Roland MC-909 Sampling Groovebox

Roland MC-909 Image

The MC-909 is Roland's answer to the demands of serious producers who want a workstation that seamlessly integrates audio and MIDI. Based on the XV-series synthesis engine with sampling RAM expandable up to 272MB (16MB standard), the MC-909 has evolved beyond the original concept of a Groovebox. This professional workstation boasts 800 new Patches, 64 Rhythm Sets and 693 all-new waveforms, with SRX expansion. And with professional sequencing, onboard effects, mastering tools and an ultra-intuitive interface-plus a USB port for exchanging samples and sequences with a PC, the MC-909 is all you need to take your music from conception to completion.

The MC-909 is more than a Groovebox with sampling. Audio and MIDI can be integrated, synthesized and sequenced together within a single, easy-to-use environment. Sample some phrases and sequence them alongside MIDI tracks as the MC-909 synchronizes your loops automatically. Samples can even be used as raw waveforms in the synthesizer section, opening up a world of sonic possibilities. The MC-909's big LCD screen makes it easy to locate sounds, sample audio, edit waveforms and sequence MIDI arrangements. Nearly all major parameters can be accessed via knobs, sliders and buttons, while the dedicated Part Mixer makes mixing a snap. You also get two of Roland's most popular performance controllers: Turntable Emulation makes it possible to adjust pitch and time independently for MIDI or audio (thanks to some innovative realtime time-stretching), while Twin D Beams use an infrared beam of light for triggering samples, tweaking filters and more.

Roland MC-909 Image

On the inside is a powerful 4-Tone synthesis engine with stereo waveforms per Tone and 64-voice polyphony. Yet the MC-909 is still as easy to program as an analog synth-thanks to a generous supply of knobs, buttons and sliders. The MC-909 also comes with 16MB of sample memory, expandable up to 272MB using optional DIMMs. Audio can be recorded via the stereo analog inputs or digitally using the S/PDIF input. You can even import .WAV/AIFF files from a computer via USB. Samples can be processed in a variety of ways. Using Wave Edit, a waveform can be truncated and looped while viewing it graphically on the LCD. The Time-stretch function, on the other hand, makes it possible to change a loop's tempo without affecting pitch. Or, if you prefer to create your own loops, simply "slice" up a loop with Chop. You can trigger samples from the velocity-sensitive pads or via an external MIDI keyboard.

The MC-909's 16-track sequencer has been improved in many ways with 480 ticks-per-quarter-note resolution. Patterns can also be up to 998 measures and a new version of Roland's popular TR recording method (similar to "Piano Roll" editing) makes it possible to view several notes at once using the pads and LCD. The MC-909's sequencer is fully compatible with Standard MIDI Files, allowing you to import and export SMF sequences via the built-in USB port. Of course, the MC-909 comes with hundreds of patterns-programmed by professional producers-that fully exploit the new sounds like UK hard-house, trance and the latest "broken-beat" hip-hop and R&B. And it's all expandable via SRX-Series wave expansion boards.

There's no need for outboard effects with the MC-909. There's a 24-bit reverb that can be applied to each sequencer part, a new dedicated compressor, and two independent multi-effects (MFX) for the new filter algorithms-including a 36dB filter and amazing Step Filter-plus tempo-synced delay (up to four seconds), phasing, distortion and other proprietary effects like Lo-Fi, Slicer and COSM Amp Modeling. There's also a special Mastering processor which includes 3-band compression/EQ for creating "final" mixes.

The MC-909 ships with a dance-oriented ROM containing everything from house pianos and organs to edgy techno hoovers and stabs-plus favorites like the JP-8000 "SuperSaw" waveform and distorted TB-303 sounds. There are also plenty of basses, pads and sound effects perfect for any track, along with a complete assortment of drum kits. New sounds can be added by installing an optional SRX-Series Wave Expansion Board. The SRX-05 "Supreme Dance" expansion has special Patches that can only be accessed on the MC-909. The SmartMedia slot allows for optional memory cards that can be used to store User data such as samples, patches, rhythm sets and patterns. Other professional features include S/PDIF digital I/O, six analog outputs and stereo analog inputs, and a new V-LINK function for integrating audio and video-in performance (with the Edirol DV-7PR Digital Video Workstation, sold separately). The MC-909 has been used by Überzone.

