Roland Intros Hideously Ugly Desktop Synth Module

Roland SonicCell Desktop Synthesis for the PC Generation

Summer NAMM: Roland introduced a new desktop hardware synth today, the SonicCell. According to Roland, the SonicCell puts the power and legendary sound quality of a Roland hardware synthesizer on your desktop. According to us, it’s the most hideously ugly synth we’ve seen in a long time.

Here’s the details…..

With its dual SRX expansion bay, built-in USB audio interface, and ability to play SMFs and WAV/AIFF/MP3 files, SonicCell is a dream for computer-based musicians and live performers who seek a compact, integrated pro sound module and USB audio-interface solution.

Equipped with a state-of-the-art sound engine, SonicCell delivers the pristine sound quality of a dedicated Roland hardware synth. A remarkable new waveform set has been created for SonicCell, including a world-class collection of acoustic instruments, drums, and percussion that are expertly programmed to provide the ultimate in expression and realism. SonicCell’s internal sound bank can even be expanded and customized via its two internal SRX expansion bays. Choose from a dozen of Roland’s famous SRX Expansion boards (sold separately) that cover a vast world of musical instruments and styles. Whether you’re driving SonicCell from a computer, another synthesizer, or a MIDI keyboard or guitar controller, you’ll enjoy unsurpassed sound quality, reliability, and flexibility.

SonicCell is ideal for musicians who use a PC as the core of their writing, recording, and performing universe. More than a mere sound module, SonicCell is equipped with a built-in USB audio interface. Simply connect SonicCell directly to your computer’s USB port, and you can record and create music with no additional hardware required. You can even plug a microphone, guitar, or other instruments into SonicCell and record your live audio tracks directly into your computer. And since SonicCell can help minimize the burden on the computer’s processor, you’ll enjoy more efficient and stable performance. As an added bonus, a free copy of Cakewalk’s Sonar LE recording software included with every SonicCell sold, as well as a full patch editor application that can be used as is a plug-in style PC software editor, which makes sound designing and effects programming fast and friendly. SonicCell is the perfect all-in-one solution for synthesis and recording.

In addition to its high-quality synthesis and audio-interface functions, SonicCell can be used as a virtual backing band. Simply create a playlist of your songs or backing tracks with the software Playback Editor (included free with SonicCell), and transfer the playlist to a commercially available USB memory stick. Insert the stick into SonicCell’s USB port, and it will become a stand-alone song player that you can play and control onstage or anywhere you perform. SonicCell can play back WAV, AIFF, and MP3 files. It evens plays Standard MIDI Files.

The SonicCell actually sounds like it could be a good concept, but its design is hideously ugly and it doesn’t offer the types of knobby hands-on control that other interfaces offer.

7 thoughts on “Roland Intros Hideously Ugly Desktop Synth Module

  1. I don’t think it is “hideous ugly”. Just because there are no knobs to it? Just asign them through MIDI and adjust through your controler, or even better, adjust the virtual knobs in the software plug-in inside your favorite DAW.

    What a stupid “review”, really.

  2. Matias

    Thanks for the feedback. That’s what its for – so you can share different opinions.

    My feeling is that if you’re going to have a piece of hardware in this day and age, you need to give it some hands-on control. Otherwise, you might as well use software.

    And it is hideously ugly – it looks like it could be an old-school tape recorder, not a synth module.

    1. oh my… stick to the facts (you did that pretty well) and leave matters of taste up to … anybody, really, but not as main headline in a review. Thanks for the review though!

      One more question, could you comment on the difference / similarity with the Roland SD-50 unit?

      thx, Erik

  3. I disagree with the hideously ugly. I like cool looking LEDs and cosmetics as much as the next guy – looks cool on stage and in the studio. But………after looking at desktop interfaces for a long time, this is the first one that seems to be perfect as far as what I’m looking for and what it does. My only wishes is that the graphics were bigger for low light situations and the SONAR. There’s other software I would prefer, but I understand Cakewalk is a Roland company.

    Tiger-I Entertainment, Inc.

  4. It's not ugly … looks like an old 80's Harmon Kardon rig.
    …. but to be a synth … it needs knobs.

    otherwise it's just a vst in a box.

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