FIRMWARE UPGRADE OS007 FOR DR-2
Extra thanks to the famous Bobeats! A few others, such as Blush Response suggested us already to add parameter locking to the DR-2, but it was quite a technical challenge to get this done. Bobeats gave us the gentle but firm final little push to dive into it ! 😉
There is only one single new feature, but it's not an unimportant one: parameter locks! What's that?
A parameter lock sets a value for a certain parameter on a certain drum hit in the sequencer. They are used to program variations of synthesis parameters inside a drum pattern. Programming (or recording) a parameter lock is very simple: keep a step button pressed in the sequencer (1...16) and turn a knob. Now the drum hit on this sequencer step has that altered parameter, while the next drum hit returns to normal.
Note that a parameter lock doesn't necessarily have to be at the beginning of a drum hit. You can also put one on a grid step somewhere halfway a drum hit to alter the sound at that moment.
Also note that you aren't limited to one parameter. You can program parameter locks for different parameters, even on a single sequencer step.
Want to remove a parameter lock? Keep the step button down while pressing NO(/EXIT).
By using parameter locks on the PITCH control, you can program melodic basslines on the DR-2. As soon as we realised that, we transformed the PITCH setting of the bassdrum models into a TUNE + FINETUNE setting, to ease the programming of bass melodies. So, that's a second novelty in this firmware upgrade: when you turn PITCH on a bassdrum model, you'll see notes showing up instead of a value 0-127. From F#-1 to F-4 it stretches over 5 octaves. With SHIFT+PITCH you set finetune (+/- 1 semitone).
This tuning uses an equal temperament scale with A-4 = 440Hz, the most common tonescale for modern-day musical instruments. However, there's also a FINETUNE parameter to reach the pitches in between.
Note: When loading existing drumsets, the pitch of the bassdrums set in previous firmware versions is converted into the Tune/Finetune system to exactly match the pitch it had before. If you have difficulties tuning the pitch of a bassdrum to other instruments, check if Finetune (SHIFT+PITCH) is at zero!
OS007 UPDATE PROCEDURE...
But then there's one other very important thing to talk about...
To make parameter locks possible, a few important and complex changes had to be made under the hood of the DR-2, and that resulted in an update procedure that is slightly more complex than usual. Why is that? Well, the implementation of parameter locks isn't super complicated an sich. But the DR-2 lacked the necessary memory to store the parameter locks alongside their patterns. So: it was impossible to realize parameter locks on the DR-2... Or at least, it was impossible to save them for later reuse.
But... there was an escape route! Up to OS006, there was one chip of eeprom memory in the DR-2 that served only one single purpose: temporary storage of data during firmware upgrades. This memory chip is unavailable to store useful data, because it gets overwritten in the process of a firmware upgrade.
So... If we could only make the firmware upgrade procedure work without this temporary storage, we free up that memory chip, ready to be used for the storage of parameter locks and other stuff!
This was a technically complex piece of programming, but we succeeded! But it also means that after the firmware upgrade there is a second task to be done: installing a new bootloader.
That's not hard or complex to do. Just startup your DR-2 after the installation of the new firmware OS007 - The screen now says "UPGRADE YOUR BOOTLOADER", but for the rest your DR-2 will just work. Now send the second sysex file you find in the upgrade package to the DR-2, this upgrades the bootloader. Very easy, but just don't forget it!
A bootloader is small piece of firmware that's only active right after startup of the machine. It checks if an upgrade has to be done (checks for the SHIFT+MODEL button combo) and then launches the main program. If the SHIFT+MODEL button combo is detected, it launches a firmware upgrade procedure.
*** Don't forget to do this! ***
Because... If you forget to install the improved bootloader, your work will be (partially) overwritten - and thus lost beyond recovery - if your perform a firmware upgrade in the future!