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63 Visitor comments
August 29, 2012 @ 7:57 pm
I remember when this baby came out and I lusted after it, knowing that I would never be able to afford $1500 or so to own one. Fast forward about 10 years and I pick up one on Ebay dirt cheap. And even after so many years and a ton of gear, it is everything I had ever dreamed it would be and more!

Tonight I loaded up some single cycle waveforms (Google: Adventure Kid) and it handles them with out a hiccup. So now I just added about 3,000 new waveforms on one 8mb smartmedia card. Just like the onboard waveforms, of course, you can layer these 4 to a patch and they are fully tweakable!
August 29, 2012 @ 12:32 pm
I've been looking to get my hands on one of these, offcourse in perfect shape and fully working, full maxed memory and the latest OS. Didnt know it is that hard. I live in Belgium, if someone can help me... My studio needs one :)
August 10, 2012 @ 12:16 pm
THE groovebox for making weird sounds, righteous bass and creamy pads. rs7000 is better at creating fresh loops, and xl7 is better at tweaking sequences live.

xl-7 is deeper and has more polyphony, so it gets wicked too. but mc909 is quick to program, and xl7 lacks a compressor. rs7000's synth is great in a mix but sounds less alive than mc909's stereo oscillators.

i've had nearly every groovebox. xl7 is for performers, rs7000 is for loop deconstructors and mc909 is for sound composers. i use all 3 but in the end, it's not about the gear in your studio. it's about the creativity in you.
August 8, 2012 @ 2:43 am
What a wonderful machine! It's also heavily used by the South African house act Goldfish for nearly every song of theirs.
Danny Phillips
July 23, 2012 @ 12:30 pm
Are you tired of clicking a mouse spending 200 years assigning buttons to your usb keyboard and sick to death drawing weedy little pencil lines as automation? endless amounts of plug inns that all do nearly the same thing? and updates years after year by carrot dangling software companies all promising us eternal bliss on the next major update?Do you think music should be heard and not graphically seen?Do you think working with boundaries give the brain and imagination more room to break them?Ignore anything negative said,build ya sound set on computer but make music with one of these.i swear
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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 grooveproject

    Manual - Roland has made manuals for most of their products available as free PDF downloads.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 64 voices (16-part multitimbral)
  • Oscillators - 32MB - 693 Waves
  • Sampler - 16-bit linear, 44.1 kHz (File Type: WAV/AIFF);
    Internal memory (16MB) only = mono: 180 sec. (stereo 90 sec. approx.), with DIMM (256MB) = mono: 51 min. (stereo 25.5 min. approx.)
    Samples: User/2,000, Card/7,000 (128MB SmartMedia)
  • Sequencer - 16-Tracks;
    Patterns: Preset 333, RPS 440, User 200, Card 999
    Songs: 50
    Rec. Modes: Realtime, TR-REC, Step
  • Arpeggiator - Patterns: 128 Preset / 128 User; Chord Memory: 64 Preset, 128 User ; RPS Set: 50; Pattern set: 50
  • Memory - Patches: Preset/917, User/256, Card/256
    Rhythm Set: Preset/89, User/128, SmartMedia Card/128
    1 Expansion Slot for Wave Expansion Board SRX Series
  • Effects - MultiFX: MFX1: 38 Types, MFX2: 47 Types; 4 Reverb Types, 1 Compressor, 3-band Mastering Compressor
  • Filter - 1 per tone, max: 4 per patch. Cutoff, Resonance, ADSR, 12/24/36 dB/oct.
  • LFO - 2 per part, 8 waveforms, Rate & Depth controls
  • VCA - 1 ADSR Envelope per tone
  • Keyboard - 16 velocity sensitive pads
  • Control - MIDI In/Out, USB
  • Date Produced - 2003
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Roland-US.

    Reviewed August 2008.

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