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Roland is a Japanese company which was founded in 1972 in Osaka by Ikutaro Kakehashi. Kakehashi started out as a watchmaker and in 1960 he decided to found Ace Electronic Industries which was into making combo organs, guitar amps and pedals. Ace Electronic signed the contract with Hammond for which it produced a rhythm machine giving auto accompaniment function, i.e. providing drums. In ten years Kakehashi would back out of the cooperation with the two companies and create his own brand called Roland – the name which would soon hit the world’s top 5 instrument manufacturers list.

The company gained popularity thanks to friendly interface of their products, simple control tricks welcoming beginners, elaborate learning system and outstanding technical specs as well as great sound quality. The company was among the first ones to implement MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) which became the standard feature for any musical instrument with the ability to be integrated. Besides, Roland launched the first one and the only modular synthesizer in Japan – System-700 (1976); the company has always been bringing innovations to the music world.

The first analog monophonic synthesizer of SH series – SH-1000 – was released in 1973. It had one VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator), one envelope generator (ADSR - Attack Time, Decay Time, Sustain Level, Release Time) and a number of factory preset patches.

Already widely renowned SH series abbreviation had been used until 2010 marking such synth generations as Roland SH-3, Roland SH-2000, Roland SH-5 (the first synthesizer with the pitch control possibility), SH-1, SH-7 (including 2 VCOs instead of one); SH-9; SH-2 (2 VCOs, 1 sub giving depth and intensity to the voices); SH-101 (a bit smaller and featuring fastenings in order to be used as a guitar-like instrument during live performances); SH-32. SH-201 model released in 2006 offered 2 modes to work with tones – Split and Dual, MIDI jacks. The model became famous owing to its simplicity and backlit buttons, it also offered the possibility to save user patches. There are still some Gaia SH-01 units stored somewhere, take your chance to grab it – this is a great virtual analog synthesizer!

In 1976 System-700 modular synth was launched straight away becoming a huge breakthrough in the world of modular synthesizers. The synth had quite impressive specification: 4 VCFs, 9 VCOs, 3 LFOs, 5 VCAs modifying waveform parameters, plus there was a significant number of connectivity and expansion features.

1979 was marked with Jupiter series launch. Jupiter-4 became the first synthesizer sporting a 4-voice polyphony and possibility to save user settings which made it much easier to use the synthesizer while performing live (Promars monophonic synthesizers were based on Jupiter-4 idea). The icon of the 80s – Jupiter-8 polyphonic synthesizer offered an arpeggiator, preset memory, an 8-voice polyphony and fully analog path – from sound generating to further processing. Jupiter-6 came out as a budget version of Jupiter-8 with a fewer number of voices but quite commercially successful though. Jupiter-6 became the first synth to support MIDI (factory implementation) together with JX (JX-3P) series synthesizers and Juno-106; it also gives the opportunity to be integrated with the external controller PG-200 for extensive control – something which other competitors lacked.

Roland Juno series included compact and light enough instruments – easy to transfer or take on tour. Juno-6 – the first synthesizer of the series – offered a 6-voice polyphony, DCOs (Digitally Controlled Oscillator), analog filters and amplifiers. The later modification called Juno-60 offered patch memory and proprietary interface DCB (Digital Control Bus) for integration with other Roland instruments. Juno-106 – the next update – had an even bigger patch memory and for the first time offered MIDI implementation. Its version which is a rare one – Juno-106S – got built-in speakers but was disregarded by professionals.

D series synthesizers featuring Linear Arithmetic technology appeared to be good news from Roland – it offered simple control and was accessible to any musician of any level. D-50 model brought to us the first fully digital Roland oscillators. The series included D-550, D-110, D-20, D-5, D-70 with DLM (Differential Loop Modulation) enriching the sound. E series synthesizers became popular owing to auto accompaniment which helped musicians who worked with different genres.

