Roland El Cajon Review: A first for Roland and a first for the cajon

Roland’s new Electronic Layered El Cajon has landed.  Featuring two in-built triggers, onboard sound module and speaker, this battery-powered hybrid cajon delivers all the features of an acoustic cajon with the added benefit of layering sampled sounds.

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A first for Roland

The EC-10 El Cajon is Roland’s first ever acoustic instrument in the company’s 40-year history.  Featuring timber construction, Sapele front face and in-built snare wires, El Cajon can be played just like a regular acoustic cajon.  Sure to be popular with buskers, street performers, at acoustic gigs or churches or just jamming with friends.

Watch our Youtube review:

A first for the cajon

El Cajon is also the first ever cajon to feature trigger and sample technology in the instrument’s 400-year history!  Now you can select from 30 on-board samples, and have them triggered from the face and rim.  Samples can be played through the in-built speaker (from Roland’s Cube Street amp), or sent from the Line Out to a PA system, recording interface, loop pedal or another amp.

We think the Line Out feature will prove to be a godsend for live sound engineers – now the front of house engineer can blend perfectly clean samples with mic-ed cajon sounds. No more stage bleed and feedback from the cajon player!

Watch our five favourite sounds on Youtube:

Players can fine tune their sound by using the Volume and Trigger Balance knobs on the rear panel.  Trigger response can also be adjusted via the Threshold/Sensitivity settings within the module, allowing heavy or light players to adjust trigger response to their playing style.

El Cajon also features a Mix In jack, allowing backing tracks, other instruments or additional sounds to be played through the in-built speaker.

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Our verdict

During our testing of El Cajon, we found it to be robust and well-built.  The acoustic sound is comparable to other cajons at this price point (we found the acoustic volume to be a little lower than most).  The addition of electronic sounds was a new experience, and inspired new playing ideas and got us talking about musical possibilities for live perfomers (how about feeding the samples to a loop pedal, and then bringing the loop back into El Cajon via the Mix In…while you continue to improvise over what you just played…the crowds are gonna love it!).

Sending samples to front of house via the Line Out is an absolute winner for live performance.  The onboard speaker will provide ample volume for most acoustic applications.  We found that to get best results from the face trigger, we needed to play with firm finger-tip strokes rather than with the usual open palm slap.

El Cajon is a new twist on a centuries-old instrument.  For the first time, the ability to layer electronic sounds with acoustic cajon sounds adds versatility, interest and innovation to the cajon.  El Cajon’s sample output adds some very useful “real-world” benefits over traditional acoustic cajons, as well as providing players with fresh ideas and musical inspiration.  An innovative and cool instrument, well worth checking out.

Find out more

Roland
http://www.rolandcorp.com.au/products/el_cajon_ec-10/

Better Music
http://www.bettermusic.com.au/roland-el-cajon-ec-10-electronic-layered-cajon-ec10

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