Comparing all the 303 recreations to each other and the original

Someday, I’ll realize my dream of gathering ethnomusicologists and neuroscientists and engineers and we can finally sit down and work out why it is that the 303 is so damned pleasing. In the meantime, we can obsess over the nuances of different 303 recreations. Kudos to ADSRsounds for putting that together. They not only compare the original Roland box to the new TB-03 and AIRA TB-3 renditions, but also the analog clone TT-303. These sorts of comparisons are ultimately subject to your own bias as you watch. But there’s still a lot to glean. The first video is interesting. The …

909day_ - 4

Watch these video reviews of 303, 909 and comparisons to originals

Now, with the embargo lifted on new Roland gear, brace yourself for a lot of discussion. On some level, any comparison of a $349-$399 new gadget to anything before it is a bit silly – when original 909s start selling for three figures, let us know. And I think starting with a direct comparison misses the point: the TR-909 and TB-303 sound terrific, and you’re unlikely to record or play either totally dry. (Classic records, uh, used processing too, ya know?) Relax and go enjoy a great drum machine and bassline.


Roland and Serato made a monster DJ controller that does everything

What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.


Roland is releasing 30+ new things on 909 – September 9

The next big Roland product unveiling isn’t at a trade show – it’s on the Internet. At a 24-hour streaming “online musical instruments festival,” the Japanese giant is promising a bunch of new stuff (30+). The date is an auspicious one for the company – September 9, or 909. And sure enough, they’re also calling it a celebration of 33 years of their legendary drum machine. In addition to the product unveilings, they’re live in a bunch of cities with artist performances and other events, too – LA, NYC, Toronto, Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, and here in Berlin, among others. …


These are the Best Things at Musikmesse: CDM Best of Show Awards

What a week it’s been. Musikmesse in Frankfurt, one of the world’s largest gatherings of the music instruments industry, was host to a range of new gear, new technologies, and new revelations. I decided it’s finally time to crown my own picks as the most significant appearances at the show. Not because I have any particular right to do so, but I felt strongly enough about who was deserving. First, some honorable mentions:


This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …


Roland AIRA Modular: Tabletop, Eurorack, Digital, Analog, Our Comprehensive Guide

This is how much the world has changed: we aren’t just talking the resurgent, enduring synthesizer. Nor are we talking about retro reissues. We aren’t even talking the return of analog control voltage. We’re uttering “Roland” and “Eurorack” in the same breath. Roland has taken the wraps off their AIRA modular plans, and they’re extensive. Make no mistake, this is still AIRA, and it’s still Roland – these are devices that look and sound like the AIRA series. That is an obvious point of differentiation for the boutique makers, the sometimes one-person manufacturers, and the uniqueness of what they produce. …


Roland Confirms AIRA Modular Next Week, Shows Revealing Picture

Roland apparently doesn’t want to leave too much to the imagination – or online leaks. Now, it’s official. Roland has posted a teaser image to their AIRA site. It’s marked with the catch phrase “Start Patching,” plus “Frankfurt Musikmesse 2015” (next week’s industry trade show here in Germany). So, we know a lot for sure now: It’s an AIRA product. It has patch cords. It’s modular. (The filename on Roland’s own site is “b_airamodular.jpg”) They’re doing a rack-mount SYSTEM-1. (That’s the AIRA SYSTEM-1 layout in the device on the top. It seems they’re breaking it out a bit like the …

The 100m is probably a more appropriate model for whatever is coming from Roland next, but check out the stunning industrial design on the original System 100. This might inspire a custom Eurorack cabinet with keyboard, or two. Photo (CC-BY Notreshuggie.

The Last Time Roland Did Modular: The System 100

With widespread reports that Roland will soon have a new modular product, it’s worth remembering: Roland has done modular before. That legacy carried the name System-100. The original 100 semi-modular lineup of the late 70s, and the Synthesizer-101, might actually be more relevant today than it was when it first shipped. The clever concept here was to put a full-featured monosynth with a keyboard at the center, then add modules around it. That seems to make loads of sense to me, as it creates a playable instrument that can nonetheless be patched for more creative sound design options. The full …


Roland Seems Poised to Enter Analog, Modular Worlds

Analog is back. Boutique synth makers have entered Eurorack, one by one (Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim). KORG has remade analog hits of yore, and now produces hardware like the SQ-1 sequencer that interfaces with analog gear. Arturia, once known only as a plug-in vendor, has analog Control Voltage ins and outs on its new hardware gear. Now, Roland seems next to climb on board the analog renaissance. The question is, just how far are they going to go? The answer should be coming in April at Musikmesse, and the first hint has just leaked out. Updated, April 8: we’ve received …