With its unique inner audio engine, Plug-out technology enables you to load completely different synth motors, Roland System-8, Jupiter-8, and JUNO-106 Plug-outs. You’ll be able to change between three versions on the fly. Talk about killer audio flexibility! Top it off with an interface that is both classic and contemporary, layered and split synths, an incorporated vocoder, plus even more.
The System-8 features everything a computer keyboard player could request. Keep reading Fidlar’s post to see our Roland System 8 Reviews.
Table of Contents
Roland System 8 Review
- Sound Engine Type(s): 3 Variable Oscillators, Roland ACB sound engine
- Number of Keys: 49
- Type of Keys: Synth-action, Velocity sensitive
- Other Controllers: Pitchbend/Modulation lever
- Polyphony: 8
- Number of Presets: 64 patches, 64 performance
- Effects Types: Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Reverb, Overdrive, Phaser, and more
- Arpeggiator: Yes
- Sequencer: 64 step sequencer, Step/Realtime recording
- Storage: SD card slot
- Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4″
- Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (main out)
- Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
- USB: 1 x Type B
- MIDI I/O: In/Out
- Pedal Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (hold, control)
- Other I/O: Trigger in, Gate out, CV out
- Expansion: Host and control additional Roland Plugout software synths
- Power Supply: AC Adapter included
- Height: 4.3″
- Width: 34.7″
- Depth: 14.3″
- Weight: 13 lbs. 1 oz.
- Manufacturer Part Number: SYSTEM-8
- Sounds stellar, covers a huge sonic territory with well-thought-out, hands-on control.
- Includes Juno-106 and Jupiter-8 Plug-Outs, plus the ability to buy more.
- Solid sequencer onboard, plus plenty of versatile FX, including the famous Juno Chorus.
- Performance mode doesn’t store edits.
- Practically a patch reference directory.
- Sequencer has no click-track.
- Arp has no swing or gate modes.
- Versatile performance synthesizer with advanced acb technology and 49 full-size keys
Designing the Future
The newest flagship synthesizer out of Roland analog synth is a superbly multifaceted affair. On the one hand, people see a massive redesign of the formerly viewed System 1/1m, fitting right into a 49-note computer keyboard with more fascia property to play than the prior versions, instantly making it more attractive appealing.
Although also keeping a sensible footprint. It is similar to the older JP-8000, mainly due to these four octaves, instead of the five sported with its Roland-polysynth forerunners.
The design feels superbly familiar but somehow insistent. The stark-looking white superstar on the black backdrop is obvious to see, but so much like across the board, it may have been a significant bit to differentiate between the respective segments with some color.
Granted, once powered up, the green backlights direct your route but awarded the origins into the older sisters, which utilized color broadly, and to good effect, it might have been a great touch.
A case in point is I kept reaching for the LFO, believing it had been Oscillator One. However, I figure it might be down to my lack of familiarity and stupidity. This apart, another significant improvement over the last system range would be to perform with the backlighting.
Gloomy with a perspective of this Vocoder input and Arpeggiator, forming an integral portion of this Jupiter heritage garish green lights can be too bright, which makes it tricky to browse the legends in dim light.
Therefore Roland has initiated a dimming controller, permitting the user to tone down the brightness, or perhaps turn it off, but this could lead to confusion when inputting Plug-Out style. Still, I must mention that toning down it makes it relatively easy to both see and use.
The dance lights’ can now be switched off, so no more do you need to feel as the Aira range is on display in a store, which I found a diversion when working together with another Aires. Roland has listened to comments from customers and responded, and which is excellent news for everybody.
Moving into the authentic sound of this synth, let us first consider that the System-8 synth engine. This is an entire spec and modern-sounding synth, which appears mainly the same as the System 1/1m motor, but in an updated form.
Starting with both mirrored oscillators, one of the criticisms I leveled in the 1m in my prior inspection was that Roland introduced added waveforms into the oscillators, and you had been left imagining what was as the legends did not fit the fascia.
Up to a point, this remains the situation, but as a result of its two-line LCD screen, the chosen wave warms up using confirmation. This is achieved through two variants; one fits the panel-based legend.
However, version two introduces fresh and exciting choices, like vowel and cowbell, the latter seeming to be a variant of this tuned-fourth cowbell in the TR-808.
While this System-8 Roland synth is quite much in today’s stadium, you will find collections offered for fundamental Saw and Square waves and Super Saw/Square incarnations, which creep and thicken as the color bud flipped. FM is also accessible, with separate modulation on every oscillator.
