Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.26

Now I’m behind on getting updates to 3.0. This still covers firmware 2.01, but I’ll be pivoting to 3.0 soon, I promise.

I’m just excited to see 3.0 drop, and this update was really just to get me back in the habit of writing updates, in prep for whenever something big happened. Last week I tried doing some live streams to chat with folks while also working on the guide, some of them worked, and some of them didn’t. If you catch a stream, feel free to drop in and say hi, ask questions, give suggestions, or anything else.

SP404 mk2 Polyphony

Well… I finally decided to get back to working on the guide again… and I’m giving a try streaming a bit of the process while also trying to solve some problems. Here are two streams that probably should have been one, but I just need to get used to having a bit of dead air or something.

Stereo Samples Panned Mono Left

The first video shows the creation of a pattern using stereo samples, and I pan them left. We do not get to 32 pads playing, as the first 16 pads are still playing in stereo using up all 32 notes of polyphony.

Mono Samples

The second video shows the creation of a pattern using mono samples, and playing them actually allows all 32 pads to play, which is great!


For now it seems pretty clear that if you are solely sampling or resampling on the mk2, you are going to be stuck with 16 notes of stereo polyphony, wether you are sampling in mono or stereo, they come in as stereo samples, and will use 2 notes of polyphony regardless of how you pan them.  It’s not the end of the world, but it can be a bit restrictive, and indicates that Roland really should add some stereo to mono option, likely in the |START/END| menu, sometime in the future (post 2.01).  

If you really need 32 notes of polyphony, you’ll have to use the Roland mk2 application, or use your computer to convert/load samples onto your SD Card and make sure that they are mono.  Right now, those are your two options.


If you’d like to get the test project I put together, feel free to download it and play around.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.25

So… a lot has happened over the last four(?!) months, for me personally… not so much the mk2 guide.

Let’s see, where to start? I got my first donation of $5 over at, super cool, and big thanks. I know I keep telling you all it’s not necessary (it isn’t), and I keep doing all of this work for free, but I also want to say it is greatly appreciated. It’s going into my future gear purchase fund when I find the next device I want to dig into. I suspect I know what it will be, but well, let’s wait and see.

I’ve also just hit the ability to monetize on YouTube (yeah… or boooo), and I’ve just been playing with a few of the new videos to see about the hopefully minor popup advertisements. I’m really trying to keep these videos short and I don’t want to put people through an endless stream of advertisements. Besides, so far, I’ve only managed to make $0.27, so it’s not like the income would have any impact on my life, and I’m not suddenly able to make a career out of informational videos. Either way though, feel free to reach out to me if you’ve got any opinions on the advertisement stuff, I’d like to hear all of your thoughts out there.

I donated all of my old AM/FM radio gear, cassette tapes, 8 track tapes, players, and all that. I needed some space back and boy was that stuff all taking up a lot of room. Anyways, sent it off for a good cause and hopefully it will help get some money back into the local community.

What else? I’ve been toying with a few logo ideas, and I figured I’d try out a test run on this version of the guide. I know, it’s not the SP404 mk2 that we’ve all come to know and love, but that’s Roland branding, and I wanted to try something different out. I’ve got a few color versions I’ve been playing with as well, if something really sits well with me maybe I’ll try and get some merchandise together for a T-Shirt or something… I don’t know yet. For now, or maybe permanently, the guide will stick to black and white… and the logo seems to work alright.

As for the guide updates, it’s pretty much at the moment a “fix it up” kind of release. I tried to kill some more of the ??? stuff that I had left in there, and I took notes on sections I actually need to get back to for answering, because there’s a fair amount I had stubbed out, and never got around to adding still.

Then, there’s all the YouTube videos. I’m on the fence if I should document them in the guide, leave the guide and videos separate, or start drawing the two together. Where my head is at is that there’s a lot of interesting workflows that I’ve documented in the videos that would make a lot of sense in the guide, and there’s plenty in the guide that I could do videos on. Typing that up though, I’m not sure I want them that tightly fused together or not. I’ll think on it some more.

Anyways, thanks everybody for your support, it’s greatly appreciated whether it is dropping by discord to say hi, commenting on videos, emailing me, or dropping a few bucks as a donation, it’s all good to me.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.24

Hey folks, guess it’s been nearly three months since I last updated the guide. Yikes!

This is my first pass at trying to get the firmware 2.0 changes wrapped around my head. I know I missed a few section updates, mostly in the settings area, and I am sure there are some shortcuts I need to wrap around to getting added into the guide, but by and large I do feel like I understand it pretty well now.

