The SP-404 must be one of the most recognised pieces of kit for beat makers the world over and today Roland has announced a brand-spankin’ new iteration of its beloved lo-fi machine. The SP-404MKII has been seriously upgraded with a new OLED screen, velocity-sensitive pads, new effects, a huge library of onboard sounds to name a few.
The SP-404 sampler has achieved cult-like status amongst the community of beat-makers, producers and electronic musicians who’ve long regarded it the holy grail both in the studio and as a performance instrument. Given its huge rise in popularity over the past decade, it comes as no surprise that Roland would release the MKII version with some serious upgrades from its predecessor.
The most striking feature is the new detailed OLED display, that has replaced the old-school LCD screen commonly seen on vintage calculators from the ’80s (it was very cool and definitely part of the 404 original appeal). The velocity-sensitive pads also bring it up to speed with pretty much every other hardware sampler that has ever existed for the part of 30 years, however, it has a few other welcome additions that I’m sure the users will enjoy. Features like a ‘Skip-back Sampling’ which is a new resample feature, added effects buss for layering multiple effects and support for streaming and capturing audio via USB.
Check a more detailed feature list:
- OLED display for visual waveform editing, full menu access, and more
- 17 velocity-sensitive, RGB pads with no-click design for smooth playability
- Faster workflow with quick startup and load times, 16 GB internal storage, low-latency pads, and rapid sample editing.
- Compact, ultra-lightweight design (1.2 kg) with versatile power options: USB-C, mobile battery (via USB-C port), six AA batteries, or AC adaptor
- Extensive onboard effects, including SP classics like Vinyl Simulator and DJFX Looper, new Lo-fi, Cassette Simulator, and Resonator effects, and dedicated Vocoder, Auto Pitch, and Guitar Amp Simulator effects for the mic/guitar input
- 32-voice polyphony, 160 samples per project, and 16 internal projects for expanded programming possibilities
- Blazing onboard sample editing with real-time or auto-chop mode, auto BPM detect, envelope, pitch shift, and resampling for layering sounds and phrases
- Pre-loaded sound library with 144 high-quality, professionally recorded samples and patterns
- Extensive customization options with removable metal faceplate, downloadable outline template, multiple screensavers, and personalized startup logos
- Upgraded I/O includes a 1/4-inch line in/out, 1/4-inch mic/guitar input, 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch headphones outputs, and 1/8-inch TRS MIDI in/out
- New resampling workflow for re-recording with various effects for detailed sound design
- Audio capture and streaming supported with mobile devices and computers via USB-C
- Skip Back Sampling to automatically capture up to 25 seconds of audio from your last performance
- Bus FX for layering multiple effects, with customizable routing for creating intricate sound textures
- Adjustable quantization and shuffle percentage across multiple note resolutions to customize swing
- Pattern sequencer with the ability to create full songs with BPM per bank, ideal for running backing tracks or programming performances
- Chain patterns for automatic playback and use Pad-Link to trigger up to four samples with a single press
- DJ Mode enables new approaches to live performance by manipulating and mixing two separate audio files
- SP-404MKII editor software for Mac and Windows provides direct sample access, detailed waveform editing, sample management, pad assignment, and import of MIDI files and legacy SP-404SX and SP-404A projects.
Seems like Roland have really listened to the community of users that have made it so popular over the years. It would have been a tricky one designing this update as the original SP-404’s appeal was through its relatively simple design and workflow. That said the MKII strikes the perfect balance with an upgraded feature set without losing the 404 heart and soul. We can’t wait to try one!
Expect to pay $899 AUD