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Reviews Analog Modeling Synth

Nord Lead 4 Review

Life in Red Five years after launching Nord Wave, Clavia has once again updated its stage-synth range. What surprises does the Nord Lead 4 offer? read more…

Novation MiniNova Review

Tiny Smurf Two years after their comeback, Novation decided to strike a new blow with the MiniNova — a small, blue synth bomb based on the UltraNova. When mini means maxi... read more…

Roland SH-01 "Gaia" Review

The Right Compromise? The SH-01 is Roland's answer to the analog modeling synths market where low budget and ergonomics are not compatible. Let's see what tradeoffs were made to combine ease of use and a competitive price. read more…

User reviews on Analog Modeling Synth products

It sounds all right, but offers limited possibilities (Roland - TB-3)

By BulletZ, 28/06/2014
It's more of a sampler than a real synth: No preset can be edited: You have to do with the sounds conceived by Roland, with the only possibility to play with the filter and the effects. No tuning, no decay(!), and I won't mention other well-known mods of the TB-303. Which is quite a pity. The manufacturing quality seems pretty good., the unit is heavy and gives the impression of sturdiness that you expect from a Roland.

UTILIZATION

The fact that the audio interface is built in (like on the AIRA series) is an undeniable advantage. Unfortunately, it's not class-compliant and you have to install the Roland driver (which isn't a good sign, because it implies that it will become obsolete), and every AIRA device requires its own driver: Not cool. The manual is reduced to its most simple expression and gives a cheap impression, considering the price of the unit and the Roland tradition. The learning curve is very short (the limitations of the product do have a reason to be), the programming of the sequencer (be it live or step-by-step) is very intuitive once you understand how the ties and rests work.

SOUNDS

The presets are nice, but I would really like to be able to edit and save them. The immediate impact of the position of the controls on the sound of the presets can prove to be frustrating. That said, if the presets are right for you, the sound is very good. It's really hard to distinguish between the TB-3 and the TB-303 with the classic saw and square waveforms, the modeling is almost perfect.

OVERALL OPINION

If you are hesitating between this model and a clone of the TB-303, you're asking yourself the wrong question. The TB-3 is capable of reproducing the classic TB-303 sounds, without a doubt. It is also capable of many other exploits, but the similarity ends there.

The biggest drawback of this product is the impossibility to edit presets. You have to make do with what Mr. Roland decided to offer, you can only change the patterns and play with the modulation controls on the fly (cutoff, resonance, accent, and effect, plus the touchpad's X-Y mode ). No parameter locking (neither in step-by-step nor per preset: This means that the position of the controls immediately influences the preset that you load). It's very intuitive, which is a good thing given the poor documentation.

Some of these problems could be addressed later if Roland offers a firmware update some day or, even better, a software editor for the TB-303 (and when that day comes I will update my review). But right now there's nothing on the horizon. That said, what a sound it has! It really kicks ass! But it's no replace for a TB-303. It's different, a complement.
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EXCELENT QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE (Clavia - Nord Lead 2X)

By hmcl, 05/12/2015
I USE IT FOR ELECTRONIC MUSIC PRODUCTION, AS A MID CONTROLLER IS AN EXCELLENT TOOL, BECAUSE THE VELOCITY IS SO ACURATE AND SMOOTH. THE ONLY THING I COULD SAY IS THAT IT'S A LITTE BIT DIFFICULT TO GET MODERN TYPE OF SOUNDS IN IT'S SOUND LIBRARY, BUT IT LET YOU MODIFFY IT PRETTY CLOSE AND SOME TIMES, EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT.
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Roland's big sound in a 4-in-1 synth (Roland - SYSTEM-8)

By Lennon Mercury, 17/03/2017
As a happy System 8 owner (I bought it soon after its release), here’s a first review after a few months using it.