Moving onwards, and yet another wonderful touch is the inclusion of a different Sub Oscillator tuned to match the essential oscillators’ pitch or dropped by either a couple of octaves. Wave choice is possible, from Sine or Triangle, each of which may be tweaked to present a more lavish harmonic color.
Still, strangely, there’s not any square-wave option potential, leaving the consumer to make do with all the reedy-sounding Triangle. It is useable, but not a square.
Squaring up to its old brother, is your System-8 the best, new contender into the classic Jupiter-8s crown? The System-8 engine seems quite like those 1/1m older sisters; quite contemporary, bright, and bold, due to the affordable assortment of waves (particularly the super variety), but what could be honed and toned to seem more in hands and shaky.
As you would anticipate, the Filter provides an equally complete set of alternatives, using a sharp low-pass filter accessible in 12/18/24dB tastes, and also the same accessible high-pass style (although there’s a secondary HPF, that will be more functional and vanilla at flavor).
The Filter’s fascinating improvement would be that the accession of this version controller, which, when transferred into variations, opens up six Side-Band filters that can be intended to improve and exaggerate the harmonics in an unpleasant, almost metallic manner.
This works particularly well on the wealthier tonal resources, like the Super-Saw, providing yet another degree to utilize so much so, you can practically use another LPF to tame things.
Inside the filter segment, there is a dedicated ADSR envelope, particularly for filter management, with envelope amount and speed sensitivity.
This is welcome if you would like to have your computer keyboard velocities exaggerate the filter cutoff. What is becoming apparent is that Roland has made it all reasonably accessible.
I am not getting that sense of Shift-press that you often find elsewhere, which can be refreshing and a sign of the synth’s real-time management.
The System 8 Synth Engine
A lot of the System 8 native synth engine relies upon among the most recent System 1. Consequently, both fundamental oscillators supply the same 12 waveforms because of its predecessors, such as the anticipated analog waves, Roland ‘s’ super extensions of them, and six extra waves (a twisted sawtooth, logic, FM, FM+Sync, vowel, and cowbell) that greatly extend the sonic palette available.
The Colour (maybe not my spelling! ) ) Knob in every oscillator section permits you to change the inherent waves in ways that range from PWM to detox level, malposition, and FM thickness.
You could even modulate the Shade using the LFO, some of those three shape generators, and oscillators. Insert cross-modulation, ring modulation, oscillator sync, along with also a committed bi-polar AD pitch shape (that is connected from OSC 1 when the sync is chosen ), and the range of first timbres is outstanding.
The next oscillator is termed as/sub-issue and provides sine and triangle wave choices, which may be performed in unison with, or possibly a couple of octaves below, oscillator 1.
Disappointingly, there is no square-wave sub-oscillator alternative. A tuning knob adds yet another ±1 octave for this range (that could be useful when using it as a modulation source), and the other Color knob permits you to waveshape the first waves. There is no way to detach OSC 3 from the computer keyboard, which might have been a bonus.
As anticipated, you combine the outputs from the three oscillators (and a white/pink sound origin ) before passing the result of some filter segment that provides no fewer than 18 resonant filter manners.
With accessibility to 12 self-oscillating LP and HP filters is fantastic, but the six side-band filters disturb me most. The noises they sculpt can vary hugely depending on the filter cutoff frequency, keyboard monitoring, contouring, and resonance, but on account of the lack of data Roland has provided, it isn’t easy to work out what’s happening.
It is one of these situations once you need to twiddle and see what happens. Luckily, what usually occurs is very good; although the results are far removed from conventional analog timbres, they motivated me to experiment, and the results were always intriguing. There is also a committed high-pass filter to narrow out things when necessary, which is often helpful.
The filter section also comes with a dedicated bi-polar, velocity-sensitive ADSR contour generator. This is quite snappy at the quick end of its performance.
However, the maximum times aren’t incredibly generous, and my evaluations indicated a maximum assault of about 5s, corrosion of about 15s, and discharge of about 25s.
Next comes the amplifier segment, which supplies a 2nd velocity-sensitive ADSR contour generator and tone control. Despite the guide’s description, bootstrapper frequencies once turned clockwise past noon also promotes lower frequencies when flipped another way.
A lone LFO provides modulation hauled to the oscillator pitch, filter cutoff frequency, and amplifier gain. It provides 18 waveforms, six of which can be speed-modulated by a sine wave at a speed 1/32nd of their LFO itself.
