Recently I have been on the lookout for a great set of Roland MKS-20 Samples for my keyboards. There are not many MKS-20 sample sets available, but I did manage to encounter three options that seemed excellent. One of these days I may elect to buy a used Roland MKS-20, but since I am in Japan and the fact that it may be difficult to get one shipped here, I’ve elected to try the sample route instead.
The following three Roland MKS-20 Sample Sets are currently available. Two have been around for a while and another was just recently released this month. The three choices I’ve found are (in no particular order):
1. P20 (Roland MKS-20) from Precisionsound – $49.00
2. MKSensation Roland MKS-20 from GospelMusicians – $99.99
3. MK Digital Keys from Nucleus SoundLab – $49.00
Which is better? I have no idea as I don’t currently own them, but most likely I’ll pick up the Precisionsound Set first for several reasons. First is that the price is half that of MKSensation which is an obvious important element. Second, the Roland MKS-20 PS20 set has WAV files already for you which can virtually be used in any sampler which is very versatile. In addition, you get more velocity layers and samples with the PS20 set. You can also checkout DDW4E’s Youtube channel to hear the PS20 sounds which he imported into Reason.
With respect to MKSensation Roland MKS-20 Piano Module, it has two things going for it that make it very tempting. First it is sampled first hand by a fantastic Gospel Musician name Jamal Hartwell. I have almost all his DVDs and he’s simply outstanding. I’m a big fan needless to say. The MKSensation MKS-20 sample set comes from a seasoned pro who owns and uses the MKS-20 on a regular basis. One would expect the quality to be top notch with his background and I’m quite sure it is. The second asset is that it’s focused on the Yamaha Motif series of keyboards which is arguably the instrument of choice for Gospel Musicians with regards to getting that classic rhodes and/or piano sound.
The MK Digital Keys set is a new retro keyboard sample library by Nucleus SoundLab. Bring the 80s keyboard sound to your productions with this faithful sampling of Roland’s MKS-20 keyboard synthesizer. MK Digital Keys is available in three formats, Reason Refill, WusikEngine, and Kontakt/EXS/SFZ.
Again this article is not to decide the best Roland MKS-20 Sample set, but to simply state that there are a few excellent choices out there to choose from. There may be more and if anyone knows of additional MKS-20 sample sets, to please comment below. Probably the biggest deciding factor for many will be first the price and then the reviews once they start to come in. Like I mentioned above, I’ll probably pick up the Precision Sound MKS-20 set first because of the price, but also because I would like to use these MKS-20 samples in other keyboards in addition to the Motif. Of course sound is important and the demos of all three products shine well.
There is one very important similarity with MKSensation, PS20, and MK Digital Keys is that they have samples for all the presets in the Roland MKS-20. So if you are looking for all the sounds, they exist in all three packages. DEMOS are available at the links mentioned above for all products.
Discounts anyone? Precisionsound seems to offer seasonal 50% off discounts on all of it’s sample sets. It might be best to wait it out and grab a bundle when they are on sale. You can check for the latest discounts on their forums here. Gospelmusicians also offers discounts on their products periodically as well. I read on the website though that there will be no sales for the rest of the year, so one might have to wait until the New Year or later. You need to get on the Gospelmusician mailing list in order to get notified about sales. I have not heard of any sales for MK Digital Keys yet. At the price points above though, you can pick up both the P20 and MK Digital Key Sets for the price of MKSensation alone. That’s kind of a deal in itself I suppose.
I’m betting Precisionsound will have one before Christmas. Needless to say, all sample sets are probably worth their retail prices with all the time, effort, and thought that goes into producing such quality sample sets. With that said, it’s a crappy economy for most Americans and I’m sure discounts are on everyone’s minds these days. Thus there’s hope for those who are looking for a sale.
Some may ask about Software or Softsynth choices for the Roland MKS-20. Personally, I’m only focused at the moment on hardware or using samples with my current hardware setup. I don’t take or use a computer when I perform, but I’m sure there are Roland MKS-20 software choices out there somewhere.
If you have either the Precisionsound PS20, Nucleus SoundLab’s MK Digital Keys, or Gospelmusician’s MKSensation, please let me know your thoughts. Ultimately I may get them all and perhaps further down the line I’ll end up getting the real thing. The Roland MKS-20 is a fabulous sound module and I can’t believe I’ve gone without one for so long.
UPDATE: Jamal from Gospelmusicians has just posted an excellent video comparing the real Roland MSK-20 with the new MKSensation MKS-20 Sample Set for the Yamaha Motif ES/XS/XF Synthesizer.
Is going the Hardware route all that expensive?
What’s the average pricing for a Roland MKS-20 on Ebay as of the date of this post? The average price is $310 according the last five completed auctions. Considering there are 8 presets in the Roland MKS-20 module, you can do the math and it would cost about $38.75 per voice. I’m starting to think that it’s still pretty reasonable to get a Roland MKS-20 over samples. What do you think?
Of course you wouldn’t have to drag the Roland MKS-20 around, but you would get full access to the effects and the ability to tweak the presets. Are old Roland MKS-20 Sound Modules reliable? I’m not sure about that either, but they sure do sound great.
Here’s an interesting question….
If you owned a good Roland MKS-20 Sample Set, would you sell your Roland MKS-20 if you had one?