Roland’s SP-404 MKII sampler gets powerful new sequencing features and effects

When I went arms-on with Roland’s SP-404 MKII again in October I reported it was “becoming” my favored sampler. Quickly forward a number of months and it is firmly entrenched in that location. Of course, no piece of equipment is perfect, and there is certainly usually space for advancement. So Roland is pushing out a 2. firmware update that only even more cement’s the 404’s spot at the prime of my checklist.

Probably the greatest addition is a new TR-design and style (as in TR-808) stage sequencer. When the SP collection has always appealed additional to those people that want the unfastened truly feel of reside instrumentation, being able to punch in a simple 4-on-the-floor kick that’s right on the money is always pleasant. Which is especially legitimate if your feeling of rhythm is only so-so, but it also makes the 404 much more valuable for genres that are all about staying suitable on the beat like household and techno. And in some ways, it can be essentially more multipurpose than your average TR-style sequencer since styles can be up to 64 bars (or 1,024 steps) in duration. 

In addition to currently being capable to system beats by manually punching in specific measures, you can also now history to designs in chromatic method: load up a sample of a one observe and just enjoy a melody into a pattern. Previously this experienced to be performed through resampling, i.e. producing an solely new sample of the melody you played.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

But wait around, there is more! Now chromatic sample playback has 3 unique modes — basic aged monophonic, legato (fantastic for sliding bass strains) and polyphonic — so you can convert a one piano observe into a chord. And, I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but it gets superior continue to. Roland has vastly enhanced the time stretching algorithm. Frankly, it was borderline useless ahead of. Now, in addition to the default “vinyl” method of pitch shifting (just enjoying matters back again a lot quicker or slower), there are two Variphrase modes (these improve pitch with no switching playback length): Backing, for factors with distinctive attacks like drums and guitar and Ensemble for sustained seems like strings and synth pads. Backing is nonetheless a very little tough sounding, nevertheless it handles drums decently ample. But Ensemble is lightyears over and above what the 404 earlier experienced, and is crucial to creating that new polyphonic sample playback method useable.

Now if this was all Roland extra, it would be a really big offer. But the firm also bundled 4 new bus effects: SX Reverb, SX Hold off, Cloud Delay and Backspin. As well as there is now a Harmonizer on the input Fx menu and a 2nd edition of reverse playback borrowed kind the SP-303 for those people that truly want to lean into the lo-fi heritage of the range. And, on top of all of that, the Skip Again characteristic can, at any time, remember audio from up to 40 seconds in the earlier wherever its prior iteration experienced a 25 next greatest.

In brief, Roland took what was now a quite terrific piece of music gear and manufactured it even additional alluring. Now if only they were not wholly out of stock all over the place. 

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