How to Record Roland R70 Patterns in Cubase (Some pointers)

1st May 2015:
I had a message from Richard via Speakpipe – asking How to Record Roland R70 Patterns in Cubase.
Here is my response.
Hi Richard

Thanks for getting in touch

It’s a little tricky to be totally prescriptive about this one – As I don’t have Cubase or an R70.

However: Here’s a few pointers that should get you moving in the right direction.

First of all, watch my video on YouTube about recording the RX-17’s patterns. It’s probably quite similar to the R70. The video doesn’t explain the wiring but it should give you a reasonable approach to follow once your midi wiring and channels are set up properly. More about that below.

1) Some drum machines (DMs) won’t let you transmit their midi patterns to a DAW – like the Yamaha DD-5. That’s relatively rare, in my experience, the DD-5 being the only one I have encountered.

In that case, you can still record the audio of each drum pattern as PCM wave files (wavs) (I’d suggest 120bpm) and ideally convert these into rex loops using Propellerhead’s Reason 7 or Recycle so you can slice them and play them at different tempos.

If it has a demo mode and plays all the patterns in one long stream – you can record that as audio all in one go and then use an audio editor like Goldwave to cut it into individual drum loops/patterns.

2) But let’s assume in this case you can copy these patterns as midi. Once you have checked out the stuff below, you should be able to do what I did (in the video above) in Cubase.
NB Try to record the audio and the midi at the same time if you can.

You can check the Midi Implementation Chart – which tells you what is transmitted and what is received. The manual is quite helpful with this. From a quick look at the manual it seems similar to the Yamaha RX-17, in that you can bulk transmit all data to another R70 (if you have two units – not that useful for most of us).

Be prepared to fiddle around for a good while and eliminate what doesn’t work so you are left with what does. It’s hard to break these things and its a rewarding experience to finally solve it and get it working. Expect some head scratching though and frequent expletives. It’s all part of the fun!

I got the RX-17 and BR-1180 patterns recorded in midi through sheer bloody mindedness in the end.

Here’s what I would do. Try to keep things as simple as possible and just change one thing at a time before moving onto the next step.

NB From the manual (page 7-10) it says “set it to Rx when you use the R-70 with a sequencer” That should help later on.


See if you can get any midi data (e.g. individual notes / hits as well as full patterns) out of your drum machine at all. I’d be tempted to bypass the computer completely to start with and simply connect it up to a midi keyboard with a single midi cable – a midi out from the drum machine going to the midi in of the keyboard.

It seems almost too silly to mention but make sure your midi cable is connected the right way round – I have lost count of the number of times this has been a problem. It’s a particular problem with a midi interface cable if you connect the end that says OUT to the socket that says OUT! I have found it’s easy to screw this up.

Once this is correct, check your midi channels (ALL Ch 1 or Ch 10), midi note assignment and your Echo On/OFF midi thru on each device.

You should then be able to get to the point where you can play your midi keyboard and hear at least one drum sound (e.g. the bass drum) being played.
Play every note up and down  the keyboard if you have to. Try all the C’s first. There’s usually a bass drum on at least one of them.

Ensure that each drum voice on the drum machine (which has a specific midi note allocated to it) plays where you expect it to.

It’s best to have these set up according to the GM spec. Note midi percussion is set to channel ten. That’s important. I changed mine on the RX-17 to correspond with what I wanted. If you use a favourite software drum machine with Cubase set the pads to be the same as that.

C1 = Kick Drum – you should be able to go in and re-configure these (change them to what you want) The manual should show how to do this.


Pay attention to the channels you are sending and receiving on. I tend to try to send on all channels by default in my DAW if possible, but some older devices send on Channel 1 only.

If this is the case –  you will need to set your receiving device to the same channel or you won’t hear anything at all.

You might see WEIRD MIDI SETTINGS too on older devices: e.g. Modes: Poly Omni etc (experiment! try them each out)


I found out that in Reaper, I have to change the channel on my drum track to channel 10 (the default drum channel) to play midi drum patterns imported onto the tracks,But: I need to change the track settings for my midi keyboard back to channel 1 – in order to hear the drum sounds being played directly from the keyboard.

So remember that direct playback of your drum sounds from a midi keyboard (triggering your sounds is different – Ch 1)  from simply playing an imported midi drum file on Ch 10)


This often is the deal maker or breaker.

Echo OFF/On acts like a midi thru and essentially sends a continuous loop of data through your equipment – if left unchecked, potentially resulting in midi overflow – this will swamp your computer with reams of data and it will run out of available memory. This sounds like it could be your problem.

So be prepared to seek this out and learn how to switch it on and off from your manual.

Send data from the DM to your midi keyboard with ECHO on and off (on the DM) and see what works best. I think you will need it to be off, but experiment with it.I tend to start with just one midi cable first, and avoid connecting up the second one (the one that sends stuff back to your DM from your keyboard or Computer) in case it messes stuff up.

Each midi device in your midi chain usually has one of these to configure.
When that is all sorted out, You should be able to press record in your DAW and press play on your R70, and watch with glee as the patterns get moved over in midi.
I have found it’s easier to record one drum pattern at a time. Reapet it two to four times. If you do too many different patterns in one go, finding the beginning of each loop can be a real problem (my DM drifted out of time with the DAW).
I never figured out how to midi sync the DM and the DAW. There may be a way.
Make sure your tempo in your R70 is 120bpm and matches that of your DAW.
it makes the maths easier when you slice loops and 120 tends to be the default DAW tempo as your loops last 2 seconds, 4 seconds and so on..
You can do 60 bpm too.
I started the recording manually, so you may have to physically slide the beginning of each pattern right back to the start of each clip. Quantising may help, but be careful with it as if often ruins the groove and feel of the original clip.
You may want to record each drum sound and set that up in Cubase so you end up with a virtual R70 in your DAW to play your patterns. Or you could save yourself the hassle and buy some from here for 2 Pounds. I haven’t tried them myself.
N.B. These appear to be primarily for iOS, iPad, and iphone.
There’s also this free R-70 sample set I found for Kontakt – It needs an sfz script to run on anything else.
PS Hang onto that R70 if you can – there’s one going for $379 USD on eBay!
I hope that helps – Let me know how you get on!
All the best
P.S. If you are looking for similar sounds, here’s a few Roland style drum machines I have used personally which may be of interest:

Boss DR-110
Boss DR-660
Boss BR-1180CD (Digital Recording Studio with in built Rhythm Programmer)
Rebirth RB-338 by Propellerhead Software
Rebirth One by Propellerhead Software

Plus there’s this one too. I haven’t used it myself, but it appears to be pretty similar to the original and I reckon it’s well worth a look!
Rebirth for iPad/iPhone by Propellerhead Software

For further information on my experiences with the above drum machines (and a few others), check out and download our Drum Machine guide here (it’s free!)

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