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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. …

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airamodular

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 …

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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 …

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aira-mod

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 …

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html5drummachine

808 Site Found: Five Drum Machines Now Live In Your Browser

It’s finally happened. The 808 is now a tab in your browser. And it’s brought friends. Sure, they’re called “hip hop, house, electro, techno, and acoustic” but – you’re not fooling anyone. (Least of all because some of those genres use the other machines.) That’s an acoustic kit, plus the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, Elektron Machinedrum, and Roger Linn’s Linndrum. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drum machines emulated in a browser. But coding for the rich Web, and browsers in general, have each gotten a lot better, so the experience has improved. And, crucially, this isn’t just a …

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Car Stereo Done Right: with a 303 and a 606 Playing Acid

Remember the days when we had “car phones” permanently mounted in our automobiles, and we listened to cassette tapes? Ha – how dated. Now, we do things properly: adding a Roland TR-606 and TB-303 to the dashboard so we can make acid while we drive. No, I’m not entirely certain you want your insurance company to know about this. (Even less so if they’re unfamiliar of the usage of the word “acid” in this context.) Via the Facebook page of muno.pl, the excellent Polish electronic music/club site. Totally obligatory: Update – there’s more!

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808movie

On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …

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ceephax2

Live Insanity: Ceephax Acid Crew [Video]

I had the craziest dream. Super vivid, and it just kept going. Seriously, like it seemed to last a decade. Instead of playing electronic music live on gear that made sounds, so you could keep track of what you were doing with physical buttons and switches and things, all the boys and girls were using laptops. But that wasn’t the weird part: what was strange was, people were just putting whole tracks on those computers. I know what you’re thinking – so they were DJing, right? But no! They were just playing tracks one after another all the same tempo. …

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Stereoping Adds Knobs, Programming to Vintage Gear Missing Them [Video]

The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work. The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather …

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Roland’s New AIRA Mixer is a Performance Tool For All Your Gear

So, now you’ve got a lot of hardware. You’ve moved beyond just a computer, and you’re back to the joy of making music with boxes with knobs and faders and keys. And you’re playing with them live. And maybe Roland’s AIRA had something to do with that, too. Now, how do you put them together? KORG’s SQ-1 step sequencer is one answer. And Roland has provided the next chapter to its AIRA hardware saga with a mixer, its sixth product in the AIRA line. But this isn’t just a way of connecting all the audio outputs from those devices – …

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