Synth Site: roland: MC-505: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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synthfreak a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I finally broke down and bought one of these new for $580 at a closing Mars music. I was there to buy whatever deal I could get. I almost got a Yamaha S80 for $830 but the expansion unit was hanging out the back and I wasn't sure if it had been damaged.

Anyway, I spent about 4 hours playing with the MC-505 yesterday and I must say it's a great tool for catching inspiration. Yes, some of the sounds are extremely dated but that's ok. A little editing, a little fx processing through my nord modulars and they're as new as anything else today. I really like how easy it is to manipulate. I mainly bought it to serve as a drum machine. For $580 I just couldn't resist.

I don't do techno either so I rate this on it's ability as a compositional piece. I almost finished a track with it already. It's so easy to use. I highly recommend this if you are in need of a drum machine with a whole host of other sounds. Make your own sequences. Don't use the presets. They're very dated and unoriginal sounding. Besides, it's not really writing music if you just string along a bunch of presets. I like this machine for what it does but it is NOT the only piece of gear I have nor could it replace the gear that I have. The only complaint about it so far is that it really steps when you use a pitch wheel. I never heard that on a ROMpler before. Fortunately, I'm not Rick Wakeman so I won't be wonking out pitch bendy solos with it.

I give it a 5 out of 5 for being an inspirational tool with great drum sounds.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Mar-04-2002 at 15:55
Brian a hobbyist user from New Orleans writes:
I traded the buggy (but SUPERB sounding) E-mu XL-7 for the older 505 plus enough cash to justify it. Here are my intial impressions: I LOVE the interface on the 505. I know that the word 'intuitive' is thrown around in synth circles like 'If you love me you'll do it' is in a frat house, but the 505's slider / button / knob-based interface minimizes menu scrolling and allows for a more hands-on management style of track levels, pans, dedicated FX and whatever...

Yeah...even when I first heard the 505 in early '99 it sounded dated. And there isn't a whole lot of deep synth architecture for the creation of your own patches, aside from ADSR, cutoff and res and other basic parameters. BUT THE DRUMS ARE GREAT. Even the patterns aren't entirely horrible. However, severe and even minor edits of the patches, coupled with lots of 'verb and knob-love will produce some pretty credible sounds from a box that sounded old the minute it hit the showrooms.

You only get 8 tracks, with one dedicated percussion track, and I'm still trying to figure out how to avoid reverbing, say, a classic, snappy 909 snare and hats without having the same reverb muddy up the kick because it's all on the same track (I used to run my kicks on the first track of higher-tracked seqs and the rest of the percussion on tracks 2 and 3). I can assign filters to individual percussion parts, but not reverb and delay? I must be missing something (anyone?). 8 tracks isn't a whole lot to work with, I know. But the sequencer functions of the 505, in my opinion, smoke the rm1x and the newer, buggier xl / mp or yammie rs7. This is beyond a doubt the most live-friendly beatbox ever.

I know Roland and their 'groove-approved' products get slagged by the MIDI cowboys with dedicated hardware setups. Maybe they're right. But at the end of the day you have to respect a box like the 505 for doing EVERYTHING except sampling in passable form for about $650 US on the used circuit. If I had ten grand lying around I'd have racks full of sh*t, too.

But before I forget, I must say: FACTORY PATCHES SUCK. I mean, ALL factory patches are pretty dismal, no matter the unit, but the 505's are beyond hope. If I were Roland I'd try to ignore my patch programmer like a retarded uncle. The leads are like dead fish..the pads like sandpaper. Basses are as fat as my crackhead barback...but then again it is PCM and Roland really can't be faulted for that. And at the end of the day, we don't buy synth gear so much for it's out-of-box sound but for it's overall potential.

Oh yeah, and customer support is about as enjoyable as pulling teeth with garden shears.

In all, I love the 505, nestled nicely between my controller, Orbit, dr-202 and other boxes. It is my Main Sequencer...and I love it because I am primarily a MUSICIAN, not a DJ (gonna catch hell for that one)...and the 505 allows me to translate my ideas to sonic reality with a minimum of menu diving, obfuscating synth jive operation manuals or otherwise hindering BS like SO MUCH of my other gear. You'd think that a non-dedicated box that does everything reasonably well would be the real b*tch of the rig...but in fact it's leagues easier to use than most of my purpose-built sound modules. And THANK GOD FOR LO-FI.


Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Feb-18-2002 at 05:31
Sandy a part-time user from USA writes:
Pretty cool machine, had one for over 2 years, and got a bit tired of it. I guess it wasnt my thang, but it does have lots of capabilities. One problem that I ran into is that no matter what you do with it, it tends to sound a bit dated and sort of "all the same", just a bit mondo or something....a little too much like what everyone else is crankin out. Personally, I like to create from scratch, and not depend on so much Roland ROM type sounds. I can easily make my own sounds that I like much better, so I sold mine, and honestly I dont miss it. It IS however a very nice machine, it just was not feeling "fresh" and "alive". Kinda had that smell of canned pop/techno or what I call conformist music to it, but you can tweek it pretty well to get clear of that. Still, I would rather lay tracks that drip with originality and have my personal signature all over them instead of trying to re-work what Roland thinks is cool. Many people feel that if you can sound like the "other" guy does, then you got it made. I feel that this will fry music into what is so-called "normal" and correct sound instead of always seeking NEW dimensions. Keep the sonic adventure rolling!!! Dont sound like the "other" guy unless you absolutely need to:} No need to fit into the groove, make your own groove and head into new territory. Peace.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jan-24-2002 at 18:27
Daniel Paul a part-time user from usa writes:
I have used the Roland mc-505 groovebox for about 3 years now. I never knew it was so easy to make such great music. I can produce almost anything with it. As far as it crashing, thats bs i have had almost all the tracks full and it hasnt crashed. the money that i make off that machine far surpases the price. my music sounds professional, with the dark bass all the way to high strings its all good. i love this machine and i would recommend it to anyone that wants to put their own artistic ability to use, roland makes it easy to reach. thanx roland.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jan-24-2002 at 15:55
yves a part-time user from belgium writes:
Creative fast music box Almost the perfect box. Just add a sampler, 2 va monosynths, better fx, saturated filtermodels,linair seq in songmode,bigger sm-fl-cards call it the Roland MC-14U and it's a 5 !!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jan-03-2002 at 12:47
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