What Classic Electronic Music Gear Should Roland Bring Back?

roland-logoAt the 2013 NAMM Show, one of the biggest trends was that companies are looking to the past for inspiration and bringing classic gear of the past to new audiences.

The two most notable examples of this were probably the Buchla Electronic Music Instruments’ Electric Music Box – a recreation of a Don Buchla classic – and the Korg MS-20 Mini – a new version of their classic analog synthesizer.

Roland has their own treasure chest of vintage electronic music gear designs that they could mine, ranging from their vintage synths. to their classic analog and digital drum machines, to their unique bassline synths.

Do you think that Roland should revisit the past for inspiration? If so – what piece of classic Roland gear should they bring back?

134 thoughts on “What Classic Electronic Music Gear Should Roland Bring Back?

    1. did not read all the comments. the 707/808/909 combo thing would be my fav so far.
      – tb303: no, not anymore, xoxbox & co. filled that void
      – m100: yeah, not too bad. but there isnt really a lack of good modular stuff nowadays
      – juno: kinda covered too by their flagship synths
      I’d go for a n opportunistic non-analog choice: sp808! with tasty effects and true midi multisampler capabilities without loosing the workflow. octatracks success shows there is a demand for hardware samplers done right. nowadays a multisampler with decent usb/memory specs, analog circuits for filter/distortion and granular/glitchy fx would sell, I reckon. and keep the recording/mixer part, I know 2 bands still using the sp808 for everything.

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  1. I’m not sure a tr-808/909 remaking could be the best way for the company, BUT Tempest’s are being bought by lot of people, and jomox, and mfb’s, monotribes…I mean, people likes and buys analog drums for their music… So I can’t understand how the pioneer of that analog grooveboxes aren’t willing to make a new tr serie.. i don’t know, a tr-1010? with an analog sound engine plus digital effects?

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  2. Must Make:
    Juno-60, or 106.
    TR-808, 909, and CR78

    Could happen:
    System 100 would be cool, but has a lot of competition with eurorack.
    TB-303 would be easy, but has competition from a lot of clones, (but few are good enough).

    Won’t happen:
    Jupiter-8 would be too expensive to do properly today.

    Weird, but cool:
    I’d like to see the MC-4 with MIDI 2.0

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  3. I think that their ship has sailed. They have good people but the top management only wants to make organs. what would I build if I were them? A revised SH-5, or a Jupiter 4. Even an SH-101 updated for the modern world would be nice and would probably do well for them.

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  4. I’ll tell you what. I’d settle for Virtual Analog on these grounds:

    1) Aren’t ROMplers.
    2) The sounds is as good or better than a soft synth.
    2) The case and controls are identical (or identical + anything extra to make MIDI work) to the originals.
    3) They all have MIDI implementation.
    4) Are reasonably priced.

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  5. I’m surprised this is even a question. A 909. Duh!

    All the current 909 remake software, is limited to yesterday’s thinking. If they apply the new technology of what exist today it can be a sick drum machine with USB midi that can be fully controllable and reprogrammed. I guess a joMox would be similar, but Roland can totally make it have analogue and digital capabilities. Once you connect that USB cable you, can be able to use it as a sequencer or a sound unit in conjuction with your current software and utlize all it’s outputs for each individual sound.

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  6. I’d love to see an updated reissue of the SH-101. Full MIDI is an obvious must, but keep the CV ins/outs – hooking it up to some Eurocrack would be fun. A multimode version of the filter would be cool, as would an extra LFO (plus clock sync), a second VCO (maybe with rudimentary FM and/or ring modulation?), patch storage (add a small screen for patch names and a USB port for storing/loading patches on a computer or iDevice), 303-like sequencing (accent/slide, etc.), a full three-octave keyboard, and keep it around a grand at the most. The keytar kit needs to come back, too. 🙂

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    1. despite the fact that many people don’t believe in ipad apps, they are actually good
      and it wouldn’t be bad for Roland to try to go in that direction…
      apps can work in different ways…

      animoog is clearly not expensive as his hardware counterparts but has a beautiful design and sounds good. maybe from their point of view is not “important” or a bit out of their core hardware know how, but i bet they earned a lot of money from it.

      korg has followed other routes, they have never been afraid of getting in the “amateurish” stuff.
      now if you think at how many times that “amateurish” stuff is used in music you hear everyday, your head will spin so fast you couldn’t believe… they make a lot of money from it and it just keep people talking about them and their designs… even when they are far from perfect… just think about the MS-20, appeared on the Nintendo DS (wonderful and crappy machine), appeared on the ipad, and know reborn in hardware form…

      one thing must be said… while it’s true that Roland doesn’t work nowadays like Korg, or Yamaha for better or worse, it is also true that their designs were so successful that many hardware or software clones have already been created.

