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Why Roland’s new 303 and 909 might even be better than the originals

One, two, three – Roland has finally made the 303 bassline, 909 drum machine, and VP-330 vocoder that so many people wanted. They’re small, they’re really affordable ($349-399), and they’ve got modern features. But after decades of remakes that strayed from the very things that made people love the originals, at last Roland has learned from their own legacy. So, let’s talk about what’s new and what, mercifully, isn’t.

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What to know about Roland’s mini, dockable “boutique” synths

Roland’s “Boutique” Synths are now here officially, after most of the details of these mini synths leaked out in advance of their launch. And we get a real look at this line of inexpensive, mini synths – three models, with an optional keyboard dock.

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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 …

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AIRA - maybe you'll just want to use it in the dark, or on a table designed by Stanley Kubrick.

Roland’s Four AIRA Instruments: Now We Know a Lot – Keyboard, Component Analog Modeling, Too

Roland’s AIRA will be public this month, and you can bet CDM will have all the details we can get from the company. But through its various teasers, the picture of AIRA is already pretty clear. The new line reflects a new approach for the company, one that would seem to show, paradoxically, both greater respect for the company’s legacy and greater interest in today’s tech tastes. And most importantly, Roland has revealed their approach to new component modeling of analog circuits. That may not please analog purists, but it could be a way to balance the versatility of digital …

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