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Roland System 8

Roland System 8
« on: February 14, 2017, 06:55:20 AM »
S8 review and interesting comment from an expert:

"I have a P6, P12, Tempest and PolyEvolver PE.... BUT on sound and versatility ALONE.... I would take this over them all (apart from maybe the PE).... I can't comment on the Rev2 but all I DO know is that this is a FAR better synth that the P08 (which the Rev2 is obviously based on).... again based on sound alone."

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2017/02/13/sonic-lab-roland-aira-system-8-polysynth/


LoboLives

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 07:36:00 AM »
Can't fault them for being tone deaf.  ::)

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 08:46:11 AM »
If I'm not mistaken the commentator in question is the composer and regular Sonictalk guest Ty Unwin. Not only because his nickname is Ty, but because he mostly comments on synths that belong to Ty Unwin's studio, which the regular Sonictalk watcher can spot quite easily.

I've not yet played a System-8 in person but based on the demonstrations I've heard and seen so far, I have to say that it's a damn good sounding synth. I do, however, find especially the PEK and the Prophet 12 to be much more exciting conceptually. Plus: If the System-8 has the same keyboard as the JD-XA, which I assume is the case based on Nick Batt's description, it'll feel really cheap. That, the purposeful omission of Aftertouch (see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4tVgLlwekk), and the fact that you even have to pay extra for either wood or aluminium sides, is nothing that gets me excited though. If it was $999, one could condone these shortcomings, but at $1,499 I have to agree with Nick Batt's conclusion.

It's a bit of a shame really that Roland failed to provide a high quality controller with all the obvious features you would expect in 2017, since the whole plug-out idea is quite cool (especially for the touring musician) and sonically convincing.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 08:56:11 AM by Paul Dither »

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 02:49:56 PM »
I agree, I have a system1M and it's a great synth, sounds really good to me. I would also like the system 8, if it was cheaper I'd get one or maybe a system8M if they make one...

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 03:05:37 PM »
The Roland System-8 does sound pretty good in person, though I wouldn't put it in the same class as the OB-6 or Prophet-6. It does the Jupiter-8 and Juno-106 emulations well (but where's my Jupiter-4 plugout, folks?  ;D ), but I'd say that's really as far as it goes (facsimile generation).

Further–it's no Jupiter-8, or Jupiter-6 from a user interface perspective*, and the audio-rate modulation (which the original Jupiters can do just fine) still lacks the finesse that even the JD-Xa can provide. So do treat those remarks (as any!) with a reasonable grain of salt.

 * - Roland keeps circling the wagons here–I've said it before, but I believe that they're afraid of making too close a copy. Had the JP-08 sounded as good as the System-8, in a larger chassis a la Korg Arp Odyssey, they'd have hit it out of the park. Alas....
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 03:09:03 PM by DavidDever »
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 01:01:28 AM »
After spending quite a bit of time with one, I'd have to say that I found the System-8 a very limited, or even boring synth!  I suppose it does that classic early-'80s Roland sound pretty well but that's a very constricted sound palette unless you're specifically making synth-pop.

From my perspective, the best thing about it was the modelled Jupiter 8 filter, which sounded lovely. The rest of it, however, was so painfully basic that I was almost immediately hitting up against the limitations.  Sonically, the JD-XA is a far more interesting proposition. Too much menu diving for my liking but can definitely go to some interesting places.  By comparison, I couldn't get a single original sound out of the System-8 that didn't sound like something you've heard a hundred times before.

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 06:03:13 AM »
After spending quite a bit of time with one, I'd have to say that I found the System-8 a very limited, or even boring synth!  I suppose it does that classic early-'80s Roland sound pretty well but that's a very constricted sound palette unless you're specifically making synth-pop.

From my perspective, the best thing about it was the modelled Jupiter 8 filter, which sounded lovely. The rest of it, however, was so painfully basic that I was almost immediately hitting up against the limitations.  Sonically, the JD-XA is a far more interesting proposition. Too much menu diving for my liking but can definitely go to some interesting places.  By comparison, I couldn't get a single original sound out of the System-8 that didn't sound like something you've heard a hundred times before.

I think the same thing every time I hear a Stradivarius.  I mean seriously, violins??  Those are SOOOO 16th century!!!

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 06:13:15 AM »

Plus: If the System-8 has the same keyboard as the JD-XA, which I assume is the case based on Nick Batt's description, it'll feel really cheap. That, the purposeful omission of Aftertouch (see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4tVgLlwekk), and the fact that you even have to pay extra for either wood or aluminium sides, is nothing that gets me excited though. If it was $999, one could condone these shortcomings, but at $1,499 I have to agree with Nick Batt's conclusion.

