Roland Intros AIRA System-1m Eurorack Module, aka ‘Modular For The Masses’

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At Musikmesse 2015, Roland today introduced the AIRA System-1m Semi-Modular PLUG-OUT Synthesizer.

The new synth combines Roland’s Plug-Out technology with CV/GATE and Eurorack compatibility.

Roland describes the new synth as ‘modular for the masses.’

The SYSTEM-1m takes the guesswork out of getting into modular. The fully self-contained module can be placed in a rack or on a table and can be powered by a standard AC adaptor. And it can be played from any standard MIDI keyboard or receive MIDI messages from your DAW – just like you’d expect.

But the SYSTEM-1m goes beyond standard synthesizer modules. WIth fully-lit, color coded patch points, you can experiment with reconfiguring its architecture and easily connect to a wide world of available synthesizer modules.

In addition to functioning as a rackmount or tabletop unit, the SYSTEM-1m can be mounted in a standard Eurorack case and can be powered via integrated case power with the included adapter cable. Its versatile synth architecture integrates with existing modular setups – or it can be the heart of a burgeoning modular synthesizer rig.

Here’s Roland’s AIRA Modular intro video:

The SYSTEM-1m is a semi-modular synthesizer with PLUG-OUT capability and a unique design that can be used as a Eurorack module, tabletop synth, or 19” rackmount unit.

In addition to being a powerful standalone instrument, the SYSTEM-1m has external inputs and an array of CV/Gate connections that allow it to be re-patched and to interface with other modular synthesizer systems. According to Roland, the ‘SYSTEM-1m’s CV/Gate connections combined with its ability to load classic Roland PLUG-OUT synth models like the SH-101 and PROMARS give it power and flexibility that is simply unparalleled.’

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Features:

  • Semi-modular synthesizer with PLUG-OUT capability
  • 19 color-coded CV/Gate and audio connections with LED lighting
  • 84 HP Eurorack, tabletop and 19” rack compatible using AC adaptor or Eurorack power
  • Versatile oscillators with six waveforms, Crossmod, Ring Mod, Sync and Color control
  • All parameters controlled with high-resolution knobs and sliders with LED indicators
  • External input for processing external signals through filter, amp and FX section
  • -12 dB and -24 dB filter types with independent high-pass filters
  • Integrated tone, crusher, reverb and delay effects
  • Tempo syncing for LFO and delay
  • 24-bit/96kHz audio and MIDI interface
  • AIRA Link for easy connection to MX-1 Mix Performer
  • Includes rackmount adapter and braided patch cables

New Sonic Possibilities

While it provides a huge amount of synthesis power on its own, interconnecting the SYSTEM-1m with other modular gear creates a vast range of sonic possibilities. Its oscillator section, filters and envelopes are useful in any modular setup.. According to Roland, the SYSTEM-1m’s combination of CV/Gate modularity, PLUG-OUT, and DAW integration  ‘takes things into completely uncharted territory’..

For example, load the SH-101 PLUG-OUT into the SYSTEM-1m and you essentially have a hardware SH-101 with modular capabilities – something that has never existed before.

You can also process external sources through the SH-101’s filters, or load the SH-2 PLUG-OUT and use its oscillator section to drive any number of available Eurorack filters and envelopes.

Pricing and Availability are to be announced. UPDATE: The Roland SYSTEM-1m will be $599 USD MAP and should be available in May or June (depending on the region of the world). More information is available at the Roland AIRA website.

33 thoughts on “Roland Intros AIRA System-1m Eurorack Module, aka ‘Modular For The Masses’

  1. By what stretch of the imagination is this modular? All theyve done is create a single unit. None of the synth sections are swappable like a true modular. Its barely semi modular like the ms20.

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      1. Theyre c.v patch points not modular patch points. The minibrute has c.v patch points too, but that doesnt make it a modular synth.

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        1. System 1-m has control voltage and audio signals on 1/8 inch jacks, and then the whole big module is mountable into a eurorack case. This makes it modular.

          A key format synth like the Brute that has CV I/O can be described as modular-friendly, or an option to control a eurorack system, or a bridge. But it’s semantics. If the brute was a 40hp module with front-mounted VC and audio jacks, then it would be a eurorack-compatible modular module.

          Claiming that the System 1-m isn’t modular feels like a strange pedantic battle line.

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          1. Maybe you think to be modular, EVERY aspect of the synth needs to be broken out on a CV/Audio I/O. That’s not a standard that’s applied to regular modules, so why apply it to the System 100m?

