Roland Updates SP-404MKII Sampler With v2.0 Firmware, Adding TR-REC Style Step Sequencing & More

[embedded content]

Roland has released a free firmware update for the SP-404MKII SP Sampler.

The revamped sampler and effector is better than ever, with an enhanced VariPhrase Encoder algorithm and an expanded MFX library, including Harmony Effects for endless performance possibilities. For the first time, creators can also use TR-REC style step sequencing, an all-new recording mode existing alongside traditional real-time pattern recording.

Roland’s info on the update is pretty minimal – they’ve shared release notes and some tips and tricks – but we’ve embedded their official overview video above.

Topics covered:

0:00 – INTRO
0:26 – CHROMATIC MODE
1:45 – TR-REC
5:25 – MOTION RECORD
7:57 – CHROMATIC MODE IN PATTERNS
8:38 – UNDO
9:07 – SOUND ENGINE
9:57 – CHANGE PARAMETERS OF MULTIPLE SAMPLES
10:45 – NEW EFFECTS
13:17 – SNAP TO ZERO CROSSING
13:36 – SKIP BACK
13:52 – STOP ALL SAMPLES
14:12 – DJ MODE

Make Noise’s Tony Rolando On Tape, Sampling & Developing Phonogene and Morphagene

[embedded content]

In this video, Make Noise founder Tony Rolando discusses his history with tape music, sampling, and microsound, which led to the development of the Make Noise Phonogene and Morphagene.

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro
1:01 Tony’s first encounters with tape music by John Pfeiffer, Barbara Kolb, and Mario Davidovsky
2:24 “Composing with Tape Recorders” by Terence Dwyer
3:21 The Superba tape machine
4:56 The Mystery of tape music
6:32 The difficulty of making tape music with just one device
7:28 The Casio SK-1
8:48 Tony’s tape music process ca 1995
9:58 Musical Interlude: “I’d Like to Make Communication W/ U”
12:00 The Ensoniq Mirage
13:52 Tony’s Mirage Sample Bank
14:48 The Wall of MIDI
15:32 The Akai S612
17:45 The Wall of MIDI (again)
19:18 Tony’s time in bands
19:57 Getting back into electronic music
21:44 Reaktor
22:39 Granular ensembles and computer struggles
24:38 Another Brick Wall and the feel of instruments
26:18 Other granular software of the time
27:57 Curtis Roads, Josh Kay, Richard Devine
29:09 “Microsound” by Curtis Roads
29:43 Outro

Rolando’s new album, Breakin’ Is A Memory, is available via Bandcamp. You can preview it below:

BOSS RC-505 mkII Loop Station In-Depth Review

[embedded content]

In his latest Sonic Lab review, host Nick Batt takes a look at the new BOSS RC-505 mkII – a major update to the popular Loop Station design.

Video Summary:

“The original Boss RC-505 is seen by many as the pinnacle of loopstations, with countless musicians using it as a gateway to success during the 15+ years it’s been available. Surely time for an update then?

Here’s the RC-505 MKII then, with expanded IO, improved audio quality, increased FX (4 input, 4 track), more algorithms, increased record time – 13hrs over 3, bounce feature, Mark back and undo, more rhythms, way deep button and controller assignments.”

Topics covered:

00:00 Intro
01:08 Key Differences
04:44 Making Loops + Input FX
10:51 Bouncing
12:51 Vocoder and live MIDI input
17:44 Mark, Undo and Button assignments
23:26:03 Input settings
26:37 Timestretch
28:57 Wrap and Conclusion

Akai S900 / S950 Vintage Sampler In-Depth Demo

[embedded content]

This video, via Tonelab, takes an in-depth look at the Akai S900 / S950 sampler from 1986, a hybrid digital + analog sampler.

Video Summary:

“I hope this helps to dispel some rumors and show you how to get around your S900 ..or perhaps, if you’re considering purchasing one, then I hope this helps you understand the kind of workflow you may be getting yourself into. Either way, here’s hoping you can turn confusion into creation with this walk-through of the amazing S900.”

