Synth Site: roland: MC-505: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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Anig Browl a part time user from the Magellanic Cloud writes:
Roland have really hit the button with this one - an astounding instrument. First you get a great interface with 11 knobs, 8 faders, 5 sliders, 60+ buttons and a 16-note switched "keyboard", which is actually rather fun to play. That's pretty massive realtime control, and you can plug in an external keyboard or controller too. There are ~250 multi-timbral patterns to mix and match for fun and profit, with another ~500 short phrases for fills and so on. A DJ can have a good time just with these (I know I did), but of course you'll want to create your own patterns. No problem there: you can record patterns in realtime or in two different modes of step sequencing, and you can record all controllers and adjustments (or not, as you see fit). The sequencer is really nice to use, with lots of neat configuration options. I'll still use my PC sequencer for off-line editing, but the 505 is much more fun to compose on. What about the sounds? There are a lot of nice factory noises, but quite a few weak ones too. Someone commented that they may have run out of programming time, and I kind of agree. The sound engine is a lot more powerful than I thought when I handed over my money in the shop. Here's the scoop... There are 2 banks of ~250 samples each. Bank 1 contains ~100 waveforms from various synths, specials effect, some real-world samples, and ~30 drum sounds. Strings are the only under-represented samples, although you needn't depend on those for string *patches*. Bank 2 is full of percussion samples, and I mean full: almost 50 each of kick and snare drums, loads of rim shots, hits, and so on. You won't find every 808 or 909 sound here (although there are a lot) but who cares - there are so many other good ones. Also lots of good ethnic sounds and general purpose stuff like 10 different rim shots. Most of these samples sound fairly good; a small number are dull, and a few are outstanding. The fun starts when you begin combining them to form a patch. Each patch can employ up to 4 samples. For each one you can control gain, tracking, KB zone, filter (type & degree), envelope, 2 LFOs and a few things I've forgotten. This gives you genuine 4-part multimbral patches. Further, each pair of samples (1+3, 2+4) can be mixed in 1 of 10 different configurations. For example, Wave A can be filtered using Wave B's filter before being ring-modulated by B and then having A's filter applied to the result before mixing with the original dry sound of B(!). Frankly, I wasn't expecting any modulation routing options, so this was a pleasant surprise. Now that I've had some time to experiment properly, I'm amazed at how much you can warp reality, er, sound on this box. You can cook up anything from funky 70's wah to twisting, tormented acid sounds - I even got a nice acoustic piano patch out. By the way, the resonance control is factory set well below maximum (to safeguard speakers?). The friendly manual tells you how to go about turning it up as far as you like - just don't wear headphones! Overall I'm impressed with the sound. I have an Oberheim analog modular synth here at home, and the 505 stands up surprisingly well beside it - in fact it's a little more aggressive on some patches at max resonance. HOWEVER you won't get real satisfaction with the sounds unless you read the manual and do some programming - but this is a fairly painless process. Thanks Roland ;-) Lastly, you have 6 times of reverb, 6 delays (which sound very good) and 24 effects. The effects quality depends on the patch you are playing - some combinations are uninteresting, some are jaw-droppping. The sound quality is good in all cases, with smooth reverb tails and super-metallic flanges in particular. You can also adjust how much of the reverb and delay sounds go to the effects processor - or out the back. The rear outputs have flexible configuration; I'm planning to run 1 stereo pair through and effects box and use the remaining outputs for triggering/gating the analog synth (even though that does MIDI). I've left out a whole load of things that aren't obvious from looking in the store or Roland's website, such as: 30 apreggiators x 30 styles + user-definable patterns, lovely portamento, 8-stage envelopes (yes you can adjust all the timings), chaotic LFOs, 10-way keyboard tracking, tuning options, cross-fading within patches, the 24 different D-Beam options and loads of other stuff. Bottom line: if you're after the perfect sound, there -are- other & better synths out there. But the 505 has surprisingly deep (& sick!) sonic possibilities. Put into a great-feeling box with a great sequencer and way cool performance tools, and it's a winner. If you like composing & performing dance music, you should definitely investigate this. It's well worth the $1220 I paid. Plug this into your speakers and you can make good-sounding music without anything else.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:08
Chris a hobbyist user from 0 writes:
I learned my lesson with the MC-303. I work at a music store and have had a chance to play with this puppy....a lot. First impressions make one very excited...until you get down to the bone. This thing has nothing on Keyboards like the Z1 and others which CAN be found for darn near the same price range. The filters sound VERY digital and the thing lives off SAMPLED SOUNDS. It does nothing towards creativity. Roland's just trying to flash new things like a mixer section, a D-Beam, and more knobs to grab more quick cash from electronic newbies and numbskulls. I WOULD NOT use this device for studio work. A good toy for scratchin ideas...but if you want synth sounds go to Korg or other BETTER Roland synths. If you want beats...get a sampler kids. It'll save ya money and give ya a hell of a lot more.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:08
Alain a part time user from Atlantis writes:
This baby rocks, it aint nothing like the mc303 except for the interface, this is gonna be another Roland classic

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:08
John K. Priest a professional user from USA writes:
I have read a few of the reviews and let me tell you something...those of you that sold or took back your MC 505's after a few weeks are just's ok I realize you want instant gradification and as soon as you got bored with the PRE-SET sounds/songs, YOU GAVE UP! Well let me put it to you this way I have been using Roland Gear for Years and YOU CAN NOT learn how to use the MC 505 in just a few weeks..I dont care how good you think you are! Just like any other instrument you have to LEARN it and merge your creative thoughts INTO it! For all you that want instant gradification....go buy a sampler! DID YOU KNOW that you can "create" your own sounds and store them as a patch? And then add effects and place them into your song that you created and TWEAK the fuck out of REAL-TIME!! in other words...LIVE!! On the fly! This machine is only limited to the time that you put into it...the presets are only there to show you what a few electronic music programers can do with it...MAKE YOUR OWN MUSIC!! You will never find one machine that will "do it alll" I have a MC 303 and a MC 505 and have had them ever since they came out..and still havent pushed them to their fullest all you weak sucks that give up when you have to read an owners manual and cant seem to..."get-it".... go play with a sampler. THESE MACHINES ARE EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE they do not do EVERYTHING!! But pretty damb close! Dont give up I learn something new every time I jam on them! JKP!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:07
Muffy a hobbyist user from England writes:
The MC505 is OK if you're a DJ. If you're seriously into synths - DONT BOTHER. You'll love it for a week, then stop using it and sell it - just like I did!

Rating: 1 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:07
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