Roland SYSTEM-500 Analog Modular Synths Finally Released!


After being first showcased at Musikmesse in Frankfurt back in April, the new Roland System-500 Analog Synth Modules have finally been released. Here's all the info you need to know about what could be one of the most exciting releases this year...

Roland System 500 Back to the future: Roland System-500 modules are coming...

The new Roland System-500 modules are one of the most eagerly awaited releases of 2015, and are set to be a major success in 2016! Why? After the well-documented revival of analog synths, going full-on modular is something many synth enthusiasts really wanted. And Roland are delivering more than what we could've hoped...


Roland enlisted the help from Malekko to develop the SYSTEM-500, an all-new, fully analog modular synthesizer based on two of the most revered electronic instruments of all time—the SYSTEM-700 and SYSTEM-100m. Designed exclusively for Eurorack, the SYSTEM-500 delivers classic Roland sound with all the advantages and reliability of a modern instrument.

Roland has a long tradition in analog synths, and their current range is unique in capturing the sound and flavour of vintage tones, but without nostalgia: the AIRA series, JD-XA, JD-XI and, more recently, the Roland Boutique synths, are all designed very much with the modern musician in mind. Roland doesn't want to just copy  the past - but to learn from it, improve and create something new!

With this  in mind, the new System-500 are much more compact than analog synth modules from the past - which, let's be honest, is much more suitable to most of us! And one thing is for sure - they sound massive! Here's an early demo from Musikmesse:

SYSTEM-500 delivers the classic character and functionality of the original with the advantages of a modern instrument. Built in the USA and assembled in Japan, the SYSTEM-500 is made to exacting standards with top-quality components and solid controls. And it’s surprisingly affordable, turning the fantasy of finally owning this legendary instrument into reality.

Here's all you need to know about the new modules...

System 512 Dual VCO

Roland System 512 Modular VCO

The 512 Dual VCO (voltage controlled oscillator)  is a single module consisting of two voltage controlled oscillators. Each independent VCO produces frequencies across a wide range with 1V/octave tracking and dedicated pulse, triangle, and saw wave outputs. Variable pulse width is available via panel control or CV modulation. Each oscillator’s frequency can also be synchronized to the other in weak or strong modes to achieve a unique “sync” sound.

System 521 Dual VCF

Roland System 521 Dual VCF

The 521 Dual VCF (voltage controlled filter) module features two separate low pass filters for modifying the timbre of audio sources. Each filter has its own dedicated controls for frequency cutoff, resonance, and a fixed high pass filter with two switchable cutoff points. Audio and CV input mixers on each channel allow the blending of multiple audio signals and modulation sources.

System 530 Dual VCA

Roland 530 Dual VCA

The 530 Dual VCA (voltage controlled Amplifier) features two independent voltage controlled amplifiers for controlling the loudness of audio signals. Each VCA has three sliders for an audio input mixer, three sliders to mix CV inputs, and a selector switch for linear or exponential response modes.

System 540 Dual Envelope Generator + LFO

540 Dual Envelope Generator + LFO

The 540 Dual Envelope Generator and LFO (low frequency oscillator) is a multi-purpose modulation source. This unit features two independent ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) envelope sections that produce variable voltages for controlling other Eurorack format synthesizer modules such as oscillators, filters, and VCAs. Each section can be triggered externally, internally, or manually with dedicated jacks for each envelope, as well as an inverted output.

Additionally, the 540 includes a voltage controlled LFO with 5 waveform outputs. Front panel controls adjust both frequency and delay time of the LFO start. Delay and reset can be triggered from either envelope 1 or 2.

System 572 Phase Shifter + Delay + LFO

572 Phase Shifter + Delay + LFO

The 572 Phase Shifter, Delay and LFO is a time-based, multi-effects module. The 572 includes a five-stage phase shifter, analog audio delay, a control voltage gate delay, and an LFO. The phase shifter has panel controls for shift frequency and resonance amount that can vary from subtle to a deep, lush analog effect. Similarly, the audio delay has independent knob control of delay time and resonance (or feedback) for short chorus-like modulation delays. Both the phase shifter and delay can be modulated by the 572’s internal LFO or external CV signals and feature wet/dry effects mix controllable via the front panel or with CV.

The LFO section has a knob for controlling frequency and features both normal and inverted output jacks. The gate delay has knobs to control threshold, delay time, and gate time for modifying incoming gate signals from other modules.

They all sound amazing... which one is your favourite?


Roland synths

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