It's a bit of a shame really that Roland failed to provide a high quality controller with all the obvious features you would expect in 2017, since the whole plug-out idea is quite cool (especially for the touring musician) and sonically convincing.

This is my biggest issue with it. I'm not really looking for more keys anyway, but especially not subpar keys on a $1500 synth.  They aren't that bad in person, but a noticeable step down.  And the lack of aftertouch is just... offensive.  But I was very inspired by the sound when I played with one for about 45 minutes, and I'm hoping they make a module.  Unless of course I get an Arturia Origin and that satisfies my remaining non-Moog vintage fix.

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2017, 03:46:01 AM »
After spending quite a bit of time with one, I'd have to say that I found the System-8 a very limited, or even boring synth!  I suppose it does that classic early-'80s Roland sound pretty well but that's a very constricted sound palette unless you're specifically making synth-pop.

From my perspective, the best thing about it was the modelled Jupiter 8 filter, which sounded lovely. The rest of it, however, was so painfully basic that I was almost immediately hitting up against the limitations.  Sonically, the JD-XA is a far more interesting proposition. Too much menu diving for my liking but can definitely go to some interesting places.  By comparison, I couldn't get a single original sound out of the System-8 that didn't sound like something you've heard a hundred times before.

I think the same thing every time I hear a Stradivarius.  I mean seriously, violins??  Those are SOOOO 16th century!!!

 :D I get your point but the System-8 is no Stradivarius! If I wanted a keyboard for comfortingly familiar sounds, I'd buy a piano. What I love about synthesis is that it can take me somewhere I've never been before. I can do that with a Prophet'08, for example, but couldn't with the System-8.

As good as the emulations are, both my Juno 60 and Jupiter 6 also have a bit more character and presence than the Jupiter 8 and Juno 106 plug-outs, although that could be partly down to the over-complicated gain staging of the System-8.

eXode

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Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 12:17:25 PM »
S8 review and interesting comment from an expert:

"I have a P6, P12, Tempest and PolyEvolver PE.... BUT on sound and versatility ALONE.... I would take this over them all (apart from maybe the PE).... I can't comment on the Rev2 but all I DO know is that this is a FAR better synth that the P08 (which the Rev2 is obviously based on).... again based on sound alone."

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2017/02/13/sonic-lab-roland-aira-system-8-polysynth/

Sorry but I don't understand. The user making that comment, what makes him qualify as an expert?
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 12:23:30 PM by eXode »

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2017, 02:08:14 PM »
S8 review and interesting comment from an expert:

"I have a P6, P12, Tempest and PolyEvolver PE.... BUT on sound and versatility ALONE.... I would take this over them all (apart from maybe the PE).... I can't comment on the Rev2 but all I DO know is that this is a FAR better synth that the P08 (which the Rev2 is obviously based on).... again based on sound alone."

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2017/02/13/sonic-lab-roland-aira-system-8-polysynth/

Sorry but I don't understand. The user making that comment, what makes him qualify as an expert?

I think by mentioning his expertise musicmaker was referring to the fact that Ty Unwin is one of Great Britain's leading TV composers, which certainly makes him an authority in the fields of scoring, sound design, and music production. That he also knows a thing or two about synths is obvious if one takes a look at his ever expanding studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfwrN-dcKyc

That however doesn't change anything about the difficulty of trying to objectivize sonic preferences. We all like different instruments and prefer them for different reasons and due to individual goals. If he prefers the System-8 to the Prophet-6, the Prophet 12, the Tempest, and maybe even the Poly Evolver then that's his choice. The only problem I see here is that all of these synths are not that easy to compare, as they all represent a different design philosophy and offer a different set of features - even if you're coming from an angle where the difference between analog and digital doesn't matter (which is a valid approach in 2017). On the other hand, though, Ty was only talking about the sound, not different engines or features. And from that perspective it's of course perfectly justified to even compare a System-55 to a Casio keyboard. All features and engines don't matter as long as you don't click with what's most important in the end, namely the sound. Because knowing about what could be theoretically possible with an instrument is irrelevant if it just doesn't sound right or interesting to you from the get-go. What is going to determine those criteria in the end remains necessarily and hopefully subjective, though.

eXode

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Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 03:43:48 AM »
I understand. Even so I'm reluctant to call someone an expert just because he/she owns a lot of gear. I'm not saying that this is the case with Ty, but there are several examples of artists owning an impressive rig who know very little about synthesizers or synthesis in general, they pretty much tweak presets.

