Elite MC2200 (digital squarewave keyboard with many demo melodies + cheesy accompaniments)
(picture taken from eBay, showing my specimen)

This is another oddity in the bizarre world of "MC" keyboards. Although this 49 midsize keys tablehooter looks very much like a real modern sound bank instrument and even selects all functions by typing numbers and pressing "enter", it is rather a toy than a serious instrument because its main voice has only 1 or 2 note polyphony with only 8 different sounds (squarewave, resembling Letron MC-3). But in spite of this it features key split, programmable drum pattern and a variety of 32 trashy rhythms made of 3 low- res samples with street- organ- like tooting squarewave accompaniment. A highlight of this thing is that it includes a song bank with 32(!) different demo melodies arranged in a simple Commodore C64 home computer style, which makes of it an interesting find for a squarewave lover.

(Note: This keyboard sounds nice, but don't buy one of these so far your only intention is to get a keyboard with faithfully imitated natural instrument sounds. Remember, this is a squarewave instrument and though many of its sounds sound not even remotely like what is written on its buttons, though bought with wrong expectation it may disappoint you.)

main features:


The "violin", "clarinet", "cowbell" and "oboe" sound contain squarewave vibrato. The "mandolin" is ringing. The "clarinet" is harsher than "oboe" (possibly the manufacturer confused both). The "cowbell" is rather a high pitched vibraphone with long decay envelope and resembles the famous "fantasy" sound of a Casio VL-Tone 1. By unknown reasons the "mandolin", "xylophone" and "cowbell" are only monophonic, which is quite annoying, but even with 2 note polyphonic sounds often 1 note mutes the other during fast play when there are too short or missing pauses between key presses. With the key split presets there is always one of the above sounds assigned to the accompaniment section and another to the melody section of the keyboard. Both sections here are always monophonic and can be played together (without flaws during fast play).

The monophonic rhythms consist of 3 low- res percussion samples with audible start and end click, which gives them a fat and bassy, trashy timbre and is well suited to synchronize brain waves for meditative musics. The single finger accompaniment seems to play only 2 note polyphonic plain squarewave organ tones those alternatingly play duet and bass notes (i.e. no real 3 note polyphonic chords). It knows only 3 standard chords and with accompaniment only monophonic main voice play is possible, but at least it recognizes chord changes reasonable fast. The accompaniments have a cute and cheesy orchestrion or fairground organ appeal and the 32 available styles also include many unusual patterns beyond waltz and tango.

With the "custom drummer" a user rhythm pattern can be programmed step by step to any of the given accompaniments. This can even be done while the rhythm is playing, but every button press always makes a blip noise, which limits its use as a realtime drum computer. Strange is that the button press blip seems to use an own squarewave tone channel that works independently from the very limited (3 notes?) polyphony of the rest. Strange is also that the drumpads show instead of {base, woodblock, snare} icons for {base, snare, cymbal}; possibly initially a different rhythm IC was planned.

The blue synthetic rubber drumpads have a weak but disgustingly sweetish lemon smell (like a scented WC disinfectant) that slightly sticks to the fingers after play. (Also certain plastic hot water bottles stink this way, thus it may be a citrate plasticizer.) I also miss a separate rhythm volume control, but this can be certainly upgraded easily. (I haven't examined this hardware closer yet.)

The instrument has a library of 32 demo melodies in minimalistic but nice C64 squarewave sound:

  1. Camptown Races
  2. Brother John
  3. Rain And Tear
  4. My Cup Runneth Over
  5. The Old Folks At Home
  6. House Of Rising Sun
  7. A Little Brown Jug
  8. Silent Night
  9. Jingle Bells
  10. Happy Birthday
  11. Die Lorelei
  12. Five Hundred Miles [also demo of Letron MC-3]
  13. When The Saints Go Marching In
  14. Brahms Lullaby
  15. Michael Row The Boat Ashore
  16. Oh! Susanna
  17. Love Song Of Kangting
  18. Rowing
  19. O. Du Lieber Augustin
  20. Umterlanders Heimweh
  21. Seagull [nice tune!]
  22. Joy To The World
  23. Red River Valley
  24. Auld Land Syne
  25. My Bonnie
  26. Jambalaya
  27. London Bridge Is Falling Down
  28. Mary Had a Little Lamb
  29. Ode To Joy
  30. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  31. Night Of Shanghai
  32. Labamda [should be Lambada]
These demo melodies play in a loop and cycle through all available sounds. Each demo includes a matching rhythm and initial sound, but they only use a monophonic main voice with standard accompaniment. In spite of this I like many of them. I guess that these musics could be also arranged on a C64 or simpler 8 bit homecomputers, since they use only 3 squarewave voices and coarse sample drums. These tunes also include the German folk song "Unterlanders Heimweh" (misspelled "UNTERLANDERS AEIMWEH"), but this tune sounds very different from the wonderful music called "Unterlanders Heimweh" on the ROM-Pack RO-551 (which corresponds to the famous demo of Casio VL-Tone 1) and instead corresponds to the Casio MT-36 demo, which sounds just like a rural folk waltz and resembles a bit "Little Brown Jug". (Read more about the unofficial Casio anthem "Unterlanders Heimweh" here.)  Also some other melody names are written in badly misspelled "Engrish". The Melody "Five Hundred Miles" is also (in a better arranged version) the demo of the MC-3 hardware class. Particularly I like the melody "Seagull" - a nice melancholic waltz tune.

The Elite MC2200 was also released as "Pan Toys MC-2200", "Karcher F4" and "Tristar MC2200". Regarding the CPU type label, also a variant called "MC-22" may exist, which appears to be the genuine name of this hardware class. Possibly this hardware was a successor of the MC-2 hardware class, which was also only 2 note polyphonic with 3 drumpads and simple accompaniment and both even feature the combined tempo/ power LED. A technically very similar instrument is the mini keyboard Bontempi ES3000.

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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