Electronic Musician 2004 Editors Choice Awards

exerpted from Electronic Musician

Groove Box

MC-909 ($1,795)

Roland's MicroComposer (MC) series began over a quarter-century ago and continues to thrive in the form of groove-oriented music workstations. Every year, groove boxes grow more sophisticated, more economical, and more versatile. The current state-of-the-art is embodied in the MC-909, Roland's flagship Sampling Groovebox. Aimed squarely at R&B, techno, and hip-hop styles, the MC-909 offers an impressive assortment of musician-friendly features.

At its heart, the MC-909 is a 64-note XV-series synthesizer with the added advantages of traditional and VariPhrase sampling. You can expand its 16 MB of sample RAM to 272 MB and can store your samples on SmartMedia cards. An interactive 16-track phrase-based sequencer provides hundreds of first-rate factory patterns. Full-featured effects include reverb, compression, EQ, and two multi-effects processors. A versatile arpeggiator, an onboard mixer, and a USB interface complete the package.

It's obvious that years of experience went into the user-interface design. A large display and lots of knobs, buttons, and sliders present a logical layout with plenty of visual feedback and easy access to hundreds of parameters. For musical expression onstage and in the studio, the MC-909 is endowed with abundant real-time controllers, including 16 Velocity-sensitive pads, twin D Beam infrared proximity controllers, and a slider that emulates a turntable by allowing you to push and pull pitch and tempo. With the MC-909, you can meticulously assemble your songs, tweak sounds in the studio, and then alter your mix and rearrange patterns in live performance without pausing playback.

The world of groove boxes offers plenty of choices to fit anyone's pocketbook. But when we considered the MC-909's sound, flexibility, portability, and cost-to-performance ratio, we discovered that it is nothing short of astounding and an obvious Editors' Choice.