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Roland MC-500 incoming!

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Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue May 28, 2019 10:54 pm

I have been struggling with using multiple sequencers live the last few years and whilst the BeatStep Pro has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of its functionality and connectivity, it has three fatal flaws in my opinion: 1) the USB port for power is a disaster waiting to happen and anyone who gigs with a BSP regularly will tell you that you should have two with you when you are gigging; 2) it's only two monophonic melodic lines; 3) You have to build up songs by chaining lots of small phrases.

Just to clarify - I am not a DJ, or an EDM guy; I'm not interested in playing small phrases and looping them and building them up. I write entire pieces, practice them ad nauseum. and the perform them.

I recently acquired a NerdSeq from XOR Electronics, which I LOVE! It's very intuitive, but once again, it's monophonic and you have to build up pieces in very small chunks. Still, it's incredibly intuitive to use and has 6 tracks of sequencing. Plus, it sits in a skiff so there's no wonky power adapters to deal with.

However, I want M O R E lol. I want to add my TX7 and other poly synths into the fray as well. After doing some digging, the Roland MC-500 came across my radar. They can be had for very reasonable prices these days. And even if I only use the original OS, that still gives me four polyphonic MIDI tracks. And, most importantly, I can record a performance all the way through!

So now I am eagerly awaiting its arrival and am looking forward to incorporating it into my current performative landscape.

It should be arriving in a couple of days but my MRP-500 Performance Package arrived today. I found an NOS fully sealed one on Reverb for a good price; it's amazing how LARGE the box is for just two 3.5" floppy disks lol.

Stay tuned, more to come!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby desmond » Tue May 28, 2019 11:27 pm

While I think the MC-500's look cute, they are not that comfortable to use other than basic record/playback tasks. The lack of individual tracks is a bit of a pain, and as for editing... well... :headbang:

If you really wanted an MC, I'd suggest to get the MC-50, which at least had a decent memory and a better user interface, while running the same software as the earlier 500/500mkII. Granted, they don't look as cool, but they are quite a bit more usable.

In any case, let us know how the MC500 works out - I've always kinda liked them...
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue May 28, 2019 11:42 pm

I will! Make no mistake, I am fully expecting it to be janky as hell. :)

But no more janky than tuning 6 VCOs only to have issues with clock sync which uncovers an issue with clock reset from my sequencer which leads to a screw up in beat divisions and why is Euclidean Circles running so fast and why did I turn this on in the first place? :D :tongue: :headbang:
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue May 28, 2019 11:49 pm

desmond wrote:While I think the MC-500's look cute, they are not that comfortable to use other than basic record/playback tasks.
That's all that I need, actually. I'm not a MIDI wizard!

The lack of individual tracks is a bit of a pain
Not sure what you mean, MC-500 has four 'instrument' tracks and one 'percussion' track; eight, if it supports the MkII software.

and as for editing... well... :headbang:
Yes, I've both read and seen how difficult the editing is with the limited screen/menu diving. Still, compared to editing the BSP, which has no screen, I'm expecting it to be painful. :)

If you really wanted an MC, I'd suggest to get the MC-50, which at least had a decent memory and a better user interface, while running the same software as the earlier 500/500mkII. Granted, they don't look as cool, but they are quite a bit more usable.
I actually started my search looking for an MC-50 but couldn't find one that was in good shape or at a reasonable price!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby The Elf » Wed May 29, 2019 8:17 am

I spent years programming MCs of all numbers. Good lord, I wouldn't want to go back! It was rather like building the Eiffel Tower using chopsticks.

Good luck with it. I will be interested to hear how someone of these latter days takes to the programming system!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Wed May 29, 2019 3:31 pm

Good luck with that! I had a boxed MC-50mk2 for a while, and never even used it I think. Came with some extra gubbins, but just ended up dusty.

I've got an ancient Yamaha QX-1 here as well, built like a tank, takes 5.25" floppies (of which I have more than one human should ever require), and has 8 MIDI outs, FSK sync, and 384ppqn resolution. It's also large and heavy enough to kill you if you drop it on your head. Probably. Haven't tried.

I just sold my Beatstep, still have the Pro but I don't find it much fun, too much scrolling. And I've been using the Korg SQ-1 but the clock sync is terrible.

I think my best hardware sequencer right now is the CSQ-600. A faff, but it works for what I want from it.

Of course it would be easy to do all this in a DAW but who wants easy? ;)
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby ken long » Wed May 29, 2019 4:21 pm

Love the Akai ASQ10.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby BillB » Wed May 29, 2019 5:09 pm

nathanscribe wrote:I just sold my Beatstep, still have the Pro but I don't find it much fun, too much scrolling.

