Roland SP-404MKII sampler gets another feature boost in firmware 3.0

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Roland has updated its SP-404MKII portable performance-oriented sampler to firmware 3.0 with new features and improvements.

The Roland SP-404 sampler is a popular hardware sampler that many beat producers and live musicians love. This is because it is compact, has tons of features onboard, and can capture sounds very quickly on the fly.

In 2021 Roland showed the successor, the SP-404 MkII, a major update for their best-selling sampler. Since the official release, Roland has constantly improved it with great new features. Today we welcome firmware 3.0 with additional features and improvements that push the SP-404 MKII even further.

Roland SP-404MK2 firmware 3.0

Roland SP-404MKII firmware 3.0

Anyone who thought the firmware 2.0 update from last July would be the last for a long time was wrong. Now version 3.0, another free update, is already there. Roland says:

Version 3 offers improved performance and a host of new workflow features developed with feedback from the wide-ranging SP artist community. The free update also includes many pattern sequencer and DJ Mode enhancements that make the SP-404MKII an even more powerful tool for live performers and dance music producers.

New Features

Let’s start with the upgraded step sequencer. It now offers improved stability for playing multiple long audio files in perfect sync, enabling users to perform with tracks created in music production software. For example, you can run entire backing tracks on it and jam on them.

There is also a new pad mute and pad mute automation functionality available in the sequencer. You mute/unmute patterns during performances and capture mute actions in sequences. Roland writes “that you can quickly activate it”, but it only works with advanced key combination acrobatic.

Roland also has expanded the motion recording engine by adding the effects parameters to the list. FX parameters can now also be saved in patterns. This includes not only the parameters but also the on/off status of the effect, very good.

Then, the SP-404MKII engine comes with optimized MIDI sync. The clock timing is more accurate, and you can add an adjustable delay on the MIDI clock output for tight sync with external instruments.

Roland SP-404MKII 3.0

One-Shot Playback

A big highlight is the new one-shot playback mode in the sampler and sequencer. Once activated, it allows you to perform with long, evolving samples while jamming with short loops underneath. For example, in a song with 20 patterns, you can let an arpeggiator run through the whole song without this new one being triggered by the sequencer. That’s super handy also for experimental musicians (drones, soundscapes…)

Another new function is the ability to convert any pattern into a sample with the press of a button. Thus, you can transform complex programming into useable loops for quick song building.

Further, Roland has expanded the DJ mode in the SP-404 MKII. You can now manipulate eight cue points per sample, adjust fader curves, sync external MIDI instruments, assign time stretches, and more.

Did I forget something? Ah yes, version 3 includes many other workflow enhancements, including quantize after recording, finer tempo setting range, default MFX setups, and more.

Finally, the SP-404MKII companion editor/librarian app got a new version with increased import/export speed and VST3/AU support for using it in your DAW on macOS and Windows.

First Impression

Another impressive update for the SP-404MK2. Roland is currently doing a lot right with its product maintenance. The new features that have been added in firmware 3.0 make sense and help a lot. The only disadvantage: with each increase in features, also the key combination acrobatic level raise and raise, which I personally don’t like very much.

I often lose interest in a device more quickly if I first have to remember 500 key combos to reach 10 features. Nevertheless, a very welcome update and I’m curious how the users will react to this release.

Roland SP-404MKII firmware 3.0 is available now as a free download for existing customers. The SP-404MKII is out now for $559,99/499€.

More information here: Roland 

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  1. «The advanced key combination acrobatics» – very well put. It’s the main reason I don’t own this. My short time memory would’ve made it a daunting user experience. A real pity cause there’s much to like. The fact that it’s UI/workflow quickly got so convoluted tells us that the actual hardware is was stuck in the past before release. Cheered on by user nostalgia.. An idiotic movie by Roland. First rule of good industrial design: Form follows function! Unbelievably neglected. Dare we hope for a new sampler this year with a clear and clean user experience? Make sampling fun again.

    • The key combos really aren’t that bad. It’s an incredibly fun sampler to use, and if I have to memorize a handful key combinations I don’t really care.

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