Roland’s MC range of all-in-one grooveboxes has lain dormant since the release of the MC-808 in 2007. Much like their counterparts in Akai’s MPC line, these sampler and synth-equipped sequencers fell out of favour with much of the general public as music-making software became more powerful and modern tools like Ableton Live and NI Maschine made hardware solutions look old hat.
However, over a decade on there’s a new interest in ‘studio in a box’ tools that allow electronic musicians to produce and perform full tracks without a computer.
With the success of their recent MPCs and Force, Akai have proved that mass-market production stations can stand up against a DAW. No surprise, then, that Roland have chosen now to breathe new life into the MC line. While the name and basic principle is the same, the MC-707 isn’t simply an update to those earlier grooveboxes.
The MC-707 lands as a member of the brand’s Aira line, and design-wise it’s more like the recent TR-8S than the MC-808 or MC-909. (And no, there’s no D-Beam here; for better or worse!)
In terms of size and weight, the 707 is almost identical to the TR-8S. Its layout is fairly similar too, with the central area occupied by a bank of channel strips made up of faders and rotaries. The major difference, interface-wise, is that the TR-8S’ chunky step-sequencing buttons are replaced here by a bank of 16 rubber performance pads with a considerably smaller step-sequencer row above them.
Also, the right-hand side of the 707’s panel is occupied by a screen and range of selection buttons used to navigate the instrument’s various menus, parameter pages and arrangement tools.
In total, the MC-707 offers eight tracks, controlled and edited via its central bank of channel strips. Each track can be assigned either a Tone (polyphonic instrument), Drum (multi-part drum kit) or Looper (audio recorder). Recording and sequencing of these elements is then handled by the pads and sequencer buttons, to create Clips, which are recorded, arranged and played using a grid system like Ableton Live’s Clip View.