And what an update this is. It hasn’t completely blown my socks off, but the volume of workflow improvements, additions to the sequencer mode like step recording, zero point cross sample editing, simultaneous edit improvements, new effects, more skip back buffer… I mean this is much more than I think anybody was expecting, and on top of it there’s DJ Mode changes, and even just little fun changes like 404 vs 303 reverse playback styles. My hat is off to you Roland, you’ve done good. Most impressive to me is that I’m not seeing any obnoxious bugs yet either.

The trip to Brazil was fun, I managed to get a lot of beach time in without getting a sunburn, and I ate a lot of local food without gaining a substantial amount of weight. Now that I’m back home though, I am trying to get my life back in order, and get back to some habits.

Anyways, hope you all enjoy and have a great day!

303 Vinyl Sim Noise

A request over on Reddit came in for some Vinyl Sim Noise recorded off of a 303. Why? I don’t know… but maybe the user will provide some details.

To record this, I just hooked the 303 up to the 404 mk2, turned on the Vinyl Sim on the 303, turned off Compression and Wow, and did a few passes at Volume and Noise levels. After that, did the old record, and then exported to SD. Nothing fancy here… and with nothing else playing, at high levels it’s pretty noisy. Didn’t appear to be clipping on the mk2, so I think these should all be pretty clean… well as clean as it’s going to get.

For those who want to nerd out with noise, eat your hearts out.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.23

A request came in to add a shortcut section, so I added an Appendix G and tried to organize it in a way that made more sense to me than what information is in the official manual.

If anybody has been wondering where the updates have been for the guide, well I’ve partly been lazy, I have been trying to figure out how to improve the YouTube videos for the mk2, and well I went on vacation. The vacation was with my family, we drove about 1200 or so miles to get down to North Carolina, and I had a lot of fun at both the Ocean Isles Beach, and then we spent a day in South Carolina at Myrtle Beach. I did bring the mk2 with me, and was able to spend the first day with my nephew showing him a bit about the mk2, but he is more interested in his iPad and using Garage Band at this time. We had fun, but beyond that I hardly touched the mk2. Not for lack of trying, but it was a lot of driving, keeping friends and family entertained, cooking, and at the end of the day just being tired. I’m hoping I’ll get some more time in July with the mk2 on my trip to Brazil with my family… *fingers crossed*.

Honestly I hadn’t been sure what to do next with the guide. I’ve had a few ideas, but nothing that felt like it was worthwhile enough to sit down by itself for. Somebody posted on discord a few days ago about the lack of a good Shortcuts guide, and that gave me the idea to just write up a few pages for how it would make more sense to organize to me. What I have so far isn’t perfect, but you can at least see shortcuts for Sample Mode, Pattern Mode, DJ Mode, Effects, and Settings. There were a few things in there that I realized I missed as well, so it will be a good exercise to keep adding to the shortcuts (or just a straight up commands) section, but also to drive that information back into the rest of the guide as well.

I also had been sitting on a few notes I had written down from people reaching out to me for other things, so you might see your name as a shout out in the guide if you happened to look around. Above that, I decided it was also time to just start scrubbing through all the ???s I had left around. I’ve learned a lot more about the mk2 over the last several months from when I started, and figured it was time to start answering questions for real. That brought me down from about 120 ??? to 71 ??? I believe was the last count. Some of them will take some legitimate time to setup and run experiments, but a lot of it I believe is still worth digging into.

The last, rather minor detail, is I decided I am going to start replacing some of the image content with vector graphics. Do I technically need to save space on the file? Not really, but I also have been seeing the file size continue to grow rather rapidly into something that I could see getting a bit out of control. As a result, I’ll probably just keep designing little symbols for a bit to get the file size back under control, and then I can save the images for things that actually deserve more detail, or aren’t just copy/pasted throughout the document.

I suppose all of this is a long way to say, I am still around, I am still taking input from the community, and I do still want to get folks the best information possible.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.22

The update is mostly focussed on the Midi and Companion App chapters

I suppose the “big news” is that firmware version 1.15 dropped. It fixes a couple of bugs, I don’t think I ever hit them. Given this rather weak update for the mk2, my suspicion is that we’re not likely to see anything terribly interesting for firmware updates until the supply chain issues work themselves out. I get it, Roland wants to get the most market bang for the buck, and if they are continuing to sell through stock before it ever hits the shelves, then there is no reason to do anything expansive until they need to be able to drive more business. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I just don’t think belly aching about the lack of new filters, or new features, or whatever you’d like is going to get much traction right now.

