Whether or not you caught Roland’s live stream of its The Future. Redefined 24-hour, 30+ product launch event, you don’t want to miss the fruits of this massive labor. Here are our highlights from what was shown, and we can’t wait to try them out in person!
See the slideshow below for all the images. All prices listed are street prices. If you require more answers, go and hassle them over at Roland.com/us.
Boutique Series: TB-03 Bass Line, TR-09 Rhythm Composer and VP-03 Vocoder
With dawn of the Aira series and then its Boutique series, Roland has been recreating the sounds and interfaces of some if its most beloved vintage gear in modern packages. Usually these are formerly analog instruments given the digital treatment with Roland’s own Analog Circuit Behavior technology, which is the case with these three new Boutique series models. These updates lose the true analog circuitry but gain modern features such as USB, displays, more memory, etc. Each one also runs of battery or USB power and has a powered mini-speaker.
After about 303 other emulations of the original TB-303 Bass Line Synth by other companies, Roland finally gives in own take with the new TB-03 ($349). It adds an LED display, Step mode recording, and overdrive, delay and reverb effects. It has both MIDI I/O and CV/Gate for controlling gear.
It always seemed that there was nothing quite like a real TR-909 drum machine, so I wonder if the new TR-09 ($399) can fill those big shoes. It has the familiar interface and also Step or Tap write modes, which you can switch without skipping a beat. It has MIDI and trigger ports for analog gear.
Just like the orignal VP-330 Vocoder Plus, the new VP-03 ($349) has vocoder, human voice and string sound sources on board, as well as an included gooseneck XLR mic. Now, however, the user has one-finger chord playback with 16 chord memories and a rhythmic voice step sequencer. The VP-03 works as a 24-bit audio interface over USB and you can use it with the optional K-25m keyboard or a MIDI controller.
DJ-808 DJ Controller for Serato DJ - $1,499
The beautiful new DJ-808 mixes Roland Aira chocolate with Serato DJ peanut butter. The companies designed the DJ-808 to be a highly spec’ed controller for the Serato DJ software, while adding a few things no one else could. Specifically, the DJ-808 adds a built-in Aira-style TR-S drum machine with 606, 707, 808 and 909 sounds. The TR-S has a 16-step sequencer, that you can also use to sequence Serato’s Sampler sounds. You can also play the TR or Sampler sounds from the 16 multi-color pads. The behemoth unit also has a built-in VT Voice Transformer for mic input, which includes the novel Auto Pitch feature that matches the speaker’s vocal pitch to the key of Serato DJ tracks. Two Aira Link USB ports in back let you connect other Roland Aira gear for creating live performances synced to Serato’s music.
Besides all that, the DJ-808 looks to be a well-equipped DJ controller. Four mixer channels all have crossfader assignment, and there four RCA external inputs for turntables and CD players, as well. Each deck has a dedicated FX section, eight performance modes for the pads, an Auto Loop section, and plenty more.
System-8 Plug-Out Synthesizer - $1,499
The Aira System-1 synth introduced the concept of a Plug-Out synthesizer, where a hardware synth could load and host a plug-in program, so you could essentially use the plug-in free of a computer and on a dedicated hardware keyboard, where the available hardware controls lit up to show what parameters were available. The new System-8 Plug-Out synth takes this concept to the Nth degree and bring the kitchen sink as far as features go.
First off, it has next-generation ACB sounds onboard, which were inspired by four decades of Roland synthesizers—analog-style pads, basses, leads and other evocative tones. Also, the new Jupiter-8 and Juno-106 Plug-Outs are included, which like all Plug-Outs, can also work on a computer like a traditional plug-in. There are three Plug-Out slots in all. The System-8 engine has eight-voice polyphony, three oscillators, high-res filters, LFOs, a vocoder, arpeggiator, polyphonic 64-step sequencer and effects like distortion, delay, chorus and reverb. A Performance mode lets you combine the internal synth with Plug-Outs, and a control surface mode works well for controlling soft synths. The System-8 functions as a USB audio/MIDI interface, and also has CV/Gate outputs for triggering other gear.
Commemorative DJ gear: TT-99 and DJ-99
Roland’s The Future. Redefined event, held on #909day, celebrated the 33-year anniversary of the TR-909, and to add a little extra oomph in honoring the drum machine with all the oomph, Roland put out a DJ turntable and mixer in the colors and vibe of the TR-909 interface. There was not a lot extra special about these items, which seem to be rather basic collector’s pieces. The 3-speed direct-drive TT-99 ($349) has a built-in phono equalizer. The 2-input DJ-99 ($249) scratch mixer includes a top-shelf mini InnoFader crossfader and dedicated DVS I/O.
See the slideshow below for pictures and info on all these products, as well as some new electronic percussion/drum, guitar and digital wind instrument (!) products.