Roland Previews Promars Plug-Out Synth For System-1


At the 2015 NAMM Show, Roland previewed another ‘Plug-Out’ synthesizer for the Aira System-1 platform, a recreation of the Promars synthesizer. 

Here’s a video preview, via Future Music Magazine:

The System-1 is a hardware synthesizer that can have different audio ‘personalities’, based on the firmware that it is loaded with. It has its own synthesizer built-in, but can also be loaded with Roland ‘plug-out’ synths, that can be used on your computer or loaded to the System-1.

Roland has previously introduced Sh-101 and SH-2 plug-out synths. At the Show, they introduced the Roland Promars. And, as the video demonstrates, Roland is committed to the plug-out platform and is interested in creating new synths for the platform, in addition to recreations of vintage classics.

The Roland Promars recreates a rare synth they describe as a precursor to the Jupiter-4. For some history on the Roland Promars, see Gordon Reid’s SOS lookback on the ‘Compuphonic’ keyboard.

The Roland Promars plug-out synth is expected to be available in March, 2015.

26 thoughts on “Roland Previews Promars Plug-Out Synth For System-1

  1. Great to hear a long term commitment has been put forth by Roland. Not quite into it yet and I own the rest of the Aira line, but if they keep adding to it like this, then I will soon be searching the second hand market for one.

  2. I love my System-1. Lately I have been using it more than any of my other hardware. I like the plug-out capabilities (glad to be able to use those extra 8 patch locations), but I feel the plugins are a bit expensive. I hope this Promars plugin (&out) isn’t going to cost $145 (like the SH-2).
    But it does sound extremely fat, and I would consider it over the SH-2 for the same price.

    Most interesting to me. starts at [2:50]:
    Chris “To convert VST to plugout format… Is it a relatively simple process?”
    Brandon “Um, like other peoples’?”
    Chris “If somebody came to you”
    Brandon “Yeah, it can probably be done,and it is not something we would rule out. We like working with other people…”

    Good to know that Roland are open to the idea.

    1. Does sound like Roland are open on this. But they don’t want to be telling customers making a plug out is a simple process with a pricing structure that doesn’t reflect that. I would have thought it makes more sense to give the plug outs away as VSTs, get people using them and wanting mobile hardware per knob function for those sounds – selling a lot of System -1’s. Which is marketing gold for being noticed in a world were holding peoples attention is limited and fleeting. You invest in us, and now we invest in you – it is the new way to build loyalty and value, build relationships with active users – rather than seeking to entrap another sale to a customer.

  3. Hey Roland — these sound great. Free advice from stranger on the internet: release a System-2 with decent keys with normal amount of travel, same or greater price. Plug outs a little less expensive point, perhaps $60-70 each. System1is too awful to play, but the concept is good and the sound is great, and I think this is the start of an interesting line.

    1. ditch the scatter and leds, proper wheels and less plastic/future.

      if they are commited to this idea, they should release a more commited model. the idea is sticking, get a lil more srs roland and offer a “studio” version.

      just the basics with solid build, 49+ keys, ATLEAST velocity.

      multiple active engines? (stack)

      1. This has to happen, but the System-1 hasn’t even been out a year yet, so it will take some time.

        I think they need to prove that the platform has legs before people are going to be willing to spend more than $600 on an AIRA keyboard.

        The next logical step, though, is a System-2 that can host multiple synth engines, has full-size keys, can handle serious polyphony and can do layers/splits.

    2. You’re right, it does sound good, with perhaps a bit more beef than I expected. Nice job. I do see one limitation. The system doesn’t appear large enough to handle a Jupiter-8 model and if it was, the price would probably outdistance people’s hunger for it. Its a strange grey area, surely magnified by the way so many turned on Roland for the Jupiter-80. That’s a fine instrument, but its configured as a fancy live performer’s item more than a synth-y synth, what with the organ-like registrations. On top of that, if they build a more accurate JP-8 of any kind, it won’t be cheap, if we’re honest. I’m just one of those who remembers how HUGE the JP-8 was to play. Can Roland make a Prophet-6-like move and get almost everything “we” would want in a JP-8? Can they make a hardware version rationally profitable at all? Remember, the original was as hot as hell to run, because it had a heating system to keep it in tune, an issue long since solved by ICs. Or if they build a System-2 for larger synths, can they take over from Arturia’s Jupiter 8V, which is a muscular plug as is? Does Roland really WANT to become more of a software shop? Do I really care when I have a banging rig I can ride like a favorite bicycle? So while the System-1 is too simple for my doings, its a good concept. I just think that if Arturia can release an accurate Matrix-12, Roland can fill in that last historical gap of a JP-8. Its almost a sociological grail to me, just to see how many people embrace it and how many crap on it because THE INTERNET. :))

