The MC-09 PhraseLab is a creative tool for producing synth and drum loops - and emulating the TB-303. Combining an analog modeling synth, step sequencer, four-part audio looper, and effects processor, this instrument helps musicians develop loops with multiple variations. The MC-09 is a aimed at musicians, DJs and synth enthusiasts who work with audio phrases and want powerful analog-modeled synthesis at an affordable price.
The Synth component features monophonic bass and lead synth sounds and polyphonic rhythm sounds. There are six control knobs for tweaking the sounds via filters, LFOs, etc. Sounds can be played via the MC-09's pads and 32-step sequencer or MIDI. Drums can be programmed with Roland's popular TR-REC method, first introduced on TR-Series Rhythm Composers.
The audio looper is capable of playing back four monophonic phrases up to six seconds each (phrases can be taken from the internal synth or external sources). In action, users would create synth or drum patterns using the step sequencer and then record them as audio loops. Looping is simple since the PhraseLab uses BPM and measures to automatically stop recording at the perfect point. Loops can be triggered with the step sequencer anywhere desired-even at different pitches. And with the Chop function, the MC-09 can automatically divide a loop into 16 "slices" for constructing new phrases. The step sequencer is also capable of emulating the TB-303's slides and accent effects.
Also on-board are four high-quality effects algorithms: Filter, Isolator, Phaser and Slicer. Effects can be applied to any of the four audio loops or to live inputs, and can be controlled in real time via the knobs for more intuitive tweaking. Once you've created your audio loops and applied effects to them, you can save your work to an optional SmartMedia card. Connections in the back are low-budget RCA style audio inputs and outputs, and MIDI In/Out is also available. A low cost synth which is great for a beginner, or somebody after 303 type sounds on a budget.
Demos & Media
Preset Patterns: 40 Lead, 60 Bass, 100 Rhythm, 30 Effect;
User Patterns: 20
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Images from Roland-US.
Reviewed August 2008.