehow get wind of the SR88 in their homeland (perhaps a prototype preview at a local trade show?) and implement the idea themselves in their DR55? I guess we'll never know. The DR55 was certainly the most successful of the two and the SR88 pretty much disappeared into obscurity.

I have the sounds from the SR88 which have been donated by Pol Davril (studio HSD, Belgium) who owns the one shown above. The sounds are, of course, nothing to get too excited about but are included if only out of curiosity value.

I am extremely grateful to Pol for the donation of this rare little box.