For clarification I don't question Ty's musical proficiency or skill as a musician, I was curious about the added label of expert - which I interpreted was related to synths in particular. Like you already touched upon, he's a user with his own personal tastes, like everyone else. :)

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 06:44:30 AM »
S8 review and interesting comment from an expert:

"I have a P6, P12, Tempest and PolyEvolver PE.... BUT on sound and versatility ALONE.... I would take this over them all (apart from maybe the PE).... I can't comment on the Rev2 but all I DO know is that this is a FAR better synth that the P08 (which the Rev2 is obviously based on).... again based on sound alone."

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2017/02/13/sonic-lab-roland-aira-system-8-polysynth/

As a self-proclaimed "expert" :P , I'd take hardware-bound voices (in the case of a Prophet-12, one SHARC DSP per two voices with dedicated VCF ICs per voice) over dynamically-assigned ASICs any day of the week, for live performance, studio use, or pure bragging rights. (By point of comparison, the Korg Minilogue uses a dedicated ARM Cortex-M4 processor for modulations per voice, and the Alesis Ion and Micron both use dedicated Wavefront Semi DSPs per voice.)

As a user, hardware-bound voices guarantee one the ability to plan ahead (from a sound-design perspective) for voice stealing (in the case of the Poly Evolver) or voice overhang (in the case of the Prophet-12 or REV2 16-voice). That ensures the ability of the user to respond from a musical perspective, rather than a technical (if not uncertain) one–which may be a different set of priorities than those of a music-for-picture composer.

Thing is–with the System-8, its hardware constraint is baked into the design from day one (eight voices is just not sufficient for a multi-timbral keyboard instrument IMHO), yet it lacks guaranteed polyphony with many of the Plug-out models, and possesses no provision to add an additional polyphony expansion board (as Waldorf did, nearly fifteen to twenty years ago, with Motorola 56K-based boards–or as DSI is doing with actual analogue voices on the REV2). In this respect, it fails the "versatility" label straight out of the gate, as you'd be more likely to run out of parts due to artificial constraints from the modeled voices.

Given this odd series of constraints, where's my Jupiter-4 Plug-out, Roland? ;D (I mean–if you're gonna skimp out on polyphony, at least give us a vintage four-voice polysynth model!)

Lastly - what's with the unsubtle | teenage neon illuminated sliders on the Roland units–are these product designs left over from fifteen years ago? The cosmetics of the unit rule it out for low-key theatrical pit or liturgical use, where screams of "look at me! look at me!" severely constrain its "versatility".

Apologies for the rant–but it's really important to avoid embarrassingly silly superlatives when considering the historical context of a strictly imitative product such as the System-8, as opposed to the flagship Jupiter-8 that it can never hope to hold a candle to. Even those of us who are aging bedroom keyboard warriors can sense that this is an endorsement-oriented remark, rather than a sensible commentary on the viability of the product (which, frankly, I sense might be even more limited than that of Roland's own hybrid JD-Xa).
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 07:45:45 AM by DavidDever »
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 11:55:27 PM »
After spending quite a bit of time with one, I'd have to say that I found the System-8 a very limited, or even boring synth!  I suppose it does that classic early-'80s Roland sound pretty well but that's a very constricted sound palette unless you're specifically making synth-pop.

From my perspective, the best thing about it was the modelled Jupiter 8 filter, which sounded lovely. The rest of it, however, was so painfully basic that I was almost immediately hitting up against the limitations.  Sonically, the JD-XA is a far more interesting proposition. Too much menu diving for my liking but can definitely go to some interesting places.  By comparison, I couldn't get a single original sound out of the System-8 that didn't sound like something you've heard a hundred times before.

I think the same thing every time I hear a Stradivarius.  I mean seriously, violins??  Those are SOOOO 16th century!!!

 :D I get your point but the System-8 is no Stradivarius! If I wanted a keyboard for comfortingly familiar sounds, I'd buy a piano. What I love about synthesis is that it can take me somewhere I've never been before. I can do that with a Prophet'08, for example, but couldn't with the System-8.

As good as the emulations are, both my Juno 60 and Jupiter 6 also have a bit more character and presence than the Jupiter 8 and Juno 106 plug-outs, although that could be partly down to the over-complicated gain staging of the System-8.

I consider the sounds of the Jupiter 8, Juno and JX (not to mention the SH-101, Promars etc) more than just comforting and familiar.  I find them inspiring, compelling sounds, just like I do that of the OB-6, Prophet 6, my PolyEvolver etc.  I got over the "shock of the new" a long time ago; all I care about now is quality, and what inspires me to make music that pleases me.  This was why I compared them to a Stradivarius.  It's not just about something you've heard a million times, it's about a beautiful sound, that remains beautiful no matter how many times you hear it.  Naturally, these things are subjective, and can even change for the same person from moment to moment.

