XOX lab is based in Readipop Studios. Contact us if you would like to visit and play with the gear…

Join us on an XOX lab open day to get hands-on with the equipment and find out how these instruments influence the music we hear today.

Download our XOX Project booklet or find out more about the instruments in our electronic music heritage studio…

Explore the instruments and FX in the XOX lab and find out about their influence on music…





These ‘affordable’ beatboxes, synths & pedals helped create new sounds in the early 1980s…


A stripped down monosynth from Roland’s classic SH-series. It has a similar architecture to the SH-101, the VCA can switch between gate or envelope. It has an external input which will allow you to filter external audio through its VCF.  

Used by Orbital, Vince Clarke, BT, Conemelt, Josh Wink, Banco De Gaia, Mr. Oizo, Ladytron, Jimmy Edgar, Dave Holmes, Freddy Fresh, OMD, 808 State…

BOSS DR-55 & DR-110

Made by Roland, the DR-55 Dr.Rhythm was released in 1980, the same year as the more famous Roland TR-808. It was much more affordable and one of the first step-write-style drum machines.

The first drum machine Depeche Mode used in their live shows. New Order used it on their 1981 debut LP.


The organ and string sections can be played simultaneously or individually plus an ensemble/chorus effect and external sound input.

Used by Jimi Tenor, UB40, and The Cure.



We also have selection of other iconic instruments that are contemporary with the Roland XOX instruments. These beatboxes, synths and samplers helped create new music genres in the early 1980s…

E-MU SP-12

The SP-12 is often regarded as the first commercially successful drum machine and sampler combo.

Used by Rick Rubin in Rhymin & Stealin on the Beastie Boys album Licensed to Ill.

The Beastie Boys reference the SP-12 in their song “Putting Shame In Your Game” from their 1998 album Hello Nasty with the line, “Well I’m the Benihana chef on the SP12.” 

Young MC raps in the song Album Filler (1991) “It’s just me, a mic, and an SP-12.”


The DMX was the original drum machine of Hip Hop and Rap and it is featured on many of the genre’s early landmark recordings. It is in continuous use in dancehall reggae music. Artists that have used the DMX include Run DMC, Prince, Roni Size, Stevie Nicks, Mike Oldfield,  the Thompson Twins, New Order on their 1983 single “Blue Monday” and The Police on “Every Breath You Take” (kick drum only). Several artists derive their names from the drum computer, including DMX Krew, DMX and Davy DMX. 


The Yamaha DX7 was manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history.

The presets were widely used in 1980s pop music.  The “BASS 1” preset was used on songs such as “Take On Me” by A-ha, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, and “Fresh” by Kool & the Gang.

The “E PIANO 1” preset became particularly famous, especially for power ballads, and was used by artists including Whitney Houston, Chicago, Phil Collins, Luther Vandross, Billy Ocean and Celine Dion.

In 1986, it was used in 40% of the number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100, 40% of country number ones, and 60% of RnB number ones. The preset imitates a Rhodes piano, prompting some to abandon the Rhodes in favor of the DX7.


Rogue rhymes with Moog! The Moog Rogue is a monophonic analog synthesizer produced by Moog Music in the early 1980s.

Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, Saint Etienne, Add N to (X), Will Butler of Arcade Fire, Vince Clarke, Peter Gabriel, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Howard Jones, Mr. Oizo, Anni Rossi, Mike Rutherford of Genesis…


The MS-10 is a classic analog synth released by Korg in 1978, known for its great bass and percussive sounds.

Used by The Prodigy, The Orb, SkyLab, the Chemical Brothers, Astral Projection, Autechre, Juan Atkins, Underworld, Sneaker Pimps, Luke Vibert, JunkieXL, and Add N to (X).


The Korg Poly-800 is a synthesizer released by Korg in 1983. Its initial list price of $795 made it the first fully programmable synthesizer that sold for less than $1000.

Poly-800s have been used by Orbital, Depeche Mode, Sneaker Pimps, Vangelis, Geoff Downes, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Yesterdays and Jimi Tenor.


The S612 was one of Akai’s first professional rack-mount samplers, released in 1985. It included 12-bit sampling from 4 to 32kHz with loop and truncate functions, an overdub function and mic or line input jacks.

It was Future Sound of London’s first sampler and used in early hip hop and drum n bass.


The CZ series is a family of low-cost phase distortion synthesizers produced by Casio in the mid-1980s.

The Whistle patch is used on the Eastenders theme.

1960: La Monte Young, Fluxus. Composition 1960 #7

1961: Yuri Gagarin is the first man in space. Remi Gassmann / Oskar Sala – Electronics / Five Improvisations On Magnetic Tape

1962: San Francisco Tape Music Center is founded. BBC Radiophonic Workshop Maddalena Fagandini – Interval Signals is reworked into ‘Ray Cathode’ Time Beat with George Martin. Telstar is a No.1 hit in both the UK and US. Beatles first single released.

1963: Buchla modular synth is commissioned by Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender. Doctor Who Theme is created by BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

1964: Moog modular synthesizer is invented. Terry Riley – In C.

1965: Steve Reich – Its Gonna Rain. (Tape loop)

1968: Switched on Bach Wendy Carlos introduces the world to the Moog.

1969: Popcorn – Music To Moog By is a hit single. Robin Gibb – Saved By The Bell is the the first pop hit with a drum machine.

1970: Jean-Jacques Perrey. Moog Indigo. Sun-Ra and his Astro Arkestra. My Brother The Wind. Vol.1

1971: Tonto’s Expanding Head Band meet Stevie Wonder and influence his most influential albums. Sly and the Family Stone – Family Affair features the Maestro Rhythm King drum machine. EMS Synthi A – keyboard and sequencer feature on Pink Floyd – On the Run (Dark Side of the Moon).

1972. Stevie Wonder uses the TONTO system on the album Talking Book. EKO Computerhythm – first programmable drum machine with 16 beat matrix is released. Roxy Music – Brian Eno uses a VCS3

1973: DJ Kool Herc. The birth of Hip Hop in New York. Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together uses a drum machine. Ike and Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits features a synth solo.

1974: Kraftwerk – Autobahn. US Top 10 hit.

1975: Kraftwerk – Radio Activity. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygene introduced the idea of the solo synth composer/producer.

1977: Donna Summer/Georgio Moroder I Feel Love – Moog Modular and sequencer. All the sounds are synthesised except the voice and bass drum. BeeGees – Staying Alive. The beat is a tape loop of drums originally recorded for Night Fever. Ultravox – Hiroshima Mon Amour. Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express. Later used by Afrikaa Bambataa.New York City blackout. Widescale theft of music equipment helps put music equipment in the hands of poor young musicians.

1978: Roland CR78 CompuRhythm is first programmable drum machine with a microprocessor and features on Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight. Human League release Being Boiled.

1979: Chic’s Good Times becomes the bassline for Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five release Superrappin’. OMD release Electricity. Gary Numan/Tubeway Army – Are Friend Electric? Boss DR-55 Dr Rhythm launched. It is programmable and affordable and is Depeche Mode’s first drummer.

1980: Roland TR-808 launched. Buggles/Trevor Horn – Video Killed the Radio Star. Visage – Fade To Grey.

Listening list – The musical landscape that welcomed the Roland TR-808