Roland MC-707 Groovebox reviewed
The Roland MC-707 Groovebox was included with the DJ-202 and DJ-505 DJ Controllers, supplied by Paul Bothner Music, for us to play around with just before the dreaded lockdown took place in South Africa.
All of the above are part of Roland’s DJ/Producer performance range known as the AIRA series.
If you are looking for a series of keenly priced, massively fun gear to use, the AIRA series is an amazing plug and play range that includes, synths, drum machines, bassline synth, composer, mixer and many other super fun gadgets to make music with.
What is the Roland MC-707?
The Roland MC-707 is a ‘Groovebox,’ which in a nutshell is a standalone device to make music on.
In other words, it has everything built into the hardware.
This includes a sequencer, sampler, looper, audio editor, basic synth and it is also a MIDI controller which can be used to control other hardware.
Simply put, the Roland MC-707 is a ‘studio in the box.’
The Roland MC-707 has eight tracks and each of these have their own channel strip.
This can be used to control topline functions, mainly for performance purposes such as volume, filter, FX and an assignable MOD rotary. The SEL button beneath each fader is an instant mute/active key for each channel.
You can assign each track to one of the core sound components which can either be ‘Tone,’ the polyphonic synth, drums or the looper.
To record and sequence these various elements you use the 16 sequencer buttons beneath the channel strips and the 16 larger backlit multi-function, velocity-sensitive, pads below that.
The concept is to create Clips, arrange and play these in a very similar way to how Ableton Live’s Clip View works.
To the right of the unit is where all the ‘under-the-hood’ action takes place.
This includes the master effect controls and the display, which you will need for navigation and for editing and preparing sounds, recalling samples and more.
The back of the unit houses your power on/off, USB port, MIDI in/out/out, SD card slot (card included), external audio inputs, stereo send and returns, two assignable outs, mix out, and headphones.
All audio connections are 1/4” balanced jack.
The great thing about the Roland MC-707 is that you can switch on and start having fun.
Simply load up one of the preset songs and start jamming.
This will give you a great feel for the instrument and allow you time to assess the quality of the 3,000 instrument sounds and 80 drum kit presets.
The process to create a project though is pretty straight forward.
Create a beat first, then your instrument part. Repeat process for the 8-channels.
To do this you use the large pads which function as a one-octave-at-a-time keyboard, or the 16 sequencer buttons which are best for drums and then you simply continue to layer from there, assigning as you go..
You can also assign chords to specific pads.
A project can host eight tracks which can be a mix of the Tone (instruments), Drum samples and Looper (audio samples).
Aside from the presets you can also record samples directly onto the unit or copy samples on via USB or SD card.
The maximum length of a sample is 60 seconds (stereo) and total space available is 6 minutes (stereo). For mono you can double those lengths.
With the looper, there are two time-stretching options, depending on whether it’s a drum sample or melodic part and you have control over pitch, speed, duration and playback as forward or backward loops, or one shots.
The FX are really high quality. Studio quality as they say in their marketing.
These include EQ, delay/chorus, distortion, ring mods, and a host of phasers.
There is also the Scatter effect which slices your parts according to individual settings for each of the large pads. It’s loads of fun!
Would I buy it?
The fun factor on the Roland MC-707 is very high.
Straight out the box I loaded up a preset song and just jammed away for hours.
This alone could keep you busy for a while and if you come from a DJ background, the performance aspect of the MC-707 is a winner.
For pure enjoyment and tactile, intuitive jamming and creation of loops and musical parts, it beats the linear process of creating music on DAWs such as Cubase, Logic Pro X or Reason.
Yes, the Roland MC-707 has limitations but all the original samplers of the 80s and 90s did too and many seasoned beat-makers will tell you that less is often more when it comes to making a killer beat!
Expect to pay*:
*Prices as at time of review.
Contact Roland South Africa to secure your exclusive extra 10% discount off the price of the surprisingly fun and simple MC-101 or the game-changing MC-707 standalone music production Grooveboxes.
Purchases can be made from your favourite participating dealer, using our special discount coupon. Only while stocks last.