Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

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Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby roon » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:23 am

Hi there.
I'm new here and glad that I found this awesome forum/portal :)
Don't know if this topic was taken before (probably thousand times already), but I'll risk and ask again.
After few years of making musing with software, I finally want to step up into hardware. But since I have quite limited budget and not so high needs, I'm interested in grooveboxes.
So, after few days of digging, with an enormous help from this site and various YT videos I found three/four boxes that I'm interested in. Those are: Roland MC505 and MC307, Yamaha RM1x and Korg EMX-1. I've read about them everything I could find and then some. I know their specs, I heard them in action on YT and all. But I didn't used any of them. And, to put it simply, I wonder which one of them would You suggest to a guy who just wants to make some dubstep, dnb and just have fun with his gear. I know that Korg's soundbank is most up to date and has those pretty little OSC section, but on the other hand I'm little worried about this 5 voices for synths limitation. And I heard that some units are faulty. RM1x is supposed to have the best sequencer and midi implementation, but the sounds aren't that awesome as I heard. And Roland is Roland, not so simple in usage and not sounding so great, but quite solid. Each one of them cost approximately same money as others (I'm from Poland, where You can get them for, respectively: 450$ for Korg, 350$ for 307 and 400$ for RM1x), and each one of them have it's pros and cons.
Ease of use and intuitivity are important, but sequncer and sounds are probably more. So I ask: which one of them would You suggest for the hardware begginer?

Thanks in advance and sorry if I doubled topic.
Cheers :)
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby Ashe37 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:44 am

I had an MC-303 (which is close to the MC-307 and MC-505) and have am EMX-1, and looked at several RM-1Xs... so here's my take...

The MC 303/307/505 sound 'okay' but programming them is a bit of a pain to do any real editing you have to hold down at least function, if not function AND shift... and expect the function and shift buttons to go quickly (if they aren't already gone) because of that.

The EMX sounds good and programming it is easy *but* it has limited polyphony compared to the Rolands The programming is easy but the programming *flexibility* not so much (not in programming voices, the synth architecture is okay and reasonably programmable, but the sequencer programming)

The RM1x has a very good sequencer engine supported by a not-so-good sound bank.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby sequentialsoftshock » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:53 am

I HATED the MC 505 for the short time I owned one. Don't even think
I owned it long enough or cared enough to add it to my list of instruments on here.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby cartesia » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:16 am

Most has been covered already..

I think you need to decide how big you want to go -

The EMX is a fun and good box - can make a track with it fine - but after a while you will feel somewhat limited if that's all you have. If you got the EMX a good way to expand on it would be to get the ESX next.. You can use the sampler to play synth chords too which you'll miss from the EMX because it's synth parts are all monophonic

Another good thing about the electribes is you can play them live well, and they have very useful builtin effects..

The RM1-x is a great sequencer but the sounds really are poor. It has effects but you can't play with them live like you can on the electribes - If you get the RM1x your next purchase should be either a synth or sampler (or you could buy the RS7000 which is like an RM1x with builtin sampler)

Some people like the MC-505, not many like the MC-307.. I guess you can try out the 505 if you like the videos of it.. Again like the RM1X, you will want to get some external sound modules to upgrade the sound.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby RD9 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:00 am

Out of the three, I've only used the EMX-1 which I still own and use. I think Ashe37 and cartesia are on point about the sound limitations of the EMX. And because you already have a few years experience with software, I think you might outgrow the EMX very quickly in terms of the built-in synth, so I would say that if you're leaning towards the EMX, maybe you should consider the ESX instead.

After over a year of owning the EMX, the sequencer and drum kits are still useful to me, but I've outgrown the synth and effects completely (reverb on EMX is particularly awful by the way). And I've never needed polyphony/chords from it because of the music I'm into, so that's not an issue at all.

