Roland System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer

25-key Synthesizer Keyboard with Plug-out Technology
Roland System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer image 1
Roland System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer image 1
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Roland System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer
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Analog-style Synth for the Digital Music Age!

When Roland released the original System-100 modular synthesizer back in 1975, the world was on the cusp of an electronic music revolution. Throughout the years, as the System series, and eventually the SH line evolved, so did the music scene around them. A new era of electronic music is dawning, and once more, Roland is on the scene with their AIRA System-1, an old-school, analog-style synthesizer that's built for total integration in your live or studio rig. Sporting Roland's Analog Circuit Behavior technology, this synth delivers sound that's so tweakable and realistic, you won't believe it's digital. But with capabilities such as Plug-out technology, which lets you load up a library of classic Roland synth engines, the System-1 goes far beyond its analog ancestry.

Analog circuit behavior delivers killer sound and feel

Part of the attraction of a modular-style synthesizer keyboard is that you can sit down, grab a knob, and tweak your sound with instant results. No digging through menus, no sorting though parameters, just good old-fashioned hands-on control. And that's exactly what you get with the Roland AIRA System-1. This is actually a result of two very cool things Roland did.

First, using their Analog Circuit Behavior technology, they modeled each component of the System-1 to sound and feel right. That variable -12dB to -24dB/octave filter? It's based on the kind of analog technology that would normally price the System-1 out of reach for most people. But the sound and behavior is as authentic as it gets. And the same can be said about the envelopes, amplifier, and other instruments. Add to that hands-on controls for... well, everything, and you're good to go.

  • Analog Circuit Behavior technology provides spot-on modeling of all analog synth components
  • Variable filter, envelopes, LFO, and more all respond exactly like the analog gear they're modeled on
  • Hands-on controls for every parameter let you tweak your sound, without ever looking through a menu

You haven't lived until you've tried this arpeggiator

Everyone loves a great arpeggiator, right? Well, with the Aria System-1 synthesizer, you get one of the most intelligent and flexible arpeggiators you could ask for. Six arpeggio styles let you chose the right kind of motion for your groove, and you can lock the pattern to one of six beat divisions for perfect sync. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

When you really want to go nuts, put the System-1 into scatter mode, using the same compound job wheel that controls pitch bend. It's hard to describe just exactly what Scatter does — it's a kind of randomizer that you can dial in and fire off to create cool effects and sound variations. A total of 10 Scatter types with 10 levels of intensity let you produce anything from a subtle glitch to total circuit-melting freakout effects.

  • 6-mode arpeggiator with 6 time divisions lets you create moving patterns that lock to the tempo
  • Ten Scatter modes allows you to inject your sound with the perfect dose of randomness with the spin of a dial
  • Each Scatter mode includes 10 depth levels for a range from subtle variation to glitched-out effects

All essential synth effects processors onboard

When you're performing with a tabletop full of synthesizers, drum machines, and various other gadgets, it's amazing how quickly going out to a show turns into an exercise of baggage handling. One of the little things that has impressed the electronic musicians here at Sweetwater is the collection of built-in effects available on the AIRA System-1. Onboard, you'll find both a lush reverb and a classic delay effect (that you can easily lock to MIDI clock), giving you two easy ways to beef up your sounds.

That's not all — crank up the Crusher knob and you get rewarded with gritty, ultra-modern distortion that can make event the meekest sound snarl. And while it's not exactly an effect, the single-button tone control can let you dramatically alter the timbre of your synth with the twist of a knob.

  • Add dimension to your sounds with the onboard reverb, delay, and crusher effects
  • Simple hands-on controls let you grab hold and play your effects in real time
  • One-knob master tone control allows you to seriously alter the sound of your synth

Plug-out technology lets you load more synth sounds

We've all heard of plug-ins, but Roland's Plug-out technology takes software integration to a whole new level. Although the System-1 appears in every way to be an analog synth, it's really a sophisticated standalone computer masquerading as an analog synth — becomes incredibly cool.

You see, you can completely reprogram the entire sound engine of the System-1 by uploading new Plug-out software synths to it. These will include a host of classic Roland keyboards, many of which will take full advantage of the System-1's extensive hands-on controls. Best of all, once you've uploaded a new synth to the System-1 from your computer, you can pick it up and take it with you — no computer needed. And you'll still have the default System-1 sound there as well, so you can switch between synths with the push of a button.

  • Plug-out technology lets you load up classic Roland keyboard sound engines in addition to the default engine
  • New sounds stay loaded in firmware, so you can take them with you, without relying on your computer
  • Many Plug-out synthesizers take advantage of the System-1's full set of hands-on controls for easy tweaking

Total integration with your live rig and studio system

Whether you're on the road or in your studio, you'll find your Roland Aria System-1 synth extremely easy to integrate into your rig. High-quality 1/4" jacks provide stereo output, and there's a convenient headphone jack for when you're just playing by yourself. With a single USB cable, you can pass MIDI to and from your computer and audio to your DAW.

And Roland didn't forget about those of us who like to cut our computers out of the equation, so they also outfitted the System-1 with traditional 5-pin MIDI I/O as well. Top it off with rock-solid MIDI clock sync, and the System-1 fits in perfectly with the rest of your AIRA instruments and MIDI instruments.

