Roland MC-202 MicroComposer

Roland MC-202 Image

This is an analog synthesizer/sequencer. It sounds very much like the TB-303 and SH-101 bass synths. Sometimes considered the "poor man's 303". It has a very evolved form of TB-303 like programming (more like the MC-4) and SH-101 like controls of the VCO, VCF, VCA, LFO, Envelope and Mixer sections. The LCD display is a great feature too.

The MC-202 was sort of a next-generation TB-303. So the idea was to program sequence/patterns into it internally which would give you those 303 basslines that we've come to love. But programming the MC-202 is a bit too intense and over done for the simple monophonic bass line. However you can control it externally by hooking up a MID-CV/Gate converter. Then you basically have yourself an SH-101!

The sequencer is actually a 2-channel CV/gate sequencer, with both channels being capable of driving a separate external synth. It's a very useful unit, also, for its DINsync capabilities; it can receive on one port, and send over two, and also can 'split' DINsync to branch a sync signal out to multiple devices.

Roland MC-202 Image

This machine is best for those who want to get 303-like patterns (it has accent just like the 303) and basslines with an SH-101 sound. If you can handle programming the notes into its sequencer you can have a lot of fun. It is used by Autechre, Future Sound Of London, Coldcut, The Human League, Underworld, Aphex Twin, LFO, Jedi Knights, Plastikman, Astral Projection, Sabres Of Paradise, Freddy Fresh, Jimmy Edgar, ProtoType 909 and Taylor 808.

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58 Visitor comments
November 17, 2008 @ 2:18 pm
I love my MC-202. It will NEVER leave my hands. This is one of THE classic Roland Acid machines. Using the sequencer is a pain. You can easily get lost while programing it, but if you can master it you will get the most unique melodies and loops that you simply would not be able to get with anything else. The programmable portamento and accent brings this synth to life. Check it out,
September 12, 2008 @ 7:58 am
The 202 can be controlled through the cv/gate in sockets. Because this signal goes through the cpu where it's being quantized, a delay occurs between hitting a note and the 202 playing it. With slower envelopes this is no problem, but when you hook it up with lets say the tb-303's cv/gate out, the 202 cant cope with the speed of the notes.

A small mod can solve this problem, making the 202 extra usefull. Here's a video I made showing the mod:

Another great modification is to add a filter cv input. The 202 has 2 seq. tracks, both with their own cv/gate out. With the filter cv mod, you can use the 2nd sequence track to automate the filter.

Also check Dan Nigrin's 202Hack v2. This tool helps you in storing own made sequences on your PC using the tape save function.
September 11, 2008 @ 8:34 am
This grey box of acid is easily overlooked in the world of Roland machines. Make no mistake, it's got a place in electronic music history to stand up with the more 'famous' acid toys. Everyone always says... "like a cross between a 303 and 101"... Well, it's kinda true. It can sound VERY close to the 101 synth... The sequencer is kinda like a 303, but more close to a MC-4 (from what I've heard). It's a great machine that fits in perfectly to any electronic music studio.
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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.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - Single VCO : Simultaneous sawtooth and square/pulse width waveforms and 1 Sub-Oscillator
  • VCA - ADSR Envelope or gate.
  • Filter - Resonant 24dB lowpass with cutoff, res, env, mod, kybd
  • LFO - 1 sine wave with delay and rate controls
  • Memory - Volatile sequence memory using batteries or do a Cassette Tape Dump
  • Sequencer - 2 Tracks, 2,729 notes capacity
  • Control - CV/GATE and Tape/Clock/DIN Sync
  • Date Produced - 1983
  • Resources & Credits
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