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 Post subject: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2022 2:57 pm 
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What's up!

I dumped a bunch of thoughts on the 404 mk2 on MPC-Forums over the last couple months, and I've been kicking around the idea for a few weeks about putting together a free guide book for the SP-404 mk2, and spent the last week working on getting it kicked off.

Not going to lie, the current state of the guide is absolutely a work in progress right now, but figured that there's enough in place to get some feedback, and see what folks might like to see getting written up first.

I'll try to get updates to this thread every couple of days, but in the meantime feel free to go grab it off of the dedicated guidebook url page. Just remember, work in progress :D

NearTao Blog: https://neartao.com
NearTao Guidebook URL: https://neartao.wordpress.com/neartaos-guide-to-the-sp404-mk2/
SP-Forums URL: Well... right here of course... but also https://sp-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=27232
Discord Server URL: https://discord.gg/qMuSpuxC4n


Last edited by NearTao on Sat Jan 08, 2022 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2022 3:02 pm 
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And already updated the book to 0.5a just to add URLs from SP-Forums (as well as my blog, guide page, and discord). We need to get more people over to the site talking about this great device!


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2022 10:22 pm 
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I managed to get a couple more hours into the guide and created a 0.5b document. Some restructuring, adjusting some sections to Roland terminology, and working through the Sampling section a bit.

There is a fair amount about the mk2 that is not terribly well documented, or the way it is defined doesn't line up well with how I would talk about things for any other gear. Polyphony is a good example, and something like the MPC 500 had 32 note polyphony, but this was monophonic. The mk2 states that it has 32 note polyphony, but this is by voice. I suspect that a voice is stereo not monophonic, but I haven't quite figured this out definitively. This is leaving me with having to make the decision of figuring things out for sure, or trying to fill out more sections. Both will be valuable and need to be done, but it's going to be a broader task than I expected.

Also, I had originally thought I wouldn't try and replicate the online manual, but the more I am writing up the more I think it is necessary to some extent, solely for the reason that I'm concerned that directly referencing an online only manual, that is subject to change, and may not be able to be referenced in the future is going to ask for trouble. So please have some patience, but also feel free to give me any feedback that you may have. For now at least I am all ears!


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 7:15 pm 
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This is awesome. Thanks for putting this together. Always dope to read about peeps workflow.

I enjoyed your posts on the mpc forum as well!

You should post this on the elektronauts forum too, they have a huge SP thread!

https://www.elektronauts.com/t/roland-sp-404-mk2/161021/3192

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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:22 pm 
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Sound like a good idea. I hadn't really payed attention to what was being discussed over there. Based on the workflow comment, perhaps I'll take some time to write up a few workflows I have found that work for me with the mk2, since so far I have really just been trying to document what it does and how it operates.

Also... uploaded the update from yesterday, so 0.6 is out there now.

Changes here amount to maybe another hour worth of work, primarily focussed on the Sampling section. I figured it would be a good idea to add a Gain Staging section, although this is stubbed out for now. I do feel like I finished the Controls for External Source section for now. I did start on the Microphone/Guitar section, but I'm going to have to get some pedals and guitars hooked up first to verify a few things.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 1:12 am 
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Dropped 0.7.

Not sure I'll be doing this daily, but for now I guess that's the way it will be while I keep things rolling.

I started some information about gain staging, and then got side tracked. I mean it is important, but maybe doesn't make a *ton* of sense in the context of the mk2, still... will keep it in here for now, and see what makes sense as the book progresses. If anything, having the gain staging section prompted me to go off and try an experiment with EXT SOURCE and the pad turning red. Short answer if you don't want to read the book is that the pad turns red if you are digitally clipping. If you want this or want to avoid it is definitely up to you.

At least I now have a bit of an idea for a format to run the experiments, and it will help to fill out stuff in the frequently asked questions section. Also, had a few requests for some workflows, so I might try and drop a beat making section. Finally... uhm... tried to start to explain sampling, but got entirely side tracked by the rest of my day, so... will get there eventually, but boy is it so dang simple... I doubt anybody is waiting for me to cover how to record new samples straight in, but there are some cool things you can do... so we'll see.

Later!


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:13 pm 
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People have no clue how handy what youre doing is gunna be, shoutout to you!

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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:17 am 
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Thanks, I'll keep working on it until I either get bored, Roland stops updates, interest falls off, or I want to get back to working on some new tracks.

I just posted 0.8...

