Watch How Much Hardware You Can Jam With On a Budget

Who said electronic musical bliss required deep pockets? We’ve seen a steady flow of budget-minded gear over the last few years. What makes this equipment special isn’t just that it’s cheaper. It also has personality and produces distinctive sounds, loads of hands-on control, and fits compactly into carry-on luggage, meaning it’s a no-brainer on the road and in small live performance spaces. That’s encouraging more people to play live. MeeBlip owner Zachary Hollback sent over a video that sums up why this can be fun. This isn’t necessarily about inventing new kinds of music: it really is, in the mode …


What’s The Deal With This Leaked Roland Analog-Digital Hybrid Synth?

Synthesizers in the mass market are forever part of up and down swings – and we’re back in an up swing. At the same time as other musical instrument segments lag in sales, NAMM reports both more synths at their trade show and double-digit year-on-year sales growth. (In music, that’s just huge.) So, you can expect we’ll see a lot more synthesizer options. And the first of the 2015 products has already leaked out. As Synthtopia noted on Friday, Japanese artist Daisuke Asakura leaked a new Roland keyboard on Twitter, following a public performance on New Years’ Eve in Japan. …


Roland Digs Into Original 707, 727 to Expand AIRA

Because it’s packed with digital models rather than analog circuits, Roland’s AIRA TR-8 can be more than just a drum machine. It’s a platform for expansion. And today, as expected, Roland has gone further into their back catalog of genre-shaping drum sounds to expand on its hit TR-8. The 7X7-TR8 Drum Machine Expansion brings TR-707 and TR-727 sounds to the AIRA box and even builds on the 808 and 909 models included so far. The only bad news here is that it’s a paid update. What’s new: 30 original sounds from the TR-707 and TR-727 (by original, that means the …


Watch Elektron and Roland AIRA Sing, Live: Dark, Dubby Techno by Phelios [Video, Listen]

There was a time when “live” or live PA meant “I’ve hauled a bunch of gear to this gig and made a mess of cables and I’m going to improvise live for you.” Now, too often, it means “I’m going to DJ with Ableton Live instead of Traktor or CDJs.” Don’t get me wrong. It’s not so much about a laptop or hardware. But there is a spectrum – a useful spectrum, applicable to different artists at different times. And if you really want “live,” you want an artist who constructs music before your eyes out of building blocks. Electronic …

It covers just the basics, but sounds the business - and it's free with the SYSTEM-1. The SH-101 plug-in. (Yes, plug-in - we're not to the plug-out bit yet.)

Roland’s PLUG-OUT SH-101 Doesn’t Work in Many Hosts; What You Need to Know

Roland’s PLUG-OUT introduces a new way to deliver electronic musical instruments. You get a plug-in you run on your computer, but then the same sound-making code can be loaded onto hardware – the AIRA SYSTEM-1 synth keyboard. The good news is, the future-y stuff all works perfectly well. As we reported in our initial hands-on, when the installation works, you can use the software alone, the SYSTEM-1 alone, or a combination, which is a nice arrangement. The bad news is, the old-fashioned “install the plug-in and it works in your DAW” part? Well, for some – not so much. We’ve …


Hands-on: How the SH-101 Plug-Out for AIRA SYSTEM-1 Works – And Sounds

Somewhere, some editor has probably already written the headline “Turn On, Tune In, Plug-in, Plug-Out.” After all, back when Roland introduced the AIRAs, the reaction was something like this: “An 808/909 drum machine! A 303! And – some other things!” So, it fell to the SYSTEM-1 – a neon-green, slim-line keyboard synth – to make PLUG-OUT the big draw. You know, like “plug-in,” but … uh … out. The notion is this: load software models onto your computer, then copy that same model to the SYSTEM-1 hardware. While the keyboard is physically connected to your computer, the software makes it …


Roland AIRA Series, 1.10: Everything Gets Smarter, USB Backup and Restore

Roland has updated the firmware for the first full AIRA line (TR-8 drum machine, TB-3 bassline sequencer, VT-3 vocal processor, SYSTEM-1 synthesizer) today to version 1.10. There are no new sounds – in case you wanted, say, a 727 drum kit for your TR-8. But instead, the whole range gets USB backup and restore, and functionality around working with patterns and MIDI gets a whole lot smarter. This isn’t just a few fixes; it really does polish off the AIRA series and address a lot of the points I found a bit limiting using them some months ago. And just …


Roland’s SH-101 PLUG-OUT Integrates Hardware, Software, Looks Rather Convenient

Hardware makers have tried different ways of fusing those tools with software for years. Now, we get to see just how Roland’s PLUG-OUT scheme will work, as the company shows off the SH-101 plug-in for the AIRA SYSTEM-1 keyboard synth that just began shipping. The SH-101 PLUG-OUT ships on the 25th of July, available for free with purchase of a SYSTEM-1. And, just as I’m enthusiastic about Elektron’s direction this year with Overbridge, I have to say PLUG-OUT looks really convenient. The name might be a gimmick, and I don’t know that everyone will want to swap models regularly, but …


Roland AIRA SYSTEM-1 Synth Video Mega-Roundup; SH-101 Due July

It’s the fourth and final piece in the AIRA puzzle: Roland’s AIRA SYSTEM-1 has finally appeared in finished form in the last few weeks, and is starting to arrive in dealer and user hands around the world. Like the other AIRA models, the SYSTEM-1 is build around component modeling, new digital models of analog components. But whereas the TR-8 and TB-3 model the 808/909 and 303, respectively, the SYSTEM-1 initially ships with an all new synthesizer assembled from the sounds of its Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) models. For a Roland classic of yesteryear, we’ll be waiting until the end of …


Roland’s SH-101 Plug-out for AIRA SYSTEM-1, Premiering Thursday in UK?

If you’ve seen a review of Roland’s AIRA SYSTEM-1 synth – the keyboard and final member of the original AIRA quartet introduced earlier this year – it’s probably premature. Word from Roland is that the SYSTEM-1 is still not quite finished. We’ve played it in an earlier form at Musikmesse. But at that point, firmware was still not done, and the synth model was the onboard default for the SYSTEM-1. You can hear Roland’s AIRA component modeling applied to a synth, and indeed, the SYSTEM-1 itself is straight out of the box a new, if fairly conventional, synthesizer. Part of …