My Roland AIRA Synthesizer Review


About Roland

Co​​​​mpany Details

Roland Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments.

Roland is known for keyboards and synthesizers, guitar products, electronic percussion, digital recording equipment, amplifiers, and audio processing devices.

Roland Website


My Initial Thoughts

Roland is a company that keeps giving and they did so with the AIRA System-1 synthesizer.

Every time Roland decides to roll out a new line the entire world is watching.

There are quite a bit of expectations they have to meet with every new model.

Every time, they need to bring out their A game.

So, have they done so with this model?

Let's take a look.

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Feel, Specifications, Dimensions, and Integrations

The one model that so many anticipated during the last years is definitely a new breed.

AIRA System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer is basically a virtual analog synth that uses ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior). 

This synthesizer is a clear shoutout to the 70’s style of design.

No screen and a layout that is as simple as they could make it.

The AIRA system-1 is as straightforward as they come.

The plug-out synthesizer is 18-10/16 inches wide and 11-3/16 inches deep and only weighs 5 pounds.

This is definitely impressive for a synth that offers 73 different physical controls. 

Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior technology is meant to analyze the details of analogue circuits and recreate them.

This way, you can create a pure fusion of modern and classical tones.

Advanced Features and Performance

You can also use your AIRA System-1 to control or host software-based recreations of Roland’s classics.

The fact that you can host recreations means that you will not have to use your computer.

In fact, the synth offers “plug-out” technology that lets you switch between the internal systems and the plugins you are hosting.

One of the possible drawbacks comes from the design.

While most people praise the “Matrix”-like design some find it a bit too much.

The green light might make it look cool during a gig, but it can be overpowering.

Also, since they were trying to make it as portable and easy to use as possible, the keyboard is just two octaves long. 

A relatively controversial decision regarding the design of the synth comes in the form of unconventional controllers.

Roland has actually done away with pitch wheels or levers and used a “scatter” knob.

This spring-loaded knob feels mostly like the shuttle wheel that is in use for video editing systems.

They also chose to replace the modulation wheel with a small button.

However, when I step away from the hardware, I see even more innovations in this synth.

The default architecture works with a dual-oscillator system, an extra sub-oscillator, a noise generator and high and low pass filters.


Pros & Cons of AIRA

Benefits

Very realistic emulation of analogue circuits.

Easily transportable

The plug-out option is incredible

Unique feel

Drawbacks

Keyboard is not velocity sensitive

No velocity at all

You cannot turn off the green backlight

No aftertouch


My Final Thoughts

Ronald’s AIRA System-1 is a welcome addition to the world of music.

The innovations are useful and will open up a new world of options to musicians.

The size did not allow for at least 32 keys and they instead had to go with the 24-key version which is unfortunate.

However, I would still give it a resounding yes.


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