Roland MC-09 PhraseLab

Roland MC-09 Image

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.

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17 Visitor comments
October 12, 2010 @ 4:12 pm
I remember seeing an advertisement for the Roland MC-09 in a magazine when it first came out. I thought it was going to be the coolest tweak box ever...unfortunately, it wasn't. It is, however, very useful for manipulating samples and doing decent monosynth lines. A fun box...if you can get one cheap, go for it.
May 12, 2010 @ 6:32 am
In terms of design, sound, functionality, ease of use, and value for money, this is, of course, absolutely bloody awful. It's one of the worst instruments Roland have ever produced.

But bizarrely, as other users have commented, nothing else actually sounds like it. It doesn't sound like a 303. It itself.

If they didn't cost so much second hand, I'd recommend one.
August 17, 2009 @ 5:41 pm
theres a japanese acid compilation called "clone machine noise" which has a mc09 track on it, I found it here!!!:
June 28, 2009 @ 9:19 am
Wow, it feels good to know that I am not the only person fanatical about this little box. Sure, the learning curve is tough and the manual isn't just hard to understand, it is practically wrong, but those are the only draw backs. Someone called it a failure, and wasn't that the same fate of the 303 at the get go? See, it is the heir apparent! Anyways, I love my MC-09, I bought it looking for a sampler and drum machine and found something much greater. It absoutely rules, it can do acid techno to crunk beats. It is so fresh!
May 15, 2009 @ 5:28 am
The MC-09 overall is a fun little all-in-one techno machine.
It has a synth, it has a drum machine and a limited, but high quality audio sampler.

The synth included in the MC-09 is a blast to play with. You'll be blaring out beeps, blips and drones in no time. In my first day owning the MC-09 I was able to make 3 very nice sounding techno songs, or at least that sound nice to me lol.

The three biggest downsides to the MC-09 is the limited sequencer, the sample loading times (close to 2 minutes per 512KB, 6 second sample) and they really should have made it larger, with more controls, so that you could have the synth, bass, rhythm and effects all going at the same time your 4 loops are.

On the upside the machines will be bravely marching on within minutes of you powering it on ready to belt out 90s sounding techno beats just like god intended. You'll probably wish you had two MC-09s once you fully realize all it can do...and several more hands.
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    Roland MC-09
    by David Munoz

    Manual - Roland has made manuals for most of their products available as free PDF downloads.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Lead: 1, Bass: 1, Rhythm: 3
  • Oscillators - Preset Tones: 128 Lead, 128 Bass, 10 Rhythm
  • Sequencer - 32 Steps, Sixteenth note Resolution
    Preset Patterns: 40 Lead, 60 Bass, 100 Rhythm, 30 Effect;
    User Patterns: 20
  • Memory - SmartMedia Storage
  • Effects - 30: Filter, Isolator, Phaser, Slicer, Lead Sound Group: Overdrive, Distortion, Phaser, Slicer + Ring Modulator
  • LFO - Triangle, Square, Sawtooth, Sample and Hold
  • Filter - Low pass, Band pass, high pass
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - MIDI In/Out
  • Date Produced - 2002
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Roland-US.

    Reviewed August 2008.

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