Turn your Roland MC-202 into a 21st century groovebox with the MC-2oh2 upgrade kit

A mishmash of Roland’s SH-101, TB-303 and MC MicroComposers, the MC-202 was a commercial failure when it was released in 1982, but history has been much kinder to it. Now the machine’s story is being continued by Tubbutec, which has just released an upgrade kit that the company says turns the MC-202 into a groovebox.

Out of the box, the MC-202 offers CV and gate jacks for sequencing your favourite analogue instruments. It also has a built-in synthesiser that bears more than a passing resemblance to the SH-101, both physically and sonically, and its form factor has strong echoes of the TB-303.

Tubbutec’s MC-2oh2 is a pretty significant upgrade that replaces the original CPU, keyboard PCB and display. The sound, however, is said to remain the same.

New features include three independent synth control channels: the internal synth, the second CV/gate output and a third MIDI Out or drum channel. Each channel has its own clock divider and MIDI input and output.

There’s also a sequencer that offers 32 chainable, editable patterns. You can use these to create complete songs (like the patterns, these can be edited on the fly) and there are shortcuts for quick live arrangements. Seven sequencer play directions and an arpeggiator are included, too.

Elsewhere, more modulation options have been added - accent, filter and PW envelopes - and there’s an additional noise sound with envelope. The 8-bit lo-fi drum sample output has various modifiers, and sample packs can be uploaded via MIDI.

Speaking of which, all additional parameters can be controlled by MIDI CC and MIDI velocity can be linked to some of these. If you go for the optional HiRes version of the MC-2oh2 you also get pitchbend control and microtonal tunings.

This is no mere firmware update, then, though you do get one of those as well, uploadable via MIDI SysEx. We should say that the MC-2oh2 installation procedure probably shouldn’t be attempted by those of a nervous disposition, but if you’re feeling brave, the upgrade can be purchased for €250 plus VAT and shipping.

Find out more on the Tubbutec website.

Ben Rogerson

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. 

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