Sep 12

Amongst the new recent products released by Roland, I couldn’t help but notice a colourful green synth from their AIRA range – the new System 8. This is the second Plug-Out synth from Roland that features their Analogue Circuit Behaviour Technology (ACB) to create a wealth of sounds. Have a listen to the great Scott Tibbs at Kraft Music demo the System 8 in the Youtube clip above.

The System 8 however, can control up to three Plug-Out software synths. Two of which are included in the price. One of which is the Jupiter 8 and the other which will not be available until Spring 2017 is the Juno 106 Plug-Out. This will leave a space for a future Plug-Out synth that they may release or one of their existing ones already available such as the SH-01 or SH2. You should note that the Plug-Out synths are separate from the internal engine. These plug-outs of these classic synths have been recreated with all their analogue character using ACB.

The Roland System 8 has a 49 note velocity sensitive key-bed, 8 voice polyphony, three powerful oscillators, powerful hi-res filters, very versatile LFOs, a built-in vocoder, an arpeggiator, polyphonic chord memory functions, CV/GATE outputs, a large selection of great effects, and it can be used as a USB/MIDI interface for easy integration with your DAW – all sounds good to me. But, how much does it cost I hear you say?. Unfortunately, this will set you back £1239.00.

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Sep 10


At last, Roland after all these years, have upgraded the TD-30 drum Brain to the TD-50. It has been a while and I wasn’t sure if they ever were going to do it. Their 909 day although I am sure has been a great success took a little flak from the people who commented on this on-line. One of the main comments was their ability to market and recycle all that they have done in the past and this is definitely true. Although, we all love the sounds of the 808 and 909, it makes me wonder when they are going to invent something new. That said, I am all for improvements and if Roland can build something further on the Roland TD30 by way of the TD-50 then I will be very pleased that it exists in this world. However at a cost of £1939 for the TD-50 module or £6599 for the TD-50KV kit, we are talking some serious money. The smaller TD-50K is £4129 which makes me think that the TD-50 module is over-priced being half the price of the whole kit. I think £1400 – £1500 is more realistic.

I sincerely hope that we don’t hear their repetitive saying that “it has been built from the ground up”, because it clearly has not. It has been built up from its predecessors the TD7, TD-10, TD20 and TD30 but yes it will without a doubt be their Flagship V-Drum sound module. At this stage it is hard to properly comment on how it sounds and feels and to do any comparison with the TD-30 but the most obvious advantage I can see is the ability to play your own samples via an SD card. I never understood why this was not on the TD-30 as it was crying out for it.

Roland’s information on the SD card tell us that it’s easy to trigger your own WAV files using any of the TD-50’s drum pads, and you can loop or layer them alongside the internal sounds while controlling volume and tone via the TD-50’s front panel. There’s even a choice of audio sampling formats: 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and the standard 44.1kHz – all sounds great to me.

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Aug 19

Here is something that caught my eye, not because it is a Roland / Boss product but simply because of what the person is doing with it. Watch Youngr in the youtube clip above. I know this sort of thing has been done before but he really demonstrates a variety of skills with using technology, playing various instruments and singing – great stuff.

The Boss RC-202 is a tiny but powerful little unit that I am sure will be great for club performers, electronic musicians and beatboxers. It is based on their RC-505 Loop Station which everyone loved but whilst it is just a two-track it does have a whole load of new features. Four Input FX and four Track FX are available at once, and loops can be saved to memories in real time. It is therefore ideal for looping musicians who have their hands occupied with guitar, keyboards, and other instruments like Youngr on the youtube clip.

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Jun 12


What did you think of the new deal from Roland Cakewalk for Sonar? Yes, lifetime monthly updates for a one-off payment (Sonar4Life). This really surprised me as I thought the idea was for them to keep receiving payments every year from us so that they could use this for development costs.

I suppose I won’t have to think about finding another £100 for next year’s updates or indeed any further years and I suppose this does keep me loyal to Cakewalk and not consider going over to Pro Tools for example.

The Monthly updates have been great and provides you with something to look forward to each month, something to learn and greater stability with your product with improvements and bug fixes. It is therefore really worth the money.

I think priorities for me are less CPU drain when using plugins. The better this is the more plugins you can use without it falling over.

Carry on the good work Cakewalk – I wonder what next month will bring?

Jan 21

Namm 2016 and Roland release the new EC-10 Electronic Layered Cajon. Have a look at youtube clip above and you will hear it performed by the very beautiful Professional percussionist, Heidi Joubert.

The new Roland EC-10 EL Cajon is the first of its kind. It is an acoustic cajon but it can be with layered with electronic sounds. These range from electronic drum sounds to more traditional acoustic percussion sounds as well as FX. It is the same size as a standard cajon (50 x 30 x 30 cm) and the playing surface is made of sapele wood.

It has 30 built-in electronic kits for layering with acoustic cajon sounds and each kit includes two independent sounds that can be triggered from the head and edge of the playing surface. It also includes studio-optimized cajon sounds to enhance the instrument’s acoustic sound, providing additional depth and punch.

It comes with an Integrated amplifier and coaxial speaker and runs on AA-size batteries providing you with up to 12 hours of continuous playing time or an AC adaptor (DC 5.7 V).

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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:-




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 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.


Jan 24

NAMM 2015: Roland Unleash the JD-Xi Compact Crossover Synth

This is a lovely looking synth, the only thing I hate is 37 mini keys – great if you are a child. I don’t understand why they could not make it like the Roland SH-01. Admittedly it would be more square-shaped but at least it would be nicer to play. Actually looking at this a bit further, this would make a great rack unit. I know many companies seem to not be making rack units anymore, but it is a real shame, especially as if it was rack you could have it right in front of you to connect up to you favorite keybed like my Fantom G 88. Come on Roland make this little beauty into a rack unit as there is a limit to the amount of keyboards one can own.

However, also in the news but not for release yet is it’s bigger brother the Roland’s flagship’ JD-Xa Analog/Digital Crossover Synthesizer also on preview at the 2015 NAMM Show. The Roland JD-Xa maybe available by the next great show at  Musikmesse 2015. The Roland JD-Xa briefly has a keyboard jam packed with knobs and controls but with full size keys. It also has four independent analog monophonic voices, so you can use it as a four-voice polysynth. As you would expect it comes with four additional synth voices, based on Roland’s SuperNatural technology and lastly it has eight channels of step sequencing.

Anyway, let’s not get carried away with things to come let us focus our attention on the Roland JD-Xi.

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Jan 23


Yes, we are bang in the middle of it -the National Association of Music Merchants (Namm) show 2015 from Anaheim, California on 22-25 January 2015. We have already looked at Nord Electro Series 5. Cakewalk Sonar Platinum and Casio XW-PD1 Trackformer.

Press the more option to see my favourite products amongst many being announced this week:-
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Jan 14

It is definately that time of year again. Cakewalk have made an anouncement a week before Namm 2015, no doubt in readiness for the show to say they have a new Sonar family. No it is not Cakewalk Sonar X4. Roland Cakewalk have decided to drop the “X4” to reflect that the new SONAR will now get new features regularly throughout the year instead of a big annual update. The new family names starting from the smallest is Sonar Artist, Sonar Professional and at the top they have Sonar Platinum

Have a look at the YouTube clip to give you a taster:-

There are some significant changes this year in terms of costs and some people will no doubt like the new plan whilst others will be dead against the changes – read on to find out:-

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