Aerophone Pro Puts Roland’s Zen-Core Synthesis Into A Digital Wind Instrument

Roland has introduced the Aerophone Pro, a new digital wind instrument that brings the capabilities of Roland’s SuperNATURAL and ZEN-Core sound engines to wind players.

The Aerophone Pro is the latest instrument in the company’s Aerophone line, originally introduced in 2016. It’s designed to be a flagship model, with a polished aluminum exterior in high-touch areas and more expressive breath and bite sensors.

The Aerophone Pro features enhanced soprano, alto, and tenor saxes, new trumpet sounds and world instruments, like a new duduk. They say that their new controller options enable idiomatic performance techniques on a range of instrument sounds.

Aerophone Pro also features Roland’s ZEN-Core Synthesis System, the sound engine that powers their FANTOM and JUPITER-X synthesizers. A built-in speaker, battery operation and headphone jack lets you use the instrument standalone. It can also be used as a Bluetooth MIDI controller.

Pricing and Availability

Roland expects the Aerophone Pro to be available in January 2021, priced at about $1,500 USD.

9 thoughts on “Aerophone Pro Puts Roland’s Zen-Core Synthesis Into A Digital Wind Instrument

  1. That’s a nice combination of features and connectivity. I love that they include both wired audio/MIDI and BT options. It’s also important that it has a battery-power option. The entire sound engine is built-in so it is fully stand-alone capable. Looks like you can do some settings on the instrument, but you need a smart device for sounds editing (?) The price for that level of instrument seems reasonable.

    As a non-woodwind player, keyboard + breath-controller + Respiro = my jam.

    I’m using a TEC control, and it’s been a challenge to get the airflow to feel right. I’m looking forward to what PHOTON will bring to the table.

  2. Interesting reactions from the windcontroller community about this new one. Much of it quite negative or, at best, “wait and check if they’ve solved glaring issues affecting the rest of the AE line”. Sure, on paper, it sounds like an improvement. But several people are sore. Once bitten, twice shy?

    Despite being a classically-trained sax player, I’m almost with @stub: my jam would include some non-pianocentric MPE controller, a breath & bite controller, and some highly expressive synths like Respiro (or Vital or Pigments or Equator or even my old VL70-m).

  3. Where can I find “reactions from the windcontroller community about this new one”? Can’t seem to find any discussion online yet.

  4. Long time EWI/sax player here – I remain unclear on the value proposition of the Roland approach – if I’m going to trade the nuance of an acoustic instrument for the flexibility of an electronic wind controller, why would I want buttons that I have to physically press (slower, more ways to fail), octave keys I have to tap multiple times (slower), and a fingering layout that matches sax rather than being more compact and efficient?

    I also agree that I’d take a more compact form factor over built-in sounds any day – there are so many good/better software options available now.

    1. yes, this one is big like the recent Akai one, and also has a built in speaker. I wonder if the key market is people who play in orchestra pits. Not sure how big that market is, but I assume they’d welcome having good built-in sounds and a handy speaker for practicing at home. The people playing Respiro and modular in the studio or at home is a different demographic.

      1. I posted this comment on Sax On The Web: I have the white AE-10, before they came out with the graphite. I like the look of the Aerophones, including the AE-30, more than the look of the EWI Solo which looks like a too long and too thick clarinet. I like most of the sounds in the EWI more than the ones in the AE-10. I like the breath and bite control and mouthpiece of the AE-10 more than the EWI. I like the saxophone key fingering in the AE-10 more than the contacts on the EWI and the EWI’s lack of the upper left hand palm keys. I LOVE the rechargeable battery in the EWI as opposed to the batteries in the AE-10. I liked the price of the EWI of $500 compared to the $800 I paid for the AE-10. I’ve played my AE-10 at jams to good effect — mostly the distortion lead guitar sound.

        The $1500 announced price tag of the AE-30 is too steep for me. If the street price ends up being under $1000, I’ll probably pull the trigger. If it stays over $1000, I’ll probably keep playing my EWI until I either get bored with it or the price drops on the AE-30 … or I can pick up one used.

        After learning more about the Yamaha YDS-150, I don’t think it’s for me – the limited number of (not very good) sounds, the limited octave range. the apparent lack of any breath or bite control, the batteries. It’s not really marketed as a gigging or recording instrument. Plus I already have a couple of very good wind controllers. 🙂

  5. One weakness I hear in the demo is with the note releases. It’s an often neglected, but crucial aspect of sound-design is way a note releases to nothing, or transitions to other notes. If it sounds fake, and you’re not sure why, it’s a good place to check.

  6. I purchased Roland Intergra-7 recently as I hoped to use supernatural sound patches for my EWI. But I was disappointed after I found that I couldn’t make SN sound patches responsive to breath control(it is not allowed due to the complex nature of SN tones). PCM synth sounds can be edited and can be adjusted to be well responsive to breath control though. Listening to AE-30 demo sounds, especially synths and probably SN patches, I feel those sounds are just too loud and don’t have great dynamic, which I already know from my Integra-7 experience. I would like to see if Roland has come up with the way to make SN patches really responsive to breath controller this time.

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