Synth Site: Roland: MKS-30 Planet S: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
page 1 of 3:        1  2  3  >>>
DnA a hobbyist user from Utah writes:
Excellent synth. It can go from subtle and clear, to buzzed and fuzzed. Top can be bright and may require external EQ to compensate. Two oscillators per voice allow osc #2 two be tuned away from #1 and many 5th voicings are available. Even without the PG-200 programmer, this synth isn't that hard to program.

Patches include nice long attacks, bell like metallic sounds, buzzy 5th leads, wild non-scale sounds, and many other cool sounds. It also does a remarkable analog piano - virtually identical to the MKS-10. It doesn't do analog strings however. (For that, you'll need an MKS-70.)

Also, I agree with Saso's review, but do know that midi was in its infancy in 1984 as were synth modules. So some of the design shortcomings weren't realized until after the fact. If this synth did incorporate all design changes he stated, it would be one of the best synths ever made. However, it would also be priced like an MKS-80. So here's to the MKS-30, a great synth module despite a few design oversights!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-13-2008 at 13:58
Sašo a hobbyist user from Slovenia writes:
People often accuse Yamaha of wilfully combining great features and senseless limitations in their products, but Roland can be just as bad. The MKS-30 is a great example of that: on the whole, it's a nice-sounding analogue synth in the then-pioneering rack format but if the engineers spent only a little more time designing it, it could've been an all-time classic - and I'm not even talking about the missing MIDI out port (which feels as if it was done on purpose anyway, in order to stimulate sales of the PG-200 remote programmer).

I'm careful so as not to be unfair to the venerable MKS-30 as it occupied the lower end of Roland's line-up together with its keyboard predecessor, the JX-3P at the time of production in the mid-1980s - but on the other hand, so did the Juno-60, and time has been rather kinder to it, despite of having only one oscillator per voice, compared to JX-3P's two, and no MIDI. I suppose the fact that you more or less needed to buy a separate programmer to get the same sort of functionality out of a JX-3P didn't help with the synth's popularity, but it's the sound where the JX-3P and the MKS-30 don't measure up all that well to other contemporary analogue polysynths.

I'm the first to admit that the MKS-30 can sound very interesting due to its impressive oscillator modulation capabilities (drop me a line to hear some examples) - there is detuning, LFO modulation, envelope modulation, PWM, oscillator sync and even a simulated ring modulator, which doesn't really sound like the real thing but produces an interesting and unique effect nonetheless. What I do miss terribly, however, is unison. It's quite beyond me just why the engineers decided not to implement it as the MKS-30 would've benefited immensely just from this one feature. With the absence of unison, I'm slightly less disappointed about portamento not being there either, but I can only imagine what a magnificent bass and lead machine the MKS-30 could have been with just these two features included, especially since the resonant filter is pretty good and can even be driven into self-oscillation.

Curiously, I never felt that the MKS's single envelope was much of a limitation. The pitch, VCF and VCA amounts can all be adjusted independently, providing reasonable flexibility. The fact that the envelope is set to permanent legato mode - meaning that it will not re-trigger if you don't release the key before you play the next note - is another senseless limitation, though. Unless you're a skilled keyboard player, you'll often find yourself missing the attack portion of the sound and with no unison or even mono mode (the MIDI implementation chart in the manual proudly states "MONO ignored"), you can't cheat with long release times, either, so you'll have to resort to a sequencer for consistent lines.

Various additional features, such as HPF, filter tracking, basic velocity sensitivity (JX-3P had none) and the famed Roland chorus, albeit nice enough, can't really redeem the synth in my eyes at this point. It's a shame, too, as the MKS-30 is certainly a synth with some potential but sadly stifled by a few seemingly trivial design decisions that, added up, considerably limit its usefulness.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Sunday-Apr-29-2007 at 09:33
Davids writes:
It doesn't knock the J8, but it certainly is one of the runners up among Roland polys. The Juno-60 is also great, but unfortunately quite noisy. The MKS-30/JX3p can't touch the rawness of the J6 Unison mode either, but it can sound very sweet. It has good bass, strings, and the trippin' pads and synth fx are to die for.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Nov-28-2004 at 17:17
Raymond writes:
It doesn't knock the Junos for punchy bass, else I think this is a superior machine in every way, in fact I wouldn't swap it for no Jupiter either, its that good. Also very easy to program if you have the PG-200 controller. Nothing can make those trippin' analog pads that this one can. The osc sync, great filter, nice chorus and awesome LFO modulation makes for one outstanding, yet very underrated machine. It has DCO's also, so stable tuning. Forget the used marked values, this is one of the best analog polys ever made, I kid you not. I recommend you get one while they are still cheap.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-20-2004 at 09:36
James Blight from Toronto, Canada writes:
I have always featured the MKS 30 in my music [since 1985!] It blends well with all my modern synths/samplers and I'll often use it to add harmonic interest to other sounds. It's not a particularly fat-sounding synth, so it never takes over in a mix, but rather adds character as it oscillators have a very unique color.

I find the Planet S useful for dovetailing harmonies, enphasizing attacks, and providing a warming glow to the final product. I often will create an entire sound block of differing sounds from it by re-recording it. Stand-alone wise, the gems include a great human whistling sound [fools everybody!], a fine baroque glass harmonica and a collection of very unique portamento tubular bells sounds. So I'll keep this combination 'swiss army knife' and blender in my back pocket for another 19 years!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-05-2004 at 20:48
page 1 of 3:        1  2  3  >>>