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 …

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’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 …


Roland AIRA Are Here – Synth, Bassline, Drum Machine, Vocal FX – Details, In Depth

It’s official: Roland’s much-teased line of four new products called AIRA are here. And they appear to represent a new course for Roland. They’re affordable and accessible in a way that we haven’t seen in recent products. But they’re also simultaneously closer to the sound of beloved vintage gear as they are more modern in taste and presentation. Let’s get right to it. CDM got to speak to Roland prior to today’s announcement to get the details. And we’ll have more insight soon into the design process and approach to modeling. But let’s cover the basics. This is component-modeled analog. …