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Roland MC-202

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Description
The Roland MC-202 (MicroComposer) is a monophonic analog synthesizer/sequencer released by Roland in 1983. It is similar to the TB-303 and SH-101 synthesizers, featuring one voltage-controlled oscillator with simultaneous saw and square/pulse-width waveforms. The unit is portable and can be operated from batteries or an external power supply.

Synthesizer

The internal synthesizer features one voltage-controlled oscillator with simultaneous saw, square/pulse-width and sub-octave square waveforms. Additionally there is a 24dB Low Pass filter, an LFO and a single ADSR envelope generator.
In terms of circuitry, it is nearly identical to the earlier SH-101 synthesizers but lacks the noise generator, choice of LFO shapes and modualtion/pitch bend controls. However, unlike the SH-101, it does include a delay on the LFO. The two units also share a design aesthetic in terms of the control layout, casing, lettering, knobs and slider caps.

Sequencer

The MC-202 includes a sequencer that can play back two separate sequences simultaneously. Two sets of CV/Gate connectors on the rear of the unit allow for routing the sequences to external synthesizers. One of the two sequences is used to control the internal synthesizer. The sequencer is programmed much like Roland's early digital MC-4 and MC-8 Microcomposer sequencers, whereby notes are entered with pitch, length and gate length. Additionally, each note in the sequence can have an accent and slide, which is similar to the TB-303 and the SH-101 and allows for so called acid sequences.

The sequences are lost if the unit is powered down, however a tape interface is provided so that sequences can be stored to and recalled from an audio tape recorder.

There are DIN sync inputs and outputs which allow the unit to synchronize playback, either as master or slave, with other DIN sync-equipped instruments such as the TB-303 or the Roland TR-808. The unit can also generate and sync to frequency-shift keying signals from a tape recorder.
The MC-303 was built in 1996 and is a digital successor of the MC-202.

In 1997, Defective Records Software released MC-202 Hack, a software application that enables programming of the MC-202's sequencer on computer. It works by creating audio that is routed into the MC-202's cassette input port. It allows for MIDI files to be converted to MC-202 sequences. This eliminates the need to use the MC-202 keys to enter sequence information. Version 2 of the software (released in 2009) also allows sequences programmed directly on the MC-202 to be converted back into MIDI files.
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Technical Specifications
Type: Analog
Synthesis: Subtractive
Oscillators
Oscillators: 1
Waveforms: Saw Up, Square
Osc Modulation: Envelope, Fader, Knob, Sequencer
Envelopes
Envelopes: 1
Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, Monophonic
Filters
Filters: 1
Types: Low Pass, Resonance
Filter Modulation: Envelope, Knob, Sequencer
LFO
LFO: 1
LFO Parameters: Sine
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 1
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Mono
Patches
Patches RAM: 1
Storage: Internal
Sequencer
2 track sequencer can be stored in memory
Case
Case: Desktop
Controls: Buttons, Pedal - Filter, Knobs, Modulation 1/8" Jacks, Sequencer, Sliders, Tempo Knob
Display Type: LCD
Dimensions (WxDxH): 343 x 55 x 204 mm
Weight: 1.35 kg
Connections
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out, Stereo Headphone
Audio Output Count: 2
CV Ports: DIN, CV IN, CV OUT, Gate In, Gate Out, 5V Octave
Power: DC 9v or 6 C Cell Batteries
Production
Year Released: 1983
Year Discontinued: 1985
Manuals & Documents
Pricing
Used Price: $900-$1,700 - convert
Shopping
References & Sources

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Jonathan Ewald

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   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

Take my rating with a grain of salt, as I am not a gear-head, not a synth player, and have little experience with other equipment.

The MC202 is my main and only synth, used as auxiliary to my primary instrument, bass thru fx.

Actually, working with this instrument over the past 15 years has taught me a lot about synthesis.

Decent sounds, decent responsiveness, decent controls.  

More about sounds than about playing.

Very useful programming and cycling.

In my opinion, and in my practice, you really need to have this running into a delay pedal.  This allows 2 things:  
-- capturing a phrase into a fairly short loop
-- with the cycled playing of programmed phrases, the delay X speed of the programmed cycled part provides an Ozric-y arppeggiator where melodies synch up and produce accidental harmonies in time, either on top of itself or interwoven.

This allows knob-twiddlin' and slider-play of the programmed melody arp.  

(Sorry if these words are meaningless and non-technical, but as I say, I'm a synth outsider. :)  )

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