Introducing The Roland Aira Line (Video Overview)

At the 2014 NAMM Show, Roland’s Brandon Ryan gave us a sneak preview of their new AIRA line, which features four new pieces of gear:

  • The AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer – a $499 drum machine;
  • The AIRA TB-3 Touch Bassline – a $299 bassline synth;
  • The AIRA VT-3 Voice Transformer – a $199 vocal effects processor and vocoder; and
  • The AIRA System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer – a $599 virtual analog synthesizer that can transform into a variety of classic synth, and act as a hardware controller for a new line of software synthesizers.

In the video, Ryan gives an overview of the line, talks about Roland’s new Analog Circuit Behavior modeling technology, and gave us a quick demo of the new gear.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

47 thoughts on “Introducing The Roland Aira Line (Video Overview)

    1. brendon – many vendors do this at NAMM, because so many people come to the show, but the show floor itself is pretty terrible for talking and doing demos.

  1. Cripes. Roland are releasing something that isn’t a hideous session musician preset machine named after a classic synth! I hope this is the start of a return to form. It sounds really promising.

  2. bah , due to the poorly thin sounds of nex devices , value of jp8000, tr and tb and famous VT1 cant be only reach sky …
    if you have old roland product , you have Gold Ingot !!!

  3. Digital 303 just doesn’t cut it for me, everything else is alright, but raw dirty analog 303 is what it is and special for a reason. The rest is cool.

      1. analog vs digital soundsource is obviously something complete different to analog vs digital mastering

        especially when its like in this case about analog filters meant to be driven hard. what has that to to with a digital master ?

  4. Yip does sound good, the keyboard has most interest but the TB sounds wicked. More connect ability with legacy gear would have been nice but all in all excited, a Roland product thats not embarrassing:)

  5. Looking forward to them all but System-1 has me most interested. That said, he said they are releasing their classic synths as VSTs, so this makes the System-1 more of a clever MIDI controller with a PC on-board. So for ITB the sound would be the same using VSTs as using the System-1. And I’ve already got my MIDI controller keyboards. Hmm.

    Pricing seems reasonable, but certainly not “must-buy” cheap.

    Overall I’m fairly happy. I don’t think owners and aficionados of 303s and 808s were ever going to be satisfied, even if they were pure analog.

  6. If this deliver in sound, Roland has nailed it! Love the prices. Power to the people! I still would like to hear how those plug out modeling sound before I purchase. Saving up though. Nice. Made my Valentine’s.

  7. You go Roland….trying to break the cycle and release more obtainable good gear for the masses. I have a Gaia laying in my studio along side my analog stuff and I use it in my mixes….

  8. I like the plug-out idea, as long as they come up with some good VSTs. In the gear junkie video, the guy at Roland Euro HQ mentioned a Pro-Mars VST. I don’t know if it’s forthcoming or he just brought it up as a possible example. I wonder how close they could get to my Jupiter-4? (which is basically a 4-voice Pro Mars)

  9. Why go through all of the trouble to analyze and studio the analog components, schematics, etc just to model them? Why not just re-create the analog components and build an analog version that is digitally controlled???

    1. Because it’s been done many times already – just without the ‘Roland’ logo.

      Why would you not want the increased sonic flexibility that you get with a good modern design? This is 808 + 909 + all the mods people have done over the years + MIDI + USB audio and MIDI and a lot more.

  10. I bet 90% of you ‘analog purists’ would fail a blind A/B test between the originals and these.
    Stop fetishizing so much and just be happy that we have new options available now.

  11. HA! Everyone was so sure they HATED this line as an offensive upstart when it was just dark videos and now they’re lining up waving their checkbooks. I expected as much; its a predictable pattern. My only issue with it is the same one as usual: can’t anyone find something creative to do with these things that ISN’T DANCE? Its just too simplistic to be the only style you play and no, the thousand sub-genres don’t make any difference. I’m casually impressed with AIRA as a well-designed system, but the first person who takes it AWAY from dance of any kind and gives it a new voice will be my new hero. The whole field is festering with dubstep and really needs a better voice. This one is creatively tapped out. I’m not suggesting a total return to bloated 20-minute prog rock epics, but 20 minutes of trance is no better. It looks like a great setup that deserves to be broadly embraced and not merely sync’d up. Don’t you want to hear more than only the most basic goodies? Boom-Bap alone isn’t a style. Its what you play *over* it that will define you.

  12. Hey but it’s not analogue. The micro miniscule variation in sound between these and the originals will make a huge difference to my tracks. The punters will spot this straight away.

    1. Live already done a blind test on 303’s with no mastering, analog 303 is easy to pick out, just because you are too noob to catch the difference doesn’t make it fact or a trend sorry.

      Live Analog 303 is unmatched dirty.

  13. Looks and sounds quality. However, it seems like a vst stuffed in a midi controller, and thats ok for the performance and price. At the end of the day its about being inspired and having fun.

  14. I won’t even recommend this stuff for beginners, take it from someone else’s bad experience and go for something real and don’t settle for this cheap plasticy toys

    1. I second the idea of “real.” Its perfectly okay to buy cheapo or mid-range things while you learn, but I really started understanding what I was doing when I bought a flagship workstation. It didn’t require anywhere near the same compromises in sound or usability as my first pile of doodads. I grew by leaps and bounds as the framework became more clear. I learned to draw a bit from every synthesis method of sound creation by learning their pluses and minuses. You have to *produce* to some degree, because its rarely about just one instrument; the whole studio realm is the real instrument. I think the majority of us have both hardware and software devices, so don’t ask if a new tool is any “good” as a stand-alone item; ask how it could enhance your whole team.

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