Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

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logix
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Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by logix » Sun Oct 04, 2020 2:58 pm

How do I use a Roland PG-800 programmer with an MKS-70?

I've used the PG-800 with a JX-8P for years but apparently things are more complicated with the MKS-70 as it's got two tones.
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(photo borrowed from AudioFanzine)


As I'm going to sell the JX-8P (but keep the MKS-70 and PG-800) I'm hoping I can somehow more or less continue the same straightforward and simple workflow of editing sounds without too many complicated button presses and menu-diving.

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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by meatballfulton » Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:21 pm

The PG only works when the MKS is in Tone Edit mode.

The manual doesn't go into a lot of detail, but it seems there is only access to one tone at a time. The PG can either edit the currently selected tone parameters or by pressing the Manual buton on the PG, the PG settings override the currently selected tone 100%.

I assume you have tried and verified this?
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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by logix » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:23 pm

Yes, I've tried the above, but the whole thing is confusing (compared to the JX-8P).

I understand that a "Patch" consists of two "Tones" ("A" and "B" -the actual sounds), but as it's frustrating and confusing to edit one sound while hearing the other one in the patch I was hoping there'd be a way to hear just the sound you're editing.

Do I have to create a patch just for editing purposes, containing just one tone? I can of course change the MIDI channels first, and control just the channel I'm editing, but for patches with layered sounds it's typical to control both tones with the same channel.

There must be an easier way....

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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Oct 08, 2020 1:54 pm

I remember that Roland tone/patch thing. Even the MKS-50 (Alpha Juno) had it and there was only one tone per patch! That's because patches have additional performance parameters (key zones, etc.), a tone is just a raw sound.

You could try disabling the other tone (no idea how complicated that is to do on a MKS-70) or consider that in a two tone patch at least some of the time you might want to hear the other tone while editing ;)

Good luck.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by logix » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:49 pm

I actually have an MKS-50 as well!
But didn't know that it also used patches (I've had my gear unused for many years and for the MKS-50 and -70 I never really got around to learning/using them, until I recently started looking into what to keep and sell).
The MKS-70 is worth keeping for sure, but I'm not sure about the -50 yet.

In some ways the -70 seems to be a better synth for "fat" and professional type "huge" but "slow" sounds, and the -50 appears to be better at "thinner", faster attack and more "aggressive" type sounds and sound effects, but I really don't know as I haven't yet invested much time into it. I know it was used a lot for techno/rave type stuff back in the 90s, and although I'm not much into that I'm hoping it can be used for other stuff too.
It might be that the -70 can do both "slow/fat/huge" AND "thin/fast/aggressive" but I really don't know. I'm open for thoughts on the subject.

You've got some good suggestions about editing the MKS-70. I'll try them out and also see if I can make sense of the manual on this.
Since it was marketed (and priced) for the professional market back in the day I'm sure there's something I've overlooked to make it more worthwhile to edit sounds (tones).

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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:26 pm

You have to remember that the MKS-70 and the JX10 are simply a pair of JX8Ps stuffed into one unit. The JX10 had some serious design flaws around MIDI which were thankfully fixed in the MKS-70. Layering in analog had previously been encumbered by limits to polyphony, but with 12 voices, the JX10 could play 6 notes at a time using two-tone patches...also splits for live performance. That was a big deal in an age when there were no other analog polysynths with more than 8 voices and the DX7 had already landed with 16 voices.

The cool thing about the MKS-50 is the oddball DCO which allows PWM-like modulation of sawtooth waves, something that had never been done before. The 5 stage rate/level EGs (does the 70 have those too?), velocity and aftertouch made it a lot more interesting to me than the other Junos. As you noted, it's rather thin sounding but urning the HPF filter all the way off actually provides a bass boost which together with the suboscillator makes it sound bigger. The single EG is really what limits it. Try layering both of your MKSes together for some huge sounds.
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Re: Using a PG-800 with an MKS-70

Post by logix » Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:16 am

Thanks for pointing out the DCO oddities with the MKS-50. Maybe it'll have its place in my setup with its uniqueness.
I'd rather not have several of the same kind of synths.

I also have the programmer for it, but am looking into using an iPad Mini to replace both the MKS-70 and MKS-50 programmers with the iPG-800 app (US$ 5) to have it all in one place, save vauable desktop space and with less cable mess. I'll be comparing both options before I possibly decide to sell the programmers as they fetch a fair bit of money these days and would be hard to buy back.

Layering it with the MKS-70 is a good idea :)

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