The Enhanced Power of the Roland SP-404 MKII: A Closer Look at the 2.0 Firmware Update

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Key Takeaways

– The SP-404 MKII is a popular sampler that has been further improved with the 2.0 firmware update.
– The update includes a new TR-style step sequencer, making it more suitable for genres like house and techno.
– Chromatic mode allows for recording melodies into patterns, with three different playback modes.
– The time stretching algorithm has been vastly improved, with two Variphrase modes for pitch shifting.
– Four new bus effects, a Harmonizer, and a second version of reverse playback have been added.
– The Skip Back feature allows for recalling audio from up to 40 seconds in the past.


The Roland SP-404 MKII has long been a favorite among musicians and producers for its unique sound and intuitive workflow. With the recent 2.0 firmware update, this already impressive sampler has become even more powerful and versatile. In this article, we will explore the new features and improvements that the update brings, with a particular focus on the enhanced time stretching capabilities. Whether you are a seasoned SP-404 user or new to the world of sampling, this article will provide you with valuable insights and information.

The New TR-Style Step Sequencer

One of the most exciting additions in the 2.0 firmware update is the new TR-style step sequencer. This feature brings the SP-404 MKII closer to the realm of drum machines, making it a great choice for genres like house and techno. The step sequencer allows for precise beat programming, with the ability to create patterns up to 64 bars in length. This opens up a world of possibilities for creating complex and evolving rhythms.

Chromatic Mode for Melodies

In addition to the new step sequencer, the 2.0 firmware update introduces chromatic mode for recording melodies into patterns. This feature is a game-changer for musicians who want to add melodic elements to their tracks using the SP-404 MKII. With three different playback modes to choose from, you have full control over how your recorded melodies are played back. Whether you prefer monophonic, polyphonic, or legato playback, the SP-404 MKII has got you covered.

Improved Time Stretching

One of the standout improvements in the 2.0 firmware update is the vastly improved time stretching algorithm. Time stretching allows you to change the tempo of a sample without affecting its pitch. With the new update, the SP-404 MKII offers two Variphrase modes for pitch shifting, giving you even more control over the sound of your samples. Whether you want to create smooth transitions or dramatic pitch shifts, the SP-404 MKII delivers exceptional results.

New Bus Effects and Reverse Playback

The 2.0 firmware update also brings four new bus effects to the SP-404 MKII. These effects, including a Harmonizer, add depth and character to your samples, allowing you to create unique and immersive soundscapes. Additionally, a second version of reverse playback has been added, giving you even more creative possibilities. With these new features, the SP-404 MKII becomes an even more powerful tool for sound manipulation and experimentation.

Recalling Audio with Skip Back

Another noteworthy feature in the 2.0 firmware update is the Skip Back function. This feature allows you to recall audio from up to 40 seconds in the past, giving you the ability to capture happy accidents and spontaneous moments of inspiration. Whether you want to bring back a snippet of a previous performance or create intricate layers of sound, the Skip Back feature adds a new dimension to your creative process.


The 2.0 firmware update for the Roland SP-404 MKII is a game-changer for musicians and producers. With the new TR-style step sequencer, chromatic mode for melodies, improved time stretching, new bus effects, and the Skip Back feature, the SP-404 MKII becomes an even more versatile and powerful tool for creating unique and captivating music. Whether you are a live performer, a studio producer, or an experimental artist, the SP-404 MKII with the 2.0 firmware update is sure to inspire and elevate your creative process.

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Written by Martin Cole

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