Synth Site: Roland: MC-303: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.7 out of 5
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Cookie Monster a part-time user from USA,USA! writes:
Alright I think it's time for me to plop my own experience with this little box o' contreversy.

I got this box in 1997, after becoming sick of Rebirth, wanting something real to use, no more stinkin' mouse movements..... So I hunkered down and bought it.

I had already known about the limitations of the box, but I wasn't too worried about it, as I was just starting. Immediatly, I skipped all the presets and jumped into the Userbanks, and started the drum programming.

It was a dream for me almost. I was love-sic with my first piece of gear, and I loved it tons, poking around in it, trying to find the best sounds, what to manipulate, etc etc.

Flash forward to now, and it's current usages. Since then, I've purchased a great deal of more stuff, like my alpha juno 2, a PC200mkII (which I'm selling pretty soon, it's got no use for me now with other keyboards), a korg 707, an electribe EA-1, and my current love, my Prophecy. Right now, the only thing I use the MC303 is as a main sequencer/Drum machine, and I'm still finding things out about it now.

The only sounds that I still use are the drum sounds. The synth/etc sounds now sound lame compared to my other stuff (Then again, I've never owned a rompler-synth), and they seem to get lost when I EQ my mixer with it (I'm learning why people bitched about indie outs now... but there are better things to do with this little box...). Everything else is triggered out via the sequencer in midi, which I still love, despite the lack of memory.

Notice how it said _MC_. MC is for Micro Composer. Hence using this as a sequencer is within its capabilities. I was already to go buy another sequencer because on pattern changes, it would lose the MIDI-OUT settings, but after reading through the manual, I found out that the settings of everything can be saved with the patch (Shift+Function and key 15 BTW).. I don't think I've been so happy in my life with it.

It's a sequencer for me, triggering out pads on my Juno, making weird arpeggio patterns for my 707 and prophecy, and a global timer for my EA-1 (which I use its own sequencer for). It's still quite a useful piece of equipment for me, despite all the crap it takes.

The timing floats around, but so does a TB303's, the knobs don't transfer CC's (I don't really care, I use the controls on my Prophecy...), the memory is small (Use a computer, It's written in the manual in appendix C, I belive), the internal synth sounds suck, but that has no effect on me, as I only may use one or two at max, and are excellent for someone who's new, the thing has only two outputs, but do you really need more for a PCM rompler box.....

Overall, it's an excellent sequencer/drumbox, trying to be an all-in-one box, to satisfy some people who use it alone. But please, don't try to compare it to a studio! It's NOT A STUDIO!

I'm done now! ^_^

Four out of Five. -1 for the fact that it's got that whacky midi implementation and floaty timing that makes me want to kill it. -1 for user memory space. +1 for the programming interface. +.5 because it's sustained a beating. A four seems appropriate.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Jan-14-2000 at 11:17
Andrew a hobbyist user from USA writes:

I just got my MC-303 yesterday!! It's very complicated, but it's easy all at the same time. It's hard to know which buttons make the sound, and when. And which buttons you can use, and which knobs do what to which sound. But anyway, I suppose I just have to read the manual all the way thru, step by step. Overall I think it is really good though!! Cool sounds!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Dec-28-1999 at 11:40
BiShoP from Joisey writes:
Well, I've had the MC-303 for about a year now. Here's the low down. The rhythm type sounds are real sweet. The basslines are nice and hard and there's a wide selection of percussion stuff to use. When it comes to the regular (I call them the highs) notes, this is where I have a problem with the 303. There aren't enough good sounds for me. Alot of them sound the same and others are simply played out and/or useless. The other problem is that there isn't too much freedom to tweak the high's all sorts of ways. The LFO blows, leaving you with cutoff, resonance, attack and decay. For those of you starting out, though, there are definitely enough sounds to make you happy. Heh, a first piece should be something nice, friendly and humble - mah good ol' MC-303 (it was my first piece).

However, I also own two JX-305's which can make some really sick high notes. The good thing about these Roland pieces is that they really are groove machines (heh, as corny as that may sound). Basically, what my JX-305's lacks in phat bass and percussion, the MC-303 makes up for big time. So, yup, I use my MC-303 as a drum machine.

Don't confuse the MC-303 with the TB-303, they're drastically different. The strongest part of the MC-303 is it's very impressive assortment of drum, bass, and percussion sounds. Also, programming your stuff in this jammie is a synch (heh, at least for me). If anyone has ever programmed the drum machines in Rebirth (or know how the TB-909 is programmed), the MC-303 uses the same concept. In real-time recording, you can basically put any sound where you want it to go, just like rebirth. Plus, when you figure out how to link all different parts and patterns together into a song, you're be very happy.

I know it wasn't meant to be one, but the MC-303 is quite possibly one of the best drum machines out there. For myself, I use it strictly as a drum machine and it works better than I had imagined. And for all of you peeps starting out, this piece will teach you alot while being easy to learn. Lastly, for its price, you really can't go wrong with this very capable lil' silver box.

Adios, y PLUR


Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Dec-24-1999 at 15:24
DJ Monacle a hobbyist user from United Kingdom writes:
I place myself as a hobbyist but I am soon to be a Pro DJ and I produce my own tracks and upload them to, as well as producing an indie band called Dave & Joe plc. in the Jungle stylee.

I haven't got mine yet - but I have ordered it for christmas... heheh. I played on one in a shop and was most impressed - but I've never been one to use built in patterns - it's like those crappy home user Yamaha and Casio keyboards you can get with built in backings and demos...

You wouldn't use them in your own music so why use the built in Phrases on the 303. They're just there to get you started, and I was well past just 'started' within an hour of trying one out in a shop. This is a powerful tool and I can't wait to MIDI it to my Sampler...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Dec-22-1999 at 07:20
Andrew a hobbyist user from NC writes:

I need help with the MC-303. I haven't bought one yet, but was I had some questions about it. I want one, but I don't know what they can really do. What I want to know is, can you actually make good songs with it?(I'm not recording or anything, I'm only 15). I mean is it just a few sounds you add together that sound crappy, or can you add good sounds, and change the sounds and make good sounding music with it? I don't know much about it, so can someone please help with my questions? Thanx! :) e-mail me at

posted Monday-Dec-13-1999 at 21:01
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