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  7. I know Alesis has its DM Dock on the way, but I’d like to see a new iPad assisted electronic drum brain & app from Roland with all the V-Drum modelling stuff built in. The TD-8 was my first piece of Roland gear.

    Roland seems to be determined to never return to analog, even though they really did make some awesome analog/digital hybrids back in the day. I’m personally a Juno 106 fan but with three keyboards called “Juno” already in their lineup I would figure that Roland doesn’t think anything new/old is needed for the series.

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  8. An expanded/updated JD-800 with a few extra features. JD-800 is one Roland synth that despite it’s PCM underpinnings really is a synth that can fit into any decade and is a Joy to use/play/program. Why none of the newer Roland VA/PCM synths had an interface as grand as that I don’t know. It’s a sound designers dream. JP-8000 doesn’t count as is ‘only’ VA and VA has it’s work cut out now against software, but something as epic as a JD-800 maybe with even a few more sliders and the missing PWM would be an awesome synth in 2013 (just as the JD-800 was in 1991 and still is in fact).

    Only make sure you don’t use the ‘red glue’ on the keys this time, stick those pots of epoxy in the shed Eh Roland? 😛

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  9. hey guys come on!!!
    stop raving about things that will NEVER happen
    the best thing you are going to get from Roland right now
    is a beefed up Roland Gaia and then the next step will be a Roland Gaia with micro keys!!!

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    1. That’s what everybody said about Korg and they came through with the Mini MS-20.

      Roland wants to make money just as much as Korg!

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      1. than we (musicians) will just release music that’s gonna sound 30 year old and boring,
        so let’s bring back also the harpsichord with the black keys between the B and C and between the E and the F, it will sound soooo refreshing!!!!

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  10. Roland is powerful, I’m sure they could blow everyone out the water with some modern-day analogue/digital hybrid offering, or just some straight up discreet analogue.. Why are they sitting on this?

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    1. What people fail to remember is that a lot of Roland’s ‘classic’ gear flopped when it was originally released.

      The 303 was originally intended to be a ‘robo bassist’ that you could practice with, for example, and musicians hated it.

      If you’re the bean counter at Roland, it’s probably hard to get excited about re-releasing a piece of gear that bombed when it was first released.

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  11. Roland just released a sound module Integra that focuses on realistic “Supernatural” ukulele sounds and the like. So this is pointless. But I would like to see an analog/hybrid groovebox and separate keyboard, that you can choose an all analog signal path if you desire.

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  12. TB 303 and TR 606 are a great set for the current market. small modular. good looking units. if they had midi and bpm built in rather than a dial. maybe add 808 and 909 sound banks to the 606. you’ve got really simple well designed entry level kit right there that sounds amazing!

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  13. TB 303 and TR 606 are a great set for the current market. Small modular. Good looking units. If they had midi and bpm built in rather than a dial. maybe add 808 and 909 sound banks to the 606. you’ve got really simple well designed entry level kit right there that sounds amazing!

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  14. Why do you expect Roland to reissue anything they made in the past (or make anything interesting at all)? They missed all the TB303 mania in te past 20 years as well as TR909/808. Roland just decided to misuse the Juno/Jupiter brands for a set of new products.

    Making all analogue equivalent of polyphonic Jupiter 4/6/8 would not be economical (expensive technology to make, compared to present digital machines with one small circuit board in a big box), the service and guarantee costs would not be acceptable as well. Check out the quite recent business “success” of Alesis A6 Andromeda. It can not be compared with rather simple designs of OB SEM or MS20.

    Monophonic SH101 is based on Curtis VCO (not available in large quantities anymore), but if they wait with mono VCO based synth, there will be no market gap anymore with already introduced MS20mini, Arturia Minibrute, Waldorf Pulse II (that should be out soon), DSI Mopho, Moogs, OB SEM, etc.

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  15. Roland – get on the reissue-of-every-roland-classic-synth-as-an-app-on-iPad train, it’s the big one with all the people waving to you.

