BY MIKE SNYDER
You can scarcely open the pages of DRUM! without seeing a Roland SPD-S next to a drum set. It’s become something of a “must have” for drummers, like extra sticks or a second snare. The SPD-S is an all-in-one multipad that allows you to capture sounds (samples), edit these samples, and easily play them back. Nothing else needed to take a sound from sampling to playback – it’s a one-stop device.
An important distinction to make is that the SPD-S is a sampling pad. In fact, it’s the only sampling pad available on earth at the moment, and it’s designed specifically for drummers. Other multipads, such as the Roland Octapad SPD-30 and the Yamaha DTX-Multi 12 might look similar, but these pads playback sounds from a fixed sound set that is permanently etched into internal ROM. Although you can alter these internal sounds, do some loop creation, and add effects, these multipads do not sample. (The DTX-Multi 12 does allow you to load samples into the 64MB of internal memory, albeit just in 4MB chunks.)
The ability to load custom sounds and loops is exactly what the SPD-S is designed to do, again, specifically with the drummer in mind. Its easy-to-use interface allows you to work through every aspect of the sampling and editing process, with almost no prior sampling experience. Oh yeah, you don’t need a computer to create, edit, and manipulate samples; it can all be done onboard the SPD-S.
A FEW MAIN USES
• Play along with preproduced loops
• Play specialty sounds, like handclaps, reversed sounds, and background vocals.
• Use as a playback device for entire songs – just whack a pad to start/stop playback.
• Trigger external sounds from a pad or an acoustic drum trigger.
• Replace your bass player!
• Nine pads, two sounds per pad – (six square pads and three shoulder pads)
• Dual-trigger pad/trigger input (TRS)
• Multi-function footswitch input (one TRS .25″ input, two footswitches)
• Accepts up to a 4GB CompactFlash card (with 1.20 software installed, only 512MB accessible)
• 899 slots for samples (399 internal, 500 on the CompactFlash card)
• Over 5:30 of internal sampling time, or well over three hours using an external 512MB CompactFlash (CF) card
There’s room inside this little box for almost 900 samples. It even comes loaded with 181 single-strike samples and loops, most of which are very usable. Unfortunately, if you want custom sampled sounds and loops, they don’t magically appear perfectly trimmed and ready to use. There’s no sample-creation fairy. You’re going to have to create them. That said, there are a few basics about sampling and its terminology that will be helpful to know before you power up an SPD-S, and jump into the shallow end of the sampling pool.
A QUICK LESSON IN TERMINOLOGY
Don’t freak: The terminology is easy and pretty straightforward. Spending a little time becoming familiar with these terms will save you a lot of headache in the future.
.AIF The acronym for the “audio interchange format” sound file type originally associated with Macintosh computers. This format is now editable on virtually every computer.
.WAV The acronym for the “waveform audio file format” sound type originally associated with computers running Microsoft Windows. All computers can edit this file type.
Amplitude Amplitude is the height of a sample’s waveform – the larger the amplitude, the louder the sample.
Bit A bit is one single digit of binary code, either a “1” or “0,” “on” or “off.”
Bit Depth The number of bits used to represent the amplitude of a waveform. The larger the bit depth, the better the sample will resemble the original sound. CDs have a bit depth of 16 bits. Bit depths of 24 bits are now standard.
Line Level The level of output usually associated with synthesizers, most commonly uses a .25″ male plug
Loop A piece of audio that plays repeatedly end-to-end. Loops tend to be primarily drums and/or percussion, but may be other instruments, such as guitar.
Polyphony The number of voices a synth and/or sampler can play at one time before a voice is dropped. The first voice dropped is most often the first voice played.
Resampling The act of saving a sample that has been altered or manipulated as a new sample, leaving the original sample unchanged.
Sampling The act of making a digital representation of an analog sound.
Sample Rate The number of times per second a snapshot or sample of a sound is taken. The higher the sample rate, the more accurately the sample will represent the original sound. Audio CDs have a sample rate of 44.1kHz.
Threshold The point at which, when crossed, an audio waveform will be recognized by a device.
Waveform A waveform is the visual shape of a sampled sound. It is plotted as amplitude in volts vs. time in milliseconds.
