Their products weren't cheap
but they exuded quality and had a great sound and an MXR Phase 100
pedal is probably now worth more than it originally sold for!
However, as technology progressed, MXR's fortunes began
to dwindle. Looking for ideas to generate revenue, MXR couldn't
resist the lure of the growing (and lucrative) drum machine market.
Linn and Emu had been seen to be very successful with their products
and, technically, the concept wasn't exactly rocket science at the
time.... a programmable sequencer that issued triggers to fire off
crude 8-bit drum samples stored in ROM chips! Nowadays, this might
be a course project for a college engineering student! And so in
the mid 80s, they released their MXR 185 Drum Computer.
On the surface, it looked great. Twelve 'real' drum sounds
each with their own pad at an affordable price. None of the pads
were velocity sensitive - you needed to use the ACCENT button for
dynamics (but this was typical for the time). However, each sound
also had its own individual output and level slider. Whereas the
Emu Drumulator compromised in these areas, the MXR was more like
a Linn in terms of dedicated pads and controls.
The MXR 185 also had some interesting innovations in
the user interface.