Roland System-8 Plug-out Synthesizer Hands-On Demo

As part of its 909 Day event, Roland is introducing the Roland System-8 Plug-out Synthesizer, a poly synth based on the company’s circuit-modeling technology.

In this video, Sweetwater’s Daniel Fisher demos the new Roland System-8 synthesizer in an extended hands-on demo.

Video Summary:

At the core of this awesome synthesizer is Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior engine, fueling three oscillators across eight voices, all loaded with filters, effects, and a massive array of modulation options.

In addition to its internal sound engine, Plug-out technology lets you load up completely different synth engines – JUPITER-8 and JUNO-106 Plug-outs included – and you can switch between three models on the fly.

It also offers split and layered synths, an integrated vocoder, and more.

Update: It looks like Sweetwater may have jumped the gun in releasing this video today, and the video has been changed to be private. We expect the video to be made public again after Roland releases official specs on the System-8.

40 thoughts on “Roland System-8 Plug-out Synthesizer Hands-On Demo

  1. lets face it, we all wanted a real analog Juno / jupiter clone, not this sh!t.

    these will be gathering dust very quickly after purchase, if they actually manage to sell any.

    1. I’ve got a large collection of analog synths, and I have been impressed with Roland’s ACB technology. Can’t wait to get my hands on the System-8. Also, there are very few VSTs that sound comparable, such as u-he Diva (which can be very high on CPU usage) and there are also the Roland plug-outs/plug-ins. Love the SH-2 for bass.

    1. Circuit modeling is way more flexible than analog and sounds great, too.

      The Behringer looks like it will be great, too, but with analog you’re always limited by what’s feasible circuit wise.

  2. Meh…at 5-600 bucks it would be OK. Most VSTs sound just as good or better and you can buy real analogue with more voices for less, rendering ‘VA’ utterly pointless at this price point.

  3. Slic, you cannot compare a hardware synth like that with any vst, vst sound is too thin and dead, they are just samples internally recorded and also fooling you inside fake oscillators, saying mathematical algorithms simulate electronic circuitry and so on is a big lie. Professional producers never use vsts although they make paid advertising for software companies sometimes. Also like to add that there are also lots of bogus hardware synths too using the same lie, with i ternally prerecorded samplesbeing called out of fake oscillators. There are some useless toy like hardware synths too, made by both korg and roland which i hate, usually they have not more than 3 polyphony or 4 if you are lucky. Anyway my question is how does that system 8 compares with the old access virus as far as sound quality is concerned

    1. Markos Manns: What are you talking about? vst sound is too thin and dead? Professional producers never use vsts although they make paid advertising?

      Are you deluded? Had you ever try vst like DIVA from u-he? It sound better that many Hardware synth. I even sell some of my hardware because Diva sound a way better.

    2. You don’t know much about softsynths if you think they are all sample based. There are lots of softsynths that use modeling or other synthesis algorithms.

    3. You do realise this is just some digital hardware that can run VSTs right? I mean the ‘plug outs’ also literally run on a computer and produce exactly the same sounds.

    4. Actually Markos I have a system 1m (same engine) in my modular. It doesn’t sound any better (and is an many cases worse sounding) than VSTs played through a 96K DA. Its all just 1s and 0s…just like software (it is software!). Being able to plug out in to my modular is pretty cool, but ther plug ins (the S1) are also available as a VST and sound identical. This is just a big (annoyingly bright) green computer with a keyboard and a (nice) DA.

      I also have a lot of real analogue (Prophet 08, Moog etc) and it sounds a hell of a lot better than the System 1 if a true ‘analogue’ sound is what you are after (I am not a purist and although the 1m sounds quite bright and digital I still like it, but paid 300 quid for it!). If you want a VA for flexibility, FM and don’t have a PC/Mac, this is up against a Virus TI (which I also own) so has a tough fight. I suspect most people (including me) looking to drop a grand on a synth in the next 3 months will buy a DeepMind 12; Roland are DEAD long live Behringer!!

      1. I think what people are really interested is the timbre of the instrument — not whether it’s a digital simulation or an analog electrical circuit.

        If you want pure analog, then you could shell out the money for a classic synth (with maintenance issues) or modern analog synths which are pricey. But, a prophet will never sound like a Juno or a Jupiter.

