UPDATE (13.10.2021): The Roland SP-404 MKII was announced officially today and all the information below still stands. You can pre-order the sampler here at Thomann.de (affiliate link) for EUR 499 .
The Roland SP-404 MKII appears to be coming soon! Pictures and information have surfaced in forums, suggesting Roland could be treating its 16-years old sampler to a “mark”-style update. The SP-404 MKII has things like 16 GB of internal memory, 32-voice polyphony, new effects, and an OLED display for sample editing coming to it. All that sounds relevant, and promising!
Roland SP-404 MKII
The Roland SP-404, a sampling favorite with the DJ crowd in particular, was released back in 2005. It’s been prominent in the rigs of touring acts ever since. It has everything in one place and it’s all buttons – no computer required. It appears that Roland is giving the sampler a long-overdue update. A picture appeared on Reddit, allegedly sourced from a US retailer and paired with additional information. According to the leak, the SP-404 MKII should have 32-voice polyphony and 17 velocity-sensitive pads in addition to a style overhaul (although it still has that “calculator with sampling” look to it). The internal memory has been expanded to 16 GB and it should be the fastest available, speeding up operation and reducing loading times.
Externally, the SP-404 MKII remains largely true to the design of its predecessor. Veteran SP-404 users should be able to find their way around immediately. However, the pads are said to be more expressive and the rotary controls improved, which will contribute to better performance capabilities. Additionally, there may be the possibility to customize the design with custom faceplates.
If the reports are to be believed, Roland has also integrated an OLED display. This should allow you to zoom into waveforms and make editing and slicing samples easier. Apparently, there is also a new resampling method for layering patterns and effects. The “Skip Back Sampling” feature, which goes up to 25 seconds into the past, is also interesting. If you had a flash of inspiration during a performance but forgot to press sampling, this could be salvation.
Speaking of effects: the SP-404 MKII seems to offer a lot of new stuff. In addition to the effects from its predecessor, Roland is adding a lo-fi effect, a cassette simulation, and a resonator. The Mic / Inst input should also be able to use an amp simulation, a vocoder, and an auto-pitch function.
It sounds like Roland is dishing out an extensive update for fans of the SP-404. The manufacturer has not yet officially confirmed (nor denied) the rumors. However, the possible price is already making the rounds: USD 499. That’s a sweet spot for a capable sampler that’s above something like the Elektron Model:Samples but below a more complex product like the Digitakt in terms of features.