The MFB 522 Drum Machine

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This is a quick video demo of the MFB 522 Drum Machine.

Description:

MFB-522 is a drum computer with a fully analogue sound engine that offers plenty of editing capabilities. It includes a step-sequencer with popular TR-style running-light-programming. Memory locations are available for 72 patterns as well as for 8 songs.

MSRP: 280,- Euro

Product details at the MFB site.

If you’ve used the MFB 522 Drum Machine, leave a comment with your thoughts/ratings!

Available edit controls:

  • Bass drum [Decay, Tune, Tone, Level]
    The bass drum can be programmed in two different lengths per pattern. It also offers and individual output.
  • Snare drum [Noise, Tone, Level] – Rimshot [Level]
    Snare drum and rimshot cannot be played simultaneously. However, they can be used in the same pattern. Both instruments share the same individual output.
  • Clap [Attack, Filter, Decay, Level]
    The parameters allow setting the width and fullness of the clap sound. This sound also has its proprietary individual output.
  • Tom/Conga [Tune, Decay, Level]
    This sound source can be switched between Tom and Conga instruments. Sounds programming allows setting of three different pitches.
  • Cowbell [Tune, Decay, Level] – Clave [Level]
    Tune for Cowbell controls a detune-effect, while the pitch is set commonly with Cymbal and Hihat. Cowbell and Clave cannot be played simultaneously. However, they can be used in the same pattern.
  • Cymbal [Tone, Decay, Level]
    Tune sets the pitch for Cymbal, Cowbell and Hihat
  • Open/Closed Hihat [Decay, Level]
    Open and Closed Hihat cannot be played simultaneously. However, they can be used in the same pattern. This sound source offers and individual output.

The step-sequencer allows programming of 72 basic patterns plus 72 fill-ins. The latter being associated to the basic pattern memory location, resulting in a two-bar-pattern when using the fill-in. Patterns can be combined to eight songs that each hold a user-definable sequence of up to 64 patterns. In addition to the instruments, a global accent-track is available. When set, the corresponding step will be played with a higher or lower volume-setting in comparison to the standard level. The MFB-522’s sequencer offers three different steps of shuffling. A stereo output will carry all instruments minus those where individual outputs are in use (bass drum, snare drum/rimshot, claps and Hihat). Using the MIDI-In, drum-sounds can be played with a keyboard or external sequencer. Here, the sound sources act velocity sensitive. Finally, MFB-522 can be synchronized to incoming MIDI-clock.

The MFB-522’s dimensions are: 175 x 125 x 38/72 mm. The unit ships with a 12 volts power-supply.


17 thoughts on “The MFB 522 Drum Machine

  1. They need to add FM as a feature in analog drum machines to make them sound just a little bit more realistic ! .
    Great price , the built in quality is preety flimsy .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. cheap build, but excellent sound and superb customer support, and very good user interface, and correct me if I'm wrong, but who else makes an analogue drum at this price thats sounds this good……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. I think my clave/cowbell reacts the same way to the d-tune pot. I was also thinking that the clave track itself is unusually quiet compared to the other tracks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Beginner's question: I tried to sync this thing to the midi clock of my Sp-555 sampler, but besides the clock, it also syncs activation of drum sounds. I know this is the purpose of midi and what many people prefer, but is there a setting that will just take in the midi clock and ignore the rest?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. I have a similar issue…I really like the 522 sounds but hate that you can't set precise BPM tempo on it. I have an SP-404SX sampler and that doens't seem to do the trick.

    I'm thinking about getting a Yamaha Rm1X sequencer to run the 522 but would love to find another way to control the 522 tempo.

    There's a free MIDI clock generator app on the internet but that would require using a computer to set the 522's tempo and I'm trying to avoid using a computer in my rig.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. I have a similar issue…I really like the 522 sounds but hate that you can't set precise BPM tempo on it. I have an SP-404SX sampler and that doens't seem to do the trick.

    I'm thinking about getting a Yamaha Rm1X sequencer to run the 522 but would love to find another way to control the 522 tempo.

    There's a free MIDI clock generator app on the internet but that would require using a computer to set the 522's tempo and I'm trying to avoid using a computer in my rig.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. hey gp,
    i have the same problem.. try control the 522 with my kaoss pad 3 but it wont work :(
    i think the problem is, that it gives the tempo but no start signal…
    what do u think?

    +++T

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Have you checked the midi channel of sp-555? I don't know about that machine… In theory, if you switch midi channel of the 522, it should only respond to clock signal and not notes. I have yet to hook my 522 up and try this though… manual says:

    Setting the MIDI-Channel To set the MFB-522’s MIDI-channel press and hold Shift and Fill. Now, select the channel using the Tempo knob. The selected channel is indicated by the LEDs 1-16. Store the channel by releasing Shift and Fill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Just got one yesterday, and so far am very happy with it.

    SO what's the verdict? If you buy one hoping to fool listeners into thinking you are using an 808, you might be let down. Indeed, there are many similarities between this machine and the 808, but I doubt that the 522 was made with the sole intent of being an 808 clone. Having said that, the sound of the 522 is arguably close to that of the 808, and the sounds themselves are really quite good, but purists may quickly jump on the noticeable differences.

    How does the 522 stack up against an 808?

    As far as programming goes, the 522 only uses step programming, no taps. For those who have used any of the TR series this should not be a problem.

    Physical differences from the 808: On the 522 there is no A/AB/B switch, no tap switch, no pattern write knob, no pattern clear button, no instrument select knob, no fine tempo knob, and no master volume knob.

    Sound editing options are also different, with the 522 having more than the 808. The Bass drum has tune in addition to tone and decay. The Clap has attack, filter and decay. The Cowbell has tune and decay. The Cymbal has tune in addition to tone and decay. Also, it is possible to use two variations of both the Bass drum and Clap within a pattern: a fixed, short decay version, and a user-definable version (current knob settings). Another significant difference is that it is not possible to use the snare and rimshot together on the same note. (I just noticed that most of the things I am writing about here have been mentioned in the original post… oops)

    The 808 has individual outputs for each instrument. The 522 has a stereo out, individual outs for Bass drum, Clap and Hihat, and a stereo out (if individual outs are used, those instruments are removed from the main stereo out). Also, the outs on the 522 are all 1/8" (mini-jack), and the knobs and buttons are quite tiny and close together, but given its very petite size, this is perhaps to be expected.

    Differences aside… This is a very cool, very analog drum machine, with good, editable sounds. It has its own character, although it does sound similar to the 808. Being able to sync to external midi clock, and also be used as a sound module are excellent features. If you want to add a true analog drum machine to your set up, you could do far worse than to go with a 522. And for the price, it can't be beat.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. Hi, does anyone know the polarity of the tip for the adapter plug? (negative or positive). It doesn't say in the manuel. thx for any help…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. hi, how can i buy from miami? because it is not in ebay or analogueheaven,,,,it is in thomann (europe) but it is so expensive because of the taxes
    thanks

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  12. here is the early stage of my mod to make a MFB-522 Drumcomputer drum machine into a more decent sized unit. I decided to add some mods at the same time whilst putting it into a bigger XoxBox sized case, including Kik Drive, Snare length, individual tune and levels of the snare tones and hi pass filters, a second type of clap Bitcrush on the hats etc. Bigger LEDs, 6.5mill jacks, a separate button for all the functions that normally require the Shift Key etc. Early days but coming together…an aluminium silkscreen and some more logic electronics and i will turn this into the puppy that MFB should have made this into in the first place! will post updates…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

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