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Roland MKS-7

Super Quartet (1986)

Roland Mks7

"A strange module with 4 sections (the "quartet") basically  - but not totally -  it's a multitimbric Juno-106 with drum from Roland Tr-707 in a whole rack unit. OK mmm... where's the catch?"

 Main Data 

Roland MKS7 data

Company: Roland
Model: MKS7 super quarted
Rackmount: 2 units (only black version, "ivory version" has no rack ears)
Display Type: segment display
Dimensions: 482 x 88 x 400 cm
Weight: 7 kg
dates: 1986

Synthesis: Analog subtractive  + digital PCM
Multitimbric: 7 parts
Oscillators: 7 DCO + 11 PCM
Polyphony: 7 voices (synth)  + 11 PCM 
Filters: Lowpass resonant (self-oscillating) at 4 poles  + Highpass (not resonant)
Portamento: NO 
LFO: 1 modulator 
Envelope: 1 ADSR per voice
Scales : standard
Memory: 100 melody tones sound  + 20 bass sound + 1 drum kit (11 sounds) 
MIDI: yes + exclusives
Effect: analog chorus based on BBD MN3006, MN3009, MN3101
IC: BA662A (VCA) 80017A (VCA+VCF)
OS: enter test mode pressing "3" while switching ON.



Exists in black version the same, but white (ivory) one cannot be rackmounted.
Just a bunch of controls: master tune (50 cents) , 4 sliders mixer, dynamic slider and 20 buttons. Display is segment numeric

Back panel terminal connectors:
- pitch bender sensitivity knob
- Modulation sensitivity knob
- Bass detune knob
- mix out (with 3 impedances switch)
- separate out for rhythm
- separate out for bass section
- separate out for chord
- Midi Interface

Front panel: just headphones

Nothing... yet!


Have some sounds or demo  want to share? 

- MKS7 User manual download
 
- MKS7 Service manual download

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 In details 

Moog

OSCILLATOR core CPU NEC D7811G-102 manages on 6 DCO ( IC X MC5534A WG waveform generators) from juno106 + 1 slimmed-down + a digital drum kit.
Quite all IC are the same as the famous polysynth including the dreaded 80017A (VCA+ VCF) which is prone to break.  See "80017 issue" below.

Roland MKS7 module

6 +  1 DCO Oscillators

4 wave sapes:
- square with variable width
- triangle wave
- square sub-oscillator (set to 1 octave lower)
- white noise generator.

Effect

internal warm analog chorus based on bucket brigade.

Noise Generator

A simple white noise
can be added to the oscillators section.,

MKS-7 Structure

The Mks7 logic is composed by 4 sections each with individual volume set and assigned Midi channel (it can be changed by panel).  Edit parameters are quite limited and external exclusive program is necessary.

1. Melody

2 allocated voices assigned to Midi Channel 1.


 2. Chord

4 voices assigned to Midi Channel 3.
NB: Pretty strange, the chord section sounds like those old arrangers! 

3. Bass

Monophonic  assigned to Midi Channel 2. The  bass can be directly detuned by rear pitch knob. The Bass oscillator DCO is slimmed down compared to melody.

4. Rhythm

11 digital voices PCM assigned to Drum Midi Channel 10, The sounds are partiallyderived from Roland Tr707 cult machine ROM.

Performance
Special whole mode Good NEWS! t is possible to assign 6 DCO as a single part, a kind of Juno 106. The procedure is a complicated combi: Press MIDI + Rhythm + Bass+ Chord + Melody. While holding the CHORD button, press the MELODY button.

LFO / EG / FILTER

Filter

FILTER 

Classic analog filter based on IC 80017A (also acts as an EG) with 2 modes:

1- Lowpass resonant (self-oscillating) at 4 poles
2- Highpass (not resonant)

LFo

LFO

Single delayed triangle modulator, relative frequency range from 0.1 to 30 Hz.
3 destinations:

1- DCO pitch
2- VCF cutoff
3- DCO pulse width.

Envelope

Envelope

1 ADSR (4-segments) EG for both:
- VCA amplitude
- VCF cutoff filter

Note: bass generator (DCO "7") has its own EG.

80017A chip replace

The 80017A issue

Like the big brother 106, the MKS70 features the infamous 80017A IC is an enclosure of 3 famous chips the 3109 + 2 X BA662, IC drowned into a kind of resin that after years dilates causing a common IC failure. There are 2 ways to fix it:

Modern IC replace

Clone replacement: companies produce IC clones (analogue renaissance / Naab ) replacing IC involves soldering and re-calibration

Acetone soaking 

basically you have to soak the IC for some days then the coating should be removed allowing some direct repairs on de-encapsulated IC

Roland MKS7

MKS-7 memory 

PATCH Melody

100 ROM melody tones sound
20 ROM bass sound
NO RAM sound!  sound must be edited from external software (CTRL. org is free)

Drum 

- 1/kit 11 sounds in ROM:  drum, snare drum, low tom, mid tom, hi tom, rim shot, claps, hihat open/close, ride and crash. Cannot be edited.

Our Verdict 

" MKS-7 sounds like a bargain miracle! just think: juno106+ tr707 in a box for 500€! ! too bad the interface is limited and painful... another big problem is the lack of RAM memory to save sounds."

Sound 
quality

Interface

Build
 quality

Rarity

Quality / 
price

Overall

CONS

-  edit interface
- no ram memory

PROS

- sound
- quality build
- Juno and 707 bonanza

Are you a MKS7  fan? how do you use it? You do not agree with our review?  Let us know in the comment field just below 

DISQUS COMMENTS WILL BE SHOWN ONLY WHEN YOUR SITE IS ONLINE

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Roland MKS-7 Superquartet Roland MKS-7 Superquartet
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