    Surprised at some of these answers – 303? 909? 808? Really? Samples are available practically for free. Most people who want these boxes never owned them and are not aware of the tuning issues. The Roland MC series covered that 20 years ago people.. and no it wasn’t perfect, (theres a MC-505 FS here for $200 mint) but 95% of population cannot afford perfect, so what’s a company to do? Arturia Spark / Spark LE does way more than just 808/909 – although I wish the sounds were on-board and there was a trigger out but for $250.. you can’t complain.

    To Roland, I’d suggest a 16-voice multi-timbral large hardware polysynth w MIDI and CV triggers in classic 70’s/80’s colors, with optional matching dedicated hardware sequencer (Like Arp / Moog Doepfer) w infinite knobs, similar to Nord Wave style, the synth at around $1500 and sequencer about $600. Knobs and control switches for every function with dedicated 101, 202, 303, Juno, Jupiter patches in digital memory.

    Waldorf did similar to this, less the sequencer, with the XT and Q models 15 years ago.. Access Virus as well – remarkable hardware. However – how strong is demand is these days for existing Access / Nord / Waldorf due to software synths??

    Hardware would unsurprisingly be pricey to cover the $250,000 it takes to develop a new hardware synth.. not sure how strong sales of the Gaia SH-01 are but you can pretty much get any vintage Roland synth sound out of it BUT it is a task..

    *Listen up Roland: you should release 101, 202, 303, Juno and Jupter pre-programmed banks for the Gaia, that was a HUGE miss, and mono-timbral.. really? Maybe in the coming SH-02??

    The one to watch is Dave Smith Instruments. Mopho x4? Prophet 12.. hello

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  16. To me nothing sounds better than old roland stuff!!! I’d love to see some faithful reproductions.
    I think it’s fantastic what korg did with the ms20, and hats off for resisting the urge to modernize it, even moog didn’t have the guts to re-release the model D.
    Ok, that’s kind of silly, it’s not fear that inspired the voyager, it was design progress. But there are design classics out there that still have a place in the world! Guitarists, can buy a brand new telecaster and brand new twin reverb if they want, and why shouldn’t they?
    When those silly guitars that also had a bass neck in them came out, did people stop making normal guitars because they wanted progress?
    The ms20 is a valid INSTRUMENT, and I hope it stays in production indefinitely.

    The genius of the ms20 mini is that everyone who’s ever wanted an ms20 but couldn’t justify the cost can now buy one. For roland to have as great a product it would also need to be 1/3rd of the ebay price. I can’t see roland doing that.

    If the church market is that high they should just release some giant, beastly, all analogue, divide-down osc, combo organ, string synth monster. Like an RS505 on steroids.

    If you wanna buy a brand new all analog…
    monosynth – you got options
    polysynth – you got options
    modular – you got options
    drum machine – you got options
    string synth – sorry go buy vintage
    combo organ – why would you ever need an all analog combo org…. well you might find an old vintage one…. PHWAR HOW MUCH???$$$?$?$?$?!!!!!!!!

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  17. I love the SP- 808 ex it was way ahead of its time . Something like this incorporating the 808 and 909 but next level Shit

    Amen 😀

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  18. If one is looking for a nice and capable Roland VA synth they could do worse than the sh-32. While not perfect it does have a great high pass and band pass filter and a fantastic arpeggiator which is completely programable and borders on a step-sequencer. And they are inexpensive! For the bonus round, responds to poly aftertouch, which is really fun to use with the arpeggiator.

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  20. TB-303!!!! no rompler,the real deal .Add a memory bank for pattern storage (like even a micro SD) and make it MIDI/MIDI controller and you have yourself a Winner!
    We would all love to own a Juipter8,Juno 106,808/909 etc but all we would get is a lame ROMPLER keyboard. If you want the real thing, Check out the Arturia Mini Brute,!00% analog badass! and VERY affordable.We are not all filthy rich and can afford Dave Smiths Great but EXPENSIVE equipment!
    Besides if your not performing on stage do you really need all that hardware cluttering up your studio when some of these latest VSTi are down right spectacular,i.e TAL-U-NO-LX, Arturia Jupiter 8 ,Mini Moog V,CS-80,Spark Vintage etc. D16’s LuSH-101,Drumazon(909) , Nepheton(808) , Phosyon(303),Nithonat(727) , NI Pro-53 , Audio Realism ABL, ABl Pro and ADM, reFX Juno X2, The KORG collection,e.t.c..
    These are just the VSTi’s that have 3D realistic interfaces,there are plenty more but these are the closest thing the real deal w/o to spending a bank roll on a beat up Non-MIDI device that when it breaks down your kind of SOL.

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