Roland’s Verselab MV-1 could be a worthy competitor to MPC and Maschine

By merging an 808-style sequencer, a 4×4 pad grid, and ZEN-Core sounds, Roland’s created a unique groovebox for beatmakers.

Roland Verselab MV-1

Renowned music technology brand Roland has released the Verselab MV-1, an all-in-one music production tool that packs in 3,000 ZEN-Core sounds, mixing and mastering effects, an intriguing vocal processor and much more.

The Verselab MV-1 seems primed for beatmakers crafting hip-hop, trap and other beat-based genres. Roland’s combined its familiar TR-SEC step sequencer, famously found in the TR-808 and TR-909, with a 4×4 pad grid, similar to Akai MPC and Native Instruments Maschine. This should give beatmakers an approachable workflow for finger-drumming and sequencing.

Roland’s hoping that the Verselab will be your workstation in the creation of an entire song. You can create Sections, each with their own sequence of notes and instrumentation, to then link together in Song Mode.

There are four tracks for drums, with one each for kick, snare and hi-hats and one for the entire drum kit. Melodic parts are created with two instrument tracks, plus a dedicated track for bass instruments. This is where Roland’s ZEN-Core comes into play, giving you a wealth of sounds from classic Roland instruments to include in your track. You can play using the sequencer and pad grid, or hook up a controller with MIDI In and Out connectors.

Roland Verselab MV-1
Roland’s Verselab MV-1 hooks up to the Roland Zenbeats mobile app.

Verselab’s vocal track is sure to inspire vocalists and let them flex their creative muscles. The vocal processor lets you apply standard effects like reverbs and compression, but boasts effects such as a harmoniser, auto-pitch and a Doubler. An XLR input lets you easily hook up a mic straight away.

Mixing mode features EQ, panning and level to fine-tune your sounds. Mastering effects include a multi-band compressor, 5-band EQ and limiter. We’d be keen to see how flexible and professional these effects are on a track.

The Verselab sports an LCD screen to check on parameter values and navigate around tracks and effects. This is where Roland might need to catch up with Akai and Native Instruments. It’s doubtful that as much can be achieved with such a small screen when compared to the stunning seven-inch display of the MPC One, which gives you useful visual feedback on an entire project. That said, we hope to fully explore the Verselab’s pros and cons in an upcoming review.

It’s an interesting new product from Roland and, at a price of $700, it might give beatmakers an affordable alternative to grooveboxes and samplers already on the market. Especially when you consider that the Verselab has a built-in battery for portability and communicates with Rolands Zenbeats app. The TR-SEC sequencer is a nice touch, too.

Roland’s Verselab MV-1 will be available this month for $700. Find out more at roland.com.

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