Sep 20

It looks like Roland’s secret is out as someone has accidently leaked details of three new (rather old) synths as small desk models:- The Roland JP-08 synthesizer module, the Roland JU-06 synthesizer module and the Roland JX-03 synthesizer module. Have a look here:-

roland-jp-08-module

roland-ju-06-module

roland-jx-03-module

All looking very colourful like the originals. I can’t help feeling Roland has done this to directly compete with Yamaha’s Reface series of Keyboards which are their reimagined interfaces of classic Yamaha keyboards. Personally I think it is great to see these classics from both Yamaha and Roland.

I am pleased that Roland do not have a small keybed attached to their modules, although you can get the K-25m keyboard unit if you wish. Instead of spending £2000 on one keyboard that does all we will all be buying 10 little synths at £300 each. Where do you put them all?

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Sep 15

roland-juno-ds-61-and-88

Roland have launched a new synth Roland Juno-DS which comes in two types the Juno-DS61 and the Juno-DS88. Are they just referbished Junos?

I do get annoyed with Roland when they bring out a new synth that has all of the sounds of the old synth. They also continue to make keyboards like their current range in cheaper and lightweight materials. Don’t get me wrong, we all want lightweight but can they stand up to the rigours of gigging. I suppose it just means you have to take greater care with them.

Roland are advertising these synths as feature packed performance that you can use anywhere and run from battery. They say that it comes with all of the sounds of the Juno-Di, but adds freshly updated pianos, electric pianos, organs and other essential sounds that all keyboard players need. I wonder how different these freshly updated sounds are?

They do however give you access to over 1000 free addition sounds by way download at Roland’s Axial website. Just download onto a USB stick. There are no sounds for the Roland Juno-DS at present as the keyboards have only just been released. It would be good to have some audition facility at this site to give you an idea of what the additional sounds sound like.

What is also new to these models is the capability to connect a microphone. You can then add reverbs,vocoder effects and auto-pitch to your voice, couple this with an eight-track pattern sequencer with non-stop recording and you have a great piece of kit for fast song creation. Not forgetting it also has a sample import function for playing user WAV files on the JUNO’s keyboard and eight Phrase Pads for triggering samples and audio songs stored on USB memory.

The 61 note keyboard has 61-note velocity-sensitive keyboard with synth action whilst the 88 note has an 88-note Ivory Feel-G Keyboard. Cost is approx £550 and £800. I think I will check these out.

L

Sep 14

I can’t help saying that I think the “Seaboard Rise” is such a silly name especially as it is a inovative new instrument (similar to a keyboard) that allows you to touch and shape your sound, opening endless possibilities of musical expression. Although they say it is futuristic, I am also not sure about it all black / grey looks but it is very portable to play where you want and has a superb interface with a pressure-sensitive, continuous surface.

The Seaboard RISE is the baby of the Seaboard GRAND which is a bit expensive for most of us but the Rise is a lot smaller with just 25 keywaves. What is a keywave you ask? Well I suppose it like a piano key but it allows you to play a lead guitar solo to produce the same guitar skills a guitarist would use with his guitar. You need to see the You Tube clip to fully understand what I am trying to say.

The expression on this keybed is fantastic as many artists like BT, Rudess and Zimmer are discovering. With pitch and pressure on each note, as well as positional data as to where you are on the key, its possible to play very expressive sounds modulating the character of sound in real time with simple movements of your finger. This seems right up Jordan Rudess’ street as Roli have made him Head of Music Experience.

What does it sound like? Well Seaboard RISE comes with Equator which is ROLI’s own software synth designed for Expressive MIDI instruments. ROLI state that “in Equator, the Seaboard RISE’s five primary dimensions of touch and gestural control – strike, press, glide, slide, and lift – are easily and independently mapped to a wide variety of sound parameters. Sliders on the left-hand control panel regulate the extent to which these parameters of gestural modulation are utilised, allowing the Seaboard RISE to behave like anything from a conventional keyboard controller – in easy-to-use “piano mode” – to a completely open-ended interactive surface”.

ROLI also say that it is a first. It is the first Expressive MIDI device to offer an easy-to-use multi-platform synth, the first with an integrated user control panel, and the first to perform wirelessly with an integrated battery and Bluetooth over MIDI. ROLI also believe that its retail price of $799 (£599) puts it within reach of beginners as well as studio professionals.

Seaboard RISE 25 Features

Seamless hardware-software integration
Beautifully crafted using premium materials
Sleek, intuitive design accessible to musicmakers of all technical levels
Completely wireless with MIDI over Bluetooth
Bundled with Equator, the world’s first purposebuilt, multidimensional software synthesiser

Seaboard RISE 25 Technical specifications

25 Keywaves
505 mm x 210 mm x 22.9 mm / 2.8 kg
(19.88 in x 8.27 in x 0.9 in / 6.17 lbs)
Continuous pedal input (1/4″ jack)
USB B port (MIDI out and power)
USB A port (for charging peripherals)
18 W
Internal battery with 12hour playability
Full MIDI compatibility over USB and Bluetooth

System Requirements

OS X 10.8+ / Windows 7+ / iOS 7+
Intel Core i5 2.5GHz or faster recommended
4 GB RAM minimum / 8 GB RAM recommended
2 GB available disk space for Equator installation
USB 2.0+ port for USB compatibility

I want one.