First, some specs :
- 4-octave keyboard with normal-sized keys and a very good feeling. After owning several other Roland keyboards in the past years (including the FA06, Jupiter 50, V-Synth, VP550 and JD XI), I can affirm the System 8’s ranks high;
- it weighs in at barely over 13 lbs (very slightly under 6kg), but its knobs and control keys are very sturdy – so does the synth seem as a whole;
- comes with the Model System 8 and the Jupiter 8 plus ; the Juno 106 plus has been available since Christmas if you download the latest update, and the fourth slot can take up another plug to be downloaded from Roland’s website (for 75€ apiece) ; - each plug can contain 64 patches – all rewritable;
- an excellent vocoder (but no XLR in, only a classic jack input);
- a 16-pad sequencer which can be used in realtime or step-by-step (TR-like) on a max 64 steps (2x64 in performance mode);
- a very basic arpeggiator on a maximum 2 octaves ;
- maximum polyphony: 8 voices (4x2 in performance mode); it’s still impossible to play poly on mono plugs such as the SH101 :)
- finally, the keyboard’s surface is smooth and uniform, all-aluminium made (unlike the JD Xi/JD XA and FA06/FA08), with a nice white silkscreen printing; the keyboard is rather good-looking when it’s off (that’s for those who don’t like green!).

Factory sounds are Roland classics. Editing is very simple with everything at hand, and sounds can be created very quickly. To carve your own sound, you can start from a preset, from scratch or from a “basic” System 8 sound (which sound like 8-bit video games). Sound exploration is really fun on this keyboard and really all kinds of sounds can be created with punchy leads, fat bass sounds, airy pads, “Jump”-style brass, Vangelis- or J.M. Jarre/Oxygene-like strings and so on. Having 4 different synth types in a same machine is very nive and adds to both pleasure and creativity, especially considering that in performance mode you can combine 2 sounds from different plugs. In performance mode, you can play in either split (and you can even choose the split point) or layer mode.
Anyway, the sound you get from the System 8 is heavily punchy. The first time I put my hands on it, I was impressed by the warmth of the sound – something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

As for the green LEDs, you can choose to keep them as-is, dim their luminosity or turn them off entirely. Unexpectedly for some, they ARE highly useful: when they’re lit up, they indicate which knobs/faders can be used:
- on the System 8, all LEDs are on
- on the Jupiter 8 and Juno 106, almost all of them are;
- but on the SH101, many less are on, especially that for the 2nd oscillator as the original model only had one. This avoids turning some knobs to no avail.

Regarding the editing of parameters, all is available on the front and it’s very complete. Without getting too much into details, you have 2 oscillators (plus a 3rd one that can be used as a Sub Osc), 1 LFO, 1 filter, and 1 effect (distorsion/saturation/metal/fuzz/crusher/phaser) can be assigned with 1 delay/chorus and 1 reverb.

Overall
The System 8 is a nice and playful synth. Editing is simple for people like me who are no sound designers, and you really enjoy playing it.
Of course it also has its cons:
- limited polyphony in performance mode: if you play a mono sound on the left side and poly on the right one, you’re limited to 4 voices per part instead of 1/7;
- not enough memory slots (256 as a whole for 4 models)
- no XLR in for the mic
- when you save a performance, the patch’s settings are not saved, except if you also save the patches.

However, for those who are reluctant to anything computer-based and can’t afford a real Jupiter 8, Juno 106 and SH (or who don’t want to invest into the Boutique range), the System 8 is an excellent, very punchy VA synth. It’s a 4-in-1 synth, or even a 6-in-1 if you take its 2x64 step sequencer and very good vocoder into account.

I’m now dreaming of a VP330 plug (why not considering there is a Boutique version of it ?). Anyway, this is a synth that I love and a real keeper which makes both playing and creating very pleasant.
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News Analog Modeling Synth

Mystery Islands Music reveals "NL2xR" & "microKxR"

Published on 04/06/16
AU and VST librarian editors for Clavia Nord 1,2 & 2X series and Korg microKorg synthesizers

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