Roland's AIRA Compact: bite-sized versions of TR drum machine, JUNO-60 synth, vocal FX

Roland’s AIRA Compact: bite-sized variations of TR drum machine, JUNO-60 synth, vocal FX

Smaller and cheaper than the Boutique collection and the primary era AIRA, they’re battery-operated and provide a shocking quantity of performance and sensible management. Roland has a brand new compact platform for the AIRA, and so they look cute and enjoyable.

This might have gone very unsuitable: low cost, stripped-down AIRA fashions. However there’s actual potential right here in options. (Roland has promised some models for evaluation; standby – me and little devices!)

On the coronary heart of that is nonetheless the identical Analog Circuit Habits (ACB) digitally modeled sounds that made the AIRA and Boutique strains sound so good. (Yeah, the identical know-how that additionally earns common howls and screams from on-line boards, pushing for analog, however who cares? You possibly can undoubtedly use a 303 or TR drum machine in digital type, so… I am going to simply tune them and benefit from the capability to run on battery energy with low noise.)

Nevertheless it’s about time we obtained a brand new platform within the type of rival KORG’s volca collection. (I truly cannot perceive why KORG hasn’t revamped that platform with one thing new.)

The trick right here is that these fashions are priced at $199.99, but in addition pack a ton of options and an inner lithium-ion battery plus USB-C connectivity.

I am additionally actually stunned by how a lot is in every pack. These are smaller, lighter, have inner batteries and are cheaper, however every additionally provides a key function lacking from the opposite models in Roland’s lineup:

T-8 provides a 303 bass line to the drum machine.

J-6 provides easy chord programming to the JUNO-60.

E-4 provides a easy looper to the vocal results.

Let’s examine:

T-8 Beat Machine is a child drum machine and TB-303.

6 drum tracks + 1 bass half.

TR-808, TR-909 and TR-606 sounds are right here, with ACB modeling, and also you get a TB-303 Bass Line as well. Plus you get the complete sample edit and reside recording workflow, unbelievable – TR-REC, step loop, sample shift, chance, accent, substeps and as much as 32 steps. Is there additionally pace? (Equally by way of exterior enter.) Delay and reverb are additionally accessible, and even some fundamental stage and timbre changes (tune and decay), plus overdrive and facet chain compression

And sure, you additionally get the 303 fundamentals, together with the mandatory accent and slide. You too can use an exterior MIDI keyboard for simpler pitch management (and naturally simpler pitch management than on an actual 303).

Clearly you may need to mangle your fingers a bit to entry these controls and a few shift presses, however a minimum of it appears fairly accessible.

J-6 chord synth is a child JUNO-60

This factor is simply cute – with a easy octave pad structure for pitch and 100 chord units to make up for the truth that you do not have a full keyboard. (You too can use an exterior keyboard for those who can, wish to play.) Certain, for reside techno units and the like, even for these of us who “know chords or idea”, this could turn out to be useful. (Really I anticipate lots from you know chords and idea higher than you assume, that is why what sounds good to you!)

The one factor I have to verify on that is how a lot polyphony you are getting, like — how large are these chords, Roland? (They do not truly specify it, saying it realizes “the well-known JUNO-60 voice”. Clearly it is a couple of voice, in any other case you would not have chords.)

It is also actually cute, and whereas I am tempted to say I might moderately have the Boutique JU-06A and the like – they’ve much more controls to regulate the sound – the fact is these are a bit fiddly to program . So Roland could have made the instrumental components much more accessible, and simply including some harmonic spice to a reside set might be a neater solution to go.

E-4 Speech Tweaker is a child vocal FX + looper

That is the one I believe might be a sleepy success, even when it means needing a jack cable in your mic.

The E-4 actually harks again to a practice of Roland and BOSS voice results, again to the BOSS VT-1 Voice Transformer. Now I’ve truly discovered this out – I notice that these are probably the most enjoyable in a means when they’re the best and nastiest.

The unique AIRA VT-3/VT-4 sees its management structure mirrored right here within the E-4 – pitch, formant, a big knob and reverb. And sure, “scatter” is again too.

However this is the lacking function: a 24-second looper with overdub. Neither the VT-3 nor the VT-4 has that, and it is an enormous lacking level for what individuals truly do with vocal stuff. And for those who’ve seen what individuals do with loopers, you do not want something difficult – this might be good.

And whereas that T-8 appears a bit clunky for severe drum programming, and the J-6 has to compete with different small synths, is a pocket-sized vocal impact you’ll be able to simply throw in a rig? That’s cool.

You additionally get all of the fundamentals:

  • Auto-pitch
  • Concord
  • Vocoder
  • Pitch
  • formant
  • Scatter (the glitch-y, uh, AIRA factor Roland does with splitting audio – might change into EDM or IDM relying on how you utilize it)
  • reverb
  • looper

Basic specs

The total collection is useless easy however cute:

  • Sync in + out minijack
  • Combine in + out minijack (combine in so you’ll be able to hyperlink audio)
  • Headphone mini jack
  • USB-C for audio and MIDI (like on Roland’s larger siblings, however not discovered on the volca collection, ahem)
  • Standalone li-ion battery energy
  • USB bus energy (which additionally costs the battery)
  • every is about 188mm x 106mm x 290-310g

Roland guarantees a battery lifetime of about 3.5 hours with steady use. You possibly can cost any USB energy provide – so 5V, 500mA. One factor I am trying ahead to sooner or later is the quick charging of music units like now we have with different client electronics, however music lags behind technologically – so that you want about 3 hours to cost. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to work on USB energy, so I do not assume that is an enormous deal (after which energy banks are additionally an choice for those who determine to do a full studio session on a tenting journey or one thing).

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