VERSELAB MV-1 is a complete standalone music production station with pattern generation, ZEN-Core sounds, effects and vocal recording. It’s cool, it’s compact and it’s clever. Is this the new standard in the all-in-one music production box category?
Finish More Music
Roland says that the VERSELAB MV-1 will help you finish more music and capture more inspiration with its fluid workflow and simplified approach to production. It combines drum and melodic step-sequencing with songwriting tools and generators and wraps it all up with audio recording and vocal effects.
My initial reaction was to see if as an auto-music writing machine, a bit like a groove box version of a home keyboard but that impression is completely unfair on many levels. Sure, it has a step-by-step approach to writing hit tunes but all it actually does is mirror what the vast majority of us do anyway. We write some drum tracks, add a bass, add a melody line or chords, shuffle some versions around as verse and chorus and then sing over the top – job done – and there’s nothing wrong with that!
The idea is that it helps you construct and formulate your songs. There are templates you can use and pattern generators to help you get down the tunes that are in your head. It has this “Workflow” strip with takes you from Sequence to Section to Song to Mixer and to Mix Down. It’s the sort of tool that keeps you focused and heading in the right direction.
Beats and Melody
You get 4 drum tracks where the first 3 are dedicated to Kick, Snare and Hi-Hat on the step-sequencer and the last one lets you choose from a vast array of full kits for polyphonic programming using the 4×4 pads. On the Melodic side you’ve got a Bass track, two instrument tracks and then an audio track designed for vocals.
For sounds it has the ZEN-Core engine and comes with 3,000 sounds ready to go and room for adding more from the Roland Cloud library. VERSELAB has MIDI in and out connections so you can plug in a regular keyboard and potentially include external sound sources.
The audio track features a high-quality XLR mic input and you can record up to 16 takes and arrange them wherever you like in your song. There are built-in effects like Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer and Doubler to give your voice a bit of studio quality. Oh, and it also has a built-in microphone for capturing those moments when you don’t have a mic to hand. It doesn’t have to be vocals, though; there are line inputs for recording whatever you want.
It also features integration with Roland’s Zenbeats multi-platform DAW so if you want to take things further and bigger then you can. It can be battery powered so you could make music out on a lake somewhere, fire it into Zenbeats on your phone and share it with your mate in their studio so they can add some guitar and some weeping strings.
This looks like a fun box that neatly bypasses much of the overwhelming complexity we often find in hardware music production boxes or computer-based recording. It’s simple but in a good way, a way that could help loads of people who want to make music without having to be a synth nerd, beat producer or sound engineer.
Check out the excellent walkthrough from Zeale from Blackillac in the video below.