But it's definitely very good in terms of overall usability and learning. Very easy to use and very intuitive. The one small thing I don't like about the sequencer interface is that the indication of black/white piano keys on the step buttons isn't that clear (ABCDEFGABC) so it's hard to compose on it in "keyboard mode". You'll need to plug in your midi keyboard to make it easier. On the MC505 and RM1X it looks a little clearer. It's kind of minor, but it still bugs me to this day when I want to compose a simple bass line.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby Ashe37 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:31 am

I will point out, however, that the synth engine on the EMX *is* a synth. in fact, it is five seperate synths. Technically monosynths, but they have the "unison" and "Chord" oscillator types that let you at least imitate polyphony.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby roon » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:59 am

I honestly forgot to mention, that A) I'm planning to get virus B and/or blofeld after some time, so the builtin synth/rompler most probbably will get lower on it's importance later on. B) I do really want this box to be a good, solid and versatile drum machine with more than only few sounds. Even if I get bored with synth/rompler in it, or will expand to other gear, I want to keep it as a drum machine.
But yeah, for now (Which will probbably take next six months) I want this gear to be my main, all in the box machine. So I'm leaning to the EMX1, but other ones are tempting too.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby somebedroomdj » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:43 pm

Been a month since this topic was posted in, so I don't know if you're still debating on this. If not, what did you end up going with?

I just have to stick up for the MC-307 as I feel it gets a bad rap. :P It was my first real piece of hardware when it first came out and it's been great for me over the years. It actually sounds like it would fit exactly the criteria you mentioned (i.e. being more of a drum machine than anything else). It has a ton of drum sounds and they are all editable with a little bit of menu diving. what's nice is that there are the four assignable knobs that you can tie to the main drum parameters you'd want to edit, then just go through an existing kit, choose the sounds you want in your user kit, tweak away, save and it's always there for you to use.

For MIDI implementation, I find it to be pretty good. Seeing as how I mostly use it for drums, it leaves several parts open to control other machines and it does a good job of it. I have very limited use with the previous MC models, but I can definitely see how people could hate them. Much of what there is to dislike is taken care of on the 307 though. The LCD is large enough to make navigation very easy and well explained. Also very nice (though many would say it is useless) is the turntable emulation. I don't use for integrating into a DJ set like it was intended, but rather as a very easy way to adjust the bpm of my whole rig, as it transmits MTC. Very nice for my JP-8000, as it normally has only a vague tempo knob that doesn't really let you know much of anything.

If you're going to have a real synth anyway, I'd say jump right in and pick up the 307 for drums and sequencing.
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Re: Grooveboxes: Roland MC505/Korg EMX-1/Yamaha RM1x

Postby roon » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:25 am

somebedroomdj wrote:Been a month since this topic was posted in, so I don't know if you're still debating on this. If not, what did you end up going with?

I just have to stick up for the MC-307 as I feel it gets a bad rap. :P It was my first real piece of hardware when it first came out and it's been great for me over the years. It actually sounds like it would fit exactly the criteria you mentioned (i.e. being more of a drum machine than anything else). It has a ton of drum sounds and they are all editable with a little bit of menu diving. what's nice is that there are the four assignable knobs that you can tie to the main drum parameters you'd want to edit, then just go through an existing kit, choose the sounds you want in your user kit, tweak away, save and it's always there for you to use.

For MIDI implementation, I find it to be pretty good. Seeing as how I mostly use it for drums, it leaves several parts open to control other machines and it does a good job of it. I have very limited use with the previous MC models, but I can definitely see how people could hate them. Much of what there is to dislike is taken care of on the 307 though. The LCD is large enough to make navigation very easy and well explained. Also very nice (though many would say it is useless) is the turntable emulation. I don't use for integrating into a DJ set like it was intended, but rather as a very easy way to adjust the bpm of my whole rig, as it transmits MTC. Very nice for my JP-8000, as it normally has only a vague tempo knob that doesn't really let you know much of anything.

If you're going to have a real synth anyway, I'd say jump right in and pick up the 307 for drums and sequencing.


I've ended up with Korg EMX1 and Akai s900 to complement that, now thinking about getting maybe alesis micron. 307 was really interesting prospect for me, but unfortunatelly i was too late and the only one i've found was sold already, so i went with emx1. But still, i keep this gear in mind for a further time, cause it's really nice piece of hardware, as you said :) Anyways, thanks for your opinion :)
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