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
August 5, 2011 @ 12:20 pm
Some reasons you might want a 202 rather than a 101:

1. The 202 has external gate/CV as well as internal, with two separate patterns.
2. The 202 has LFO delay.
3. The 202 has an accent control
4. The 202 has DIN sync in, and 2 DIN sync outs.
5. The 202 sequencer is fuller-featured.

This isn't to say I don't love the 101 - the sequencer on the 101 is as basic as can be, but it's fast to use and great fun. And of course the 101 is a much better performance instrument. But the 202 is much more than just a smaller, keyless 101, and if I could only have one it'd be a tough call to make.
April 26, 2011 @ 5:53 pm
I bought an MC-202 years ago and got rid of quite soon afterwards. I seem to remember having problems with controlling it via my kenton. I seem to recall the information having to be routed via the useless little sequencer and "step" pitch bend info. Shame as it had quite a nice filter on it. Personally I would just get an SH-101 unless you can pick this up for a few hundred euros.
March 22, 2011 @ 11:40 am
good sound but WHY would you buy one of these when you could get an SH-101? This thing is OK as a sound source with a better sequencer but the 101 is the full package, an instrument and way cooler looking.
March 20, 2011 @ 1:23 am
I don't understand why the Roland MC-4 or MC-8 don't have their own descriptions :(
March 12, 2011 @ 8:58 am
Damn heavy sound, that little grey box is awesome. I love it. I paid 400 ,- Deutsche Mark (about less than 200 Euro) way back in the 90's. Today that would be a bargain. I love battery-powered gear! Fat sounds you wouldn't expect. Mix it with FM (DX-Synths) and you are ready to go! Programming is a bit tricky but you'll get used to it. Just don't think of the 808 or 303 while doing so. Great gear, recommended..!
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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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