Roland MS-1

To truly appreciate this bit of kit, you really have to look back at the time when it came out.  To have several minutes of sampling time in a form factor that fit in your pocket was really huge.  The memory cards alone sold for hundreds of dollars when it first came out.  It was kind of a big deal.  But my story with the MS-1 didn’t begin until a few years down the line.

This was the first sampler I ever had.  I found it in a pawn shop for $35 back in 1997 (in hindsight, a pretty damn good deal) and didn’t even really understand exactly what it was used for.  All I knew was that it could record anything you could plug into it and play it back when you hit the pads.  You have to understand, I new almost nothing about music production or what DJ’s did, I just knew it was all somehow tied up together and that I liked it.  And I knew they put in samples from movies, TV shows and anything else you could think of.  A few years prior to this, I would spend hours using the “Record – Pause” method on my CD/Tape boombox to make some truly strange and rudimentary sound collages in an effort to translate my angsty feelings of teenage angst into something the world could appreciate.  A 3 second snippet of a Nirvana song, followed by a split second of a Revolting Cocks song repeated a few times, then maybe a few bars of Nine Inch Nails, and so on.  It was utterly schizophrenic sounding and drove my friends nuts when I made them listen to it.  Looking back, I can only imagine what could have been if I had only had one of these back then, when my creativity and imagination was probably at its height.  🙂

Not much of a review, but I will say that there is a place for this dusty old sampler in the modern studio environment.  For one thing, it does color the sound a bit when you sample on lo-fi.  Not to the extent that the old 12-bit samplers do, but it does give some added presence to drum samples, for example.  The other thing I use it for is capturing long segments of movie dialogue, interesting loops when I’m just casually listening to records, things like that.  I have a 20mb PCMCIA card with mine and it does give it a respectable amount of sample time for this sort of task.  It is also capable of running on AA batteries, so it seems ideal for this task.  It makes a nice alternative to the SP-202 for these purposes, as you can actually truncate samples on it and it even has a sequencer!



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