Added: 18-Dec-98 | Author: admin
New price: discontinued | S/H price: £300-350 GBP - ish
Roland MC-303As the demand for old analog gear reached fever pitch, Roland announced with great fanfare the re-release of these old desirable sound sources.... Breaths were held, and vintage gear dealers' brows filled with perspiration at the thought of their stock investment plummeting overnight!... But... it was not to be... Roland released a production box which provided sample based impressions of the old sounds... but with a twist... and not such a good one at that, depending on your point of view!
The MC-303, is an 8 track hardware sequencer (1400 user notes...133 preset patterns etc), preset synth player, and drum machine... all in a box, with FX processors and a selection of controller knobs that are dedicated to adjusting stuff like the filter, resonance, mod depth, attack & release etc... In effect, you can think of it as a general purpose sample synth with more than average hardware control sources, that has had all the patches programmed to imitate popular analog and "dance" sounds including the 202 + 303 boxes, and 808 + 909 drums.....A unit for playing live shows or for a total quick and simple home studio solution... BUT.
As I said, the MC - 303 has a selection of dedicated control knobs, assigned to the filter section... THESE CONTROLS DO NOT OUTPUT MIDI DATA... ALSO THE PATCH SOUNDS ARE ALMOST UN-EDITABLE APART FROM A FEW BASICS WITHOUT UTILISING SYSEX DATA... EDITED SOUNDS ALSO MUST BE SAVED AS SYSEX DATA..... So yes, you can create a sequence internally....drums, bass, pads, twiddly stuff, piano etc..... Yes you can assign the control knobs to a particular patch/channel and twiddle it live.... But as a studio tool, beginners could run into problems.... You can send control data to the MC from a sequencer to tweak the filter and other dedicated control sources, but although there is a mixer map for cubase available, perhaps Roland should have supplied a dedicated editor to make things easier.
Anyhow, the lowdown is, you need to get a printed list of the NRPN codes from Roland, and then enter the data into a sysex editor in your software etc... You also need to do this for things like turning off sounds on midi channels etc... so without this, if you are using the MC with a multi unit set-up, and you want a different module to play midi channel 2, and for the MC NOT to sound data on channel 2, you'll again need sysex to tell it something as simple as that, or to assign different internal sounds to midi channels other than their pre-fixed channels.... All in all a bit of a nightmare without going into sysex protocol.
So really as you can see, this is not the sort of box to use with an external sequencer as part of a multitimbrel set-up unless you're experienced in sysex editing... and if you want originality... there's no way of creating your own sounds without it... but if you want a cheapish box that will give you a cool impression of the classic analog synth sounds you want to hear, as well as other noises, pads, strings, pianos etc, and all your dance drums, this may be the box for you !
I have only toyed with this machine at trade shows, and I was not particularly impressed... The sounds themselves are not bad... in fact pretty good for the money, if you want that kind of pallette, and considering you get drums, pads & synths etc, not just a single synth & drums, like say with the Quasimidi 309... But... as I said, this is really something really more suited for live use, where you want to take a box to a gig... hit the sequencer, play some familiar stuff and twiddle the filter a bit... then cool !
There's not alot else you can say really... 12 kits... 448 patches... 2 FX units with 6 FX ... 28 note poly... 16 part multitimbrel... 1 oscillator per voice..... stereo audio outs... realtime control of filter resonance, cut-off, and mod depth.... also envelope attack, decay, & release.
Instant gratification... with not much originality... However, as a product, I'm sure Roland have got it right to fit a certain market... If you want the same sound pallette, but also with the ability to programme and store original stuff easily....then their more expensive proper synths like the superb JV1080 can offer the same stuff, either internally or via their plug-in rom card range, which feature analog/vintage synths & dance drums.... dance loops, world/ethnic sounds, etc etc... You can almost 100% guarantee that these rom cards hold the same sounds from which Roland drew upon for the 303... Perhaps it's worth saving up a couple of hundred more for a secondhand JV1080!... All in all, I think Roland released this unit too early... perhaps the MC-303 MK2 will get it right.
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