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Movement Computer Systems (MCS) Drum System II (or Percussion Computer II), circa 1981, United Kingdom - Knobcon 2014.jpg
Movement Computer Systems Drum Computer (or Percussion Computer) (c.1981, UK) [1]

This machine consists of:

  • Analog & sample drum sounds
  • Music sequencer
  • CRT, keyboard &knobcontrollers
and it fulfills a definition of left.
EMS Synthi AKS (opened).jpg
Electronic Music Studios (EMS) Synthi AKS (1972, UK), consisted of
  • Analog synthesizer
  • Knobs
  • Digital music sequencer with a touch-plate keyboard for input
is the earliest machine of this type.
Linn 9000 view top 300dpi 2550 1635.jpg
Linn 9000 (1984)
E-mu SP-12.jpg
E-mu SP-12 (1986)
Akai MPC60.jpg
Akai MPC60 (1988)

A groovebox is a self-contained electronic or digital musical instrument for the production of live, loop-based electronic music with a high degree of user control facilitating improvisation. The term "Groovebox" was originally used by Roland Corporation to refer to its MC-303, released in 1996. [2] The term has since entered general use, [3] and the concept dates back to the Movement Computer Systems Drum Computer in 1981.

A groovebox consists of three integrated elements.

The integration of these elements into a single system allows the musician to rapidly construct and control a pattern-based sequence, often with multiple instrumental or percussion voices playing simultaneously.

These sequences may also be quickly chained together into a song in a live performance. Grooveboxes allow sequences and songs to be saved, retrieved from memory, and inserted into the current performance whilst playing. In some cases, an entire musical performance may be created by a single player with a single groovebox. In other cases, the groovebox is simply one instrument amongst many. This is reflected by the large variety of grooveboxes available, ranging from Roland's lower-end MC and SP products with include basic sequencing and sampling capabilities, to Akai's flagship MPC 4000 and 5000, Yamaha's RS7000 or Roland's own MV-8800 which include features such as high-end sampling, high-polyphony synthesizers, and extensive sequencing, connection and storage possibilities.

Groovebox style instruments have facilitated many performers, both amateur and professional, who may have previously been unfamiliar with electronic music, to explore the genre. Whilst some in the genre initially derided these instruments (in particular the MC-303) and the opening of the field as leading to a drop in standards, they are now generally accepted as having a legitimate place in the form. In addition, many performers and bands from outside the electronic community have integrated groovebox instruments into their shows, as a convenient way of incorporating electronic sound into a more traditional format. The sequencer and control aspects of a groovebox may be used to control an external instrument over MIDI, and the internal voices may similarly be controlled by external equipment.

A groovebox is similar to a music workstation. The general differences are that it will often omit, or include only a simplified keyboard, is designed to be portable, and will usually include more user controls. Whereas a workstation is often targeted towards studio musicians and composers, grooveboxes are designed more to suit the needs of live performers. However, units matching either description are used both on stage and in the studio. A defining characteristic of a groovebox is the ability for the performer to alter both the sequence and the sound parameters in real time, without interruption of the performance. Units marketed as such, which have failed to implement this feature correctly, or at all, have not been well received.[ citation needed ] Grooveboxes may also be compared to drum machines such as the earlier Roland TR series (606, 808, 909 etc.), or to their TB-303, and the term has retroactively been applied to such units.


In the entry order of each manufacturer:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland Corporation</span> Japanese audiovisual equipment company

Roland Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment, and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on 18 April 1972. In 2005, its headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has factories in Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. As of 31 March 2010, it employed 2,699 people. In 2014, it was subject to a management buyout by its CEO, Junichi Miki, supported by Taiyo Pacific Partners.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drum machine</span> Electronic musical instrument that creates percussion sounds

A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument that creates percussion sounds, drum beats, and patterns. Drum machines may imitate drum kits or other percussion instruments, or produce unique sounds, such as synthesized electronic tones. A drum machine often has pre-programmed beats and patterns for popular genres and styles, such as pop music, rock music, and dance music. Most modern drum machines made in the 2010s and 2020s also allow users to program their own rhythms and beats. Drum machines may create sounds using analog synthesis or play prerecorded samples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Music technology (electronic and digital)</span>

