Roland MC-101 Groovebox | Product Spotlight
The new Roland MC-101 is a classic Groovebox, reborn.
Featuring modern sounds and features in a time-honoured form-factor.
Roland’s original line of Grooveboxes was incredibly popular, they were affordable and offered anyone the ability to create music in a new and intuitive way.
At the time, there weren’t many options for a full music creation workstation at that price – so they quickly became a staple in Dance and Techno home studios in the 90s.
These Grooveboxes were designed to offer the user a ton of presets to jump in and tweak with the hands-on controls, but also the ability to create sequences and arrangements entirely from scratch – this concept is great for newcomers to music production but also professionals with larger studios looking for a hands-on, more mobile sequencing option.
The new Roland MC-101 takes the idea of the original line of Grooveboxes to the next level, offering a variety of more modern capabilities such as USB compatibility and DAW integration.
Of course, the sound engine has also been updated since the early days – the included presets sound better, the built-in effects are extensive and feature much more modern capabilities.
The new Groovebox features an SD card slot for loading samples into your drum track or Looper and storing projects. The pads are also RGB and feel much better than the previous era of Grooveboxes, they offer far more user feedback and feel much more playable.
Roland’s new modern Groovebox can be powered by battery or USB, the USB port also transmits MIDI and audio data – making it a great hands-on sequencer for your DAW. It also features hardware DIN MIDI in and out for hooking it up to other synthesizers. The Roland MC-101 comes with 800 preset sounds preloaded, the synth engine itself is a bit watered-down compared to its bigger brother, the new MC-707, however it does offer a variety of sound-shaping capabilities – just not the ability to create new sounds from scratch.
There is also a Looper built-in that can grab audio from individual tracks, the entire mix output and even audio input from the USB connection.
It’s got a time stretch and pitch shift parameter to tweak the recorded loop and there are a ton of effects – 90 Multi-FX, 90 Master FX, 9 Chorus/Delay types, 7 different Reverbs and more.
While this guy is certainly aimed at newcomers to synths and music production, it definitely has a place in a mobile jam rig.
The immediacy of all the controls and sheer amount of internal sounds and sound-shaping capabilities alongside its incredibly small form-factor make it a great option for live performers.
Compared to something like the Novation Circuit, it has a WAY more extensive effects engine and more “traditional” sounds built in. The synth engine may not be as advanced as the Circuit, where you can construct sounds from scratch – the overall immediacy definitely favours those who don’t want to menu-dive or read manuals to just jam out some sounds.
The Roland MC-101 retails at USD $499 (Around R7400 excl. duties & VAT).
For more information check out the Roland website here.