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro / History & Specs
4:40 Workflow Concept
5:40 Navigating the S900
9:20 Record Section
9:47 Sample name
10:23 Monitoring
11:00 Sample Type
12:02 Audio Bandwidth
13:10 Recording Time
13:45 Pitch of Sound
14:10 Start With
15:05 Trigger & Rec Level
17:30 Pre-Trigger
18:51 Record Soft Sample
20:30 Record Loud Sample
21:40 01-Edit Sample
22:11 02-Select Program
22:57 03-Loudness Pitch
23:30 04-Replay Mode
23:55 05-Time Direction
24:15 06-Start Point
25:20 07-End Point
26:01 08-Loop Length
26:51 09-Discard
28:00 10-Splice Xfade
29:20 11-Xfade Time
29:38 12-Splice Order
31:54 13-Xfade Loop
33:45 14-VX Time Skew
36:10 15-Create VX
37:55 01-Edit Program
38:45 02-Key Loudness
39:55 03-Keygroups
41:20 04-Vel X-Fade
42:39 05-S Key Range
45:10 06-Filter, Pitch
46:36 07-L Key Range
47:29 08-LFilter, Pitch
47:48 09-Amp Env
50:20 10-Vel Sens
53:44 11-Warp
56:00 12-LFO
57:50 13-LFO A/T Bender
59:40 14-One Shot
1:01:29 15-MIDI Keygroup
1:03:00 16-Output Voices
1:04:24 17-VCF Env
1:06:33 01-Omni
1:07:09 03-MIDI Test
1:08:42 04-Pitch Wheel
1:09:23 RS232
1:10:15 Disk Section
1:12:05 Master Tune
1:12:12 Play Mode
1:13:00 RAM Check

Roland SP-404 mkII Review & Hands-On Demo

[embedded content]

In his latest loopop video, host Ziv Eliraz takes an in-depth look at the new Roland SP-404 mkII, a major update to the SP-404 sampler design.

“I’ve created a comprehensive review, tutorial, and tips and tricks video,” notes Eliraz, “helping people both get to know what it can do, and overcome some of its weaknesses.

The Roland SP-404 MKII features an OLED display, 17 expressive pads, expanded effects, fluid sequencing and sampling, and a massive sample library.

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro
1:35 Overview
6:15 Sample playback
10:55 Speed/pitch
13:10 Input effects
15:10 Bus effects
19:10 Pad fx routing
23:20 Sampling
25:50 Resampling
26:25 Slice & chop
29:00 Sequencing
33:30 Skip back
34:25 DJ mode
36:40 Software
38:50 Obscure shortcuts
40:20 Chords & scales
41:50 Phasing loops
42:25 Saving effects?
42:50 Odd meters
43:10 Loop links
44:10 Loop chokes
44:30 Overdub audio
44:50 Make a synth
45:50 Pros & cons
48:30 Outro

Roland SP-404 mkII Coming In November For $500

[embedded content]

Roland has officially introduced the SP-404 MKII, a major update to the SP-404 sampler design with a vivid OLED display, 17 expressive pads, expanded effects, fluid sequencing and sampling, and a massive sample library.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“Lightning-fast boot time, project loading, and sample import will have you knocking out beats in no time. Plus, 16 GB of internal storage give you ample space to store your creations or have your favorite samples at the ready. Whether you’re a beatmaking newbie or an SP pro, you’ll feel right at home with the intuitive layout and classic SP effects, plus a revamped sampling and sequencing workflow, Skip Back Sampling for quick performance capture, DJ mode to mix beats live, and more.

The SP-404MKII makes on the go beatmaking even easier. With its lightweight-yet-rugged design and expanded features, this unit is ideal for making amazing sounding beats on the move. Run it on AA or mobile battery power, capture audio from or stream directly to your mobile device via USB, or collab with a partner using the dual headphones outputs and mic/guitar input.

With the SP-404MKII’s vivid OLED screen and zoomable waveform view, sample editing is smooth?as silk. Chop up samples by tapping out edit points in real time?or?slice samples automatically.?Then finesse them with envelope and pitch shift.?Use the new resampling workflow to re-record patterns and effects layers for detailed sound design. And with?Skip Back Sampling, you can?preserve?those?fire?moments by capturing?up to 25 seconds of audio from your last?jam.?Now, it’s never been easier to?dial in and?cook up?beats?the moment inspiration strikes.”

Features:

