Roland PCR-800 Controls Roland MKS-50 Synth

Roland PCR 300 500 800
Roland PCR 300 500 800

About two years ago I purchased a Roland PCR-800 with Roland PSB-100 Adapter. This week I found out that the Roland PCR 300/500/800 series keyboard controllers are fantastic for controlling the Roland MKS-50. Today I spent some time hooking everything up and I must say it adds a whole new dimension to the Roland MKS-50. It’s like a fully operation synthesizer now and I won’t have to mess around with software editors or spend a ton of money on the original PG-300. Of course there may be some slight differences, but for starters, I think the PCR-800 will work great.

Here’s what I did to get things connected up.

1. Updated PCR-800 System with version 1.05
[-> Ver.1.05]
The following have been fixed.
* At entering value by the rotary encoder, the operation might cause strange value move like going reverse or skipping values.

Used Roland’s UpdateSMF to transmit the p00001.mid file to the PCR-800

2. Installed the PCR Map Editor V2.0 for Windows 7. I installed the Vista version as the XP one was not accepted. There is now Windows 7 PCR Map Editor specified on Roland’s website, but I found the Vista version to work just fine for editing and transmitting PCR Maps.

3. Installed the Roland PG-300 Custom Control Maps for the MKS-50. Roland has made available a 3 Custom Control Maps for the PG-300 that work well with the Roland MKS-50. Download the Control Maps from the Roland website here:

You will get three midi files PG-300_A.mid, PG-300_B.mid, and PG-300_C.mid that you can import into the Roland PCR Map Editor. Then simply transmit one at a time to the PCR-800. Then save them to memory. For instructions you can consult the PCR-800 manual. It’s really easy to do.

4. Connected the Roland Midi Ins/Outs to the Roland MKS-50. Note that if you also use the USB cable you will need to change a setting on the PCR-800. You must change the MIDI I/F Switch to specify whether the MIDI connectors will be used as a MIDI Interface. Check on page 76 of the PCR-800 manual for details. Now you can use both the USB and regular Midi In/Out Connectors.

It’s really fun using the Roland PCR-800 for controlling the Roland MKS-50. So far I haven’t encountered any issues, but if I do, I’ll be sure to post an update here. Thanks! – Jim


15 thoughts on “Roland PCR-800 Controls Roland MKS-50 Synth

  1. Restoring Factory Presets into the Roland MKS-50 Synthesizer Module:

    When I bought the Roland MKS-50 here in Japan it had a bunch of patches and tones that were changed from the original factory presets. So I decided to load in the original factory presets. (P:A11 PolySynth1) Before that though, I wanted to backup what was on the MKS-50 for future reference. I had a heck of a time getting my Windows 7 32bit computer to receive bulk dumps from the Roland MKS-50. I tried all sorts of MKS-50 programs and nothing would work. Whatever I tried, my Windows 7 computer would simply not accept any incoming MIDI Bulk Data Dumps from the Roland MKS-50. Go figure!

    So I decided to use my trusty Win98 computer that I use for old synth gear. I installed EZalpha on Win98 which this time accepted the bulk dump that I initiated from the MKS-50 on the first go around. Awesome! I could then make a backup of the tones and patches that were in the MKS-50 when I bought it.

    To later load the factory preset tones and patches, I used a Midi file from here:

    I installed the Free Midi Player vanBasco on Win98 to transfer the Bulk dump into the MKS-50.

    The instructions are in the file and they worked perfectly. After the transfer process was complete, my Roland MKS-50 was perfect! All of the Tone A, Tone B, Patch A, Patch B, and CM presets were completely reinstalled and saved with correct names. The MKS-50 sure sounded much better as well.

    I used the MKS50orig.mid file from the zip file mainly because all of the other sysex file solutions on the net were very confusing. Many had too many tone banks or the data was not correct. I read on several different forums about the MKS50orig.mid file and it definitely worked great. I can now feel confident about creating new patches and loading up other sysex files from various resources knowing I can get back to the factory presets easily.

    As with Windows 7, I am not sure why my Roland MKS-50 wouldn’t work with it. I have used loads of other synths and MIDI devices with Windows 7 so my setup is likely to be correct. However, with the Roland MKS-50, something just didn’t quite work right. I often find turning to my Windows 98 computer works well whenever I need to work with old vintage gear. Note that Windows XP likely works too but I don’t have that on any computer right now. Mac I’m sure works great also.

    Boy, the Roland PCR-800 sure works great with the MKS-50. It’s very easy to manipulate the synth now and much more fun to jam with.

