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 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLreK50aqgX-ZR-vsYN_I8ssY1yAUhIS58

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.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.18

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

Well, between continuing writing up the guide, and making videos, I guess it’s out there and seems to be helping people out. I’ve been getting a bit of folks posting here or there. If you’ve written me a message someplace and I haven’t responded I promise I am not ignoring you, I’m just ignoring the forums so I can make sure I have time to write and record as my primary focus. I am trying to get around to catching up on the various forums once a week or so. Thanks to those of you have reached out though, it means a lot and I am glad I could help.

I still need to figure out how I want to reference the videos and other material in the guide, I was planning on doing it today, but I just kind of took an energy dive and figured it can wait until later in the week. I did get two more sets of sessions of videos recorded though, so at least twelve more days of content to upload, and Session 2 is finally out there, with Session 3 already on deck. Right now my focus is on getting enough content for the videos uploaded so that I can happily take a long weekend with my wife up in Vermont in a few weeks… should be fun!

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.17

Boy, another big update. I was planning on moving to a weekly schedule for updates to be more consistent, but these bigger updates also feel more draining. I’ll have to think about it.

Most of this update is just writing up the effects section, and I tried to stick to give my thoughts and advice for the effects, rather than just rehashing whatever is in the manual. As with a lot of the guide, I’ll eventually come back and rewrite sections, or add some more content, but as it stands, I don’t want to write any more about bread and butter effects that you can find anywhere. Although it is alphabetical, you’ll certainly find where I started to loose my mind trying to write up something about some of the effects.

The bigger news is probably that I’ve started uploading a series of five minute videos, with the intent to try and break down discrete steps for making a song into about five minute sized chunks. Over the course of six to eight videos, you’ll hopefully get a sense for different workflows to get from the start to finish (or in some cases possibly just hit the eject button on) a track. At the moment I’ve got an internal commitment to keep this to a video a day until I hit 100 videos, and then kind of take inventory of how it went and if it makes sense to keep doing more. I am confident I can do this for a long time, but at some point I am just concerned that I’ll start retreading old material too much, and it may become less interesting. If you want to check it out, head over to YouTube.com/neartao and let me know what you think.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.16

Alright, an absolutely epic update today. This one broke my brain working on it for about five hours straight.

I spent a fair amount of time just getting the handful of pages written up about Skip Back. I had to chase down a few things that I thought I knew how they worked, but I wanted to make sure I captured it properly.

The real work though, was filling out the previously titled Mixer section, and now renamed to Audio Signal Flow section. Just drawing the diagram was a lot of work, and then peeling apart each layer was an important onion to break down, but holy smokes. I kind of just gave up at the Limiter and Clipper section because I don’t see *anything* that remotely explains how they work for the mk2 or why they are there. I’ve seen some people mentioning the mk2 coloring their sound, and I wonder if there is something going on here… which will require some experiments, but I am D O N E for the day. Maybe I’ll get more time on the book tomorrow.

Hopefully a lot of good information there… and I have to admit, I thought it was going to be a lot simpler to document than it was. For how “simple” the mk2 is, the Audio Signal Flow might be the most complex and most important thing for SP heads out there to understand.

Roland SP-404 mk2 Guide v0.15

This update focus on the Sample Mode section, and I dumped in some of the related topics like Chromatic, Cue, and other things that can help determine how a pad may play.

Further, I spent probably way too much time to figure out how End Mark works, but I figured it out and documented it. This helped land a few updates into the Sample Edit section to also add information about copy/delete for a sample. I kind of think I already typed this up in data management, but whatever… if I duplicated information, well I can get around to fixing it when I get to a place where I am ready to start reviewing the document. For now, I’m just trying to get it as complete as I can.

Also, just a thought. I did try recording a few videos and workflows using the mk2, and was also using the mk2 as an audio source… and it started off great, but I ended up hitting some issues with EXT SOURCE turning off after showing how to record and… whoops… the videos didn’t quite go as I wanted. I do have a Zoom H6, and I may need to roll that into the process in order to capture the audio from the mk2, and from a microphone, along with the video.

Or you know… pick up a proper recording setup some day. But for now, it’s just been my phone and whatever I can cobble together.