Today saw the launch of the eagerly anticipated Roland Aira products - a range of synthesizer and electronic music tools based on Roland's vintage TR-808 and TR-909 groove machines, the TB-303 bass, with a vocal transformer and synth keyboard to complete the range. These have been the cause of much rumour and debate online over the past few weeks, so lets give you the official low down!
Arguably the most anticipated launch from the initial teaser video, Roland have incorporated the design and core features of the original TR-808 and TR-909 and rolled it into one tidy new drum sequencer, meticulously capturing every detail and nuance of the analogue circuitry of these legendary rhythm machines. 16 User Drum Kits and 16 patterns come out-the-box, whilst Tune and Decay knobs are now present on every instrument and the Bass and Snare drum modules have dedicated 'Attack' and 'Comp' knobs allowing for a great variety of tone shaping.
The TR-8 also utilises Roland's new 'Scatter' effect, which looks to be a pretty addictive and fun way to get some interesting delay and panned effects to your kits. Reverb and Delay FX are also built-in as standard, with a cool Side Chain feature to get that 'ducking' compression technique to energise your patterns. Plenty of hands-on sliders and knobs will ensure this is a rock-solid and ergonomic instrument to play on stage or in the studio.
PMT Price: £399
Based on the influential TB-303, which effectively transformed house and dance music in the 80s and 90s, the new TB-3 Touch Bassline is a performance-ready bass synth with authentic analogue sound and intuitive controls engineered to play like a traditional synth.
Utilising Analogue Circuit Behaviour (ACB) technology, Roland appear to have reproduced the Accent, Slide, and Step Sequencer behaviour of the TB-303, and brought the user interface and layout to the 21st Century making it far more playable and user-friendly. Smooth swipes of the X-Y touchscreen allow you to switch patterns, alter envelope modulation and decay and play the ribbon keys in real time. Also features an authentic -18dB/octave filter, Scatter effect and USB functionality.
PMT Price: £245
The VT-3 is a surprisingly affordable vocal effects unit, small enough to fit in a laptop sleeve or rucksack and powerful enough to turn you into Cher in a matter of seconds. Pitch correction, Formant shift, Robot-like Vocoder all come as standard, with interesting synth, lead and bass presets for the really creative among you.
Dedicated Reverb and Mix sliders allow you to get the perfect balance and atmosphere in a live gig and studio recording, and is perfectly simple and fun to use. At this price, we reckon these will be essential gigging gear everywhere we go this summer!
PMT Price: £159
In our opinion, we've saved the best till last here. The System 1 is an all-systems-go Synthesizer, with all the features you'd expect from a high-end modelling synth twice the price. LFO, modulation, envelope and oscillator buttons are packed on the front panel with backlit-green LED surrounds which looks absolutely stunning:
Perhaps even more impressively, it acts as a 'host' for Roland Plug-Ins without being connected to a computer - simply connect your unit via USB, configure your favourite patches into the keyboard and take it away to your gig as a standalone synth. A really unique pitch/scatter jogwheel to the left of the keybed gives your performance added twists too.
PMT Price: £495
Let us know your thoughts via Twitter and Facebook, or give your local Roland Planet representative a call today for further details or to place an order - Stock may be limited on these with a huge demand, so be quick, remember PMT will be first to get our grubby hands on them!