Reviving the Roland MC-303 Retro Groovebox6 min read
I’ve been applying the Roland MC-303 on and off because I brought it in (1996). I have utilised it on some of the early Anjelicas Newborn recordings this kind of as “Crawling Back again To You” and “Blame It On You”. I consider it is a great very little equipment second hand for its value about £100 – £200 dependent on affliction. However, I am heading to be honest about my past encounters with it. The MC-303 in its time was a revolution and the first of several so-identified as groove containers. It could do just about anything from techno to dance, jungle and drum & bass to title but a couple. It was rammed with appears from common synths this sort of as the Roland Juno and Jupiter collection and had the basic retro sounds of the Roland TR-808 and TR-909. Also, it had the Roland TB-303 bass type synth seems on board as well. To possess these kinds of devices on their have would have set you back hundreds upon thousands of dollars or British lbs .. Then you essential the home to place your classic equipment in.
It looked quite a great deal like the outdated vintage TB-303’s and TR-808’s. It was basically a sequencer-arranger with 8 tracks of recording. It even experienced crafted in Forex such as refrain, flange, reverb and hold off. Its actual-time capabilities built it wonderful enjoyment to perform with. It had filter cut off, resonance, stereo panning and arpeggio. The panning and hold off Fx would hold time with the tempo of your designs or tracks, which at the time was a genuinely neat advance. It was 24-voice be aware polyphony, 16-element multi timbral, and on board there ended up 448 preset PCM ROM sounds, 300 preset styles and 50 consumer patterns. Very extraordinary back in (1996). No sooner had it manufactured a splash in the songs journals like Upcoming New music, Audio On Seem, and The Blend, it was speedily outdated by the Roland MC-505, JX-305 and the Yamaha RM1x. I guess this was simply because it was pretty much too great to be real for the unbelievable value of all around £500. Of course you guessed it, there had been some major downsides to the equipment that produced working with it a maddening expertise at occasions.
1 The very first matter I found was it experienced a some what above compressed type of seem and lacked any genuine punch. It could reproduce dance audio quite very well using the TR-909 appears. If you at any time assess the seems off the MC-303 to lets say a JV1080 which had a similar set of seems you will find that the JV has a large amount much more existence and punch to it. To make an analogy in this article, it is like comparing a wave file to an mp3 file. I suspect to get all people sounds into the MC-303’s inner ROM, sacrifices experienced to be built, and possibly the little bit prices of the MC-303’s sample library have been lowered. Never get me incorrect, the seems have whole clarity and several are in stereo, but you unquestionably come to feel you want to just about seize the sounds out of your speakers and give them a superior kick to uplift them. This is a single challenge I have seen about Roland synths and especially drum machines from this interval. The sounds practically sound too great and clear as if you could invite them again to your parent’s property for Sunday supper being aware of they would not offend their musical preferences.
2 The real seems these kinds of as trumpets, guitars etcetera ended up frankly horrid. Much less would have been a lot more in my feeling on this equipment. Almost everything and the kitchen area sink had been stuffed in to it. As a end result on the pre-installed styles it experienced an amateurish type of sound to it.
3 It only had two audio outputs so including external Forex such as reverb or delay intended you required to history the seems on independent tracks of your audio recorder. At the time mine was a Fostex DMT8 tricky generate 8-observe recorder. Tough drive recording with 16 tracks or a lot more really arrived at a price again then.
4 Most irritating of all was its almost non-existent midi implementation. When they meant retro they genuinely took it to heart here. They fundamentally intended it to perform as a stand-by itself device. So if you needed to use any other equipment then you had to get the MC-303 to be the master sequencer. Perfectly at that time the sequencer was no match for Logic or Cubase. Therefore, I had to document the patterns for the MC-303 from its possess memory then do a bulk dump help save to an Alesis datadisk of the track. I then experienced to set my Atari 1040 laptop or computer sequencer to trigger the MC-303 as a slave. So, good sorted. Oh no, wait around a moment, you had to bring about the MC-303 from the commence of the track each and every time. As quickly as I quickly-forwarded the Atari sequencer the MC-303 dropped the plot, and effectively who is aware what element of the music it would transfer to.
5 Any seem you wished to perform into your own sequencer transmitted in on omni method across all 16-midi channels. What a outrageous strategy for the late 1990’s. To make matters even worse, the actual time controls that designed the machine so much entertaining ended up rendered impotent when you tried out to record for example genuine-time filtering of a bass audio into your sequencer. Occur-on Roland, you could history the regulate movements of a Juno 106 into your sequencer as far back as 1985.
Nicely as you can collect, I was much less than pleased at the time with these constraints. Regardless of this, I experienced faith in the tiny beast. I noticed the light-weight and hoped that more than a few yrs and a lot more audio based recording products on PC’s and Mac’s, a breath of hope would be breathed into this machine. So with the passing of time, here arrive the positives.
1 It is effective fantastic as a stand-alone unit. You can midi all your other gear to it. Then you can make use of its real amazing arpeggio to provide some everyday living back into your previous uninteresting synths.
2 It has loads and loads of PCM samples, which effortlessly get over some of the constraints of the actual seems on board. This is specifically genuine if you have loads of other delicate or components synths to use together side of it.
3 With present day technological know-how you can record a sound into your sequencer, and then play with the MC-303 controls in authentic-time and file straight onto an audio monitor on your laptop or computer. This can genuinely jazz it up with contemporary plugins.
4 It is really economical 2nd hand for a retro hardware device with so many capabilities on it.
5 You can set it up as a normal synth module.
6 It has a helpful very little bass boost knob on the back again of the device for incorporating extra base end to the audio output.
7 If you you should not overdo it, and use other tools to include to your observe you are recording, it definitely can seem extremely professional in truth.
So that’s the Roland MC-303 execs and downsides in my subjective belief. It is a excellent minor edition to anyone’s set up if employed carefully and sparingly.