There is an optional fade-in for delayed vibrato and comparable consequences, plus key tripping, along with the capability to activate all three shape generators in the LFO speed. When I tested this, I got some unexpected consequences; these might have bedbugs, but I rather enjoyed them.
At the close of the signal path, you will find three effects segments in series. Each offers a selection of six outcomes: five disorders and per phaser in part 1; 2 flaws, two choruses, a flanger and a chorus/delay in part 2; along with six reivers the each of that can be pitch-modulated) in part 3.
Each segment offers two knobs to impact this effect’s character and thickness, but additional parameters to get a few can be found in the menus. Though System 8 is not any Eventide, I found the results to be more than sufficient for the job.
The last sound generation segment is a vocoder, which is not difficult to prepare and use but hampered by massive supervision: the modulator signal (mic or line-level sound ) can only be obtained through quarter-inch jacks.
I’ve got access to at least a dozen magnets, and none of those uses quarter-inch relations, so the omission of an XLR connector isn’t what I’d have expected on a synth that wishes to be taken seriously.
The carrier signal is provided by System 8, and are the chosen patch or, if a Performance (which we will come too soon ) is chosen, your selection of the Upper Part, the Lower Part, or even both.
Even the vocoder’s parameters are obtained through menus. These comprise the character, the capability to suppress or improve consonants, and the equilibrium, which may range in the direct sound just to the vocoded signal, and everywhere between.
I was not surprised (or dismayed) to discover that there is no way to correct the individual rings; however, on a positive note, the inputs and vocoder have their own devoted delay/chorus and reverb segments in addition to having the ability to get the three chief effects segments.
As you may make analog vocal ensembles with the System 8 synth motor, the chances of imaginative vocoding are intriguing additional routing choices too many to explain here create the sound input along with the vocoder stronger than you may imagine.
Expansions & Plug-outs
I don’t know if the inherent ACB version for your Jupiter 8 growth is precisely the same as in the JP-08, but it sounds likely. It defeats my best reservation concerning the Boutique modules, such as the System 8 synth engine;
It is an eight-voice polyphonic. This is not a small point. I’d have been tempted to purchase an eight-voice JP-08; I was not tempted to purchase two four-voice units.
I analyzed the growth by putting my Jupiter 8 alongside the System 8 and, although there had been some unavoidable differences in calibration and the highest amounts of several parameters.
I managed to replicate the Jupe’s stains and Performances using a high level of precision before spicing up them with velocity-sensitivity, the dual arpeggiators (here, finish with random style ), double sequencers, and outcomes of carrying them into areas that no Jupiter 8 has experienced.
Sure the mapping of the first synth’s controls on the System 8 panel is a bit clunky in places and using the crib-sheet, the growth does not feel as intuitive as the first, mainly since a number of those parameters are found in menus.
But ultimately, I managed to recreate the noise if not the experience of the Jupiter 8; also, I believe that you may need to be a real enthusiast to deny the precision with which it recreates the first.
I don’t know if the underlying model for your eight-voice Juno growth is just like the JU-06’s. However, it appears likely, and again, it is superb. In virtually every respect, it emulated my Juno 106 properly, and that I frequently found that I could make them seem indistinguishable from one another.
The growth reaches far past the first, together with footages ranging from 64′ to 2′ (that the Junos offered only 16′, 8′ and 4′). Suppose asked, independent velocity-sensitive ADSR shapes filter and the amplifier.
These push the growth into (and outside ) the land previously occupied solely by the regrettably under-appreciated MKS7 Super Quartet. Still, it never feels as though something aside from a Super-Juno, that is fantastic.
Since slot three was inhabited by the ProMars plug-out, I believed it would be interesting to try this. It is subtle but, of those three synths hosted from the inspection unit, it had been the one that seemed less like the first.
I did my best to recreate the ProMars’ 10 fixed presets (that aren’t provided from the factory audio set) and I got shut, but the outcomes weren’t identical.
Because there was no crib-sheet accessible, I spent a while working out the way Roland had mapped out the first synth’s parameters into the board and how they were extended.
I was not entirely familiar with what I discovered. By way of instance, adding individual combination level controls to the two oscillators, the sub-oscillator and the sound felt strange; about the first, oscillator 2 is on or off, as would be the sub-oscillator as well as the sounds.
Frequently, mono synth imitations specify it up to its capabilities, and improvements such as this made the plug-out texture. Different.
At this stage, I was unable to find the purpose of loading it to System 8. As a plug-in, it is probably right. However, the System 8 search engine in monophonic mode is a far stronger synth offering each of these features and a lot more.