Digital music technology encompasses digital instruments, computers, electronic effects units, software, or digital audio equipment by a performer, composer, sound engineer, DJ, or record producer to produce, perform or record music. The term refers to electronic devices, instruments, computer hardware, and software used in performance, playback, recording, composition, mixing, analysis, and editing of music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Analog synthesizer</span> Synthesizer that uses analog circuits

An analogsynthesizer is a synthesizer that uses analog circuits and analog signals to generate sound electronically.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland TR-808</span> Drum machine

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, commonly known as the 808, is a drum machine manufactured by Roland Corporation between 1980 and 1983. It was one of the first drum machines to allow users to program rhythms instead of using preset patterns. Unlike its nearest competitor at the time, the more expensive Linn LM-1, the 808 generates sounds using analog synthesis rather than by playing samples.

A music workstation is an electronic musical instrument providing the facilities of:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sampler (musical instrument)</span> Device that records and plays back samples

A sampler is an electronic or digital musical instrument which uses sound recordings of real instrument sounds, excerpts from recorded songs or found sounds. The samples are loaded or recorded by the user or by a manufacturer. These sounds are then played back by means of the sampler program itself, a MIDI keyboard, sequencer or another triggering device to perform or compose music. Because these samples are usually stored in digital memory, the information can be quickly accessed. A single sample may often be pitch-shifted to different pitches to produce musical scales and chords.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland MC-303</span>

The Roland MC-303 is the first of a series of musical instruments known as a Groovebox. It combines a simple sound module with a sequencer to record and store notation, along with controls aimed at encouraging the musician to improvise the music while it is playing. Despite the number in its name and the attention it received at its launch, the MC-303 has more in common with other MC prefixed synthesizers, which contain built-in sequencers, than it does with the famous Roland TB-303. As the first Groovebox, the MC-303 was the first in a line of inexpensive products specifically targeted towards house DJs and amateur home musicians rather than professional producers. It was superseded by the Roland MC-505. It is the predecessor to the Roland JX-305, Roland D2, Roland MC-307, Roland EG-101, Roland MC-09, Roland MC-909, Roland MC-808, and most recently the Roland MC-707 in 2019, along with its more portable sibling, the Roland MC-101.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Novation Digital Music Systems</span> British musical equipment manufacturer

Novation Digital Music Systems Ltd. is a British musical equipment manufacturer, founded in 1992 by Ian Jannaway and Mark Thompson as Novation Electronic Music Systems. Today the company specializes in MIDI controllers with and without keyboards, both analog and virtual analog performance synthesizers, grid-based performance controllers, and audio interfaces. At present, Novation products are primarily manufactured in China.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Akai MPC</span> Music workstation

The Akai MPC is a series of music workstations produced by Akai from 1988 onwards. MPCs combine sampling and sequencing functions, allowing users to record portions of sound, modify them and play them back as sequences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland MC-202</span>

The Roland MC-202 (MicroComposer) is a monophonic analog synthesizer and music sequencer released by Roland in 1983. It was the first groovebox. Its synth is similar to the TB-303 bass synth and the SH-101 synthesizer, featuring one voltage-controlled oscillator with simultaneous saw and square/pulse-width waveforms. It is a successor to the Microcomposer family of sequencers, including the MC-8 and MC-4. The unit is portable and can be operated from batteries or an external power supply.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland MC-505</span>

The Roland MC-505 is a groovebox conceived in 1998 as a combination of a MIDI controller, a music sequencer, a drum machine, and a desktop synthesizer with many synthesis features: arpeggiator, oscillators, and voltage-controlled filter, control of attack, decay, sustain and release, different envelopes and 2 Lfo. It was released as the successor to the Roland MC-303 and is a compact version of the Roland JX-305 Groovesynth without the full set of 61 keys. It is also the predecessor to the Roland D2, Roland MC-307, Roland MC-909 and the Roland MC-808.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hip hop production</span> Creation of hip hop music in a recording studio

