Monday, June 05, 2006

Roland MC-808 Review by Synthy

Synthy over at has posted some nice first impressions about the Roland MC-808 compared to its brother the MC-909 and how they might handle out live. Overall it sems to not be that impressive of a piece of kit.

You fellas that have been on this forum might remember when I got the MC-909 when it first came out. I was beaming about how easy it was to write on, etc. Then I tried sampling some of my own sounds at the suggestion of someone on another forum, and was shocked to find that the sampled sound had noticeably less high-frequency precense. I repeated that test in every conceivable way - importing vs. sampling, drums vs. synths, full-on patterns vs. instrumentals, mixed-down vs. unmastered, etc. Every listening test came back pointing to a definitely noticeable degradation in the high-frequencies by the MC-909's internal sample file format.

Now the MC-808 has come out, and I've heard rumblings that Roland improved their sampling quality. Yeah, sure, so how about it? Well I managed to get my hands on one today when I asked the GC guys to open theirs up so I could check it out...

There has been little to no improvement in the MC-808's sampling quality since the MC-909 - in terms of FREQUENCY RANGE. The high frequency attentuation is still noticeable. Whether they improved dynamic range or other areas of the sound - I don't know, and quite honestly don't care much. The high frequency sampling has not been solved, I'm sorry to say. Regardless of what you will read in magazine articles whose advertising revenues pay their bills, you at least need to be aware that in the MC-808 you are not getting a true professional sampler, at least if you use uncompressed 44.1kHz CD quality sound as the most basic gauge of whether a sampler is professional or not. Sure, it has lots of other sweet features, and there will be guys that will write tremendous live sets on it. But if you're finicky about how you sound and want nothing but the best in terms of sound quality - pass.



Anonymous said...

I'm currently renting one of these and to me, personally, it sounds amazing. However, I have done no sampling as of yet. Sounds nice and think and the workflow is very easy to get use to. I'm thinking of purchasing it now that I've had it for a few days. Will test out the sampling due to the issues you mentioned. I can't see it being all that bad though. At least, not bad enough to make me dislike the whole unit.

Thanks for your review.

Anonymous said...

I've got a MC-808 and the sound quaity is amazing and the synth is great too!!
Much better then a MPC!
Sampling quaily is brilliant, I've had no problems with my baby!
Have a listen to what I've done on my MC-808 on