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2017, 05:47:32 AM »
I consider the sounds of the Jupiter 8, Juno and JX (not to mention the SH-101, Promars etc) more than just comforting and familiar.  I find them inspiring, compelling sounds, just like I do that of the OB-6, Prophet 6, my PolyEvolver etc.  I got over the "shock of the new" a long time ago; all I care about now is quality, and what inspires me to make music that pleases me.  This was why I compared them to a Stradivarius.  It's not just about something you've heard a million times, it's about a beautiful sound, that remains beautiful no matter how many times you hear it.  Naturally, these things are subjective, and can even change for the same person from moment to moment.

I do genuinely understand where you're coming from. My Juno 60, despite its obvious simplicity, still sounds great and I can't imagine myself not continuing to use it.  Like many of us, I expect, I've never had the opportunity to play a Jupiter 8 in person but I imagine that is an equally inspiring experience.  The closest I've come to that is playing a vintage Model D that sounded absolutely incredible.

I think the Stradivarius comparison certainly holds up when placed alongside a vintage Model D or Jupiter 8.  However, it could just be the glow-stick LEDs and the plastic exterior colouring my judgement but the System-8 never convinced me I was hearing something special. In terms of modern VA synths, I far prefer the sounds I get from the Nord A1, which have the richness and depth that I, personally, associate with vintage analog synths.

As you say, it's all very subjective and we all have different sounds that get the creativity flowing. I very much expected to enjoy the System-8 and was surprised when that didn't happen. I'd still love to spend a few hours with a Jupiter 8 though.

Shaw

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Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2017, 07:46:49 AM »
As a self-proclaimed "expert" :P  ....


As a self-proclaimed semi-expert, I’d agree.
I’ve played the System-8 in my local GC a few times, and each time I have the same experience. I spend all my time searching for a sound that I love on the damned thing... haven’t found one yet.  Lots of great sounds, but nothing spectacular.
Then I step over to the P6, and no matter what the preset, I inevitable think the same thing:  “Man, that is just lovely”.
My ears must be analogue.


Cheers!
"Classical musicians go to the conservatories, rock´n roll musicians go to the garages." --- Frank Zappa

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2017, 07:57:50 AM »
I consider the sounds of the Jupiter 8, Juno and JX (not to mention the SH-101, Promars etc) more than just comforting and familiar.  I find them inspiring, compelling sounds, just like I do that of the OB-6, Prophet 6, my PolyEvolver etc.  I got over the "shock of the new" a long time ago; all I care about now is quality, and what inspires me to make music that pleases me.  This was why I compared them to a Stradivarius.  It's not just about something you've heard a million times, it's about a beautiful sound, that remains beautiful no matter how many times you hear it.  Naturally, these things are subjective, and can even change for the same person from moment to moment.

I do genuinely understand where you're coming from. My Juno 60, despite its obvious simplicity, still sounds great and I can't imagine myself not continuing to use it.  Like many of us, I expect, I've never had the opportunity to play a Jupiter 8 in person but I imagine that is an equally inspiring experience.  The closest I've come to that is playing a vintage Model D that sounded absolutely incredible.

I think the Stradivarius comparison certainly holds up when placed alongside a vintage Model D or Jupiter 8.  However, it could just be the glow-stick LEDs and the plastic exterior colouring my judgement but the System-8 never convinced me I was hearing something special. In terms of modern VA synths, I far prefer the sounds I get from the Nord A1, which have the richness and depth that I, personally, associate with vintage analog synths.

As you say, it's all very subjective and we all have different sounds that get the creativity flowing. I very much expected to enjoy the System-8 and was surprised when that didn't happen. I'd still love to spend a few hours with a Jupiter 8 though.

There is something about the physical experience of a Jupiter-8 that is tough to beat. It's a shame that the Jupiter-80 wasn't ultimately crafted as a System-8 sound engine with that same metal housing / pro keybed....
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

LoboLives

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2018, 10:05:13 AM »
There was a new Firmware update to the System 8 which now included more extensive FM capabilities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjkiIHt2uFg

jg666

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Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2018, 11:44:49 AM »
I’ve only ever seen reviews on this and never heard it in ‘real life’. Because it has no aftertouch and because it looks like an explosion in a snot factory, there’s no way I would think of buying this. If they did a module version without the green then I might be interested.
DSI Prophet Rev2, DSI Pro 2, Moog Sub37, Korg Minilogue, Yamaha MOXF6, Yamaha MODX6, Yamaha Montage6

LoboLives

Re: Roland System 8
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2018, 12:37:11 PM »
I’ve only ever seen reviews on this and never heard it in ‘real life’. Because it has no aftertouch and because it looks like an explosion in a snot factory, there’s no way I would think of buying this. If they did a module version without the green then I might be interested.

You can turn the green lights off.