March 8, 2018
Analog Synthesizers / Rack Mount / Roland / Under £500 / Vintage

Roland MKS50/MKS-50 Analog Synthesizer

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Wow… It’s a mini analog synthesizer beast in a tin can! This is the Roland MKS50/MKS-50, its basically a Roland Alpha Juno 1 in a 19” rackmount form factor. This synth has a good solid sound for any dance or electronic music making. As with most vintage analog synths of this era the programming will benefit from an external controller to get the most out of it, the presets should be either adjusted to your taste or made from scratch, with that said what parameters can you edit to sculpt sounds with?

Well plenty, in fact it even has a chorus built in, 6 notes of polyphony, a single DCO per voice, sawtooth, Pulse, noise, sub and one sub oscillator. You can store several parameters such as: portamento, detune, panning, velocity, volume levels…

If you can get your hands on a hardware controller from Kiwi Technics or the original PG-300 or even a software controller from the CTRLR website, you can twiddle about with the oscillators, LFO, chorus, filter (VCF), envelope, resonance, noise, high pass filter, Pulse width/pulse width modulation.

It also has a decent midi implementation built in Roland synths prior had a questionable midi setup. The LCD display is awkward for editing, but does the job until you find something to control it with…

All round sounds are cool, retro and fun pulling everything from strings, noisy effects trippy and slow LFO, acid sounding basslines, brassy sounds etc all with that distinct Roland sound of the era it was made in.

You can pick this unit up as I did on eBay for a reasonable price, but you should get one asap if you are interested in one before the prices go up! Just for the record I picked mine up in 2017 for £341 UK Sterling.

FINAL WORD:

Solid vintage analog synth sounds, whilst saving space.

 

SOUND DEMOS

SPECIFICATIONS

 

Year Produced

1987

Keyboard/Number of keys

None rackmount unit

Sound Generation

Analog synthesis

Maximum Polyphony

6 voices

Programs/Presets

Can store up to 128 different TONES, and up to 128 combinations of the tones forming patches

16 programmable chord memories

Oscillators

1 DCO per voice

FILTER

Cutoff, Resonance,

LFO

Yes

EFFECTS

Chorus

Sequencer/Arpeggiator

NONE

Common Faults

Check battery fault error message

SAMPLES

 

ROYALTY FREE EFFECTS

 

USEFUL LINKS

 

DOCUMENTATION

Download Roland MKS50 – MKS-50 Manual PDF format

Download Roland MKS50 – MKS-50 Schematics/Service Manual PDF format

IMAGES FROM

66Khz studios.

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