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
Jack Floyd
March 25, 2012 @ 3:14 pm
This guy was used by Peter John-Vetesse to sequence additional parts on Ian Anderson's "Walk Into Light" and Jethro Tull's "Under Wraps".
December 17, 2011 @ 6:51 am
The problem with controlling this synth via the cv/gate inputs is that there is a delay due to the signal passing through the sequencer section first - making it pretty useless to play in this way. Some companies do a mod which will bypass the sequencer to get round this.

Having said that - I love this little machine. Programming sequences is difficult to get your head around at first - but worth the effort.

You can get 303 style seq patterns - adding portamento to seq notes will make the 202 'bend' to that note, a distinctive feature of the 303 sound, but the 202 is more versatile.
Richard Baldwin
October 18, 2011 @ 4:35 am
Just recieved mine. Its far smaller than i thought. I have had 2 SH101s before and don't really play the keyboard much, so happy with just the mini touchkeys and pattern sequencer.
September 14, 2011 @ 6:23 am
I love the 202. I got the best results stacked the 202 behind a 303 or 777 via cv/gate. For deep Basslines the 202 is my first choice. Very useful also for snappy reso bleeps and pulsating sounds. The 202 fits good in a Midi/DinSync/Cv&Gate studio.
August 25, 2011 @ 12:54 pm
If you own or have access to a Roland MC-202 Synth here is the original data cassette that came with the machine. a-tape-converted/
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Rated 4.28 (439 Votes)

  • 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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