Are you looking for a new synthesizer? Ever since the late seventies, the music industry has been developing all kinds of synthesizers and their popularity changed the face of music. In mid eighties, there was a big bang with the “appearance” of digital technology that made these instruments more accessible to everyone. All you needed was some creativity and a synthesizer and you could be well off on your way to stardom. Modern synthesizers can be described as mini studios, offering different possibilities of sound manipulation. Whether you are making a sample, a loop, or just experimenting with effects, all you need is this electric piano look-alike. Synthesizers have been indispensable for any serious musician or music producer and different companies have been working nonstop to create new and better instruments to suit everyone’s need.
Roland has been a serious player since the whole story began. They’ve been busy these past few years, creating different Roland Aira products that seem to be quite popular among the producers and musicians. The latest product out of their work shop is the System-1 synthesizer.
The first thing you notice about the System-1 is the fact that it literally glows in the dark. In other words, you can use it on stage and create a special kind of performance experience. It has the typical Aira design: black, sturdy, virtually indestructible. On the other hand, it is quite compact and easy to move – in case you are a traveling musician, this is a real plus – so it gets extra points for user friendliness.
After realizing it’s really cool to use it in the dark, you move on to two of the most prominent features (at least on the front panel): the combined Scatter/ Pitch Bend wheel and a very shallow, two-octaves long travel keyboard. It is obvious that the main idea of this synthesizer is compactness, which is why you get a Scatter wheel that has a ring that can bend pitch +/- two semitones. In addition, there is a Mod button instead of the mod wheel. When it comes to the keyboard, it must be said that the shortening of the octaves is good as far as the space-saving goes, yet not so good since – obviously – you have limited space to work with. On the other hand, the fact that the keyboard is shallow, allows you to play with more ease and more virtuosity.
Besides these key features, you also get a lot of live performance controls to spice up your act.
Another good thing about Roland Aira System 1 is that the newbies will enjoy using it – as it is really, very user friendly – but it will also prove interesting for the more experienced musicians.
You can build sounds from nothing as well as change the already existing ones, or play with presets and back up everything you do. There is, of course, a USB hub that enables you to store your data elsewhere. Roland Aira System-1 has an ACB engine and a four-note polyphonic, dual oscillator+sub oscillator synth engine that makes it sound very natural, life like and “analogue” (in case you want it to, naturally). Besides, it is equipped with the standard mono, legato and unison modes.
It is capable of making great sound contrasts, with the bass lines sounding heavy and strong (also, the low extension is incredibly deep) and the high frequencies pure and very, very clear. In addition, the envelopes for Filter (ADSR), Pitch (AD) and Amp (ADSR) are amazing for getting ANY desired effect.
It targets a large group of musicians and producers, offering a lot for the money. It is a perfect example of what a useful, present-day synthesizer should be.