Roland continues to update its SP-404 MK2 sampler, itself an evolution of the original SP-404 hardware. Having already added TR-style step sequencer as part of the version 2 release, the company has now dropped the version 3 firmware, which promises improved performance in multiple areas and various new features.
Most notably, improved stability and syncing when playing long audio files means that you can now perform with multitrack projects from your DAW, adding another string to the SP-404 MK2’s bow. There’s also expanded motion recording - it’s now available on effects parameters - and pad mute and pad mute automation. This makes it easy to mute/unmute patterns during performances and capture mute actions in sequences.
Improved clock timing and adjustable delay on the MIDI clock output should give you tighter syncing with other gear, while the one-shot playback feature enables you to trigger long, evolving samples and jam with short loops underneath.
Elsewhere, it’s now possible to convert a pattern into a sample just by pressing a button - useful for creating loops ready to be assembled into songs - and the DJ mode has been expanded with a variety of enhancements.
There are other workflow improvements, too - you can now quantise after recording and there’s a finer tempo setting range - while the new version of the SP-404 MKII app has faster import/export and VST/AU plugin support so that you can use it within your DAW.
The SP-404 MKII version 3 update is free for existing users, while the unit itself costs $560/£440. Find out more on the Roland website.