GRADE, MODE, AND THEIR EFFECTS ON POLYPHONY
There are a few things you should know about the SPD-S and its polyphony – polyphony being the number of samples that can sound at the same time. Hey, I just said, “Polyphony!” Simply put, there isn’t a whole lot of it to spare. The SPD-S has eight-voice polyphony. That is to say, eight mono samples can sound at the same time. The samples can be individual hits like percussion sounds, or full-blown loops. But, as soon as the ninth simultaneous sound is played, the very first sound played will be cut off and stop sounding.
Notice that I said eight mono samples could sound at the same time. This is important. Because a stereo sample is just two mono samples locked together, a stereo sample uses two voices of polyphony. Quickly doing the math reveals that only four stereo samples can sound at the same time. The point being, you have to use your polyphony wisely, lest you quickly run out.
When saving samples, you will almost always be prompted to choose the Mode, (mono or stereo samples), as well as the sound’s Grade. Choosing the Grade from LONG, STANDARD, or FINE will help determine the final sonic quality of the sample. The pad’s default Grade setting is STANDARD. This Grade is CD quality, but has an ingenious compression scheme designed to minimize the space used when the sound is saved to memory. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve used any Grade other than STANDARD – it just sounds great. Guess that’s what happens when a bunch of MIT eggheads design your compression scheme!
LONG Grade squeezes the most sampling time out of the SPD-S, but at the cost of sound quality. I discourage the use of this Grade, as you do begin to hear some of the sample degradation.
FINE Grade sounds great, but also has a cost. Hang on to your hat and get out the abacus, there’s a little more math relating to FINE Grade and its effect on polyphony. When using FINE Grade to sample, which has no compression scheme at all, polyphony is cut in half. So, in FINE Grade only four voices of polyphony are available. Just four mono samples or two stereo samples will consume every bit of the polyphony! Because of this, a little planning should to take place before you actually begin sampling. Blindly charging ahead without planning ultimately creates much more work for you in the long run.
UH, MONO OR STEREO MODE?
To determine what might be the best sample Mode, look at how the sample or loop will be used. Does it need to be sampled in stereo? If the answer to this question is anywhere in the same zip code as “no,” sample in mono. For almost all single-strike hits, mono is just fine. Also, samples and loops of instruments that are usually mono in the acoustic world, like bass, guitar, and cowbell – one can never have enough cowbell – work well living in mono.
HOW DO I LOAD MY SOUNDS?
There are two ways to get new samples from an external source into the SPD-S: sampling directly into the SPD-S using the audio inputs on the back panel, and editing the sound on a computer and transferring it to the SPD-S via CF card. While some people prefer the simplicity of using just the SPD-S to sample and edit, others like editing on a computer because you’re able to see the waveform on the screen. Either way is easy to master because the user interface of the SPD-S is designed to make what used to be a very difficult process, easy. Dare I say, it’s almost “drummer proof!”
Much of this ease-of-use can be attributed to the user interface, which relies heavily on multi-color, backlit gel buttons (Fig. 1). The backlit button scheme helps guide you visually through the sampling process. Non-illuminated buttons are inactive. Active buttons needed for completing some part of the task at hand are continuously backlit. The lone flashing button is the one you would press to execute the next logical step in whatever process you engaged in. (There will never be more than one button flashing at a time.)
SAMPLING VIA THE AUDIO INPUTS
The back panel of the SPD-S has two 1/4″ audio inputs. They accept standard guitar cables. To sample using these inputs, simply plug in an external audio source. If you are using an audio source such as a CD player, mp3 player, or synthesizer, make sure the switch to the left of the inputs is set to LINE. If you are using a microphone, you’ll need an adapter to turn the mike’s XLR output into a .25″ plug. Because microphones have a much lower output level than most other audio devices, like synthesizers, set the switch to MIC. This setting makes the audio inputs much more sensitive. To the right of the audio inputs you’ll find a knob marked LEVEL that is used to fine tune the input gain (aka, input level), once you start the sampling process (Fig. 2).
Notice that the left (L) audio input is also labelled MONO. Circuitry in the SPD-S senses if both the right (R) and left (L) inputs have jacks plugged into them, and automatically samples in stereo. It’s very important that when you want to sample in Mono, that just one cord is used and it is plugged into the left (L), MONO input. Not only do stereo samples eat up polyphony, they double the size of the associated sample file (Fig. 2).
HEADPHONES AS A MICROPHONE?
