Roland Boss used its 24-hour online, international music festival, ‘The Future. Redefined’ on 9th September to reveal a staggering thirty plus new products, right across the company’s range from guitar FX processors to digital pianos, DJ products, accordions and more.
For ease of reading, we have broken the new announcements into product groups so retailers can skip areas they are not interested in.
Roland’s offering in this category was the SYSTEM-8 PLUG-OUT Synthesiser, billed as an ‘Expandable synth with next-gen ACB technology, direct-access controls, and advanced features.’
Roland says that to complement its internal sound engine, the SYSTEM-8 can host and control up to three Roland PLUG-OUT software synthesisers, and new JUPITER-8 and JUNO-106 PLUG-OUTs are included with purchase. The synth also includes a ‘massive array’ of hands-on controls, as well as a polyphonic step sequencer, vocoder, CV/GATE outputs, arpeggiator, and other creative tools. Optional PLUG-OUTs such as the SH-2, SH-101, PROMARS, and others are supported as well. Using the SYSTEM-8’s Performance mode, it’s possible to combine the internal synth engine and hosted PLUG-OUTs to create super-synth patches with layered voices, custom splits, and more.
Roland’s hugely successful electronic kits also benefited from new flagship introductions – the TD-50KV and TD-50K V-Drums.
Both kits feature the powerful new TD-50 sound module with Prismatic Sound Modeling, as well as the newly developed PD-140DS Digital Snare and CY-140DR Digital Ride. Additional features include user sample playback via SD memory, multi-track recording via USB, balanced audio outputs, and more.
Roland says that at the heart of the TD-50KV and TD-50K is the TD-50, an all-new sound module with advanced Prismatic Sound Modeling. ‘With this proprietary technology, every element of the user’s playing style is conveyed with stunning accuracy and detail,’ Roland says. ‘Working along with the sophisticated sensing capabilities of the new snare pad and ride cymbal, the TD-50’s high-resolution processing delivers the most lifelike, resonant, and expressive sounds ever heard from an electronic drum kit.’
In addition to its many preset kits, the TD-50 module supports deep sound customisation, including adjustment of heads and shells, layering of internal and user samples, and adjustment of overhead mics and ambience. A compressor and three-band EQ can be controlled for each individual pad, while three independent multi-effects can treat specific drums. There’s also a multiband compressor and four-band equaliser for final processing on the entire kit. And with the new Snapshot feature, users can compare any sound edits before making permanent changes.
BOSS AMPS & FX Processors
Boss’s headline product was an entirely new range of guitar amplifiers, the MIDI equipped Katana series. An offshoot of the Waza amplifier project, the ‘Katana’ name is derived from the traditional sword carried by Japanese samurai.
The Katana line-up consists of three combo amplifiers and an amplifier head. The 50-Watt Katana-50 and 100-Watt Katana-100 are each equipped with a custom 12-inch speaker. The Katana-100/212 has 100 Watts of power and is equipped with two custom 12-inch speakers. The 100-Watt Katana-Head is designed for use with an external speaker cabinet such as the Waza Amp Cabinet 412, but includes a convenient integrated monitor speaker for tone preview and practice.
Each Katana amp features five selectable amp characters: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown, and Acoustic. Each Katana amp also includes integrated access to 55 BOSS effects, which are customisable using the free BOSS Tone Studio editor software. Up to three effects can be used at once.
Boss’s FX processor offering is the GT-1 Guitar Effects Processor, a compact multi-effects unit. Driven by BOSS’s flagship GT-series engine, it provides a huge selection of amps and effects, a light, portable design with a built-in expression pedal, and offers a streamlined interface for quick and easy sound creation.
Over 100 effects types include overdrive/distortion, chorus, delay, and other standards, cutting-edge BOSS Multi-Dimensional Processing (MDP) effects, and utility effects such as Acoustic Simulator and Guitar Simulator. Numerous COSM amps are also included, as well as a looper for enhancing practice sessions and performances.
The GT-1 supports USB connectivity, allowing users to record and re-amp tones with DAW software and interface with BOSS Tone Central and BOSS Tone Studio.
Roland Digital Pianos
‘The Future. Redefined’ saw an impressive four new digital pianos debuted; the GP607, FP-90. DP603 and the RP501R.
The GP607 Digital Piano was billed as a stylish and sophisticated mini grand piano for the home. Offering ‘authentic tone and touch’, as well as a premium multi-channel speaker system that provides top-quality sound for both piano playing and listening to music, the GP607 also includes onboard learning features and Bluetooth audio/MIDI connectivity with mobile devices.
