Roland’s SP-404MKII creative sampler promises next-level performance beatmaking

Following sieve-like levels of leaking in the run-up to its launch, Roland has ‘dropped’ the SP-404MKII, a new version of its performance-focused portable sampler.

With a design based on both user feedback and Roland’s own research, this promises to be the fastest and best SP sampler yet.

This MKII version of the SP-404 promises everything that users loved about its predecessor, but also new features such as more expressive pads and updated knobs. Boot time has been speeded up, as has project loading and sample import.

The SP-404MKII comes with 16GB of internal storage, which is loaded with a collection of “curated” samples. Power can be provided by AA batteries or a power bank, and you can interface with mobile devices via USB. Further connectivity includes dual headphone outputs and a mic/guitar input.

The OLED screen is another potential highlight, with a zoomable waveform view promising to ease the process of sample editing. Samples can be chopped up in realtime or you can auto-chop, with envelope and pitch shift enabling further tweaking.

There’s a new resampling workflow, too - you can now re-record patterns and effects layers. Skip Back Sampling, meanwhile, enables you to capture the last 25 seconds of audio from your most recent performance, ensuring that those unforeseen moments of inspiration won’t be lost.

In terms of effects, you get both your SP favourites - the likes of the Vinyl Simulator and DJFX Looper - and new processors such as Lo-fi, Cassette Simulator, and Resonator. The Vocoder, Auto Pitch, and Guitar Amp Simulator effects, meanwhile, can be applied directly to the mic/guitar input.

Elsewhere, improvements have been made to the sequencing workflow. You can apply adjustable input quantize and shuffle for custom swing, link pads so that you can trigger multiple samples, or hit the Roll button for variable note repeat. The BPM can be set on a per-note basis, enabling instant tempo changes, and sets can be chained together.

Finally, there are new customisation options: download a faceplate template and you can create custom overlays, and you can personalise both the logo on the startup screen and your screensaver.

The SP-404MKII will be released in November priced at $500. Find out more on the Roland website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine