Synth Site: roland: MC-505: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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Lucid a professional user from USA writes:
I Agree the 505 has one of the nicest sound set's and synth built into it...sure it may not be the best but once you get into it you create wicked shit..especially since it has the ability to layer 4 waveform/tones into each talk about modulation heaven =)


Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jun-22-2000 at 11:35
GltTch a professional user from The basement writes:
hey BP:

go for the mc-505, But don't expect the difference between it and a mc-303 to be that dramatic. The mc-505 has got many of the same samples, well actually, it's got twice as many samples as the 303, and the filter seems a bit nicer. I've messed with the new mc-307 and if you really want alot of sounds and the sequencer, drum machine, etc. check one of these out - it's got (i think) twice as many sounds as a 505 and almost all the features of it (minus the d-beam).

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jun-22-2000 at 03:10
Phil a professional user from Australia writes:
Hello All,

I've been using the MC-505 for two years. I've used it extensively in a studio-type situation, as well as on the road - playing live in a variety of nightclubs and outdoor festivals. I use it for its internal sounds and also to sequence my Yamaha AN1x and Roland JP8080 analogue-modelling synths. The Features:

- An 8 part multi-timbral sound module plus onboard sequencer and real-time controls.

The sequencer works in a loop format (duration 2 to 32 bars) to form a pattern consisting of 8 parts (7 synths + Rhythm section).

The pattern loops over and over whilst changes are made to the various controllers and mute settings. This effectively builds your song with the option of a 'megamix' function to substitute new parts to progress from one song into the next in one seamless mix. This is an exceptionally powerful tool allowing a non-stop set to be played that's put together with the spontaneity a DJ's vinyl set - but of original composition.

The sound engine is quite complex..... Each patch is constructed with up to 4 layers (waveforms) from a library of 256. Then, by applying unique controllers to each layer eg ADSR ampllifier/filter envelopes and LFO modulations etc., thick, complex and original patches can be created. Granted, the waveforms are sample-based and the filters are not of the self-oscillating type, the sounds, therefore obviously will never have the distinctive sound of those generated by a (virtual) analogue, they are however very rich, varied and full of inspiration, and certainly of a quality usable for production. Unfortunately, a few waveforms are wasted to drills, sirens, birds, and nonsence vocal bits and pieces, but on the whole are great, being based on classic synths and drum machines. All your newly developed sounds and patterns can be saved using your own user-definable labels.

The percussion sounds are particularly solid sounding. Each individual sound that makes up each drum kit is completely programmable. Tweak the existing kits, or create your own from scratch. For example, you can re-pitch your choice of kick drum, select a peaking filter, boost the resonance, and have a powerful kickdrum that's more than enough for any club situation (and actually has to be restrained!). Alternatively, you may wish to tighten it with a faster decay to accompany the clean slick high-hats that have been passed through the high-pass filter. Programming drum parts are a breeze, using the keyboard that relates to a 16th note grid - here you highlight which part of the bar you want the sound to be activated.

Another nice feature is that each sound within a drum kit can be given its own Reverb Send level. No more muddy 'warehouse-sounding' drums (although it can be a nice effect), now you can give a subtle amount of reverb to say the kick, a huge amount to a certain snare, and just enough to let the cymbals 'sing'. The end result is a very nice sounding kit of a high production standard.

With the on-board realtime knobs and sliders, the sounds are asking to be manipulated with an ease that your average menu-driven sound modual (such as a JV1080, or JV2080) just can't compete with.

The 8 parts may seem restrictive, but a neat function is the Realtime Phrase Sequence (RPS). Here you assign one of the 16 keyboard pads to play a part from another of your own patterns - synced in time to your main pattern. This could be an extra high hat, or drum fill, to a synth riff or sound effect. With 8 regular parts and then 16 RPS parts, you will have 24 parts all playing together! Just be wary of the 64 voice limit - play a a 3 note chord using a patch that consists of 4 layers and you have already used 12 voices but generally polyphony is not an issue.

All controllers transmit and receive MIDI, great for recording into a software sequencer or another synth.

Reliability: The latest OS is 1.07. I've had the system freeze a couple of times on a previous operating system whilst entering the various recording modes. I suggest pressing Record once, and then wait for the system to catch up before proceeding with pressing Record again. I strongly recommend purchasing a memory card and backing up ALL your work. Also, the sequencer can become a little unsteady when updating patterns, particularly when using RPS as well.

Without a dedicated roadcase, the knobs and sliders are quite vunerable so be careful when transporting. On one occasion I snapped one knob off and damaged another from traveling around in the back of my car with other gear, wrapped in nothing more than a towel. If you're nifty with a soldering iron this can easily be fixed (each knob cost only $3.90 each) but beware of costly technician labour fees should you need to take it in for a service.

Other gear to consider maybe the Yamaha RM1x for its strong sequencer and 16 part multi-timbrality (versus the MC-505 8 parts). There is certainly no single device that covers all aspects of music production, but the MC-505 certainly comes close. Team it up with another (virtual) analogue and/or sampler and you will have a very expressive little set-up. Obviously a computer-based sequencer will be allow you to be more creative but that won't translate as well to real-time improvisation and song arrangement as the MC-505 is capable of. Also, using the MC-505 soley as a sound module may seem limited due to being only 8 part multi-timbral (when compared to the standard of 16, and sometimes even 32), but it well and truly makes up for it with a dedicated-knob-per-parameter located on the front panel to aid sound construction and tweaking that your average module is desperately lacking.

Oh, and have I told you about the numerous factory demo sequences (aka Presets) :)

No doubt about it, the MC-505 is an innovative, and professional sounding package. If you already have a practical studio rig then there may not be anything to be offered from an MC-505 that isn't already being provided by another piece of gear. If you are looking to move quickly into music production then the MC-505 may be ideal. It will certainly be more practical and manageable than sourcing 6 or 7 synthesizers, a couple of old drum machines and a complete computer sequencing package.


Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-May-26-2000 at 15:52
M a professional user from Santa Monica-USA writes:
I love my 505. Yes I make music proffessionally, I have a studio full of cool VA's, samplers, Logic audio etc. But when I'm in a hotel room, or staying at friends house, or just anywhere away from my rig, I always have the 505 around, and can create new songs, or beats or ideas... Then when I get to a studio, just MIDI it up to a proper kit, and transfer the the great vibe that can only sometimes happen when your outside the studio. Then add sample loops, some better analog stuff, Logic plug-ins and BAM! I wouldn't want to give up my other stuff for just a 505, but if I was stuck on a desert island...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-May-25-2000 at 16:41
Teknoguy a hobbyist user from Tulsa, OK writes:
I've been using the 505 for about 3 months now and I still love it to death. Its really easy to use, so you can have a lot of fun with it, but its got depth to it too. I'm still learning new stuff about it all the time. I don't know if it would be worth it to get it if you already have a nice setup,I'd go for a nice VA like the Nord or something. But if you want to start out, I'd grab this and a cheap sampler (Zoom SampleTrak [$300])and you'll be busy for a good while.

I think that the synthesizer itself is quite adequate and you can get some cool stuff if you experiment with multiple tones and such. I think a linear sequencer would be better for me, but the pattern sequence is nice and you can pull of cool stuff if you experiment a little bit.

The 505 is a very good peice of equipment and if definently worth its money. It isn't fantastic at any one particular thing, but its a well rounded peice thats great if your just getting started.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Apr-15-2000 at 18:51
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