Two days before the world wide presentation of the new AIRA series of Roland, this saturday, we were invited to see for ourselves if our high expectations are met. Not only did we get some inside info on the Aira development, we als got to play with the new equipment and saw the rehearsal of dutch dj/live artist Sluwe Vos, together with Belgian dj Faisal and product specialist David Ahlund. We were able to make video’s for some exclusive footage of them performing with the new Roland TB-3 (acid), TR-8 (bassss), VT-3 (vocoder) and System-1 (synth).
The first thing you notice is the appearance of the new AIRA product line. The black boxes with green accents clearly show we are talking about a product family here. Furthermore, you can also see in a glance that these new products are clearly inspired by Roland’s famous product line of the 80s. Well, nothing new here, we already got that from the teaser video’s. What are these machines made of?
Roland was very clear about the goal for these products: make them innovative, but also keep loyal to the old legacy. As everyone knows by now, the TB-3 and TR-8 (and System-1) are not analog, but Roland chose for their virtual analog technology. Something to discuss as length, but we’ll save that for the purists. What we can say after hearing and playing with them is that they just sound great. Your not just playing with samples but the VA technology simulates the circuitry behaviour behind the buttons. This gives you the sound of the 80s, with the technology of now. A very nice feature is the ability to have all sounds of the TR-8 in separate channels in you DAW via one USB cable.
Playing with these products is just pure fun. Connected too each other, the TB-3 and TR-8 are everything you need for hours of playtime. And we all agreed: that sound is great! The kicks go deep and the TB screams like you want it too. Different kind of effects can be used to alter the sound, live as well in the editor for the TB-3. Another noteworthy fact is that the units are pretty light-weighted and relatively small and therefore very portable. Maybe they shift around a little bit when you really loose yourself in your performance but good to know is that the controls feel nice and sturdy.
Next to the TB-3 and the TR-8, Roland also comes with a new voice transformer (VR-3) and synth (System-1). We haven’t played with those ourselves but these also sound very good. Just like the rest of the Aira series, the System 1 works on 96Khz, which results in phat and very clear sounds. The most surprising element of the new synth is the ability to store VSTi and AU instruments in it. That means that, when they will be available, you can edit your favourite vintage Roland synth on your computer and store it within the System-1 in order to play it stand-alone on stage.
Highlight of the day was the rehearsal of the Roland product specialist David Ahlund, Sluwe Vos and dj Faisal. They will show the Aira series on the Dancefair this weekend and we got a sneek peek of their performance. Afterwards we asked them what their findings are of these new products, and they all are very pleased with them. The analog/digital discussion is irrelevant according to Sluwe Vos who is, not surprisingly, especially very enthusiastic about the TR-8. He likes the workflow and ease of use of making new beats on the fly. When asked if this will replace his old TR-909, he explains he will use them together. With the new TR-8 he can now layer the 909 and 808 kicks easily to make the fat beats he uses during his live sets, without the need of a DAW.
Sluwe Vos also highlights the fact that you can take the TR-8 sounds separately in your DAW via the usb interface. A very neet and smart solution, instead of separate outputs on the device itself. Faisal totally agrees, he uses the TR-8 as an extra element in his dj sets and loves the ease of use within Ableton.
Roland AIRA: System-1 Synth
Roland Aira official launch event live online!
The Roland Aira series’ worldwide launch date is on saturday 15/2, Utrecht Dancefair in Holland!
You can stream it live from the Dancefair.
Saturday’s schedule is as follows (CET):
15:00 – 16:00 – Presentation by David Åhlund and Faisal
17:00 – 18:00 – Presentation by David Åhlund and Frontliner
20:00 – 21:00 – Presentation by David Åhlund and De Sluwe Vos