  4. My system-1 sounds fantastic, I’ve loaded the sh-101 and I was satisfied, now I want to load the sh-2, but I wonder if anyone knows if they can coexist within the system-1

  5. I’d love just a straight plug-in of the classic Roland synths. Don’t need the hardware dongle. I’ll pay whatever you want. Pleeeeeeez!

  6. Perhaps I’m not the right guy to tell that I like the sound, because I’m not really used to software. Softsynhts could be nice for higher notes, but not for full range keyboard. For me it still didn’t sound as I hoped it would. The low end wasn’t really low and it did’t carry the sound. I know youtube sound quality isn’t the best but still. Virus TI sounds better imho.

  7. This again: HEY ROLAND! Offer me a Jupiter-80-quality *keyboard* controller in most any form and I’ll BUY it. Everything else feels like the toy Casios I used to peck at in department stores. Same with KORG. Where in the hell is that ultimate keybed from the M3, in a more open form? I take a colossal philosophical dump on those wretched Krome and King Korg keys, which is a shame when the SOUND is excellent. Argh. I want serious keys I can dig into.

    1. Amen to that brother!

      Why oh why is no one putting out a QUALITY controller. Roland, I. Will. Pay. And so would others…

      Sigh. Gonna have to get a Nektar or the new Akai…(?)

  8. I need to be convinced on the System 1. Personally I’m waiting to see what the JD-XA offers, as that looks more interesting. Roland’s approach to re-issues – using software plugouts rather than hardware instruments – is an interesting one but it means that the System 1 can only have 1 plugout operating at any one time. I’d much prefer hardware re-issues, and in particular would applaud loudly if Roland re-issued a hardware System 100. But Roland seem committed to the EDM plasticky beat box thing. The JD-XA looks to be the possible exception to the rule.

  9. I just don’t care about System 1 at all BUT there is one thing i’d like to ask (cos i didn’t realise this).
    How does ‘plug out’ work? I thought it was just the same as any other vst, but he says you don’t need to have a computer involved at all, which is good news to me. So how do you load the vst into the controller?

    1. You need a computer to initially load the Plug-out onto the System-1.
      Once the plug-in is loaded onto the System-1, you no longer need a computer to play it.

  10. I like the system-1 sound quite a bit. I don’t know if it’s a perfect analog emulation but I don’t think anything else is any closer. I do like it just for its own sound. It’s lush and rich in a way that is different from anything else I own. I’d be happy to eventually see something like a System-2 as mentioned earlier. More polyphony would be welcome and perhaps a split mode that would run 2 plug-outs. An extra LFO, chorus, and a knob to control the mix between your DAW and the system-1 volume.

  11. My (fairly qualified) guess is that it is not the actual VSTi that is loaded into the hardware, but rather DSP code (or more likely FPGA code) that makes the System 1 sound and behave like the Promars and consequently like the VSTi version of the synth.

    Sure, it could be that they’re actually running the VSTi on the System 1, but that would mean that the synth is built around some kind of computer platform with software that can run a VSTi. Much more likely is that the System 1 contains high performance DSP circuits or an FPGA that the plug-out reconfigures to work like whatever synth the plug-out is supposed to emulate. This is the way virtual analog hardware synths work, with the difference that they usually don’t offer the possibility to completely change the architecture of the emulated synth.

    1. And now I realize I answered the wrong question 😛

      To load the plug-out into the synth you still need to connect it to a computer, but once it’s in the synth you can use it without the computer.

    2. isn’t the first time a plug out setup has been made, but first time by a major music equipment builder

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