I asked Roland if you can plug the Boss RC505 Loopstation into the USB inputs of the Roland MX1 Mix Performer. The answer was “unfortunately no”, but they are wrong, it works!
The Roland MX1 Mix performer has 4 USB inputs, designed for the Aira series, so you can have audio and MIDI input and output with just one cable. I wanted to use one of these inputs for Roland’s desktop looping machine, the BOSS RC505 Loopstation, so I could ditch the laptop and do a whole set computer free, and improvise electronic music on the fly. I was disappointed to hear that despite Roland making both bits of gear (BOSS is a Roland company), that the USBs were not compatible. Then I found a reference in Italian on a website from someone who seemed to be using this kind of connection. I couldn’t get anyone to say it would work, but bought the gear anyway, thinking I could use analogue connections if needs be, but hoping randomly that when I plugged the USB in it would work. I rang Roland support and they told me quite clearly that this would not work. No.
I now have the two pieces of equipment, and I plugged them in, AND THEY WORKED!!! Sort of….
I connected the USB and set USB to Audio and MIDI. Audio out of the RC505 will flow into the Roland MX1, I had it on USB channel 4. And the factory demo built into the RC505 appeared in the MX1 and played sound. Yippie!! Success I though. I then pressed play on the MX1, expecting everything to sync in time, I had a Roland drum machine, a TR8 on USB channel 1. No, that didn’t work. Drat and double drat, so I can’t sync the two. However when I connected a midi cable from the MX1 to the RC505 it jumped into time and synced nicely.
I then tried to record a loop on the RC505 from the drum machine. Nothing. And I was using the auxiliary send on the MX1 to send sound to a RE20 tape delay pedal. Still, I was doing this in stereo, I figured this could be in mono, and I could use one channel of the auxiliary send to the RE20 and one to the RC505, using the aux send from the MX1 and the input to the RC505. This worked fine, although it does generate a bit of noise. I do wish the USB input worked, as I would be noise free, but at least it is possible.
I had to turn off the function that outputs the input to the RC505 to its output, but that was not really a problem. Within 30 minutes I had worked it all out and had pretty much worked out the Loopstation, which is incredibly easy to use.
I used midi to clock the RC505, and the output from the Roland TR8, which is connected via USB, clocked the Volca via MIDI. I used minijack clock cables to clock the other two Volcas to the first one. The TB3 is connected via USB. Before I got the MX1 I couldn’t get the TB3 and TR8 to synchronise, now they play nicely with each other, everything syncs up well.
Conclusions? A USB connection out of the BOSS RC505 into the Roland MX1 Mix Performer will output sound from the RC505 into the MX1. You will need to use MIDI to sync the two together. You cannot send MIDI or audio from the MX1 to the RC505 as far as I can tell. I suppose because you need a driver. I will contact Roland and try to convince them to make it work in future upgrades.
The MX1 manual says “Do not connect any other USB devices to the MX1 USB input”, and I have to say I offer only evidence that this has so far worked for me, there is no guarantee it won’t blow up your valuable equipment. But so far, it seems to me that Roland are being somewhat risk averse, and I am pleased to say these two pieces of kit work for me. Could the future of mixers be USB connections on everyone No more multiple sockets,
So come on Roland, sort out your digital interfacing, get your gear to talk to each other.