Hip hop production is the creation of hip hop music in a recording studio. While the term encompasses all aspects of hip hop music creation, including recording the rapping of an MC, a turntablist or DJ providing a beat, playing samples and "scratching" using record players and the creation of a rhythmic backing track, using a drum machine or sequencer, it is most commonly used to refer to recording the instrumental, non-lyrical and non-vocal aspects of hip hop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland MC-909</span> Combines the features of a synthesizer, sequencer, and sampler

The discontinued Roland MC-909 Sampling Groovebox combines the features of a synthesizer, sequencer, and sampler, with extensive hands-on control of both the sound engine and the sequencing flow. It was intended primarily for live performance of pre-programmed patterns consisting of up to 16 tracks of MIDI data. It was released by Roland Corporation on October 8, 2002. This product was announced at the AES Fall Convention in 2002. It is the direct successor to the Roland MC-505 and is the predecessor to the Roland MC-808. Which eventually ended the "Groovebox by year 2010" line of products by Roland which began in the year 1996 with the Original Roland MC-303 groovebox. The Roland Groovebox began again resurgence in the year 2019 with a two new modern & redesign Roland MC-707 GROOVEBOX/Roland MC-101 GROOVEBOX. The Roland MC-909 was developed from the blueprint of Roland's own "Roland Fantom-S Workstation & Roland Fantom-X Workstation" and uses the same structure and operating system, with some differences regarding the Patterns section, not implemented in the Roland Fantom S/X6/X7/X8 Workstation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quasimidi</span> Defunct German synthesizer manufacturer

Quasimidi Musikelektronik GmbH was a German synthesizer manufacturer from Hesse. It was founded in 1987 by Friedhelm Haar and Jörg Reichstein. It was originally based in Kirchhain, but moved to Rauschenberg in 1998. The company folded in 2000.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Synthesizer</span> Electronic musical instrument

A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis and frequency modulation synthesis. These sounds may be altered by components such as filters, which cut or boost frequencies; envelopes, which control articulation, or how notes begin and end; and low-frequency oscillators, which modulate parameters such as pitch, volume, or filter characteristics affecting timbre. Synthesizers are typically played with keyboards or controlled by sequencers, software or other instruments, and may be synchronized to other equipment via MIDI.

The Roland MC-307 is a combination of MIDI music sequencer, synthesizer, drum machine and control surface produced by the Roland Corporation. This combination is commonly referred to by Roland as a 'Groovebox'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Akai AX80</span> Analogue synthesizer

The AX80 is a polyphonic analogue keyboard synthesizer manufactured by Akai Professional in 1984. It was Akai's first venture into the professional electronic musical instrument market. The AX80 used digitally controlled oscillators (DCO) and filter circuitry based on the Curtis Electronics CEM 3372 integrated circuit. It was marketed as part of a line of project studio equipment called the Akai Music Studio System, which included the S612 digital sampler the MR16 drum machine, the MS08 sequencer, and the MG1212 multitrack tape recorder, at a price of $1,695 US.

Bruce Forat is an electronics engineer, computer programmer, music producer, songwriter and co-founder and president of Forat Music and Electronics Corporation, founded in 1986.


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  2. "Roland MC-303 GrooveBox". Roland U.S. June 1996. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  3. Sound on Sound articles on grooveboxes
  4. "Multivox International". SYNRISE (in German). Archived from the original on 2003-04-20.
  5. Roland MC-202 MicroComposer, Electronic Musician , November 2001
  6. Johnson, Derek; Poyser, Debbie. "Zoom Sampletrak ST-224". Sound on Sound (January 1999).
  7. "Musikmesse 2016: Pioneer reveals TORAIZ SP-16 sampler, complete with Dave Smith analogue filters". Tech News. MusicRadar . Future Publishing. 2016-04-05.
  8. "Pioneer DJ revails debut analog synth, the TORAIZ AS-1 - Dave Smith & Pioneer DJ team up…". News. DJ Magazine . Thrust Publishing. 2017-01-19.