in RM50

This is the 1U rack version of the RY30. Release year: 1992 (manufactured from 1992 to 1995).

I’ve been eyeing them for quite a while and always thought I should pounce if one became locally available. Then two came along at once, and at 100euro per unit I had to get both.


Even without any expansion cards, for a 20-year old module it’s sounding great, with a small set of high-quality drum samples on-board. There’s a limited but interesting drum-focused synth engine. Pitched synth sounds are also facilitated, with basic but functional parameters to edit. No crazy pads here, but definitely usable for bass work – there’s a satisfying low-end.

The 64 factory kits are OK, if a little too generic. Although there are not many basic samples, the preset sounds demonstrate what is possible. My interest is creating custom kits. There are 128 slots for user-created sounds using the on-board and imported RAM waveforms. More than enough.
Each drum sound can be made-up of two ‘Voices’. Each Voice in turn contains 2 ‘Elements’, which consist of one drum sample and and it’s synth engine.

The synth engine is simplicity itself. There’s a very basic pitch envelope generator, an amp envelope, resonant low-pass and non-resonant high-pass filters ( (12 and 24dB), and LFO for pitch, cutoff and amp modulation.

The MIDI delay effect allows the first note to be switched-off, leaving only the repeats. Looks interesting, especially for glitchy/granular effects. Finally, there’s good control over velocity sensitivity, where volume, pitch, cuttoff and decay can be set to different values.

CC assignments are basic – 6 fixed parameters can be assigned for real-time control at kit level. The CC assignment can be switched off per sound, so there is some flexibility.

No internal FX, however some samples have reverb built-in, and this can be gated. Nothing fancy, but the sounds do seem to fit together, making it sound nicely cohesive out-of-the-box. The compactness of the 1u RM50 is also strongly appealing, though it is bloody heavy.

Deep editing with only the front-panel buttons may seem a challenge, but I’ve found it surprisingly intuitive and straightforward.
There’s also a cross-platform patch editor. Simple, but does the job – except no MIDI input under Windows.

Thankfully there are Headphone outputs. Until I get a proper soundcard I can’t record any clips, but soon….

Other nice things:
+ Each drum sound has two separately-editable voices or ‘Elements’ that can be mixed using the balance control which, mapped to CCs provide for morphing kits!
+ Handles heavy MIDI streams.
+ Deep velocity sensing options for dynamic kits.
+ Reversible samples.
+ Audio Trigger inputs = modular fun!

Peremptory niggles:
– CC control at kit level only, and only 5 fixed parameters. But selectable per voice.
– No real-time pitch change except via EG, which is rather basic.
– No sample start adjustments, however there’s a unique delay control per Element which looks good for glitchy sounds.
– No LFO to pan. Voice outputs are mono anyway.
– No noise samples, and a shortage of Hihats, however…

Lucky for me, one unit unit came with additional wave sample ram already installed, which allows me to upload 512k of my own samples. Not too shabby.

There is also a third-party expansion module available, but I think I’ll have enough in one.

I’ve already uploaded some Goldbaby samples via the MIDI port using Elektron’s C6 sysex manager. Easy.

A scanned manual is available, in three parts:

Overall, I am very pleased with these acquisitions. I was going to build both the Sonic Potions LXR and the TR8060, but I simply don’t have enough time recently, and it’s beyond time I stopped farting around and got serious about recording for a change.

Firmware check
– Switch off RM50
– Press and hold PLAY + MACRO + SOUND while pressing the Power On button

Factory Reset:
– Hold play + utility buttons when powering-on

3V lithium backup battery (CR2450)

Full specs:
– 16-bit AWM2 (48 kHz sampling frequency) with digital filter 22-bit linear D/A converter
– Layering 2 elements/voices, 2 voices/notes
– Polyphony 16
– Voices 500 preset + 500 variation + 100 user; optional Wave Card: 32 user (x3); optional Data Card: 500 variation + 100 user
-Rhythm Kits Internal: 64 preset + 64 user; optional Data Card: 64 user
– Operation Modes Multi Play mode, Multi Edit mode, Voice Edit mode, Utility mode
– Trigger inputs!
– MIDI Parameters Program change mode selection; Program change table; Control change settings; Control change assignment; Remote mode selection
– Displays Multi-function 48-character LCD; Edit LED (red); MIDI received LED (red)
– Expansion Slots External wave card slot (x3); External data card slot; Internal expansion memory board slot
– Connectors Headphones, Line out L/MONO & R, Individual line out (x6), MIDI IN, OUT, THRU
– Power 120/220 V, 14
– (W x H x D) 480mm x 44mm x 347mm (D); 18 7/8” x 1 3/4” x 13 5/8”
Release year: 1992 (manufactured from 1992 to 1995)

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  1. Excellent review sir; have one as well. Been strapped for cash so thought bout selling it…but after finding out its a midi to cv converter, and your explanations of how versatile it is….it ain’t goin nowhere. At face value it’s still a great piece of kit; but knowing what’s underneath the hood makes it that much better. Thank you

  2. Thanks, I came looking for firmware version check procedure. RM50 does have a noise wave, but it’s not with the other synth waves near waves 130-133. It’s more like 100-110. Take a look.

  3. If I remember rightly the rm50 is multitimbral so you can have a different kit on each midi channel. This allows you to get around the limitations regarding CC messages. There are two channel modes. One is kit the other is voice. In the latter mode a channel has a single drum voice with its own set of CCs.

  4. Jut got mine, had a blast – voiced hihat in scale, sample and hold midi value assigned to decay. Impressed with the cc to decay. Fun for days, and instant 90’s autechre vibe.