Transform Roland SP-808 into a Roland A-6

Roland A-6 VideoCanvas

Before the SP-808 Groovesampler there was the Roland A-6 Video Canvas. An equal looking unit but with some differences. The most important difference is that the A-6 has an hard drive installed with a maximum capacity of 2.1GB = 8.59 hours of sampling time. Besides the HDD the A-6 doesn’t have the Mono synth and no D-beamer. But you have access to all the effects of the Groovesamper and the recorder functions.

Next to each other!

Roland SP-808 Groovesampler
Roland SP-808 Groovesampler
Roland A-6 VideoCanvas
Roland A-6 VideoCanvas
Roland A-6 VideoCanvas + Roland SP-808 Groovesampler
Roland A-6 VideoCanvas + Roland SP-808 Groovesampler
Roland SP-808 Groovesampler + Roland A-6 VideoCanvas
Roland SP-808 Groovesampler + Roland A-6 VideoCanvas

Turning your SP-808 into an A-6

The procedure is very simple and I’ve created a video with all the steps to be taken. What do you need for this change?

  • SP-808, of course
  • A-6 OS MIDI file
  • UpdSMF – program to send MIDI files to your SP-808 (Mac OsX or Windows)
  • Soundcard with MIDI (I used Native Instruments – Komplete Audio 6)
  • Standard MIDI cable
  • IDE hard drive (I used a 2.5″ HDD from an old laptop)
  • 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter (I bought one from the brand StarTech.com)
  • Roland A-6 Manuals (in English and Spanish!)

Here is the video with all the to be taken steps:

 

Layout pictures

Roland A-6 / SP-808 Right Area
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Right Area
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Left Area
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Left Area
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Sample Pads
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Sample Pads
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Effect
Roland A-6 / SP-808 Effect

 

ZIP back into the SP-808

In the video you will learn to create a copy of your SP-808 Groovesampler OS. To put it back you need to put the Zip Drive back into your SP-808. Otherwise you will not be able to install the SP-808 back to its original OS.

 

I hope you like this transformation. Leave your experience in the comments below and subscribe to my YT-channel, https://www.youtube.com/c/rogerthemidimaniac

 

Grtzz,

Roger

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Great video, I wonder if the a6 conversion would work with an ide to sd card adapter?

  2. Do you have access to a freshly formatted 808 disk and a freshly formatted A6 disk? I’d love to look at a disk image of each to see if there’s anything obviously different about the formatting that makes one work with Zips and the other with HDDs.

    1. Author

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for asking!
      I can create a freshly formatted 808 disk to share what’s on it.
      The problem with the A6 is that I can’t connect my IDE-HDD to my computer without initialising it.
      The computer asks automatically to do that because it’s a different format…
      Buuuut….perhaps you’re interested in the so-called *.PRG files.
      With a start-up-buttons-down-thingy (Locator 2 + clear) both machines ask to save the *.PRG file.
      I can’t read those files but perhaps you have an idea.
      I will post the SP-808 *.PRG file on the download page.
      The A6 is a little more complicated because I have to replace the HDD with a Zip drive (YES…YOU ARE READING THAT CORRECTLY!!!…the A6 needs a ZIP drive to have the *.PRG saved)

      To save the *.IMG file of the SP-808 you have push Locator 1 + clear + turn on.
      I also will put those files on my download page.

      Soon the A6-files will follow. First let me know if you can handle the files of the 808.
      Ah…if you hold Locator 3 + Effect C + turn on you get in the ‘Develop monitor’ mode.
      I don’t know how it works, but with the right software you should be able to do something.

      Thanks again!

      Grtzzz,
      Roger

  3. I recently purchased an a6 VideoCanvas, have you ever found the manual? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find anything.

    1. Author

      Hi Mark!
      Yes, I’ve got the original manual here as well in Spanish as in English.
      170 pages to scan when I create some time for it.
      That’s why I’ve uploaded a Quick Start Guide on my Website to have at least something.
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/eai72uakwgei5fs/Roland%20A6-Quick%20Start%20Manual.pdf?dl=0

      But I think it would be great to have a PDF of the original available. I will put time on that.

      Good luck and thanks for your message!

      Grtzzz,
      Roger

      1. That’s great, I’ve been inspired by your excellent SP808 videos. I did so much work with the SP808 when it first came out, including many remixes for signed artists, I still have all the zip discs with their vocals that I used at the time and they still all seem to work.
        The other day a Roland A6 came up on eBay that I purchased for a reasonable
        price . It’s just arrived and seems to have all the original factory sounds on the hard drive. Some of these are quite good.
        I’m wondering how I can backup these sounds?

        1. Author

          You’re the real SP-808 master! I still have your song here 🙂
          Amazing that I inspire you. Grateful for that.

          Wow…those samples from those artist are worth something. Cool that you still have them.

          How to backup those samples? The only way is to take out the HDD and to connect it to your computer.
          Your computer will recognise it and you will be able to copy and paste the content.
          If you have the original A6 HDD then you only have to remove the small faceplate which is tightened with two screws (Location of the Zip Drive of the SP-808)
          Then you have to unscrew 4 screws of the HDD.You can see that those screws are not attached to the bottom plate.
          If that’s done, you should be able to slide out the HDD.
          This HDD is attached to a special adapter. Detach the IDE-cable and find yourself a IDE to USB-cable.
          I use this product: https://gmb.nl/item.aspx?id=4178
          It happens to be that I work for this brand in Spain/Portugal. I sell this brand so easy access to this kind of products. 🙂

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