Roland MKS-7 Super Quartet by crufty
First...what it is: tr707 roms, one juno 106 bass voice, two juno 106 melody voices and four juno 106 chord voices in a rackable format.
The 707 roms are a bit grainy and definitely not hifi. Nice enough. The juno voice is well represented here. Not the gnarliest dco out there (hat tip dsi evolver) but filter is typical roland butter soft. Resonance doesnt go up up up up. Nice and warm sound that is polite and sits in the mix. After dinner drinks with friends vs a kegger. Sounds better then va/vst but not quite exiciting enough for me to go oh hells yeah worth it any price. So: 6. Good and solid at the right price.
Ease of use: oh boy. Lets do features first.
Features: this is a multi channel instrument that needs sysex for max potential. Right off the bat most midi controller keyboards arent going to cut it.
In fact, this module really demands a modern daw...I cant imagine the pain involved when this thing first hit the streets!
It has 99 presets per dco channel, which cover the basics well enough. No patch memory. And the only way to program is via sysex. I cant imagine using in any other environment other then a modern daw, and one that has some kind of midi template system (like logic environment or cubase etc).
The sysex is pretty easy to program itself, after spending the requisite day fiddling around with daw + mks7, then reading, and re-reading the operations manual...easy compared to the roland d50 or yamaha tg/sy series.
Still, sysex programming can be a bit daunting, though perserverance is well rewarded. Be prepared to get your bin to hex calclator ready!
I suppose roland was feeling generous that it used midi at all. still, once a template is setup, programming is a breeze. The mks7 is velocity sensitive, another feature we take for granted today.
Compared to todays modern marvels, with thousands of presets and vst based patch creation, the mks7 is pretty rough. Its not that bad to get going, but time is time so...3.
Back to ease of use...Its not that hard to puzzle out though the manual makes life a lot easier. So for basic turn it on and bang on keyboard to get sound stuff, works as well as any module. Setup your splits or use a modern daw and you are off. But....to get the most out of this box, you really need the sysex commands for stuff like filter sweeps, resonance mods, envelope tweaks, and the like. This kind of setup is no longer par the course. A far cry from korgs/yamahas/rolands/access offerings, where a driver download and a usb cable get you "total integration". Old school it is...and no knobs nor sliders. 3.
Bang for buck as long as its inexpensive....8! For all the knocks above, its a tr707+juno106x3 in a ru format. it sounds great and one could make a smashing tune with just this box. I like its sound and its convenient. But one really needs to be invested in midi already.
If midi is scary...if the logic environment makes you think hmmm...esm is good enough...this might not be such a good buy, and one reason why it should remain relatively inexpensive.