To take you through the process of sampling using the SPD-S, instead of using an mp3 player or a microphone, I’m going to use a pair of over-the-ear headphones as the microphone. Yes, it seems odd at first, but microphones and headphones work on the same principle.
Start by plugging the headphones into the left (L) audio input and setting the input switch to MIC. Next, select an empty patch. Empty patches start around 48. We’re now ready to sample, really! Press the SAMPLE button – a light show should ensue. The display will prompt you to select a destination pad. The red lights to the left of the display show whether a pad has a sound assigned to it or not. If it’s solid red, there’s a sound already assigned. If it’s flashing red, there isn’t a sound assigned. Hit a pad that has a flashing red light, that’s where the new sample will be assigned.
Once the destination pad is selected, you’ll be in standby mode and ready to sample. At this point the audio inputs become active. If you are monitoring through speakers, make sure that that they are turned way down. Better yet, turn them off completely and monitor through headphones. This will avoid the dreaded feedback loop. Look out, there’s a potential ouch lurking here!
The START/ STOP button should be flashing and the screen should read “Stby.” (Fig. 3) At this point you might even see some activity on the standby page, as this is your input-level metering page. On the left-hand side of the screen there’s a small vertical line; this is the recording start threshold. Once you press the START/STOP button again, sampling will begin when the audio level reaches this threshold. Of course, this threshold is probably set too low to be of practical use. It needs to be raised so that sampling isn’t triggered from mere ambient room noise. You can raise the threshold by pressing the right PAGE button one time, then pressing the “+” button a few times to raise the recording start threshold (Fig. 4).
Before we actually record a sample, press the right PAGE button one more time, this is where you set the Mode of the sample, either mono or stereo. Press the right page button one more time and this is where you set the Grade of the sample; it should be set to STANDARD. If you press the right PAGE button yet again, you’ll be at where you set the type of sample you want to create, either SINGLE or PHRASE. If you want to create a sound that just plays one time when you hit the pad, select SINGLE. When creating a loop, a sound that will repeatedly play until it’s stopped, select PHRASE.
Before you initiate sampling, talk into each side of the headphones, only one side will pickup sound, use this side as your mike. Continue talking into the active side of the headphones and use the input-level knob to adjust the audio input so that there is a good strong level. As with all recording, you want the input level to be pretty hot, so that you get a good signal-to-noise ratio.
Okay, press the flashing START/STOP button and make some noise! When you want to stop recording press the START/STOP button again. You will then be prompted to write the sample to memory. The memory slot where the sample will be stored is represented by a three-digit number, preceded either the letters “I” or “C.” “I” stands for “internal” memory slots, and “C” denotes memory slots on the CF card. If you want to keep the sample, press the flashing ENTER button. That’s it. Sample created and saved. Pretty simple, huh?
THE COMPUTER’S IN THE LOOP
Being a self-professed geek, I use my computer to edit samples before I transfer them to the SPD-S. Quite frankly, making loops repeat perfectly, and evening-out sample volumes with gain change or normalizing is much easier when you use sound-editing software on a computer. Fig. 5 shows a single hi-hat strike as it appears in the sound-editing software Peak, from Bias, Inc. Because I’m editing on screen, I can see that there is extra space at the beginning of the sample, shown in dark grey. If this space is not deleted, the sample will sound late, no matter how well you play in time. When editing samples inside the SPD-S, you have to primarily rely on your ears to edit the sample, including listening for any extra space or noise at the top of a sample. When editing in the blind like this, it’s a lot of work to accurately trim a sample. Although editing exclusively inside the SPD-S works, it’s not as accurate as editing sound in software.
Once all the editing is done on the computer, copy the file – AIF or WAV format – over to the root directory of the CF card (Fig. 6). The SPD-S will import WAV and AIF files with a sample rate of 44.1kHz, and a bit rate of either 8- or 16-bit. Beware of a sample’s bit rate; 24-bit samples will not load. Take the card out of the computer, insert it into the card slot on the SPD-S and use the card utilities to import the sample into the SPD-S. After that, you’ll have to manually assign the sound to a pad within a patch.
During the import process the SPD-S converts samples into a Roland proprietary format, with the suffix of SPD. This SPD-S specific format has its benefits. Most notably, during the format conversion a lot of number crunching and sample analysis is done and stored with the sample. Because of this, it’s very quick and easy to do things such as change the tempo of every loop in a patch to a master tempo, with just a few button pushes, change its pitch without changing its tempo; change its tempo without changing its pitch; and easily add effects.
