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 2, 2013 @ 1:25 pm
The mc-09 is an oddly capable bass synth. The best way to use this thing is make your sequence then fire up the mc and see what happens using the different waves and settings. Also for acid lines try using the lead synth sounds not the bass ones. See when using the lead sounds the filter is a bit effected by the accent not just the volume. Where as the bass ones it is just the volume that spikes by itself. My unit responds this way have not checked to see if others do. But really this synth excels at great lfo timed pulse width sequences vs traditional acid lines.
February 2, 2013 @ 10:37 am
instant acid whip. played it for years without saving anything, brings evil smile.
June 2, 2012 @ 12:43 am
I agree that it is like the original 303, not only because of the synth part of it. Remember, the tb-303 was marketed to guitarists to use as a programmable bass to practice to. Folk just used it in other ways. I use it for the synth part, but I also use it to put other synths through, kind of like the BOSS pedals that it sits next to and shares the power supply with. Maybe if it they had put BOSS on it, it might have more love. Not too much love, though. that might push the prices up into the ridiculous, like most brand-name synths and effects on... well, you know.
March 18, 2012 @ 7:26 am
Here the original roland demo:
December 5, 2010 @ 10:39 am
With a little tweaking and good use of ties and slides it can sound like a plain 303. However dont expect the accented 'piooww' of a tb303...... the accents on the mc09 are just louder and dont effect the filter in the same way.
Having said that though, this has a ton of other cool sounds and as others have said.... nothing else is like it! Horrid manual, [beep] to program(if you are used to electribes etc...) but i like it a lot. If you find one cheap, buy it!
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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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