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Roland MKS-70 Repair

Roland MKS-70 repair at Plasma Music

Recently, this gorgeous vintage Roland MKS-70 synth module came in for repair.

The MKS-70 is basically the rack version of the Roland JX-10 keyboard synthesiser, which itself is essentially two JX-8Ps. Also known as the Super-JX, the JX-10 and the MKS-70 are famous even today for their rich, analogue tone and pristine sound quality. At this point I need to make something clear; the Super-JX is not actually 100% analogue unlike for example, one of it's well known predecessors, the MKS-80. The oscillators are in-fact, digital. So when I refer to 'analogue' tone, I'm referring to just that, the tone.

Check out more details and some sounds here and here.

Anyway, the customer said that it wasn't powering up properly with just a flash briefly appearing on the display and then nothing. Well, let's see if we can get this ol' girl singing again..

Apart from being a giant classic, the MKS-70 like the MKS-80, has hinged circuit boards which means that it opens up quite nicely. Having said that, if you need to get at the 'CPU' board (the service notes refer to this as the Assigner board, for some reason), you really do need to disconnect and remove the lower analogue voice board.

Checking voltages before anything else, I realised very quickly that I had a major problem. The voltages on the power supply were all about 25% more than what they should be. Eek! Hope no serious damage has been done.

I'll keep you posted on this fix but please bear in mind that I'm respecting the COVID-19 lock-down so it may be a while before I'm back.

UPDATE - 2nd April 2020

The power supply is a really clever and well thought out design for the time but I don't think the Roland R & D team had any idea that their machines would still be making music over thirty years after their conception. There's a small voltage monitor chip on the power supply which, when it fails, sends the +/-15 V rails to like +/-22 V. Unfortunately the +5 V rail for the digital stuff has a dependency on the +15 V rail so if that freaks out, then so does the +5 V supply.

I decided to change all the major components on the PSU including transistors, capacitors, bridge rectifiers and of course that frigin' voltage controller IC. Okay, so now power is good.

UPDATE - 14th April 2020

Well the voice-boards turned out to be fine but the CPU or assigner-board, was seriously not happy. The code was trying to run but not getting anywhere. This was going to be a hard fix. My worst fears an' all that...

I'll get back as soon as I get somewhere... or not 🙁