This latest update is quite a bit more than I've done over the last few days, a lot of links added to the reference section... some day I'll get ahold of a service manual link to add in, or figure some things out and add some of that documentation, but for now just a lot of links mostly for videos people posted about the mk2, technical information, various forums. I'll probably end up pruning it down a bit, but figured I'd see what it started to take shape as.

I also took some time to check if the microphone or guitar input had any interesting overdrive or distortion characteristics. They don't, same old digital clipping as the line level inputs. I'll see what I might be able to do on the USB-C inputs, but I suspect that is likely to be just more digital clipping. So.... I continue to say that unless you want digital clipping, don't let your EXT SOURCE go red... you're much better off using a compressor if you want to increase the overall loudness of a sample.

There's a few other things, but it's been another day of bouncing around a lot as I tie of on another experiment, and a handful of things I wanted to research.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:49 am 
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Posted guide update to 0.9. Going to take a few days to absorb the 1.14 firmware update, but in the meantime I have confirmed polyphony as a question...

The big update for today was finally running the experiment to determine polyphony once and for all for the mk2.

Spoiler: it's 32 note mono sample polyphony. If you're using stereo samples then you've only got 16 notes of polyphony.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 3:09 pm 
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Woof… this was some serious work to get the guide updated to 0.10. Update available at the usual link https://neartao.wordpress.com/neartaos-guide-to-the-sp404-mk2/

I got a bit obsessive over the last few days, and read just about every single post in the Elektronauts' SP-404 mk2 thread as well as the Gearspace SP-404 mk2 thread. This is well over 4000 posts to read through, and took me the better part of four or five days to complete. Lot's of good questions, and lots of good answers, but I'm not sure I am up for doing a repeat of that any time soon.

All of this reading has resulted in a lot of really good questions for the mk2 (around twelve pages worth), and I have as much as possible been adding in answers either from forum members or just doing my own research. I would have gotten this out last night, but I figured it was worth spending the time to better organize the questions.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:59 pm 
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Jaytreaze wrote:
People have no clue how handy what youre doing is gunna be, shoutout to you!


i second that


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 12:46 am 
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I've added version 0.11 of the guide at https://neartao.wordpress.com/neartaos-guide-to-the-sp404-mk2/.

I've got some ideas for linking some working session videos with the guide, so stay tuned for that.

The last two days were mostly about trying to flesh out some of the existing sections some more. Primarily the audio input section, but that also drove me to adding a new section for audio output as well. I'm nearly done with these, and should be able to get into more detail for getting into sampling and adjusting samples soon.

Feedback from folks has been to keep up with how I am writing. I know my style is kind of loose, but I guess it is helping people understand what different sections do. I'll keep at it for now, unless I get specific feedback to try and go a different direction.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:58 am 
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Version 0.12 of the guide is posted at https://neartao.wordpress.com/2022/01/23/roland-sp-404-mk2-guide-v0-12/ or the usual link.

I spent some time trying to focus on the Data section, and starting to figure out a little bit about how the mk2 organizes information. To really figure out the .bin file format will absolutely take some time, but it may be beneficial to figuring out how to create a pattern editor or other things. I figure this is quite a ways off for me to think about for now, but I think it could certainly provide some valuable insight into how the mk2 works.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2022 2:39 am 
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Version 0.13 of the guide is up at https://neartao.wordpress.com/2022/01/26/roland-sp-404-mk2-guide-v0-13/ and the usual link up above.

Finally getting to *some* meat and potatoes kind of stuff, and this update was focussed on sampling. I didn't fill out the Skip Back section under sampling as I was waffling on whether it deserves it's own section or not... I think it is important enough and different enough of a workflow that I'll probably give it a shiny section for itself... but we shall see.


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 Post subject: Re: NearTao's Guide to the SP-404 mk2
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2022 1:19 am 
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Version 0.14 of the guide is up at https://neartao.wordpress.com/2022/02/02/roland-sp-404-mk2-guide-v0-14/

Spent some time on the Sample Edit section, and tried to think about how to discuss some workflows without getting into it too deeply. Interested in any feedback on things people would like to see more or less of.

I'm trying to strike the right balance between opinions, thoughts on how to do things, and just stuff that feels like issues with Sample Edit. Maybe I am being too picky, or maybe these things could just work better.

Still happy with the mk2 though, and will continue writing things up. I've just started a new job, so trying to balance transitioning my old work, picking up new work, family, and working on music, has caused me to slow down a bit on the guide for a little bit. I promise I am still keeping at it though!


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