Beat Artillery – Ep.18 – Roland System-1

Hey everyone. Another installment of Beat Artillery is here. This time I’m talking about a new product which I’m not even sure has hit stores yet. It seems like this one has been delayed over and over again. But… it’s worth discussing because it’s got some intriguing technology in it.

A lot of fuss has been made about Roland’s recently release AIRA series hardware unit that models the original drum machines that the manufacturer is known for, the 808 and 909, the TR-8. Some people are hype on it, others not. I’ve never been into step sequencers… so it’s not even on my radar. But I do love me some synthesizers… so the Aira System-1 synth is worth looking into.

Roland are calling the System-1 a ‘Plug-Out’ synth, because it’s able to host the software synth outside your DAW on the unit, and even run them standalone. System-1 is basically a shell; it’s capable of hosting analog-modeled synths. This kind of sounds like Arturia’s Origin system, but at a much cheaper price point. (Supposedly System-1 will sell for $599 retail.)

What I do find interesting about this, is the expandability. Roland claims the System-1 will ship with its SH-101 emulation…. and that “more plug-out synths are on the way”. In all reality, they could come out with modeled versions of all their classic synths, including Junos, Jupiters, etc. I know a lot of these things are already available sampled and in modeled software synths, but what make it a bit more intriguing is the dedicated hardware control of the System-1… and that Roland would most likely automap all the controls to the hardware unit making it a much more ‘hands on’ approach to working with these classic sounds.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the System-1 and how well it sounds. The early demos sounded pretty rich in texture. Check the video below.

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