Roland’s First Analog Modular Synthesizer In 25 Years – The System 500

Today, at Musikmesse 2015, Roland introduced its first analog synthesizer modules in 25 years, the System 500.

The Roland System 500, created in conjunction with Portland-based Malekko Heavy Industries, is a new line of Eurorack analog synthesizer modules, based on two of the most revered electronic instruments of all time—the SYSTEM-700 and SYSTEM-100m.

This video, via RockoNCompany, features Malekko’s Josh Holley giving an overview of the new Roland System 500 synth modules.

Pricing and availability details are still to be announced.

29 thoughts on “Roland’s First Analog Modular Synthesizer In 25 Years – The System 500

  1. VCO VCO VCO VCO VCO

    in 1 milisecond, any supporter of alternate sound creation will bow to these clips. VCOs NEED to be on the market in a big way, in the form of polys. It’s such a simple thing to combine a VCO and nice filter, then make digital for the whole rest of the system, and we’d have brilliant synths again. Why do so many cling to the other formats, other possibilities, before at least re-stating the VCO poly on the market in some form? There is no question that it would dominate, even if not for a long time, for a decent amount of time. Just listening to it, you can’t help but feel the power and instantly recognize it a the SYNTH tone you know you want.

    1. VCO isn’t a sound, it’s a pitch control method.

      Analog Oscillators are “the sound” – the full frequency infinite fidelity with overtones stretching into the sky well beyond your hearing range, not a single reflected aliasing artifact. I like a nice DCO for flexibility and stability, and in poly. You can make them drift with subtle tuning variations, phase them against each other, etc. And they’re in tune immediately, hot or cold.

  2. Nice sound, but I have to wonder, how much of this is really Roland and how much of it is Malekko?

    “I also added a…”

    Seems like Roland may not even know how to make true analog anymore. Maybe they just recruited Malekko to make modules with the Roland name on them. After all, this should really help their brand image as true analog is something both fans and critics have been pushing for in recent years.

    1. They could have reanimated Bob Moog back as a demilich for all I care, long as we get some cool new toys that I don’t have room for.

    2. from all the interviews I’ve watched the creative engineering design forces at roland haven’t changed for 30ish years, and they have no desire to go “backwards” and revisit earlier designs. I don’t think it is out of malice, or disrespect for the designs, just lack of interest.

      this may have been a case where a proven and capable synthesizer engineer asked to license the original designs (as he has done before with the Wiard synths) and they accepted. Maybe he even got to pick the brains of some of the roland engineers, who (while I feel they are outf step with musicians) are definitely talented.

      the features he chose to implement look amazing, and if it sounds like the originals and is reasonably priced…. it may drag me away from my intellijel obsession….

    3. Seems like Roland may not even know how to make true analog anymore.

      That is some rather comical statement. Roland are one of the most influential companies on modern electronic music.

      Here is another machine by them , it looks to put all the other companies to shame.

      1. A machine made by them which is actually made by Malekko heavy industry, a company that has been making great analog gear by itself for years now.

    4. They do know how to make true analog. You hire good engineers. Josh is a genius, and they reached out to him. The fact that they don’t have good analog talent in-house doesn’t surprise me, as that hasn’t been their business in a while. But the fact that they made such a classy choice in their engineer makes me really excited to play with these modules.

    5. I don’t understand your complaint? They worked with Malekko, gave them the original schematics and produced these modules together. It’s awesome. Why are people so hard to please?

      1. Why are people hard to please?

        Because in this quickfire internet world where anonimity covers everything up, people type without reading or knowing, press submit without realising what they have typed and generaly think that their individual desires rule the world.

    6. “Seems like Roland may not even know how to make true analog anymore. ”

      I had my (complete) Roland System 100 serviced at Roland’s Richmond, BC, Canada location just last year. And it sounds fantastic. I think they know what they’re doing when it comes to analog circuitry. If anything they joined with Malekko to reduce the risk for producing a product that they probably weren’t entirely certain of.

      **EDIT:** MatrixSynth is reporting that “Rumor is the are modules designed by Malekko with the original designer of Roland’s System 100m based on the 100m circuits.”

  3. Roland finally answer their users calls for serious electronic music instruments – the JD-XA, the System 1M, and now the System 500. I think Roland have listened – at last – and realised they needed something more serious than the JD-Xi and System 1 to carry them forward in the face of strong competition from Korg and other companies. Well done Roland – you’ve restored my faith in you after losing it for many years.

  4. I don’t know f I’m more please with Roland releasing an Analogue synth or the fact that everyone can stop bad mouthing Them now

  5. The hyperbole around these modules is quite something… “it looks to put all the other companies to shame” and “two of the most revered electronic instruments of all time—the SYSTEM-700 and SYSTEM-100m” As someone who was using modulars since the early ’70’s (Moog IIIc, Buchla) I take serious issue with these statements, but then again, everyone is welcomed to their own beliefs opinions. But if you ever really worked on a System 100, you’d know it never seriously competed with Moog, Buchla, Serge, etc. Sonically they just don’t compare.

    1. Maybe, but the System 700 could compete with any synth on the planet…and probably win. If you think I don’t know what I am talking about, rest assured: my partner in my first band in 1980 owned both a 100 and a 700. Awesome times.

  6. First off all this new roland stuff looks pretty cool. Roland however missed the analog Renaissance. There’s nothing new or super exciting in any of their new gear. It’s just more options which is a good thing. I am interested in the JD XA But Dave Smith did the analog Digital hybrid back in 2003 so it’s not a new idea. What someone really needs to do is release A fully programmable knob filled FM based synthesizer like the DX7. That is my free marketing advice if anybody’s listening. Someone will eventually do it and all the others will follow

  7. so roland let malekko use their logo? big news.
    roland then harvests all the fruit/profits of malekko’s modular designs, and makes more aira crap.
    and people will praise roland, not malekko.
    sounds about right.

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