Among its many features, the GP607 includes education tools, including a built-in metronome and an onboard recorder that lets players capture performances and evaluate their progress. They can also play along with the piano’s built-in classical etudes and exercises, audio and MIDI songs stored on USB memory, or music streamed over Bluetooth from a phone or tablet. Additionally, Bluetooth MIDI connectivity enables players to enhance their piano experience with Roland’s free Piano Partner 2 app, as well as great apps from Sheet Music Direct, piaScore, and numerous other developers.
The FP-90, the latest-generation model in the popular FP series of portable digital pianos and is designed to be equally at home home and performance users. The FP-90 houses the sound engine and premium keyboard from Roland’s flagship pianos as well as the new PHA-50 Progressive Hammer Action Keyboard with Escapement.
Also on show was the new DP603 Digital Piano, very much intended for domestic use. Roland says ‘The DP603 features rich, authentic sound with Roland’s latest SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling technology and a highly expressive playing feel with the new PHA-50 keyboard. Numerous onboard practice features are backed up by Bluetooth wireless support for a tablet or smartphone, allowing audio playback and connectivity with the latest apps. Blending classic sounds with contemporary design, the Roland DP603 is ideal for the modern piano player.’
With a compact depth of just 13.5 inches (35 cm), the instrument is ideal for apartments, condos, and other smaller living spaces. An integrated keyboard lid opens to provide a music rest, and closes with a safety-conscious soft-fall motion. The DP603 comes in Polished Ebony, Polished White, or Contemporary Black finishes, allowing users to choose the ideal look to complement their home furnishings.
Finally came the RP501R Digital Piano, another home orientated instrument packed with many of the features found in the other three but weighting just 41 kg/90 lbs. and with a space-saving cabinet measuring only 17 in. (432 mm).
Roland Boutique Series
Three New Roland Boutique Series models were announced, the TR-09 Rhythm Composer, TB-03 Bass Line, and VP-03 Vocoder. Said to recreate the sound, interface, and operation of classic Roland products, they are powered by Roland’s ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology, they also offer enhanced features and modern connectivity.
The TR-09 recreates the influential hybrid sound of its predecessor using ACB tech, complete with the familiar 16-step TR-REC programming style and a choice of Step or Tap write modes. The TR-09 also offers greater flexibility than the original, letting musicians fine-tune parameters and switch modes without interrupting their beats. It’s also designed for easy connectivity to external gear, with a choice of MIDI, USB, and trigger ports giving control over vintage analogue synths, modular gear, and DAWs.
Inspired by Roland’s famous TB-303 Bass Line Synth, the new TB-03 also uses ACB to fully capture the authentic sound and character of the original. The new four-digit LED display allows for enhanced programming, while rotary dials give hands-on control over tuning, cutoff, resonance, envelope mod, decay, and accent. Saw and square waveforms are present, alongside new overdrive, delay, and reverb effects. In addition to the original’s Pitch and Time write modes, there’s an all-new Step mode and fine tempo control, and sequences can continue playing while switching modes. Ports for external gear include a dedicated trigger input to drive the internal sequencer, plus MIDI IN/OUT, USB, and CV/Gate for control over analogue gear, modular synths and DAWs.
Finally, the compact new VP-03 takes cues from the VP-330 Vocoder Plus. New features include 16 Chord Memory setups for one-finger chord playback, plus a new Voice Step Sequencer for dynamic rhythmic effects. Alongside line and headphones outs, the VP-03 also includes MIDI I/O for connecting with other devices and 24-bit DAW audio interface capability via a Micro USB connector.
Intended for flexible use on stage, in the studio, or at home, all three new Roland Boutique units run on 4 x AA batteries or USB bus power.
Roland DJ Products
Roland used its online festival to debut its first DJ Controller, the DJ-808, a DJ controller co-developed with software company Serato that features built-in drum sounds, synth connectivity, voice transformer and more.
It features a standalone 4-channel mixer, built-in drum sequencing, vocal processing, external instrument connectivity, and the deepest Serato DJ integration available: ‘ bringing together the best of software and hardware in a single, roadworthy instrument for production and live performance.’
Roland goes on to say: ‘Beyond typical DJ controllers, the DJ-808 is also an instrument, offering a built-in, customizable Roland TR-S drum machine featuring high-quality, iconic 606, 707, 808 and 909 drum sounds. The 16-step TR-S sequencer offers trigger control over the Serato Sampler within Serato DJ. Also onboard are velocity-sensitive RGB color pads that can be used for HOT CUE, ROLL, TR PAD MODES, SAMPLER and more, and dedicated FX control knobs for unlimited creative options.’