The SPD-S is a great way to ease you into the world of sampling and looping. Just as you easily loaded sounds from the computer into the SPD-S, it’s even easier to export them as an AIF or WAV files to CF and load them back into the computer for use in digital recording and/or simply share them with friends and colleagues. (After importing samples into the SPD-S, you can delete any original files from the root directory of the CF card.) (Fig. 6)
THE BEAUTY OF RESAMPLING
The next two ways to create individual samples and loops utilize a concept called resampling. Simply put, resampling is when an existing sample is altered in some way, then saved as a new sample, leaving the original sample unchanged. You end up with two samples: the new altered sample and the original unchanged sample. The beauty of resampling is, because we’re working in the digital domain, when compared to the original sample, any new sample has no loss in quality. Theoretically, you could resample a sound, and then resample each newly created sample over and over, with each subsequent sample being a perfect clone of the first. That’s the beauty of sampling in the digital world, there is no signal loss — ones and zeros, baby.
CREATING A LOOP USING THE PHRASE-MAKER
The Phrase Maker function on the SPD-S is one of the easiest and most transparent tools available to create perfectly trimmed loops from the individual samples already in the SPD-S. Because you basically just select the desired patch, push a flashing button, and then just play the pads, it’s pretty much the perfect loop-creation interface for the drummer/percussionist.
I must point out that the Phrase Maker shouldn’t be thought of as a full-fledged sequencer, even though it seems like it could be one. It’s more of a scratchpad sequencer, a sort of sticky note for groove ideas. By that I mean you’re not going to use it to create the perfect drum and percussion track for an entire song by pushing the start button, and merrily whack away for the next three or four minutes; that’s just not what it does best. Phrase Maker is designed to create short- and moderate-length loops that are perfectly trimmed to the preselected tempo and meter. Transparent is the adjective I would use to describe the Phrase Maker function, because it doesn’t get in the way of creativity. It’s just a quick and simple way to create loops.
Keeping true to its scratchpad moniker, the Phrase Maker has a few limits when it comes to the tweakability of its settings. Tempo can be set from 20–260 bpm for the quarter-note; a common range. A loop can be input quantized from eighth-notes to sixty-fourth-note triplets, or not quantized at all. A loop cannot be quantized after the fact, and quantization cannot be removed from a loop once it’s been played, so decide ahead of time if you’re going to need to quantize. The SPD-S input quantizes; you have to set the level of quantization before you record a loop. For most loops I create, I use input quantization; it just depends on the vibe wanted. Loop lengths are a little more restrictive. They can be one, two, four, eight, sixteen, and thirty-two bars in length. The length of the bar depends on the number of beats you choose for the bar, which can be any number from 1–13.
IT’S LOOPING TIME!
Creating a loop using the Phrase Maker function is stupidly easy. The multicolored, backlit gel buttons on the SPD-S help guide you through the process. To start, press and hold the PHRASE MAKER button until the START/STOP button begins flashing and you hear the click sound. In this Standby mode you can use the “+” and “–” buttons to select the desired tempo (Fig. 1). You’ll notice that the right PAGE button is now lit. Pressing it will take you to four additional pages where you can select quantization values, loop length (in bars), the number of beats per bar, and the level of the click. Make sure to do a little planning and select the needed settings, none of which can be changed after the fact. Once you’ve gone through these settings, there are two ways to initiate the recording of your loop.
1) INITIATE RECORDING WITH A BUTTON PRESS
While in Standby mode — which means you’ve pressed and held the PHRASE MAKER button — if you press the flashing START/STOP button it will glow solid and recording will begin immediately. The loop will continue to play over and over, from beginning to end, until the START/STOP button is again pressed — that’s why they call it a loop. This happens even if you have not yet played anything on the pads. Once the START/STOP button is again pressed, the RESAMPLE button will begin to blink red, and the loop you are creating is stored in temporary memory, ready to be written as a new, independent sample. This method of initiating the recording process is the one you must use if you desire the downbeat of the loop to be silent.