  2. Daniel

    Hi, I just got an MKS-50 to go along with my PCR-300 and I did everything you said to have the Edirol act as MIDI keyboard and also the programmer. So far I transferred the midi maps from the editor to the keyboard but I’m not sure how to make it start working on the synth. Maybe you could point me in the right direction? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi there,

      It’s morning in Japan and I’m pulling this off the top of my head. The MKS-50 needs to be setup to received midi sysex and changes. You also need to make sure the PCR-300 has the correct MKS-50 control map loaded and that the midi channels match. After that you should be able to play with the knobs and detect changes being made to the sound. I recall having to read the PCR manual to learn how to load the control map which is pretty easy along with setting the right midi channel which defaults to 1 if correct. The MKS-50 has a couple of settings to get it’s midi channel into 1 and then allow it to receive sysex exclusive messages. Once that info is set properly you should be able to control everything. I’ll run through my setup later and if I find any further info, I’ll update this comment. Thanks!


      1. Daniel

        I think the PCR is set up correctly but I don’t see anything clearly in the MKS’ manual about setting up to receive the programming messages. Thanks for your help!

    2. Nuno Correia

      Have you had any luck interfacing your keyboard to the synth?
      My MKS-50 that I just received doesn’t flash the MIDI message LED when I operate my PCR-500. I hope the hardware isn’t broken…

      1. There are a couple of midi settings that the PCR-500 has and only one will work with external synths. I can’t remember which setting it is but it’s in the manual. Usually I have to switch between the two settings when using the computer and then an external synth or sound module. The MKS50 works extremely well with both my PCR-300 and PCR-800, but the midi setting needs to be set properly on the PCR Controller. In my PCR-800 manual on page 76 it’s the “MIDI I/F Switch” section that you likely need to read. The MIDI Message Light will show when all is working properly. Hope this helps. If that’s not that’s not the problem, then perhaps the MIDI Controller Map is not setup properly. Not sure.

  3. I finally finished programming Control Maps for the Roland D-5 and D-110 Synths over the weekend. If you can’t find a Roland PG-10 to control these synths, the PCR-300 works fantastic. I’ve also been using it to control the Roland D-50 as with the MKS-50 I wrote about previously. It’s amazing what these controllers can do.

    1. hi my name is Josh…I’m new to getting into using midi keyboards along with midi hardware/sound modules… I recently purchased the Roland D110 Sound module and I wish to use it standalone with a keyboard midi controller. I would like to purchase a controller that allows full functionality of the Roland D110 if possible (or at least as much functionality as I can get i.e. parameter changes, changing to different effects like from a warm pad to a attacky lead synth sound). I have not yet purchased a Midi keyboard yet but I have been looking into the Edirol PCR 500…will this keyboard be compatible with the Roland D110 and will it be able to control paramters like resonance and attack ect. Thank you for all your feedback!

  4. Nuno Correia

    I’ve programmed my PCR like you say. First I made sure the firmware was at 1.05. Then for each MIDI file Roland provides, I use PCR Editor’s “import memory set” function and transmit them over to the PCR in Bulk Receive mode – this is the step I’m unsure about, because I suppose each time I transmit a new memory set the previous gets erased… Right?

    How did you proceed? The documentation for the files isn’t helpful at all.

    MIDI I/F (SY08) is On. The MKS’s MIDI channel matches the PCR’s and Omni is off.

    The PCR is connected (and powered) via USB to the Mac, and via MIDI OUT into the MKS’s MIDI IN…

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Jim,

      I tried to install 1.05 update for my PCR-500 using Sonar and I’ve now got FFF in the display. Resending the file with the SMF player hasn’t worked. I can only power up when the underneath switch is in the up position (to update firmware). Roland UK can’t help. Haven’t any suggestions have you?

      1. stress mode

        i still get no send, only if i select “microsoft…synth” but pcr and pcr mid out dont do anything… anything else u may have done?

  5. f.a.

    Just got a PCR30 cheap as it had issues with the keybed. Got it working nearly 100%. Loaded the PG300 file. It works great! Can’t wait to get my MKS70 upgraded to v1.08 and see if the PG800 mid files work with it.

  6. Mike.

    Hi Jim,

    Came across your post (via Google). I just picked up a PCR-800 and would like to use it with my Roland HS-80 (basically a Juno-2 with built-in speakers). I’m hoping the MKS-50 Control Map will work (at least partially!).

    But it appears to have gone from the Roland support site.

    Do you happen to have a copy you could email me?



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