Roland has premiered the Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) fueled SYSTEM-8 Synthesizer, a “performance instrument” that claims to deliver a wide range of sounds inspired by over four decades of legendary Roland synths. To complement its internal sound engine, the SYSTEM-8 can host and control up to three Roland PLUG-OUT software synthesizers, and new JUPITER-8 and JUNO-106 PLUG-OUTs are included with purchase. The synth also includes many hands-on controls, as well as a polyphonic step sequencer, vocoder, CV/GATE outputs, arpeggiator, and more sound shaping attributes.
The SYSTEM-8 features the most advanced ACB engine yet, which powers eight voices of polyphony, three oscillators, hi-resolution filters, and versatile LFOs. Expressive and diverse, the engine is capable of producing everything from classic analog-style pads, basses, and lead synths to crisp, dynamic tones and evocative textures that are ideal for modern sound designers. The SYSTEM-8 also features three expansion slots for hosting and controlling Roland’s PLUG-OUT software synths. JUPITER-8 and JUNO-106 PLUG-OUTs are included, giving users immediate access to sonic reproductions of these Roland classics. Optional PLUG-OUTs such as the SH-2, SH-101, PROMARS, and others are supported as well. Using the SYSTEM-8’s Performance mode, it’s possible to combine the internal synth engine and hosted PLUG-OUTs to create super-synth patches with layered voices, custom splits, and more.
The SYSTEM-8’s intuitive panel is filled with knobs, buttons, and sliders for hands-on sound creation and performance expression. Many filter types are available courtesy of the advanced ACB engine, including a side-band filter inherited from Roland’s V-Synth. Effects are on hand for adding character and ambiance, from overdrive, distortion, and fuzz to delay, chorus, reverb, and more. And like the numerous synth parameters, the effects have grab-and-go controls that make it easy for users to enhance sounds as they play.
Also included in the SYSTEM-8 are many creative tools that encourage musical exploration. The polyphonic 64-step sequencer features a familiar TR-REC style interface and dedicated controls to record, play, and manipulate loop sequences. The Arpeggio function is equipped with quick-access knobs for switching patterns and styles in real time, while Chord Memory allows the user to trigger polyphonic note stacks with a single key. The SYSTEM-8 even has a built=in vocoder.
While the SYSTEM-8 excels as a performance instrument, it easily integrates into a music production environment. The synth functions as a USB audio/MIDI interface for a DAW, and the 49 full-size keys (with velocity) provide a keyboard for recording MIDI tracks. There’s also a control surface mode for using the SYSTEM-8’s knobs, sliders, and buttons with soft synths. The SYSTEM-8 is equipped with CV/GATE outputs, enabling a user to send note/pitch data from the synth engine and step sequencer to trigger modular synths and vintage analog gear.
The Future: As interesting as the System-8 is on the spec sheet, will the models of the Jup8 and 106 be compelling enough for consumers to buy an analog-modeled synth when comparing the sonic possibilities of Arturia’s full-on, all-analog MatrixBrute at $500 more?
Roland’s SYSTEM-8 PLUG-OUT Synthesizer is available now for $1499.