2) INITIATE RECORDING BY HITTING A PAD
While in Standby mode simply hit a pad, the START/STOP button will glow solid and recording will begin immediately. Don’t worry too much about playing perfectly with the click on a downbeat; no matter where you start, your first strike will be interpreted as the downbeat of the loop. As before, the loop will continue to play over and over, ad nauseam, until the START/STOP button is again pressed. After the START/STOP button is pressed, the RESAMPLE button will begin to flash red, with the loop you just created safely stored in temporary memory, ready to be saved as a new sample.
Whichever way you use to initiate loop recording using the Phrase Maker function, the new loop is saved to memory exactly the same way. Read on.
SAVING YOUR HANDIWORK
Writing the newly created loop as a new sample file is initiated by, you guessed it, pressing the flashing RESAMPLE button. Do you see a pattern here? If a button is flashing, it’s probably the one you’ll press to initiate the next action on the SPD-S. Anyway, once you press the RESAMPLE button, its flashing will give way to a solid red glow. Again, the right PAGE button will light and you’ll be presented with five different menu screens. The first screen is the Gain screen. It’ll show a default value of 100%; there’s no need to change this, just press the right PAGE button again. This next screen allows you to choose between the loop being recorded as a mono or a stereo file. Remember, because stereo files use two voices of polyphony, they can quickly use up the available eight voices of polyphony on the SPD-S. If you can live with a mono loop, do so.
Press the right PAGE button once again and you’ll be prompted to choose the grade of the sample. The grade of the sample refers to the amount of bit compression that is applied to the sample. The lower the grade, the lower the sample playback quality. There are three levels of grade: Long, Standard, and Fine. Standard grade is the default setting and is near CD quality. Personally, I always pass right by this page and use the default Standard grade — it sounds great! Fine grade applies no bit compression at all. Although this is the best-sounding grade, it not only takes up more space on your CF card, but it also uses twice the polyphony of the other two grades. This can be kind of dicey as the SPD-S only has eight voices of polyphony to work with. Effectively, if samples are saved in Fine mode, the SPD-S has just four voices of polyphony. Which means only four mono samples, or just two stereo samples, can sound at the same time — kind of limiting. You can see why you might want to stick with Standard grade.
Pressing the right PAGE button once again will bring you to the menu where you select where the sample is stored, either in one of the 399 internal slots or in one of the 500 CF card slots. Remember, “I” denotes an internal memory slot and “C” denotes a slot on the CF card (Fig. 2). I strongly suggest you have a pencil and paper handy to write down the number of the slot where you saved your loop. With almost 900 slots to store samples, it’s quite easy to misplace a loop. Of course, I’ve never misplaced a loop. Nope not even once … ahem. Anyway, don’t put your index finger away yet, there’s still more button pushing to do.
To finish saving you loop, press the right PAGE button yet again. The display will read, “resample, sure?” (Fig. 3) and the ENTER button will flash. Pressing the ENTER button will process the loop and then ask you if you would like to “write?” the loop to memory (Fig. 4). At this point you can use the “+” and “–” buttons to name the new loop using up to eight characters — a dizzying number. Press the ENTER button one more time and the loop will finally be saved to memory. At this point the SPD-S will automatically switch to WAVE mode, with the loop you just created playable from every pad. This allows you to immediately listen to your most recent masterpiece. There you have it: PHRASE MAKER makes loop creation so easy, even a drummer can do it!
So far, we’ve created individual hits and loops with the SPD-S using some powerful, albeit mundane, tools and techniques. For me, there are two things the SPD-S does that are nothing short of miraculous, especially given its low price tag. They are, 1) Its ability to apply a single or multi-effect to an existing sample/loop and create a new, effected sample, and 2) Its ability to change the tempo of a loop without changing the pitch — this time-stretching capability still knocks me out.
RESAMPLING WITH EFFECTS TO CREATE NEW SAMPLES
So far we’ve used the SPD-S to import or create single-hit sounds and loops, but haven’t altered those samples in any way. Well, folks, let the creativity begin! The SPD-S boasts 30 multi-effects, including simple multi-band EQ, compression, a ring modulator, a voice transformer, and, if you’re looking to erase any trace of your band’s former singer — a center-cancel function. Each patch can have one multi-effect assigned to it at a time. Each pad within the patch can be set to use the effect, in varied amounts, or have no effect at all.
