Roland Aira System-1 Now $499


Roland has announced a priced drop on the Aira System-1 Plug-out Synthesizer.

The System-1 is a hardware keyboard to features swappable firmware, letting the synth take on the audio ‘personality’ of a variety of vintage Roland synths. 

Here’s what they have to say about the price drop:

We have dropped the estimated U.S. street price to $499, and created a new bundle including the free SH-101 PLUG-OUT and overlay combination, with Ableton Live Lite.

Limited time offer extended until May 31st.

The System-1 was priced at $599 when it was introduced. See the Roland site for details.

29 thoughts on “Roland Aira System-1 Now $499

  1. Me imagino que esta “rebaja miserable” ha sido a raíz del pirateo de los plugouts, que por si alguien no lo sabe, ya están todos los plugous pirateados. Menos mal que nunca me compré esta máquina. Me alegro en parte de que Roland rebaje los precios ya que los considero un abuso, aunque bueno , es hardware y el hardware algo tiene que costar. Sobretodo es abusivo el precio de este system 1 y de sus plugouts. Ciento y pico de euros por un plugout después de haber comprado la system-1 me parece una jodida estafa. Creo que el fin de este sistema de plug-outs está muy cercano , si es que no acaba de morir ya mismo. Y creo que la piratería ha logrado derribarlo. Adios system 1, has muerto.

    1. Comparing this to the JD-Xi is a completely apples to oranges comparison.

      The only thing similar is the Roland nameplate. And they’d much rather be competing against themselves for your business than against a competitor.

      My take is that they’re going to be announcing a new plug-out synth and they need to make some room for it. Hopefully it have full-size keys and be powerful enough to do the Jupiter!

  2. That isn’t a good sign for something that is essentially a non-general purpose plug-in host controller for a few Roland plug-ins, and one that is not USB class compliant. Dropping the price literally a few months after release? How quickly will this end up another non-supported roland software-hardware combo? And with a below par keyboard to boot. It was another good concept murdered by poor Roland product execution.

    1. I think youre right – it’s a problematic product, but it has its merits, and the aira line is doing well. I don’t think roland will abandon the idea, they have a lot of expertise in programming those fpgas inside. A 61 key with a serious keybed that can load all those plug outs in poly would be smart.

    2. It’s been out closer to a year. These price drops aren’t unusual – the prices on each of Korg’s MS-20 models has dropped 6 months or so after they get released.

      As I said above, my take on this is that the System-1 has been successful, because I’ve seen a lot of people using them (and most of the rest of the Aira family). And the System-1 has certainly had a lot of good reviews. So my guess is that they’re going to be expanding the System-1 family, maybe as soon as Musikmesse.

      I’ve been expecting them to do a more advance version since they introduced the System-1, and will hold off until they do it. The concept for the System-1 is excellent, certainly ahead of what other companies are doing with their digital synths. But I never understood the reasoning for the shallow keys and lack of velocity – unless they knew from day one that this thing was only going to ever have Plug-Outs for vintage synths.

      The polyphony needs to be 16 voices, with layers and splits and it needs to be able to switch between synth models on the fly. Then the System-1 concept will be really compelling, with great DAW integration and great stand-alone operation, too.

      1. The idea itself is a good one. Having a portable version of a synth plug-in loaded into a portable keyboard that can be taken on the road. However, I agree that it needs a much better quality keyboard and voices, velocity and aftertouch, and definitely needs the layers and splits between sounds (and allow more than the miserly amount that it currently allows). And a dedicated pitch bend/modulation control. And the ability to have more than a single plug-in model in memory at once. I do not want to have to choose which synth plug-in I wish to take with me. Above all, make it class compliant and give it the ability to be a general MIDI controller in its own right, otherwise it is only useful so long as Roland continues supporting its OS drivers.

    3. “Dropping the price literally a few months after release?”

      Seven months after the $799 Novation Ultranova came out I got it on sale for $515. It subsequently jumped back up (and down) in price and now, 4 years later it’s usually $599. So I don’t think it’s a big deal for the price of this Roland to drop by $100

    1. Certainly not at the stores I’ve been to. The staff were cringing as I walked toward it, knowing the immediate reaction I’d give would be negative. Gotta say it’s Analog fancy emulating modelling didn’t grab me in the least.

  3. Development follows the money, and the Aira products did pretty well.

    It’s a little unusual to get a price chop so quickly. Unless you’ve got a sequel in the works, one that covers the usual wish list.

    Double the poly, an encoder/slider/button for EVERY parameter, another octave or 2 of keys, better keys (!), aftertouch, vocoder, RGB LEDs… that would be a pretty serious VA synth.

  4. The word online is that the free 101 plugin will cease to be free soon, so the price drop makes sense. There will probably be some overlap so now is the time to get it if that was the plan. I never get the big issue with the keyboard. This was obviously not intended for players who rely on velocity and aftertouch. Look at the rest of the aira line. This was meant for the electronic music producers, at least the ones that don’t solo over tracks. If the recent blurry pics showing a possible eurorack version are true, that’s the one for to get for me.

  5. I do not know why, but I never knew how to carry the slightest interest in this series. Maybe that awful design, the ultra- plastic feeling, these green highlights. But I’m surely wrong, because it seems that it sounds good …

    1. I don’t get the downvotes on Thierry’ comment but I rarely do. Instruments should be as beautiful as possible. Why not?

      To each is own, for sure, but I agree—the look of these just turns me off and it doesn’t sound amazing enough or do enough amazing things to make me ignore it. Much like other stop-them-on-the-show-room-floor-as-design-priority-number-one designs, they’re just garish. The look of almost everything Roland has put out since the late 90s is tragic to me though so grain of salt and all of that.

  6. I don’t mind the green on the Aira boxes, but there’s a lot more green on the System-1.

    If you’ve used it, you’ll find that the LEDs are used to convey information in very smart ways. The LEDs are very important to the System-1 design, because – unlike with traditional hardware synths – the lights let you know which controls are active with the synth firmware that you are currently using.

    But, yeah, if you don’t like the green, you’re not going to like it.

  7. Roland and Korg are the current kings of playable gear in lesser boxes. The System-1 is too simplified for me, as I’ve owned several knobbier synths that “spoiled” me, but who says its not viable? Besides, if the Aira system had been designed large enough to hold a Jupiter-8, it’d be a chorus of SHUT AND TAKE MY MONEY!!! Then their total synth sales would dip like hell for 6 months, tell me I’m wrong. 😀 Its not about manufacturer capability; its about the market life cycle. I’ve come to prefer doing it all In the Box, but a mini-synth with a decent editor is perfectly righteous. Pick a couple of them & dive in. P.S. If you’re going to bring back an 80s sensibility, look at the Prophet-6. That’s the way to add New to Old and have it roar.

  8. I don’t know, I think a price drop makes perfect sense. For one, maybe they’ve sold enough to recoup R&D costs and can afford to drop it now. For another, it seems that the plug outs are the real product they’re trying to sell here. With the System 1 keyboard being the prerequisite for running those plug outs, it stands to reason that they would want to get it into as many hands as possible.

  9. I wonder why the mods deleted my factual post. Must be a fan of sticking forks in sockets too? AIRA bashers don’t leave their basements often I’m gathering.

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