        The other thing people are interested in is how they interact with the instrument. The Deep Mind 12 would not be interesting if it had loads of menus to dig through even though demos sound great. Otherwise, why not get an Oberheim Matrix rack unit? The Access Virus TI would not be interesting if it weren’t for the control panel too.

        Truly at this point, VSTs can be every bit as good as the real deal. Computers are fast enough to provide immersive experiences. It’s not just 1s and 0s. Technically, if you heard a video or song on your computer, it was just 1s and 0s. But, I don’t hear 1s and 0s, I hear melodies and words that I immerse myself with.

        Anyways, Timbre and Interactivity — that’s what people want. Does it sound good to me and can I express myself through it?

    5. lol @ professional producers not using VSTs. Are you for real? That banger was not made by dicking around on a modular, it was a massive preset.

    6. Markos,

      You win the “stupid Internet comment of the weak minded” award for this week with “fooling you inside fake oscillators, saying mathematical algorithms simulate electronic circuitry and so on is a big lie”. I don’t know where to begin to try and correct you, then again would you even understand?

      This is…I just…I can’t, I cannot reply to this without starting with basic arithmetic.

  4. For those who did not see the video before it was made private, I’ll recap: the demo guy played one note, tweaked the cut-off knob, and fainted with an ecstatic look on his face. I’m sold on it.

  5. they create a big hype for today and they don’t have ANYTHING to show, no videos, nothing… I saw yesterday streaming of the DJ808… fun to look but nothing of my interest as a musician.

  6. Such typical Roland… While they DO produce nice enough stuff, that’s pretty high quality in terms of reliability (in my experience banging on countless iterations of their drums and percussion), everything they do just screams “designed by committee, signed off by risk averse accountants”

    It would be AWSOME is Roland could spin off a little skunk works type subbrand that was free to be more innovative. Sadly, as a tight Japanese company, I don’t think that will ever happen.

    1. Skunks Works! Yeah, Roland could re-release the U-20!

      Get it? U-20. U-2.

      Just a little Skunk Works humor for you there.*

      *And I wrote that for free.

    2. What they should have done in your opinion?

      A remodelling of 80’s synth? A simple, almost single oscillator poly synth, that is amazing because they say it is analog and it is hugely popular novadays!!!

      The Behringer DM12, of course, I should have known! Because it is analog! It is the best, and shame on the rest!


  7. Woke up early and just finished 20 minutes of System 8 broadcast because there was no re-broadcast of it. to see it at an other time. (why Roland does not put all this with links to youtube?) There was nothing live, just a stream of a pre-recorded videos. A lot of talk and nothing discussed about the product itself. More a PR promotional video for the actors in this broadcast Very disappointing. Only thing noticed an SD slot on the back. Still have no clue of the I/O (CV and analog I/O) on the back. No demos of the Juno part. The Sweetwater video came out even earlier than this but hope not is representative of the System 8 sounds (it was terrible). Really thought 909 day would be about live streams, once again disappointed.

  8. I spent about a half an hour with the system 8 today, and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The Jupiter 8 model was really ballsy, and the system 8 engine had a nice deep quality to it (the juno engine was not in it yet). Overall a very nice sounding and pretty flexible instrument (i easily got sounds ranging from punchy basses to plucky FM to lush drones out of it).

  9. i have a computer. it runs vsts. They are nice. They all sync perfectly. In fact, I can record them and play with them as midi or as audio. I’m cool with that. I also have a Sub37 and a Pro-01. Those sound awesome.

    What’s new here? Sounds are not better, and price is not lower. 40 years after Roland invented EM – what’s this? Did they do ANY market analysis. For example, listen to that katakana amp. It sounds awful.

    Today was like watching your old girlfriend who was a hot lead singer in a punk band. Now she is 50. and trying to get the band back together. And you have to just look away. Have to look away. I guess my checkbook is safe.

    I appreciate the effort and love the Roland US company still. But golly.

  10. Not impressed so far. Maybe forthcoming demos will shed light on something exciting. If I was gonna buy big digital synth I would buy a king korg, which sounds a lot better imo. This sounds like the System1, very cold and thin.

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