Before you can apply an effect to a sample, you have to enable the effects for the patch by pressing the EFFECTS button so that it is lit (Fig. 5) — I’m using factory Patch 001, “Join Us!,” to demonstrate. Hit pad six (top right) and a drum loop will begin to play. Notice, even thought the EFFECTS light is lit, you can hear the effect on the loop. That’s because the Effects Switch (effect return) is turned off on that individual pad. The Effects Switch must be set to ON for each individual pad in order to hear the effect.
To turn on a pad’s Effects Switch, make sure the red PAD 6 light is on and you’re hearing the drum loop. Then press the EDIT button; it will light up and the ENTER button will begin flashing — resist the urge to press it. Next, press the right PAGE button two times; the display will read “PAD CONTROL.” Now you can press the flashing ENTER button one time; the display will read “Dynamics OFF.” Pressing the right PAGE button one more time will get you to the correct page, it should read “Effects Sw OFF.” Press the “+” button one time and the displayed “OFF” will change to “ON.” Congratulations, effects are now on for pad 6 (Fig. 6).
At this point you have no idea what effect is selected for this patch. Here’s a shortcut to get to the screen where you select effects: Press the EXIT button one time; this backs you out one menu level. The display should again read “PAD CONTROL.” Now, press the right PAGE button one time, the display will read “EFFECTS.” Press the flashing ENTER button and the display will read “Type” followed by the name of one of the 30 available multi-effects. Repeatedly pressing the “+” and “–” buttons will scroll through various multi-effects. Find an effect that you like and you’re ready to do some resampling. Personally, I’m drawn to the “RADIOTUNING” effect for this loop. To exit the editing menus and save the changes to the patch, just press the PATCH button.
A LITTLE MORE ON EFFECTS
Here’s a little more information on controlling effects. When you are on the menu where the display reads “Type” followed by the name of an effect, simply pressing the PAGE buttons, the right button first, will scroll you back and forth through all the available parameters for the selected effect. The “+” and “–” buttons will change the values for each parameter. The values for up to three parameters of an effect can be changed in real time using the EFFECTS CONTROL wheel, MIDI velocity (how hard the pad is hit), and an expression pedal (continuous-controller pedal) — what parameters are controlled by what input method can be selected and set up ahead of time by the user. This real-time control can be used to create some really unique performances.
LET’S SAMPLE IT!
While resampling a sound with effects is similar in concept to resampling a loop made with Phrase Maker, the button pushes are a bit different. Starting in Patch play mode, press the RESAMPLE button. The display will prompt you to “select scr pad”; hit the pad with the effected sample/loop you want to resample. The START/STOP button will light up and the SAMPLE button will flash red. Next, press the flashing SAMPLE button, which will glow steadily and the display will read “select dest pad.” Hit the pad where you want the newly created sample to be assigned. The display will read “Resample Stby,” and START/STOP button will begin flashing. Press the START/STOP button once more and the effected sample or loop will play one time to create the new sound file and then prompt you to write the file. You can rename the file at this point if you wish (Fig. 7). Press the flashing ENTER button and the file will be saved to memory. There you have it, a completely new sample file. The fun doesn’t have to end here. You can repeat this process over and over, resampling the newly created sound with another effect, creating yet another sample, and on and on till your heart’s content.
BEST FOR LAST
There is one SPD-S function that, in my mind, justifies its entire purchase price. It is the Sync Tempo function tucked away anonymously amongst the Patch Common settings. With this single-page function, you can create magic. It brings to the table the ability to take loops of differing tempos and instantly change their tempo up or down to that set in the Sync Tempo page. This is all without changing the original pitch of the loop — simply brilliant.
Individual loops within a patch can have the Tempo Sync turned on or off for each pad. You do this under page five of the Pad Control settings; much the same way you can turn on and off the effects switch for each pad. This feature comes in handy when you have created a set of loops for a song and someone gets the bright idea to change the performance tempo. In the past you’d have to do some creative work to change the tempos. Now, all you have to do is enable Tempo Sync on the desired pads and set the new tempo in the Sync Tempo window, under the Patch Common menus. Roughly, tempos can be increased up to about 20–25 percent, and decreased to about 10 percent of their original tempo. (Increasing the tempo is technically easier to do.) I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this is — it makes me giddy.
This tutorial should give you a solid foundation with the SPD-S, but it by no means covers everything it does. Keep exploring.
Mike Snyder is a freelance drummer, percussionist, clinician, and e-drum guru based out of Portland, Oregon. He can be reached through his web site, eDrumU.com.