Synth Site: Roland: MKS-80: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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super yuppie a professional user from Europe writes:
I got me an MKS-80 for a good price. I have the supposedly rawer sounding rev. 4. Never played the rev. 5 – BTW, contrary to what a reviewer below says, the two available revision are 4 and 5, not 3 and 4, Never heard of revisions 1, 2 or 3. Don’t know what happened to them.

The MKS-80 is an amazing all-rounder. You could do entire albums with just this synth, which apparently many did back in the eighties. They say Madonna used it a lot on her early records, but while playing around you will also make patches that sound much more modern and dance music-like, and that have a familiar ring to them as well. It really is a classic, and surely has that analogue magic.

It seems to be the common DnB bass machine (I made some basses that I’m sure are exactly like the ones on many classic DnB tracks). But it also has good punchy Mooglike basses, lovely pads, ethereal strings, funky stabs, 303like basslines, and really any sound you can program. It can sing and squeal. To preempt criticism: of course, it does not sound exactly like a 303 or a Moog, but it is possible to approximate their sound. The MKS-80 sounds Rolandish, even if has the same CEM chips that some classic Sequential Ciruit synths and Oberheims use. Must be the Roland filter chip. No idea if the Jupiter 8 is better, never played one. I guess some Jupiter 8 admirers get upset because Roland called this the Super Jupiter, a title they think the Jupiter 8 deserves. But the MKS-80 sure is a useful synth on its own. It definitely sounds different than a Juno 106, which I can confirm. I like them both. Somehow the MKS-80 invites to play, a very musical synth. Can be as velocity sensitive as you program it, the filter too. Many modulation possibilities, good midi implementation.

BTW, forget about the hardware programmer. It’s too expensive for what you get. I use a software-editor (Sounddiver) which works perfectly well. Very easy to edit sounds this way. Better buy an additional synth for the money – even though you don’t really need one if you have an MKS-80.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-May-11-2006 at 11:14
Liam a professional user from UK writes:
this thing suckz arse, no way is it as good as the jupiter godfather of all mother analogues!! It's sound is far too overrated by anyone on here just because they own one. Trust me, i've owned them all and preferr using the older version jupiters to this thing. New synths of today are better sounding and can modualte in all sorts of manner, for the price of 300GBP I thought I got a bargain but in this world of new synths by the day and all digital mastering, this thins is sadly lost it's fame!!! I sold mine for the same price I bought it...amazing how hype adds value to something that doesn't deserve it's hefty price!!

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Apr-04-2006 at 06:51
Liam a professional user from UK writes:
this thing suckz arse, no way is it as good as the jupiter godfather of all mother analogues!! It's sound is far too overrated by anyone on here just because they own one. Trust me, i've owned them all and preferr using the older version jupiters to this thing. New synths of today are better sounding and can modualte in all sorts of manner, for the price of 300GBP I thought I got a bargain but in this world of new synths by the day and all digital mastering, this thins is sadly lost it's fame!!! I sold mine for the same price I bought it...amazing how hype adds value to something that doesn't deserve it's hefty price!!

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Apr-04-2006 at 06:50
kerry hoop a hobbyist user from canada writes:
I am lucky enough to own a Super JX and a Super Jupiter and love them both. They are quite different in many ways. The Super Jupiter is more raw and powerfull and thicker / fuller sounding but not as clean (pretty) sounding. I like the modulation possibilties of the S-Jupiter and allows for alot of flexibility. On my series 5 version the LFO-1 "delay" function doesn't work when applied to the VCA but works fine when applied to the VCF and/or VCO. Does anyone know if this is a fault or a design feature? Velocity and touch sensitivity make this a prefect synth which I will always keep.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Dec-11-2005 at 12:13
maxwell a hobbyist user from UK writes:
This has got to be one of the great analog synths of all time. It's so versatile, it can produce the full spectrum of analog sounds. And it's fully midi'd up unlike the JP8! It's also got two outs and can be used as two seperate synths.

There are two versions which for some reason are revision 3 and 4. Mine is the earlier rev.3 with CEM VCO's and VCA's. The VCA's in the rev.3 are a lot faster which means that it can produce some pokey bass. I love the bass sounds which have that Roland flavour - SH101ish? Not to mention it's huge detuned unison sound. I'd hesitate to recommend it for one type of music over another as it's a jack of all trades, but it's certainly good for the cutting 80's electro sounds that are popular at the moment.

I've had no issues with reliability. It seems to be built pretty solidly. Yes, the LCD light on mine is dim. I'm tempted to replace it, as they're not too expensive, but I'm not sure it's worth the bother. I can read the display quite well as is. I've never had any bother with tuning; once it's been switched on for 5 mins or so it seems very stable. I think it benefits from plenty of air around it, though, as otherwise it'll run hot.

Editing from the front is a little trying. I use a soft editor that I got for free somewhere on the web, which is perfectly acceptible for my needs. You can always buy a midi box like a drehbank if you want instant access to all of its parameters.

Compared with other poly's with similar or (mostly) inferior spec - JP's, OB8, Prophet5 etc. at £500 or so these things are cheap at the moment. I can see their price rising when people realise what these things can do.

I've bought and sold a few anapoly's - polysix, Jp6, matrix etc. but this is the one I'm keeping.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Dec-03-2005 at 15:29
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