A groovebox by Roland, basically a newer, improved, more expensive version of the MC-303. It's a combination sequencer and sound module, all doen in MIDI, and it kicks ass.

This is what the pros use to make techno and ambient music.

The Roland MC-505 Groovebox is an 8-track MIDI Microcomposer and a followup to the MC-303.

Improvements over the MC-303 include:

  • A modified Roland JV-1080 Synth engine, allowing a better shaping of onboard ROM sounds using ADSR envelopes
  • A greater array (and higher quality) of built in effects (reverb, chorus, etc...)
  • "Megamix" function making transitions between two songs easier (basically mixing two 8-track MIDI sequences together)
  • 8-track onboard mixer (volume levels) in conjunction with the 8-track part muting
  • 6 1/4" outs (3 stereo or 6 mono) in addition to the main L/R pair
  • Smartmedia card slot for storing patches and sequences on 2 and 4mb flash RAM
  • An infrared D-Beam controller allowing you to wave your hand above it to modify sound parameters, e.g. cutoff
In terms of an "instrument", the MC-505 blows the MC-303 out of the water. The 505 is ideal as an all in one package for bedroom DJs who want to play around with constructing tracks. Another alternative is the Yamaha RM1x which is a 16-track MIDI sequencer with built in AWM2 sound source (drums, synths & effects).

The all in one Microcomposer concept (sequencer + sounds) can also be seen in the Roland MC-202 (analog sound source with digital 2-track sequencer) and the MC-303 (PCM sample playback with an 8-track MIDI sequencer).

If by pros you mean people who put out vinyl that is techno oriented, it's pretty safe to say that they would probably not waste their money on this song in a can piece of crap. This is a little rantish so bear with,


First off one of the most important parts of producing a techno song is the bass drum which has got to be made from a real Roland tr-808 or Roland tr-909. While these drums are certainly replicated with the MC505(as they are with the Rebirth and in countless other places) they pale in comparison.

Secondly, the MC-505 concentrates its energy on gadgets like the infrared beam and all sorts of things that are fun to play with but bloat the machine in cost and doing nothing to make it more intuitive.

Thirdly, the MC-505 is a showroom machine that Roland uses to trick people who want to learn how to produce electronic music. You can be up and running and making a mmm-tss-mmm-tss type track in five minutes, which is very attractive to someone who is confused about making music but this same person as they learn more and more will realize its limited.

When you're buying a peice of gear you want something that is deep and works at a level that allows you to manipulate sounds to your hearts content or you want a peice of gear that stands out because sound quality or ingenuity. This has nothing. The only thing the MC505 has is a tiny little sequencer and tonne of sounds to play with, but you could just buy a sampler, sample all these sounds off some sucker and then you would have a sampler and an MC505 with greater functionality.

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