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Roland adds modular options to its AIRA synths

Billy Steele
04.15.15
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Just over a year ago, Roland unveiled its successor to the iconic 808 and 909 instruments that have a firm grasp on the modern music landscape. That drum machine, the TR-8, was part of a new AIRA line with the System-1 synthesizer, TB-3 bass synth and VT-3 vocal processor. At this year's Musikmesse in Frankfurt, the company revealed the AIRA Modular: a standalone instrument that can be paired with a handful of external effects or other audio gear. What's more, it's designed to be rackmounted or used at your desk, either with all four of the aforementioned add-ons or one or two at the time. While last year's System-1 offer a more traditional keyboard-driven approach, the AIRA Modular's centerpiece is the System-1m. The unit features Control Voltage (CV) and Gate control needed to produce a range of sounds and plug-out ability allows the System-1m to be used with other classics, like the SH-101 and PROMARS. On board, the modular synth packs in tone, crusher, reverb and delay effects alongside MIDI and LED-lit controls and inputs.

Gallery: Roland AIRA Modular synthesizer | 16 Photos

As far as those additional effects are concerned, there are distortion (Torcido), delay (Demora), scatter (Scooper) and crusher (Bitrazer) options to expand the sonic abilities of the main System-1m rig. Like that instrument, these can either be placed in a rack setup or used tabletop, and their large controls handle "16 million steps of resolution." In other words, 24-bit audio. These external effects are also programmable via computer, smartphone or tablet, with audio input/output and CV/Gate inputs for patching on the front panel until you hit the sound you're after. They're also capable of being used individually, without the need for the full rig to employ them.

Unfortunately, there's no word on pricing or availability just yet. However, Roland did announce that it's working on another modular unit: the fully analog System-500. That'll be another revival of sorts as it's based on the System-700 and System-500. "The SYSTEM-500 delivers classic Roland sound with all the advantages and reliability of a modern instrument," the press release explains. Details are scarce for now, but we're sure to hear more in the months to come.

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