Roland System-500 100% Analog Modular Synth
The new 100% analog synth modules, System-500, is inspired by the classic Roland System-700 and System-100m from the seventies. It may surprise many of us who expected Roland to stick to their successful "all-digital but with vintage sounds" AIRA concept, or the JD-Xi and JD-XA hybrid design. But it seems Roland don't want to disappoint fans of pure analogue gear, either! After all, Roland has a long tradition of analogue synths.
"Roland is also pleased to announce the development of the System-500, an all-new, fully analogue modular synthesizer based on two of the most revered electronic instruments of all time - the System-700 and System-100m. Designed exclusively for Eurorack, the System-500 delivers classic Roland sound with all the advantages and reliability of a modern instrument."
It seems Roland are pointing the way how things could - or should - go from now on: analogue or digital, it doesn't matter. You can have one or the other, or even both mixed in the same piece of gear, but the point is that you can and indeed should opt for using both types of gear... if it sounds good and creates the sounds you want, that's all that should matter. Roland seems almost as if they want to turn the whole digital vs. analogue debate obsolete!
New, Compact Size for Today's Musicians
The original System-700 modules were massive, as seen on this picture of Giorgio Moroder in the seventies, with his Roland System-700 gear:
The 512 Dual VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) is a single module consisting of two voltage controlled oscillators. Each independent VCO produces frequencies across a wide range with 1V/octave tracking and dedicated pulse, triangle, and saw wave outputs. Variable pulse width is available via panel control or CV modulation. Each oscillator’s frequency can also be synchronized to the other in weak or strong modes to achieve a unique “sync” sound. Order Now
The 521 Dual VCF (voltage controlled filter) module features two separate low pass filters for modifying the timbre of audio sources. Each filter has its own dedicated controls for frequency cutoff, resonance, and a fixed high pass filter with two switchable cutoff points. Audio and CV input mixers on each channel allow the blending of multiple audio signals and modulation sources. Order Now
The 530 Dual VCA (voltage controlled Amplifier) features two independent voltage controlled amplifiers for controlling the loudness of audio signals. Each VCA has three sliders for an audio input mixer, three sliders to mix CV inputs, and a selector switch for linear or exponential response modes. Order Now
The 540 Dual Envelope Generator and LFO (low frequency oscillator) is a multi-purpose modulation source. This unit features two independent ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) envelope sections that produce variable voltages for controlling other Eurorack format synthesizer modules such as oscillators, filters, and VCAs. Each section can be triggered externally, internally, or manually with dedicated jacks for each envelope, as well as an inverted output.
Additionally, the 540 includes a voltage controlled LFO with 5 waveform outputs. Front panel controls adjust both frequency and delay time of the LFO start. Delay and reset can be triggered from either envelope 1 or 2. Order Now
The 572 Phase Shifter, Delay and LFO is a time-based, multi-effects module. The 572 includes a five-stage phase shifter, analog audio delay, a control voltage gate delay, and an LFO. The phase shifter has panel controls for shift frequency and resonance amount that can vary from subtle to a deep, lush analog effect. Similarly, the audio delay has independent knob control of delay time and resonance (or feedback) for short chorus-like modulation delays. Both the phase shifter and delay can be modulated by the 572’s internal LFO or external CV signals and feature wet/dry effects mix controllable via the front panel or with CV.
The LFO section has a knob for controlling frequency and features both normal and inverted output jacks. The gate delay has knobs to control threshold, delay time, and gate time for modifying incoming gate signals from other modules. Order Now
They all sound amazing... which one is your favourite?
Here's a great pic of the System 500 modules being used with the AIRA System-1M: