Roland MKS-50 Synthesizer 80’s Nostalgia

Roland MKS-50 Synthesizer
Roland MKS-50 Synthesizer

Today I finally found a used Roland MKS-50 Analog Synthesizer that I’ve been wanting for a quite some time. I’ve heard these are quite easy to find, but unfortunately I haven’t had much success acquiring this synth until now. The Roland MKS-50 is a nice synthesizer module from the mid-80s and is the rack version of the popular Alpha-Juno 1 and 2 synthesizers. The SynthFreq on Youtube uses the Alpha Juno 1 in most of her synthpop compositions.

As a kid who grew up in the 80’s a lot of stuff was made with the Roland MKS-50. One group in particular was Depeche Mode who if correct used the MKS-50 on their very early recordings which I like better than their later material. I’m kind of a synthpop fan and adding the Roland MKS-50 to my other 80’s synths will be fun. I currently have a Roland Juno-6, Juno-106, Korg Poly-61, Roland D-50, the Yamaha DX-7, and a few other synths, drum machines, and effects from the 80’s. Of course there are plenty of other big names synths of the 80’s that I’ll continue to dream of having one day like the Roland Jupiter 8, but for now, I’d say the synths I have will keep me plenty busy creating and emulating some of my favorite synthpop bands of the 80’s.

It’s likely I’ll first attempt to use my Roland PCR-800 to control the Roland MKS-50. There was a video on Youtube with someone using a PCR-500 and it sounded really great. Another couple of options might be to use SoundQuest or check the Yahoo User Group for another option. I don’t think I’ll ever get a Roland PG-300 Programmer due the rarity of those and the high prices they are fetching on Ebay.

Synthmania has a great list of MP3 audio demos of most of the famous preset sounds from the Roland MKS-50. http://www.synthmania.com/mks-50.htm

Here is a nicely done demo video of the Roland MKS-50. Immediately you get that 80’s synthpop vibe which is cool.

This demo was made with the Roland MKS 50. All sounds from the MKS, except the BD, SD and the claps ( LinnDrum ). And a little wirily sound from 1:18 – 1:35 was played by the Korg MicroX. As always multitrack recording + some effects.

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11 thoughts on “Roland MKS-50 Synthesizer 80’s Nostalgia

  1. I finally found the answer to this question I’ve been wondering about.

    What is the difference between the Roland Juno 2 and the Roland MKS-50. Here’s what I discovered:

    The MKS-50 is a JUNO 2… it is exactly the same. The only difference being JUNO 2 has the Keys and the MKS-50 is just the modular rack mount version, but in terms of memory, specs, and down to the sound hardware…the MKS-50 is a JUNO2.. the exact same machine.

    The difference between the JUNO 1 and 2 keyboards is the fact that the JUNO 2 is aftertouch sensitive, and transmits that information as well.. the MKS-50 along with the JUNO 2 can be modulated by keyboards with aftertouch sensitivity. This can come in handy for that Prodigy’s Charly sounding Hoover patch.

  2. Great info on this site about the Roland MKS Series synth modules.

    Hello. This site provides information on the Roland MKS series of MIDI modules. The MKS series of mostly analog synths (a sampler and digital piano sneaked in) were produced in the 1980′s by the Roland behemoth. Many of them have become greatly desired items (like all things analog) over the years since their manufacture ceased.

    I have created this site as we have amassed a collection of manuals, information & documentation over the years that I know will be usefull to others. It will also piss off the sharks on ebay who charge a fortune for poor photocopies and print-offs of freely downloadable manuals.

    http://analoghell.com/studio/mks/

  3. Today I found out that I can create a virtual PG-300 Controller for the Roland MKS-50 using my Roland PCR-800 Keyboard Controller. Roland has made available a Custom Control For the PG-300 that supposedly works really well with the Roland MKS-50. I’ll have to fire up my PCR-800 today and see how well it works. Not only would I get a set of sliders, knobs, and wheels for controlling the MKS-50, but I would also get a nice set of keys. Fantastic!!

    http://www.roland.com/downloads/en/PCR/index_PCR-800.html

    Roland PCR800

  4. KT

    so how did the pg 300 emulation work out? i just got an mks 50 and found your site,
    been trying to find a way to control the unit in real time

  5. Hopefully someday you will be able to track down a Super JX for your collection (MKS-70 Rack Module or JX-10 Keyboard). It was the last true analog synthesizer made by Roland and has been critically acclaimed as one of their classic analog instruments. To this day, I have maintained the SUPER JX-10 and MKS-70 SYNTHESIZER HOMEPAGE ever since the Internet took hold back in the late 80’s. Still my favorite synthesizer of all-time. Something about that sound… dreamy.
    http://members.iquest.net/~twilight/superjx.html

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