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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59 Visitor comments
October 13, 2012 @ 11:16 am
Lots of fun but like everyone has said, a pain to program but good for happy accidents.
Check out MC202 Hack to load sequences from midi into tape input.
September 16, 2012 @ 2:52 pm
I have mine for sale 600€ very mind condition, only 2nd owner of this synth. Pictures on request, just send an email to: Awesome synth no doubt!
August 28, 2012 @ 6:34 am
Sounds subtly different enough from the 101 to make it worth getting if you are in two minds about purchasing.

I've compared this side-by-side with a 101. On the 202 the envelopes seem slightly faster and the filter/resonance sounds a harsher at the top and more mellow at the bottom. You can get some surprisingly mellow lead sounds from it. Plus it will overdrive more than the 101.

Almost essential to get the CV/Gate kit from Kenton as it's useless trying to sequence it otherwise. I don't use the on-board programming as it now works perfectly with the CV mod and a MIDI/CV converter.
July 18, 2012 @ 12:20 pm
A complete PITA to program, but the perfect bassline machine. Was used more than many think for Acid basses (the 303s weren't actually that bassy). I wish I'd bought one of those Kenton retrofits to bypass the CV input (as already mentioned - useless for external control as a standard unit. Won't track pitch for even an octave). Still, once you get your head around the tortuous programming (god knows what they were thinking when they designed it) it's one of the best fun bass machines around. I don't use it that often because of the PITA programming, but always enjoy it when I do.
July 2, 2012 @ 2:10 pm
Hey there,

Just got one of these, but having problems at the first hurdle. Every key on the machine is the exact same note and i cant work out how to get different notes out of it. Has anyone else had this problem or know how to get round it?

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Rated 4.28 (442 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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