So after the release of a couple of extra videos to hype up the tension, there are few new developments in the Aira saga ahead of the official unveiling.
I've been looking at a lot of the coverage online, as this is one of the more interesting hardware launches from Roland, who generally release expensive keyboard workstations that I neither need nor afford. Here's a little roundup...
1) These are very close virtual analogue emulations of older Roland gear. Initially I was quite dumbfounded by Roland - the seem to be the only company not going with the trend of looking at new analogue machines or re-releases of older analogue gear. My comment on Attack Magazine was that VA gear, no matter how good it sounds, could just as easily be recreated in software and so a dedicated hardware box will have to pull off more tricks to make me pony up my cash.
2) It's not a recreation of older gear, like the MS-20 Mini. The market for 303s, 808s and 909s must be huge, so it's a weird thing that Roland have no plans to re-release these classic machines and reap the profits. However, Nick Batt at Sonic State mentioned something that bears repeating here, that:
"...it's worth remembering - the 808, 303 were sort of mistakes, machines designed for one thing but repurposed for something else so its not like they knew what they were doing!"
I've always thought that Evolution, not Revolution, was a better idea, so hopefully these machines not only sound and act as good as the machines they are emulating, but also have a ton of new tricks up their sleeves.
3) It's not just one unit, but four: an SH-101 style keyboard monosynth, a TB3 "Touch Bassline" bassline sequencer, a VT-3 Voice Transformer (vocoder) and TR-8 drum machine. More options are always a good thing, though I predict that the vocoder will probably sell the worst, but that the other three will do very well if only because they (hopefully) present an accurate modelling of these older machines. Hey, if Jomox can make a machine that just models the 909 kick and it sells out, then there must be a big demand for this kind of retro techno sound.
Well, Roland's Hype Machine is working well for them at the moment, I only hope these things sound as good as they are made out to be and I look forward to seeing coverage of them in the press shortly.