The DJ-808’s dedicated vocal processor – the VT Voice Transformer – can drastically transform any voice for dramatic effects, as well as pitch the performer’s voice to match the key of Serato DJ tracks, via the Auto Pitch function.’
In addition to its microphone and DVS-ready turntable inputs, the DJ-808 raises the bar further with two AIRA Link USB ports, enabling DJs to connect compatible Roland synths and electronic gadgets, and to produce a live remix, trigger keyboard arpeggios or play live bass lines, all with a single USB cable. Users can now easily inject new musical elements into their performance or production that will easily sync to their Serato DJ tracks.
Staying with DJ products, Roland now has a three speed DJ Turntable and 2-Channel DJ Mixer celebrating the TR-909 Drum Machine. The TT-99 3-Speed Turntable features a direct drive system for stable torque and built-in phono equalizer. The DJ-99 2-channel analogue DJ Mixer features a pro-grade mini innoFADER crossfader, dedicated DVS inputs/outputs, and a 3-band equalizer for each input.
Roland EC-10M ELCajon Mic Processor
Pretty much uncategorisable, Roland’s new EC-10M ELCajon Mic Processor, is aimed at acoustic cajon players. Compact and battery-powered, the EC-10M enables the user to trigger electronic layered sounds with their own instrument via an included clip-on mic. The EC-10M also offers the ability to trigger additional sounds with two integrated foot pads or optional kick trigger pedals, and includes a looper function for creating rhythmic phrases with electronic sounds.
Roland says that, introduced to wide acclaim at the 2016 Winter NAMM Show, the ELCajon EC-10 has been a breakout success, combining an acoustic cajon with built-in Roland electronic layered sounds. With the EC-10M ELCajon Mic Processor, players can now explore the many benefits of Roland’s leading electronic percussion technology with any acoustic cajon.’
Roland Aerophone AE-10
Standing out as a completely new musical instrument it is own right was the Aerophone AE-10, an all-new digital wind instrument with advanced breath-sensor. Powered by Roland’s SuperNATURAL engine, the Aerophone AE-10 provides a wide selection of saxophone sounds with authentic response and playability. Many other acoustic instrument sounds are included as well, plus synthesiser sounds optimized for breath control. The Aerophone AE-10 also features traditional saxophone fingering, enabling a sax player to start using the instrument right away.
With its onboard soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone sounds, the Aerophone AE-10 gives players all the sax tones they need in one convenient instrument, the company says and it also includes a variety of additional acoustic instrument sounds like clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, violin, and more. With the Brass section function, users can easily perform multiple different brass instruments in harmony. When connected to a PA or portable amp like Roland’s CUBE Street EX, it’s possible to authentically play the sounds of large and expensive wind instruments like tuba and bassoon.
Compact and lightweight, the Aerophone AE-10 can be powered with six AA-size batteries, and comes equipped with onboard speakers for monitoring the sound. With the headphones jack, users can play at any time without disturbing others nearby. The Aerophone AE-10 also includes an input for connecting a smartphone or music player to jam along with backing music.
Also new were the FR-4x (piano type) and FR-4xb (button type) V-Accordions, the latest additions to the acclaimed V-Accordion line-up. Each of these compact and lightweight instruments features a sound engine derived from the flagship FR-8x, which provides a wide range of traditional accordion sounds, orchestral voices, organs, and onboard drum sounds. The FR-4x and FR-4xb also include many other noted V-Accordion features, including ‘authentic playability’ with pressure-sensing bellows, sound expansion capability, built-in speakers, battery operation, USB song playback, and much more.
With tradition in mind, the FR-4x and FR-4xb are manufactured in Castelfidardo, Italy, a town noted as the international capital of accordion builders, Roland says. The FR-4x is equipped with 37 right-hand keys, while the FR-4xb has 92 right-hand buttons. Both models are also equipped with 120 left-hand buttons. The bellows’ pressure-sensing circuitry ensures fast response and high sensitivity, and an adjustable resistance regulator allows the user to adjust the inertia to their preference.
On hand are 162 orchestra sounds and three drum sets, plus 32 organs. Four expansion slots allow users to load additional tone libraries, and Balkan and Dallape accordion expansions come pre-installed. Both models also include built-in chorus, reverb, and rotary effects to enhance sounds.
Both models include MIDI and USB connectivity By inserting a USB memory key preloaded with favourite songs or practice material, users can jam along with the music as it plays back. There’s a handy onboard recorder for capturing performances, which can then be transferred to USB memory for sharing with others. USB also enables users to archive favourite settings and connect with the free FR-4x Editor software on a computer.