  • OLED display for visual waveform editing, full menu access, and more
  • 17 velocity-sensitive, RGB pads with no-click design for smooth playability
  • Faster workflow with quick startup and load times, 16 GB internal storage, low-latency pads, and rapid sample editing
  • Compact, ultra-lightweight design (2.6 lb./1.2 kg) with versatile power options: USB-C, mobile battery (via USB-C port), six AA batteries, or AC adaptor
  • Extensive onboard effects, including SP classics like Vinyl Simulator and DJFX Looper, new Lo-fi, Cassette Simulator, and Resonator effects, and dedicated Vocoder, Auto Pitch, and Guitar Amp Simulator effects for the mic/guitar input
  • 32-voice polyphony, 160 samples per project, and 16 internal projects for expanded programming possibilities
  • Blazing onboard sample editing with real-time or auto-chop mode, auto BPM detect, envelope, pitch shift, and resampling for layering sounds and phrases
  • Pre-loaded sound library with 144 high-quality, professionally recorded samples and patterns
  • Extensive customization options with removable metal faceplate, downloadable outline template, multiple screensavers, and personalized startup logos
  • Upgraded I/O includes 1/4-inch line in/out, 1/4-inch mic/guitar input, 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch headphones outputs, and 1/8-inch TRS MIDI in/out
  • New resampling workflow for re-recording with various effects for detailed sound design
  • Audio capture and streaming supported with mobile devices and computers via USB-C
  • Skip Back Sampling to automatically capture up to 25 seconds of audio from your last performance
  • Bus FX for layering multiple effects, with customizable routing for creating intricate sound textures
  • Adjustable quantization and shuffle percentage across multiple note resolutions to customize swing
  • Pattern sequencer with the ability to create full songs with BPM per bank, ideal for running backing tracks or programming performances
  • Chain patterns for automatic playback and use Pad Link to trigger up to four samples with a single press
  • DJ Mode enables new approaches to live performance by manipulating and mixing two separate audio files
  • SP-404MKII editor software for Mac and Windows provides direct sample access, detailed waveform editing, sample management, pad assignment, and import of MIDI files and legacy SP-404SX and SP-404A projects

Pricing and Availability

The Roland SP-404 mkII is expected to be available in November 2021, with a street price of about $500.

E-mu SP 1200, The Lo-Fi Dream Machine

[embedded content]

In his latest video, Alex Ball takes a look at the classic E-mu Systems SP 1200, a 80’s sampling drum machine that has such a distinctive sound that it’s still in demand, in spite of its many limitations, including 10 seconds of sampling time.

Ball discusses some of the history of the SP 1200, an overview of the features, and also explores how the machine’s limitations forced creative work-arounds.

Check out the video and then share your thoughts on the SP 1200 in the comments!

Novation Circuit Rhythm Sampling Groovebox Now Available To Pre-Order

[embedded content]

Novation today officially introduced the Circuit Rhythm, the third groovebox in the Circuit family.

The Circuit Rhythm keeps the streamlined grid-based sequencing interface of the original Circuit, but focuses on sampling and sample sequencing. Instead of offering two synthesis and 4 drum tracks, the Circuit Rhythm features 8 Flexible Sample Tracks.

With the Circuit Rhythm, you can record samples directly to the hardware, then slice, sculpt and resample your sounds. You can record performances quantized or off-grid, and arrange them with eight sample tracks. You can also add effects, including lo-fi tape, beat repeat and more.

Features:

  • Record samples directly to the hardware, then slice, sculpt and resample your sounds. Slice, reverse, loop, play chromatically, and more
  • Perform with grid FX
  • Make beats with eight sample tracks, each with their own 32-step patterns, chainable for up to 256 steps per track.
  • Capture your groove quantized or off grid into the sequencer, and keep your beats evolving with probability and pattern mutate.
  • Effects – add reverb and delay, make your mix pump with sidechain, and add punch with the master compressor.
  • Comprehensive connectivity – Connect to your studio with full-size five-pin MIDI in, out, and thru, and analog sync out. Sample to mono, or monitor through stereo out or with headphones.
  • microSD card slot too save and access thousands of samples and projects.
  • The built-in rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of battery life

Specifications:

  • 32 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive pads
  • 28 RGB backlit tactile click buttons
  • Power button with charge status LED
  • USB-C socket
  • Kensington MiniSaver slot
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 3x MIDI DIN (In, Out, Thru)
  • 3.5mm sync out
  • L/R Sample In Pair
  • L/R Audio Out Pair
  • Headphones out
  • 8x endless encoders with RGB indicators
  • Master volume pot
  • Master filter pot with centre detent

Here’s an example performance, Falling Petals, by Enrique Martinez:

[embedded content]

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Falling Petals:

[embedded content]

Pricing and Availability:

The Novation Circuit Rhythm is available to pre-order for $399 USD. It’s expected to be available in July 2021.

Isla Instruments S2400 Sampler Hands-On Demo

[embedded content]

Isla Instruments shared this playlist of in-depth demo videos for their new S2400 sampler.

Isla Instruments calls the S2400 “The spiritual successor to the greatest drum machine the world ever saw.” It builds on the classic design of the E-Mu SP 1200, one of the most iconic sampling drum machines ever created.