  • USB provides both audio and MIDI communication to your computer-based system
  • Traditional 5-pin MIDI I/O lets you connect to your other hardware synths and keyboards
  • Rock-solid MIDI sync keeps your groove locked in time with the rest of your gear

System-1 Plug-out Synthesizer Keyboard Features:

  • A continuation of Roland's legendary System series modular and semi-modular synthesizers
  • Roland's most compact 25-key synth to date, but it's still extremely comfortable to play
  • Analog Circuit Behavior component-to-component modeling technology provides killer realism
  • Innovative Plug-out technology lets you load up additional synth engines and take them with you
  • Control every parameter with real physical knobs and playable sliders with LED indicators
  • Multimode filter provides -12dB to -24dB/octave lowpass and independent highpass controls
  • Thicken up your sound with easy-to-manipulate onboard delay and reverb effects
  • Dial in an extra dose of aggressive distortion with the Crusher knob
  • A simple tone knob lets you adjust the overall sound of your synth on the fly
  • Tempo sync functions allow you to lock your LFO and delay effect to the beat
  • Advanced arpeggiator with Scatter mode lets you easily create cool moving patterns
  • Use 10 Scatter modes with 10 levels of depth to inject the perfect amount of chaos into your sound
  • USB connection provides audio and MIDI communication to your computer
  • Solid MIDI clock sync provides tight timing with external gear, such as the rest of the AIRA series

Additional Media

Roland System-1 Plug-out Synthesizer Review - The Sweetwater Minute, Vol. 257
Roland Updates AIRA Family
Roland Includes Free SH-101 Plug-Out Software with SYSTEM-1
Roland AIRA Arrives!
Roland AIRA TB-3, TR-8, VT-3, and System-1 Demo
AIRA Unveiled!
Roland Aira VT-3 Vocal Transformer Demo
Roland Aira TB-3 Touch Bassline Synthesizer Demo
Roland Aira TB-3, TR-8, VT-3, and System-1 Demo
Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer Demo
Roland AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer Demo
Roland AIRA Gear Appears

Tech Specs

Sound Engine Type(s) AIRA ACB
Number of Keys 25
Type of Keys Synth Action (No Velocity)
Other Controllers Pitchbend/Scatter Jog Dial, Scatter Type dial, Mod Button
Polyphony 4 Notes
Number of Presets 8
Number of Effects 10
Effects Types Tone, Crusher, Reverb, Delay, Scatter
Arpeggiator 6 x Step, 6 x Types
Audio Outputs 2 x 1/4" (TS), 1 x 1/4" (TRS)
USB 1 x Type B
Pedal Inputs Hold (1/4", TS), Control (1/4", TRS)
Power Supply Included
Height 2.8"
Width 18.6"
Depth 11.2"
Weight 5.3 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number SYSTEM-1

Customer Reviews

Based on 9 reviews
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Solid go-to synth

I picked this up after dabbling with the System1 VST plugin, and having a need for a live/working Synth. It is one of the few knob-per-function synths you can buy, and it's at an excellent price point. Most of the complaints are valid: The synth offers only 8+1 patches, and the 25 keys are a bit limited. However, while a lot of people complain about the key travel, since it is not velocity sensitive I actually really like their feel. They have a 'clicky' feel to them, which is a very stark contrast to the mushy/spongy feeling I get with a lot of midi controllers. The tonal range on this synth is excellent for an analog modelling synth. From low to high, you get a really good body out of any note and patch. You can test the lows easily by turning off OSC1+2 and just cranking up OSC3 (sub) and going as low as you can, it still works. Go the other way, setting OSC1 to a square and cranking up its mix before going for the highest pitch tone you can do, and you still get the same uniform behavior. The synth is very repeatable and consistent! The arpeggiator is nice, but is a bit disjointed. Patterns are set by the wheel, but only a few sound really different from one to another. Some additional variety or means to program in more patterns would be useful. The biggest disappointment is the manual. It's essentially one page. If you're after a first synth, this hardware is excellent, but the documentation is very weak. Roland has a ton of Youtube videos which go into how to use the device, which I recommend!

Couldn't imagine my studio without it!

I seriously love this thing, it integrates perfectly with my all-hardware setup and the Plug-Out concept is an incredible way to stay inspired and keep getting more out of an instrument long after the purchase date. I see no reason to ever buy an SH-101 or an SH-2 now, this is far cheaper, more reliable, and you can actually save and backup your patches! The internal synth engine is capable of some really crazy modulation and sound effects, and some simple poly sounds that range from classic to distinctly modern. Roland really killed it with the AIRA series and I'm a proud owner of all of the instruments in the line.
Music background: Musician, Producer, Student

Great for learning analog synthesis basics

I've been relying mainly on softsynths for years, and feel like I've never gotten a good feel for how to build analog sounds from scratch. A while back, I bought a MicroKorg, hoping that playing with the physical controls would help me develop a more intuitive understanding...but the with layering of all the functions behind multiple selector knobs, plus the tiny toy keys, it just didn't happen. I'm trying again with the System-1, and it seems to be doing the trick. I'm finally starting to really "get" envelope filters, for example, and I'm recognizing basic oscillator forms more quickly. There are a few parameters that are buried under arcane "press this while you turn this" controls, but there's plenty of sound design space to explore with just the controls on the panel. I was a bit worried about the feel of the shallow keyboard. I'm a pianist first, and generally prefer full-length, weighted keyboards. I hate minikeys (like on the MicroKorg) with a fiery passion. To my pleasant surprise, the System-1 keyboard is fine...and when I really want velocity sensitivity or a larger range, driving the System-1 from my full-size keyboard works for me.

Roland system 1

Good analog style, 32 bit 96khz powerfull sound,great look,complete my aira system
Music background: Recording engineer

Roland system-1 plug-out synthesizer

I love this synthesizer, it's like a low cost mini Moog. I hope to buy a Moog someday. Thanks sweetwater from Ralph Thanks John !!!!
Music background: Hobbiest, just for fun maybe someday I will get very good.
See also: Roland, Roland Sequencers, Roland Synthesizers