Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.11

Another experiment, and trying to wrap up the Audio Input/Audio Export sections

I’ve got some ideas for linking some working session videos with the guide, so stay tuned for that.

The last two days were mostly about trying to flesh out some of the existing sections some more. Primarily the audio input section, but that also drove me to adding a new section for audio output as well. I’m nearly done with these, and should be able to get into more detail for getting into sampling and adjusting samples soon.

Feedback from folks has been to keep up with how I am writing. I know my style is kind of loose, but I guess it is helping people understand what different sections do. I’ll keep at it for now, unless I get specific feedback to try and go a different direction.


Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.10

This is a pretty huge update, yikes!

I got a bit obsessive over the last few days, and read just about every single post in the Elektronauts’ SP-404 mk2 thread as well as the Gearspace SP-404 mk2 thread. This is well over 4000 posts to read through, and took me the better part of four or five days to complete. Lot’s of good questions, and lots of good answers, but I’m not sure I am up for doing a repeat of that any time soon.

All of this reading has resulted in a lot of really good questions for the mk2 (around twelve pages worth), and I have as much as possible been adding in answers either from forum members or just doing my own research. I would have gotten this out last night, but I figured it was worth spending the time to better organize the questions.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.9

Taking some time to experiment with the 1.14 firmware release that just dropped. Going to take a bit to roll some of that information up into the Guide.

The big update for today was finally running the experiment to determine polyphony once and for all for the mk2.

Spoiler: it’s 32 note mono sample polyphony. If you’re using stereo samples then you’ve only got 16 notes of polyphony.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.8

A few hours of work here today, wanted to get more done, but needed to do some family stuff like cook dinner (tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches), wash the dogs… and whatever else took up the day.

This latest update is quite a bit more than I’ve done over the last few days, a lot of links added to the reference section… some day I’ll get ahold of a service manual link to add in, or figure some things out and add some of that documentation, but for now just a lot of links mostly for videos people posted about the mk2, technical information, various forums. I’ll probably end up pruning it down a bit, but figured I’d see what it started to take shape as.

I also took some time to check if the microphone or guitar input had any interesting overdrive or distortion characteristics. They don’t, same old digital clipping as the line level inputs. I’ll see what I might be able to do on the USB-C inputs, but I suspect that is likely to be just more digital clipping. So…. I continue to say that unless you want digital clipping, don’t let your EXT SOURCE go red… you’re much better off using a compressor if you want to increase the overall loudness of a sample.

There’s a few other things, but it’s been another day of bouncing around a lot as I tie of on another experiment, and a handful of things I wanted to research.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.7

This was done yesterday, but family interrupted and I couldn’t get it posted.

I started some information about gain staging, and then got side tracked. I mean it is important, but maybe doesn’t make a *ton* of sense in the context of the mk2, still… will keep it in here for now, and see what makes sense as the book progresses. If anything, having the gain staging section prompted me to go off and try an experiment with EXT SOURCE and the pad turning red. Short answer if you don’t want to read the book is that the pad turns red if you are digitally clipping. If you want this or want to avoid it is definitely up to you.

At least I now have a bit of an idea for a format to run the experiments, and it will help to fill out stuff in the frequently asked questions section. Also, had a few requests for some workflows, so I might try and drop a beat making section. Finally… uhm… tried to start to explain sampling, but got entirely side tracked by the rest of my day, so… will get there eventually, but boy is it so dang simple… I doubt anybody is waiting for me to cover how to record new samples straight in, but there are some cool things you can do… so we’ll see.


Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.6

This was done yesterday, but family interrupted and I couldn’t get it posted.

Changes here amount to maybe another hour worth of work, primarily focussed on the Sampling section. I figured it would be a good idea to add a Gain Staging section, although this is stubbed out for now. I do feel like I finished the Controls for External Source section for now. I did start on the Microphone/Guitar section, but I’m going to have to get some pedals and guitars hooked up first to verify a few things.

Should have more time today though, to keep things moving 😀

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.5b

I’ve spent a few days kicking off writing a guide for the Roland SP-404 mk2. Today I got about four hours into working on this document, and there is still so much more to do! You can grab the currently latest version here…

I managed to get a couple more hours into the guide and created a 0.5b document. Some restructuring, adjusting some sections to Roland terminology, and working through the Sampling section a bit.

There is a fair amount about the mk2 that is not terribly well documented, or the way it is defined doesn’t line up well with how I would talk about things for any other gear. Polyphony is a good example, and something like the MPC 500 had 32 note polyphony, but this was monophonic. The mk2 states that it has 32 note polyphony, but this is by voice. I suspect that a voice is stereo not monophonic, but I haven’t quite figured this out definitively. This is leaving me with having to make the decision of figuring things out for sure, or trying to fill out more sections. Both will be valuable and need to be done, but it’s going to be a broader task than I expected.

Also, I had originally thought I wouldn’t try and replicate the online manual, but the more I am writing up the more I think it is necessary to some extent, solely for the reason that I’m concerned that directly referencing an online only manual, that is subject to change, and may not be able to be referenced in the future is going to ask for trouble. So please have some patience, but also feel free to give me any feedback that you may have. For now at least I am all ears!

Couple of SP-404 mk2 tracks

Still having fun with the mk2! I find it to occupy a nice space between my other gear, it’s not as powerful as the MPC Live as a sampler or for creating patterns, but there’s also something refreshing about being limited. Also, the product line has been quite focussed on resampling in the past, and the 404 mk2 really isn’t different from that regard. To get the most out of it you’re encouraged to sample from your line/instrument/mic inputs and use fx to sculpt a sound from there. Yeah yeah… super natural for people who have been there, but I’ve been seeing some people saying they are not into resampling… and what the SP to be something it probably never will be.

At any rate, I think it’s found a spot in my studio… and so far been doing a pretty slick job replacing the SP-202 and SP-303. Definitely does not sound the same, and not sure I’ll sell either off, but for now they are one of the few instruments I’m letting stay tucked away safely and not thinking about selling them off.