The overall state of the guide is starting to come together in a good way. I know I have a lot more random sections to fill out or get clarity on, but by and large the guide is pretty well fleshed out, and has a lot of the information I had set out to put together. For people that have reached out about it, I do recognize that updates have also slowed down a bit for the guide. It actually has little to do with making the videos, and more to do with moving into spring time, helping my family with some person things, and trying to figure out where music fits in to my life. I could see myself selling off most of my gear (possibly the mk2 as well) and being incredibly happy with 3-4 instruments that I could learn far more deeply than I can with all of the gear that I currently have.

For those of you who keep reaching out, whether through the discord channel, forum posts, YouTube comments, email, feel free to say hi or ask questions. I’m trying to keep up and help where I can.

Stay cool everybody, and have a wonderful day. Until next time…

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.21

The update is mostly focussed on system settings.

The big section update is for the Chapter on the Utility menu, and for at least System, Pad Set, and EFX Set, I have added as much color and detail as possible without loosing my mind. I know I’ve said I wouldn’t try to recreate the manual, but I felt it was important to go over these sections because the interface does a poor job explaining what some of the settings are, and the manual isn’t exactly clear of why you would want to use some of these settings.

In my mind, there should be some UI tweaks to make the settings more clear. For example, Pad Mutes is Master or Mst+Phn… which is okay, but why is Output Assign On/Off. I just find it odd, and the official reference manual doesn’t necessarily make some of these settings much more clear unless you already are familiar with the concepts.

For those of you worried that the foray into working on the YouTube videos has slowed me down, well I hope it hasn’t. If anything, it’s given me a bit of an extra push to better understand how some of the areas on the mk2 work. The videos won’t be up for a while, but I learned a lot recording some Midi configuration videos, and that information will definitely make it’s way into the guide. Possibly even before the videos go live.

Anyways, keep learning and keep making beats, peace!

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.20

This is mostly about restructuring the guide… and setting it up for a more consumable future.

First, didn’t mean to take so long, or be such a small update overall, but I guess I fell off the working on the mk2 wagon. Part of my time went to wrapping up artwork for a children’s book I’ve been working on with my sister for a year now, and I don’t know… I guess I just haven’t felt myself much the last two or three weeks. No big deal, but just kind of hit this funk. The “I am tired of being home all the time and never really seeing anybody” head space. Ended up taking a long weekend with my wife in Burlington VT while my parent’s watched our daughter and two dogs. Was good to get out, have a few beers, and if anything, it did give me a bit of a reset and clear my head some.

Hopefully the chapter sections help to give a bit more structure to what I’m trying to do here, and at the very least should help me push people to the right sections to get the answers they are looking for. I’m hoping that the introduction sections will help ground people a bit on where my head is at with the sections, and I’m looking forward to taking some time to fill out the tips and tricks section with some advice to get people to think outside of the box.

Speaking of thinking outside of the box, putting together the In Five vids has been a big help in getting me to think about how to show and explain using the mk2. So yes, that’s been part of the drain, just putting these things together, and then getting all kinds of feedback and all, but I do think it has been helpful overall. I did get a request to put all the videos together into one playlist, and I’ve done that now at

I’m closing in on 100 videos (at 61 uploaded with another 9 or 10 recorded)… so if people have anything they’d like to see I’m open to ideas, or happy to keep going in whatever direction I fancy to take.

Anyways, keep making beats everybody and we’ll catch up again soon!

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.19

DJ Mode and the related topics are more or less done now.

My daughter has school vacation this week and I decided to take the time off to both spend with her and get some more time into working on the guide. This update was actually really good in that it got me more thinking about how to write up DJ Mode over the last few days, as well as really thinking about what I think is actually valuable for the guide in general.

At the moment, I think I am the most proud of the DJ Mode section, and think it will be something that I’ll use as a template for standardizing and updating the other sections. I’m not going to go back to the other sections at this time, but I’d definitely be interested in feedback from all of you how the DJ Mode section strikes you versus the other sections. For me personally, I think it hits a better balance between how to use different features, organizing how all these things inter related, and adding as much guidance as I can to clearly explain what I would use it for.

I also suspect that the Introduction and Missing Features sections in the DJ Mode chapter will really help frame where I am coming from and how I see the device working on not work, and these are two sections that I think I’ll consider adding into the other chapters as they make sense.