Consequently, I’d use the next slot for another thing, and from this stage in the critique, I was starting to formulate some thoughts about what this might be.
Like any classic Rolands, the System 8 is bi-timbral, along with a Performance. Therefore, it comprises two spots called the Upper and Lower Parts, which you may select freely from all four synth motors (if installed).
Thankfully, the spots are imported in the Performance full with their sequences in addition to their arpeggiator and chord information, which is excellent, but not their consequences, which is not.
It is possible to inform a Performance to perform both of the Upper or Lower sequences or both. Even should you select either, the only parameters that seem to be expected would be the very first Stephen last measure and the on/off status?
You can naturally determine each Part’s degree and its crucial range and transposition, which means that you may create layers, hinges, partial layers, and vacant ranges of notes (that could help use System 8 to command other audio sources).
Other parameters permit you to ascertain how the Performance handles sound presented to the sound inputs, how it accesses the vocoder, how it provides information to the MIDI, USB, and CV/Gate outputs, and much more.
Regrettably, you can not edit Part inside a Performance and rescue the outcomes, which can be a nuisance if you attempt to balance composite audio components. I expect this will be fixed in an upgrade.
My perspectives regarding the System 8 keyboard are not likely to alter; four-octaves of keys than anticipated is not appropriate on a tool that emulates among their very desired five-octave synths ever constructed.
Equally unsatisfactory is that the omission of all aftertouch. You might argue that this could be inappropriate for a classic emulation, but you’d be incorrect; Roland first provided pressure-sensitivity on a synth in 1973.
Then there is the polyphony. Eight listeners would be the bare minimum for this synth to attain, and 16 will be much better, particularly in Performance mode.
Come on, chaps, if you will construct a flagship synth, for heaven’s sake, construct a flagship synth! Or is there a 76-note, pressure-sensitive, 16-voice pro version in evolution? Or perhaps a stackable desktop variant that provides aftertouch over MIDI? Either may be more preferable.
But when we are beyond the constraints, we return to the fantastic stuff. Even though the System 8 is targeted at lovers of classic analog synthesizers, I prefer its synth engine.
It can seem big and imposing, or delicate, or delicate, and due to its variant waveforms and side-band filters, its palette expands far beyond what I’d anticipated. Agreed, there is a minimal amount of aliasing in the highest frequencies. However, it would help if you searched for it.
Additionally, as you can not compare it to contemporary synths and workstations with half a dozen LFOs and shape generators ingesting a massive modulation matrix, why do you need to?
System 8 limited capacities are consistent with its classic design. When Roland had added several more amenities, it may have stopped feeling like a classic synth and began to feel like a contemporary synth with some classic sounds.
I will stick my neck out here in terms of the expansions and plug-outs, convinced that I’m likely to be pilloried about the internet synth forums. But here goes. Suppose you are following the noises of a Jupe or Juno.
In that case, you don’t have to risk purchasing a classic synth with 30 or more years on the clock, a worn computer keyboard, scratchy pots, and dodgy capacitors since if you’re able to live with its limitations, the System 8 does a brilliant job of ridding them.
Sure there are differences; however, if your primary purpose is to create music, I do not feel they’re likely to issue. In case your primary motive is to locate and whine about these differences, I do not feel we have our synthesizers for precisely the very same factors.
In 1982 or thereabouts, dreaming of a Roland polysynth, I recalled that I could play like a piano and sounded like it had been played through two or three hyper-expensive AMS effects components.
Therefore no-one will convince me that System 8 is in any manner conducive to providing this. And then there is the cost. You do the maths.
There are still a couple of things that can be improved, including the absence of patch memories. Every engine has only 64 of them, along with the tool has only 64 Performance memories, which can be curmudgeonly.
Could it have been too much to provide a current quota? Additionally, there’s no computer-based editor/librarian, which could be a helpful addition. Maybe Roland is working on this time will tell.
Ultimately, there is documentation, which can below. Nowhere can I find explicit descriptions of items like the variant waveforms and how the color parameter affects them of those side-band filters.
Additionally, there are mistakes. By way of instance, chooses the origin that’s modulated with the Color knob means, chooses the origin that can govern the parameter controlled by the Color knob, which is determined by the waveform chosen. Unless you are pleased to reside in the realm of Serendipity, you are likely to need much better guides than that.
The Roland System 8 has been very good to use and is a powerful and well-equipped pro-level synthesizer. If you noticed it on a trail, you’d not understand it was not a Jupe, however with the extra features, it is a potent invention, precisely like the first was.
Last update on 2021-04-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API