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    1. The ms20 is barely semi modular, if you read the info then you will know that there are patch points everywhere for eurorack integration, unlike the very limited and somewhat semi-modular ms20…I own an ms20 BTW, so I am not just talking out my a$$…

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    2. Pittsburgh synth system 1, Doepfer A-111-5, Intellijel Atlantis etc. What are those? Think a bit wider and dont whine 🙂

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    1. I actually like the S1 keyboard. [go ahead and throw that at me, I’m ducking behind a desk]

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      1. Naw, I won’t laugh at you. But – I first actually put my fingers on one of these this last weekend and – I must say, the keyboard was something of a surprise.

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  2. arguing aside, you can’t say this is a great step forward in many directions for Roland, they HAVE been listening…..

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  3. I’m sure Korg knew about this a while back, but I think their hearts may have jumped for the first time in 4 years or so at this “news”…

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  4. It seems like this product is a little too little too late. As far as modularity is concerned, the synthesizer barely qualifies as semi modular.

    I hope the re-released system 100 modules are the faithful re-creations that musicians have been asking for.

    That being said, this release may in fact indicate that the modular synthesizer bubble is about to burst. The synthesizer community that has been keeping modular alive up to this point has been a small group of fanatical and obsessed individuals interested in creating instruments for themselves as much as for profit. HavingA large corporation like Roland enter the market again May eventually hurt this small community that already exists on small profit margins. Large companies like Roland will also diminish The quality of products as the smaller guys will have to cut corners or raise prices to stay competitive. Roland reentering the market could have negative consequences in this regard

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  5. Man, there are some crabby commenters… I am totally happy for all of this Roland stuff. No one has to buy it. Go spend a year with a MC-303 and then tell me how bad this stuff is 😛

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    1. I don’t care what anyone says, my MC-303 was the first bit of electronic gear I ever owned, and I can still spit out a phat 808 beat in 2 minutes flat with that guy… now as for the lead sounds and what not, just, NO. But it did suffice as a midi brain for a few weeks while I was getting my hardware setup configured.

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  6. Monster corporate stomps all over the little guy (the boutique manufacturers, needless to say). This all seems somewhat lazy to me, as it has been with Korg, Moog and others. At least Dave Smith is moving the Prophet name on; this seems like treading water.

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  7. Looks good, I’ve played the System 1, and to my ears it was the best analogue modelled sound I’ve heard by far

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  8. I love my System 1.. Two synths in 1? It’s a winner.. I’m always using the SH101 plugout.

    Soon, I’ll get SH2.. But I’m really liking SH101 plugout.. It sounds great, really great. I’ve played with the real SH101 and the plugout is amazing.

    This System 1M is the synth I will get to partner with my Bass Station 2 and System 1 and TB3 and TR8 drum machine.. I don’t think I will be getting the System 500 though..

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  9. Roland owns this Messe 2015…they have delivered and I say this as someone who has never given Roland the time of day (well I do regret never getting a V-Synth GT)

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  10. Major yawn… I wonder if the all the groovy lights flash in sync with the beat? Watered down toy modulars like this will be attractive to many I’m sure, but if you’re a serious modular synth user, this is more fizz than sizzle. Your opinions may vary, and everyone is entitled to their own!

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  11. I think Roland misses something with the polyphony/paraphony. I think this is the first semi modular polyphonic at least in eurorack format, but the CV interface doesn’t take advantage of it (or did I miss something?)
    Using the system 1 as a mono is disapointing, where there could be a real unique feature.

    Like often in semi modular architectures, lots of things are missing (LFO sync, LFO speed control, Resonance modulation, no CV interface for crusher/delay/reverb…)

    For the price that’s still interesting. I wonder how all the CV inputs will behave at audio rate.

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  12. System 1 has one flaw when it comes to emulating the SH101: the random waveform only responds to midi-clock. On the SH101, the LFO random waveform will only resond to incoming notes when the SH101’s external clock in is hooked up to, for example, the rimshot trigger out of a TR707.

    Hopefully, the LFO inputs provided on the System 1m replicates that external clock input on the SH101 – imo it’ the about the most important feature of the SH101. It’s also a pity that it’s not ipresent in the plugout – Korg were able to provide patch points in their MS20 plug-in.

    I’m looking forward the most to applying this single most important feature of the SH101 to the SH2 and Promars plugout.

    Wait and see

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  13. Struggling to find any details about how the System 1m can be controlled via MIDI, specifically CC messages. Roland’s owner manual doesn’t say anything about it, which leads me to believe that it doesn’t accept any MIDI CC (and instead favors CV). Is this true? Can anyone confirm this?

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