JD series models - JD-800, JD-990 – released in 1991 have such feature as operating with 4 timbres simultaneously; it also had an elaborate slider panel. These models received recognition among techno music fans. The year 1992 was marked with JV series release. JV-80 synthesizer and its versions JV-90, JV-30, JV-35, JV-50 are based on pulse code modulation (PCM).

In the mid/late 1990s XP-50, XP-60, JV-2080 synthesizers were produced as well as JP-8000/ JP-8080 adored by electronic music professionals. The early 2000s were marked by a flagship XV-88 with a 128-voice polyphony - which Roland’s competitors could only dream about – and its rackmount version XV-3080. We should also mention XV-5080 released in 2001 which has been keeping leading position in studios ever since and is considered to be one of the most powerful rackmount synthesizers of the 2000s; even today it’s a great instrument which spurred the Fantom series creation based on it.

Fantom became the world’s first workstation featuring a color LCD which was only one of the many pluses. A titanium case is a story to tell but outstanding technical specs are even more amazing and you can familiarize yourself with them on our website. Fantom workstations - Fantom-S, Fantom-X, Fantom-G – were acknowledged leaders on the market in the 2000s which tried to conquer the heart and soul of those who were already big fans of Yamaha Motif, Korg Triton and Kurzweil PC2.

V-Synth, V-Synth GT, V-Synth XT synthesizers feature VariPhrase technology which allows musicians to work with sound in real time. They are famous thanks to the new company’s development - Composite Object Sound Modelling (COSM) which let us create absolutely new stunning sonic effects. These are rare models highly valued as analog modeling synthesizers with several sound engines – they would be a precious treat in any collection of instruments.

Jupiter-80 appeared in 2011. It was based on SuperNATURAL technology and could imitate behavior of acoustic instruments very well thanks to the Behaviour Modeling concept. SuperNATURAL technology happened to be a real breakthrough for sound quality standards of electric music instruments the key aim of which is to provide authentic sound – it’s kind of an instrumental “litmus test” to reveal its quality; SuperNATURAL guarantees perfection. In 2012 Jupiter-50 was released. It was a bit stripped down concerning functionality but anyway replicated the architecture and overall sound quality of Jupiter-80 at the same time being significantly cheaper and lighter which is important for stage instrument. Both synthesizers get their systems and libraries (you can upload them from Roland’s website) regularly updated.

INTEGRA-7 sound module combined the best sound designs including SuperNATURAL technology, Motional Surround and a 6-channel signal output, almost all Roland libraries (more than 6000 sounds), SRX Expansion (12) and SuperNATURAL Expansion (6)! INTEGRA-7 is a rackmount version of Jupiter-80/50.

A couple of workstations - FA-06 and FA-08 – were based on the similar software and hardware offering more than 2000 programs including Multi as well as built-in sequencer and sampler. So far they’ve been the only fully functional workstations made by Roland considering that Jupiter 80/ 50 and JD-Xa are stage instruments and Juno-DS gives way to FA-06/08 regarding function and sound set. Besides, the gorgeous Fantom-G was discontinued long ago.

But why does Roland remain the king of the stage instruments? Why can’t anyone press it out? The perfection is something simple – it’s just that you have to offer incredible innovations each time you create a new top product (or even if it’s just a common one). Roland can do that. What about the others? And that’s how it’s been going since analog ones in the late 70s (era of computerized analog synths) and the early 80s (Juno, Jupiter-8) proceeding to the 90s (JV, JP, XP, XV), technological 2000s (Fantom, V-Synth, Jupiter-80) and smashing the 2010s. Meet Frankenstein’s… well, Roland’s monsters – hybrid JD-Xa and baby JD-Xi – these devil’s offsprings will make you buy them. Scott Tibbs has always been great at making demos – spend some time and watch his videos (or rewatch) showing all the advantages of Roland’s products.

As well as other Japanese colleagues Roland couldn’t resist the nicest way of making money – just a little bit of reincarnation… why not? In 2015 they got themselves into JP-08, JX-03 and JU-06 virtual analog synthesizers revival. Their predecessors will meet you in our catalogue and…

P.S. they are so beautiful and startling. We love them, you love them, everyone does.