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 July for the SH-101 PLUG-OUT to ship.
CDM will have more on PLUG-OUT, ACB, and that SH-101 model soon – as I think the SH-101 is really the key to whether you’d have this synth.
In the meantime, though, the SYSTEM-1 is an ultra-slim, compact synthesizer with lots of hands on controls (though no velocity sensitivity). In fact, that contrasts with the TB-3, which, while it sports a really lovely touch-enabled sequencer, limits control over synthesis to broad-strokes.
The SYSTEM-1 enters some fiercely competitive waters for inexpensive synth hardware. But it also fits nicely with the rest of the AIRA line, and it’s earning no less attention, even if it doesn’t have the “look, I’m a new 808” draw of the TR-8. So, we’re pleased to offer a range of videos from around the world for your AIRA-gawking pleasure.
As usual, topping the bill are the intrepid lads of SonicState, out front with their hands-on review.
Markus Fuller hilariously takes the thing apart, to reveal the innards. No big surprises, but — yeah, FPGAs. (Very cool way of making hardware these days, and speeds up the development process.) He also does something really risky and unwise, and talks about the merits of digital versus analog. (ducks!)
Jim has a bit of a jam with one. As you’ll hear, it doesn’t really sound like an SH-101 out of the box – it’s a new synth. The good news is, quick access to preset slots for your own patches. And in keeping with the hardware workflow, he has a go of recording via the RC-300 BOSS LoopStation.
Of all the artist tracks, Nina Kraviz absolutely kills it, with a flight of acid-inflected techno. And she sings and breathes into the mic for extra bonus points.
More like what happens when
Nacho Marco has a go of his own track, re-instrumented for the synth. Hypnotic.
When unboxing causes you to trip out, psychedelic kaleidoscope style:
(What, that doesn’t happen to you?)
More my speed is this video, which is trance-tastic, especially with those lights. (Yeah, right now SYSTEM-1 is sounding very, very 90s to me.)
My favorite reviews really come in Japanese. I … can’t understand a word. But, you probably know exactly what’s going on. Comprehensive (and you hear a lot more of the raw sound of the thing):
One knob at a time seems to be the default way to review this stuff.
Lastly, while I hear AIRA also went to, um, Indiana, for retailer Sweetwater’s annual get-together, it was probably more fun to catch up with it at Detroit’s Movement Festival:
Finally, for the record:
You’re all pronouncing it wrong, fellow Westerners. (Except in Japan, where you have it exactly right.) My understanding is, it’s “Aye-Ra”, as in “aye aye, Captain,” not “error,” which is not a terrific name for a synth. Actually – scratch that. Error is a wonderful name for a synth, but it might need to be … glitchier.
It’s AYE – I – RA. Because it’s from Japan, and not England, and so that “AIR” isn’t pronounced “air.”
SYSTEM-1, meanwhile, sounds so much more awesome when mixed with Japanese. Nintendo DS + AIRA jam. Let’s make it happen.
Back in the world of English speakers, though:
Stay tuned for when SYSTEM-1 and the full AIRA quartet – plus that SH-101 – land here in Berlin.