Roland TR-09, TB-03 & more!

‘909 Day’ brings a slew of new prod­ucts, some of which look very fa­mil­iar…

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An­nounced on 909 Day (Septem­ber 9th, ged­dit?), Roland’s on­slaught of new synth, DJ, gui­tar and drum prod­ucts, col­lec­tively tagged The Fu­ture Rede­fined, marks one of the most sig­nif­i­cant drops of new gear from the brand in re­cent mem­ory. Of the pro­duc­tion an­nounce­ments, the most eye-catch­ing are the new ad­di­tions to Roland’s retro-in­clined Bou­tique range. Launched last year with mod­ern ver­sions of the Jupiter-8, Juno-106 and JX-3P, the Bou­tiques are com­pact, bat­tery-pow­ered synth mod­ules based on Roland’s ex­cel­lent, ana­logue-ap­ing ACB tech­nol­ogy.

This lat­est an­nounce­ment sees an­other three clas­sics get­ting the Bou­tique treat­ments – the TB-303, TR-909 and VP-330 Vocoder Plus. The most sur­pris­ing is the VP-330, re­born here as the VP-03. The orig­i­nal 330 was an early 10-band vocoder with added string and Hu­man Voice sec­tions, beloved by a num­ber of synth icons in the early ’80s, in­clud­ing Van­ge­lis and Tan­ger­ine Dream. This new ver­sion, ac­cord­ing to Roland, re­tains the vibe and sound of the orig­i­nal, along with a sim­i­lar in­ter­face, while adding in a built-in se­quencer and chord mode. It fea­tures an XLR mic in­put on the in­ter­face too, and will ship with a goose­neck mic.

The Bou­tiques based on the 303 and 909 – here chris­tened the TB-03 and TR-09 – are more cu­ri­ous propo­si­tions. While, in a lot of ways, mod­ern is­sues of two of the most iconic pieces of mu­sic gear of all time seems like a no-brainer, Roland have al­ready re­leased mod­ern takes on both these prod­ucts in the past few years as part of their Aira range, which is based on the ex­act same ACB tech­nol­ogy. Of the two, the TB-03 is the eas­i­est to make sense of – the Aira TB-3 was based around a very mod­ern touch­screen in­ter­face, and the new TB-03 looks to repli­cate the orig­i­nal’s se­quencer more closely. It also fea­tures an ana­logue trig­ger in­put and CV/gate out­puts for link­ing it up to other gear, which is a very cool touch. The TR-09, on the other hand, ap­pears to of­fer a sim­i­lar work­flow and a stripped-down sonic of­fer­ing com­pared to the TR-8 (which also of­fers 808 and 707 sounds). It looks very cool though and once again there are ana­logue trig­ger out­puts for con­trol­ling ex­ter­nal gear. It’s porta­bil­ity is likely to be a big sell­ing point too.

Blow­ing up the sys­tem

Slightly less vin­tage-in­clined is the new flag­ship Plug-Out in­stru­ment, the Sys­tem-8, which ex­pands on the blue­print laid down by the Aira Sys­tem-1. The 8 is a fully-func­tion­ing stand­alone synth based on Roland’s ACB in­nards, al­beit one that can also host em­u­la­tions as Plug-Outs. The in­ter­nal synth of­fers 8-voice polyphony with three os­cil­la­tors, along with a range of fil­ters, mod­u­la­tion tools and ef­fects. The built-in en­gine of the Sys­tem-1 im­pressed us, so it’s ex­cit­ing to see an ex­panded ver­sion. Plug-Out-wise, the 8 ups the num­ber of ‘host’ slots to three, mean­ing it can switch be­tween up to four dif­fer­ent synth sounds (in­clud­ing its in­ter­nal one). It ships with Plug-Out ver­sions of the Jupiter-8 and Juno-106 too. The key­board is full-sized and ve­loc­ity sen­si­tive, and is joined by a 64-step, TR-8-style se­quencer, an arpeg­gia­tor and a chord mem­ory mode. The 8 also fea­tures CV/Gate out­puts for con­trol­ling ex­ter­nal ana­logue gear, and it in­cludes a built-in vocoder.

Keep an eye on www.roland.co.uk for prices and re­lease dates.

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