Nathan, can I ask what you mean by too much scrolling? Based on Arturia promo videos, I’m quite attracted to the BeatStep Pro for its immediacy, but you are suggesting all is not rosy. Plus I agree with Ben that drums plus 2 mono tracks is fine as far as it goes... Plan B is the iPad - perhaps ModStep if I can get my head around it.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed May 29, 2019 5:31 pm

ken long wrote:Love the Akai ASQ10.
Just looked it up, that looks fantastic! Also, huge!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed May 29, 2019 5:32 pm

BillB wrote:
nathanscribe wrote:I just sold my Beatstep, still have the Pro but I don't find it much fun, too much scrolling.

Nathan, can I ask what you mean by too much scrolling? Based on Arturia promo videos, I’m quite attracted to the BeatStep Pro for its immediacy, but you are suggesting all is not rosy. Plus I agree with Ben that drums plus 2 mono tracks is fine as far as it goes... Plan B is the iPad - perhaps ModStep if I can get my head around it.
Bill, he may be referring to the fact that you can only see 16 of the 64 available steps at a time. So you have to set up autoscrolling to see where you are in the overall pattern. The problem is that sometimes you want it to auto scroll and sometimes you don't so you are constantly playing round with that setting.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Guido3 » Wed May 29, 2019 6:36 pm

I used a MC300 (the MC500’s baby brother) back in the late 80’s. I was a whizz on it!! I knew my way around it with my eyes shut. I wish I could say the same about some of my gear today!!

I used to program drums on a TR909 and dump the notes into the MC300. Whatever happened to that 909 :headbang:
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Wed May 29, 2019 8:29 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:
BillB wrote:
nathanscribe wrote:I just sold my Beatstep, still have the Pro but I don't find it much fun, too much scrolling.

Nathan, can I ask what you mean by too much scrolling? Based on Arturia promo videos, I’m quite attracted to the BeatStep Pro for its immediacy, but you are suggesting all is not rosy. Plus I agree with Ben that drums plus 2 mono tracks is fine as far as it goes... Plan B is the iPad - perhaps ModStep if I can get my head around it.
Bill, he may be referring to the fact that you can only see 16 of the 64 available steps at a time. So you have to set up autoscrolling to see where you are in the overall pattern. The problem is that sometimes you want it to auto scroll and sometimes you don't so you are constantly playing round with that setting.

Less that than the way the encoders function. On a regular analogue step sequencer each knob has a marker so you can see where it's at, but on the BSP they're encoders, and there's no immediate visual indication of that. Also, pots are end to end, one sweep – the encoders are just turn turn turn, much more awkward I find. It's supposed to have touch sensitivity, so you simply place a finger on any encoder and the display reads its value – but I find that temperamental at best.

Another gripe about the BSP is the way the encoders don't align with the step on/off switches – on the original BS, each pot is in position with its step switch on an 8x2 grid, but on the Pro, the knobs are 8x2 but the steps are 1x16. The 8x2 grid of pads represents a keyboard layout. This is counter-intuitive for me, and just gets in the way of the kind of immediacy I want from a sequencer. I'd rather have simplicity of operation than a pile of features that are no fun to work with.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed May 29, 2019 9:32 pm

What do you use the encoder for, nathanscribe? I can say that I've never used mine!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Thu May 30, 2019 5:09 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:What do you use the encoder for, nathanscribe? I can say that I've never used mine!

Erm, I mean the 16 knobs that set the values for each step.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri May 31, 2019 2:41 am

Well, the unit arrived today. It's a bit heavier than I would have thought but definitely has a nice weight to it. The mechanical buttons have a satisfying "chick-ah" sound when you press them, like an old calculator or data entry panel. All of the buttons and the "alpha" dial seem to be working and the system disk loaded no problem. Looking forward to testing this over the weekend!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri May 31, 2019 7:09 pm

No time to actually test anything fully yet today, but I was able to get the main pieces set up and verify that they communicate with each other.

I have the MC-500 as my master clock. It's going to the MIDI in on the BeaStep Pro (to be replaced by a Doepfer MSY2 at some point) and converting it to CV clock. That runs to the NerdSeq Clock In which then controls the modular stuff.

My super-quick test verified that the clocking works great and the NerdSeq is receiving accurate tempo information from the MC-500.

Image

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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby desmond » Fri May 31, 2019 8:20 pm

:thumbup:
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Fri May 31, 2019 10:21 pm

Very nice!

But your Beatstep is not winning at Scrabble.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 pm

nathanscribe wrote:Very nice!

But your Beatstep is not winning at Scrabble.
It most certainly is not.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:53 am

Well, I was able to give the MC-500 a full work out today and it performed perfectly! It's more or less just like operating a four track porta-studio. I was able to make this test; it's 16 MIDI tracks merged down to one. The way that the machine works is actually very cool in that it automatically records whatever MIDI channel is passing through it, and then it can be changed later if need be. Neat.

I set up a Performance patch on my JV-1080 so this recording is the stereo out from the JV-1080 being driven by the MC-500.

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... nture-demo

There's a bit of kerfuffle required every time you turn the machine on (loading the system disk, setting up Soft Thru and MIDI clock), which is a bit of a drag; but the menu diving isn't excessive at least.
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