Roland MC 808/909?


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Just wondering if anyone has experience with this gear, as they seem to go for pretty cheap used. Are they really all-in-one sampling sequencers, or are there limitations that would necessitate buying more gear? And if so, what's their appeal?

See Me Soon

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search for the pdf manual to get a reel sense of what they can and can not do.
Also, they are old, and every new Roland has 808/909 presets built in.

Or learn to use a synth, even better

to add on this,

I find roland has great sounds, but,
the parameters aren't that universal as when it comes to timing and alike.
I never owned a 808 or 909, but have a few roland product still in my setup,
like a juno-d, a td6v and an e36.
quality sounds, but the editing options could be more universal,
like time based parameters.

for example, I can set the decay time of my drumsounds, but only from -48 to +48.
No ****ing clou what that stands for, but there I have to rely on my ears and of course, highly important, the speakers I use to listen.
The td6v does come with a fair range of 808 and 909 preset sound that are tweak able.
At the end, you need to get the sound people know already and slightly change it, so it could be unique in it's own kind.
that's the real trick.
to sound original with familiar sounds.

that's why I do prefer synth sounds above all drumsamples.
once you have a good synthesizer to play with, there isn't much you can not create with it, even voices if you are smart enough and have a lot of time to get to know your own gear.
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I used to have a MC-505 so no experience with the MC 808/909 but except if you completely hate using a computer, I think they are redundant in today's world of DAWs/VSTs. Would rather go with a midi controller if you like the hand-on aspect (or maybe an MPC). These MC won't become classics, not to be confused with the TR-family


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They may never become classic, but that just means they'll never get too expensive. You'll be very capable with one of those little boxes.

I've never owned either, I do however own a Fantom-S, a Fantom-X88, & an MV-8800. The Fantom-S is very close to the 808/909, only the MC's sequencer is more pattern base. You can make a pattern as long as you want if you're thinking "complete song" but I think chaining patterns together makes more sense.

I love my Fantom-S. Won't ever get rid of it. If I didn't have it though, I'd definitely get an MC-909.


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I have no experience with the MC 808 or 909, but one of the first thing I started making beats with was the MC 505, which I liked quite a bit and it taught me A LOT about sound design and production in general. Most people, it seemed to me, used it for techno or other electronic music production, but I used it for underground, boom-bap style hiphop beats. I later incorporated a sampler (SP 202then later SP 808, which I still have and love) and that certainly helped for more of the acoustic drum stuff/layering and other sample type production.

It is important to know that these are not synths with their own sound engine. They have a databank of sounds (samples) that you can edit/alter, AKA Rompler. The MC 808, as I understand, needed to be connected to a computer in order to alter patches, kinda dumb because if that's the case, then I'd just go software anyway, just like the case with the MPC renaissance. The whole purpose of the MPC and the grooveboxes was to have a stand alone unit that did not rely on computers. There was/is a sort of devolution there for lack of vision with these companies (my personal opinion).

It allows a lot of editing possibilities and IMO is way better than some of the modern options, for the price, but I have also not checked out the MV8800. I've seen it but not played with it at all. I've seen MC 505s going for around $200 and for what it does, its a fuckin steal if the unit is fully functional. It pisses all over these most recent groovebox renditions IMO and it's great to be able to have a more hands-on approach to making music, especially when you are starting out. I think the brain grasps more information this way (especially for males or visual learners), and it's really a lot easier to understand what's happening sonically/physically if you have a tangible relationship with an instrument vs software production.

I still have mine, I've had it for 15 years. I'm going to use it to teach my son how to make beats.

I look at the interface of both the MC 808 and 909 and still think that the MC 505 is a better machine with more immediate access to tangible control over the sounds, but it does not have the ability to sample. Of course, I am biased, as is almost anyone who has invested time and money into a piece of equipment (you will notice that almost all people online will try to convince you that whatever they bought themselves is the best investment.) We might all be guilty of this:rolleyes: