Each DR-220 has 11 pulse-code modulation (PCM) synthesizer “voices” available, plus an Accent; each voice is directly available for realtime play using the four-by-three grid of miniature pads (though these do not sense either velocity or pressure). The voices are in 12-bit resolution, each occupying a 128 KB Read-only memory (ROM) bank. Because of “channel sharing” restrictions due to circuitry limitations, some voices cannot be sounded simultaneously; for instance, only one tom may be used per beat. With the DR-220, up to 16 steps are displayed (or 12 in 3/4 tempo mode). The “hits” can be displayed only one pad at a time. A pattern can be recorded in realtime, or entered step-by-step. Each voice can be adjusted for Accent (values 0-5) and volume (values 0-5).
There are 32 in-built patterns, and another 32 are user-programmable and remain in memory after power-off, preserved by a 2032 “coin” backup battery. These patterns can then be joined into a “Song” of up to 128 bars (or 256 if the Song Chain feature is used to join two Songs), with memory space for up to eight Songs. Tempo can be manually adjusted between 40 and 250 bpm.