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Analog Modeling Synth Racks/Sound Modules
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User reviews on Analog Modeling Synth Rack/Sound Module products

Roland TB-3 vs TB-03 - Friend or Foe? (Roland - TB-03)

By Ranz Adamson, 09/03/2017


Is the new Roland TB-03 from their Boutique range any different from the TB-3 from their AIRA range? Watch the video to see.

An in-depth look at the Roland Boutique TB-03 compared side-by-side to the Roland AIRA TB-3. Are they that similar? Do that have different roles to play in your studio/live rig? Find out as I go through their features and play them together in a jam. Bonus section: Find out how to sync the Korg Volca Kick to the TB-03 via Trigger In!
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A vintage-spirited vocoder (Roland - VP-03)

By pico, 25/04/2018
I’ve invested in a VP-03 to get credible vintage string machine and vocoder sounds, and the VP-03 perfectly fulfills my expectations.

As with all Boutique series products, manufactoring quality is very good.
The lower shell is made of plactic, and the upper part of metal. The switches and faders don’t move unexpectedly and remain in their original axis.

The controls are easy to handle and (unlike with the JP-08 for instance) they’re well adapted to their use, in spite of their small size.

There’s no preset memory, but what use would they be? Regarding the settings, everything here is minimalistic, so no risk to get lost: it’s easy and instantly efficient, not a machine designed for experimenting deeply with sound but it remains an inspiring device to record vocoded vocal inspirations while having fun.

I like the fact that when you turn it on, you find the same settings you were using when you turned it off, so there’s no discrepancy with the knob positions and you easily gat back to where you had left the previous recording session.

In the end, the VP-03 only does three things: a string sound, a human voice sound and a vocoder sound – but it does each of them very well.

-16 patterns can be programmed over 16 steps, and bits of your own voice (or other sources) can also be recorded through USB. It’s fun, and you can leave it to chance to create strange loops, mixing your direct voice with the vocoded voice, the string machine and the human voice.

The 5/6 USB outs allow sending other sound sources (carrier, VST synths…) to the vocoder, and the 3/4 outputs or the mic’s physical input allow to send modulated vocals of speeches, so it’s rather versatile though the lack of an analog audio in is a pity as you can’t send hardware synths through it...

I find its value-for-money to be a little under that of the other Boutique series synths.

So far, i haven’t remarked any MIDI micro-latency.

Pros:
-Well-built
-A convincing vintage-sounding vocoder
-Good and fun-to-use ergonomics.
-16 chord memory banks which are very useful.
-The last settings used are kept when turned on again.
-Credible and inspiring vintage sounds.
-The Ensemble effect is well-modelled.
-Stereo 24/96kHz audio interface
-USB power supply
-Battery-supplied for a complete autonomous use
-Possibility to send other audio sources to the vocoder through USB


Cons:
-No audio in like on the first three Boutique models.
-Audio out volume lower than on the three previous Boutique models.
-The original microphone is very sensitive to all kinds of unwanted noises (breath, pop, keyboard noises…).
-A slight audio buzz when plugged on the computer’s USB, like all other Boutique models.
-Value-for-money is not as good as the 3 first Boutique synths.
-Polyphonics is a beat subpar compared with a real string machine.
-No plug for a sustain pedal, which would have been useful for such kinds of sounds.
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Very small – but very mighty, too! (Roland - JP-08)

By petitsynthe, 21/10/2018
So this is a miniature analog-modelling synth rendering Toland’s high-end synth from the early 80s (1981 precisely), the Jupiter 8.

It seems sturdy and is quite heavy considering its size, which is quite telling as to its building quality. After a closer look, it IS indeed a high-quality product, all the more when you consider its price!

It only comes with 4 batteries, the micro-USB cord is not supplied (but it’s the same standard as the one powering your cell phone).

It’s very cute but very small too – hence some of the nicknames people have given it, the “gnome synth” or “hobbit synth”.
After the Korg Volca, Arturia mini/micro-brute, Korg mini MS20/ARP Odyssey and Yamaha Reface, Roland seems to have followed that “honey, I’ve shrunk the synth” trend which has been going on for the last few years now.

I love compact machines, but this one is a bit on the extreme side: try and edit with faders that are only 2cm long… Thankfully, they offer a good resistance which allows to compensate the problem while adding precision.

Roland’s technology used here is called ACB (for Analog Circuit Behavior), it models the behaviour of each of the original synth’s component for better rendering of the analog sound.

It is a further improvement compared with the previous generation Virtual Analog models: this time, it sounds (almost) like a real analog’s oscillators, envelopes or filters!

It may still sound a bit too clean, but only a bit…

As to comparing with the original, I’ve owned a Jupiter 8 in the past (which I had bought used when it was still affordable), but it was 20 years ago or so. In theory, I could compare it with what my ears remember, but it’s frankly too old for anything reliable. However, all in all, I’d say it sounds rather close.

So far, with the synth’s processor, you’ll have to choose from polyphony or realism, and Roland has favored sound quality over polyphony which is limited to 4 voices. Hey, why only 4 voices? That’s much too limited for a digital device, even just 6 would have worked for me but 4… Granted, you can buy another JP-08 and chain it to the first one for a total 8 voices, but it instantly becomes less practical and more expensive – plus the psychological effect: buying twice the same gear, doesn’t that feel strange?

Especially as we can expect further evolutions:
Roland has indicated the Boutique series would be a limited edition, which doesn’t mean another (better) series won’t be produced, e.g. bigger models with more polyphony.

So, with the original 4 voices, wave your pads goodbye… (unless perhaps you can do with only two notes, but that’s quite limites). This won’t be a problem with most other sounds without too long a release – well, as long as you’re not into very complex chords.

Of all three Boutique synths, the JP-08 is the only one that I’ve bought as it’s also the only one featuring VCOs, the one with the most powerful synthesis engine, plus the only one with such an “80s legend” status. The only things missing compared with the other two (the JX-03 and JU-06) are a good chorus and longer-coursed faders/knobs.

I also bought the optional clipsable keyboard (a great idea by Roland), which is nice though nothing exceptional: the advantage is that you can play instantly with nothing else to plug and it also looks clearly nicer, but you’re soon limited with only two octaves.

Please note that the JP-08 also can also be used as a rather powerful sound interface (though I haven’t used it as such), features a rather basic step sequencer, and has an integrated small speaker of very average quality (don’t count on it for more than quick sound tests).


So, in the end,

Pros:

- Almost analog sounding (ala 80s).
- Very good manufacturing quality.
- Doesn’t take up mush space in a portable, standalone and already-crammed homestudio.

Cons:

- The faders’ course is too small.
- Polyphony offers only 4 voices, which is the JU-08’s big fault: a real pity, which by itself prevents me from giving it a 4-star rating.

But clearly, it sounds very well and its power allows to create a wide array of analog sounds: so wile it’s small in size, this JP-08 delivers a mighty, mighty sound!

As a bonus : a track (and album!) entirely recreated using the Jp-08 :

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News Analog Modeling Synth Rack/Sound Module

Synthmorph releases the Virus Dark Cinematics

Published on 02/20/17
Synthmorph has announced the release of Virus Dark Cinematics, a soundset for the popular Access Virus synthesizer family.

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