Features:

  • 4-piece Steel/Aluminum enclosure.
  • Mains Powered 100-250V AC.
  • Dual Audio Engine: 12-Bit/26.04khz Lo-Fi Engine (Classic SP Sound) and 24-Bit/48khz Hi-Fi Engine
  • Stereo Recording/Playback.
  • Channels 1-8 Pannable to Main out L/R Channels 7+8 can be ‘linked’ to support stereo audio content.
  • Headphone Output (9-10) w/independant monitoring of channels.
  • Dedicated Microphone Pre-Amp.
  • Looper Pedal Mode (with full duplex recording/playback).
  • Record and overdub live audio during playback.
  • USB Host & Device Ports: Connect usb thumb drives, keyboards, midi controllers directly into the SP2400.

Pricing and Availability

The Isla Instruments S2400 is available now for $1,499. It’s currently back-ordered because of demand.

Black Octatrack MKII Now Available

Elektron has announced that their Black Octatrack MKII is now available, in addition to the previous gray mkII style.

The features are the same, but the Black version has a new black casing and updated print design.

See the Elektron site for details.

Specifications:

  • Audio track features (×8)
    • 1 × Specialized machine
    • 1 × Track recorder
    • 1 × Amplitude envelope
    • 3 × LFOs
    • 1 × LFO designer
    • 2 × Assignable insert effects
  • MIDI track features (×8)
    • 1 × Arpeggiator
    • 3 × LFOs
    • 10 × configurable CCs
  • Sequencer
    • 8 × Stereo audio tracks
    • 8 × Dedicated MIDI tracks
    • Up to 64 steps per pattern
    • Individual track lengths
    • Individual track time signatures
    • Chromatic, Slice, Slot, Quick Mute, and Delay Control modes
    • Parameter locks
    • Trig conditions
    • Sample-per-step change
    • Micro timing
    • Retrig functionality
    • Swing and Slide
    • Full real-time control
  • Storage
    • CompactFlash card storage
    • Amount of Projects dependent on CF card size
    • 80 MB Flex RAM per project
    • Static sample streaming from CF card
    • 256 patterns per Project
    • 256 sample slots per Project
    • 8 Arrangements per Project
    • Quick Performance controls
  • Insert effects
    • 12/24dB multi-mode filter
    • 2-band parametric EQ
    • DJ-style kill EQ
    • 2-10 stage phaser
    • Flanger
    • 2-5 tap chorus
    • Spatializer
    • Comb filter
    • Compressor
    • Lo-Fi (SRR, BR, Dist, and AM)
    • Echo freeze delay
    • Gatebox plate reverb
    • Spring reverb
    • Dark reverb
  • Hardware
    • 128 × 64 pixel OLED screen
    • MIDI In/Out/Thru
    • 2 × 1/4” impedance balanced main
    • audio out jacks
    • 2 × 1/4” impedance balanced cue
    • audio out jacks
    • 4 × 1/4” balanced/unbalanced
    • external input jacks
    • 1 × 1/4” stereo headphone jack
    • 44.1 kHz, 24-bit D/A, and A/D converters
    • Hi-speed USB 2.0 port
    • Power inlet: Center positive 5.5 × 2.5 mm barrel jack, 12 V DC, 2 A
  • Balanced audio outputs
    • Main outputs level: +17 dBu peak
    • Output impedance: 440 ? unbalanced
    • Digital S/N ratio: 104 dB (20–20,000 Hz)
  • Headphones outputs
    • Headphones out level: +17 dBu peak
    • Output impedance: 55 ?
  • Balanced audio inputs
    • Input level: +17 dBu peak
    • Audio input impedance: 21 k?
    • Digital S/N ratio: 106 dB (20–20,000 Hz)
  • Electrical specifications
    • Unit power consumption: 7 W typical
    • Compatible Elektron power supply: PSU-3b
  • Physical specifications
    • Sturdy steel casing
    • Dimensions: W340 × D184 × H63 mm (13.3 × 7.2 × 2.5”) (including knobs, jacks, and rubber feet)
    • Weight: approximately 2.3 kg (5 lbs)
    • Maximum recommended ambient operating temperature: +40?C (+104?F)
  • Miscellaneous
    • 4.9 GB of high-quality samples on the CF card
    • 3 year Elektron warranty
  • Included in the box
    • 32 GB custom-designed Hi-Speed CompactFlash card
    • Power Supply PSU-3c
    • Elektron USB cable
    • Quick Guide

Pricing

Octatrack MKII is available at elektron.se for 1399 USD/1399 EUR, as well as online/local retailers.