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Old 05-27-2018, 03:34 AM   #2
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ReaDave's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (originally from Geelong)
Posts: 5,374

I have a Roland Cloud subscription with the first twelve months free. I entered a photo competition Roland ran last year where they wanted good photos of vintage Roland gear. I have a room full of Roland vintage gear so I jumped on the opportunity.
It turns out Roland actually received a lot of good entries so they ended up giving everyone who made submissions a free twelve month subscription.

I also have a System 8 hardware synth and some of the physical hardware synths that Roland based their plugouts on. Also in my studio are two Boutique JP08 synths.
That puts me in a position to do some comparisons between the Cloud instruments, the vintage hardware and the new hardware. I'll be doing some detailed YouTube comparison videos soon.

The first comparison I did was between my Juno 106, which I did a full restoration on (including properly repairing the voice chips as per my three part blog article) and also gave it a full factory calibration, and my System 8 with its Juno 106 plugout.
I used to work as an authorized Roland service tech around 25 years ago so I am very familiar with the innards of many of the vintage synths now popular again.
I have to say, Roland got the plugout spot on. It sounds identical to my ears and I've been playing Juno synths since 1984.

The Boutique JP08 synths sound very good (I have two of them) but the plugout Jupiter 8 on the System 8 sounds better. There's a condition parameter in the S8 that emulates the component variations between voices and some of the aging factors and this makes a huge difference to the authenticity of the plugouts. With a little of the condition parameter wound in, there's the subtle tuning differences between voices that a real Jupiter 8 has and this adds much to the thickness (for want of a better word) to the sound of chords in particular.
The Boutiques, whole sounding good, do not have this parameter and don't sound as good.

Other synths Roland have reproduced that I have in physical hardware are the System 100, SH2 (I have the SH09 which is a single osc version), the Juno 106 as already mentioned and a JX3P with PG200 (Roland have only reproduced this in the Boutique range and not Cloud instruments at this stage).
I have the SH2 plugout in slot three in my System 8 and it sounds huge. When using it in single oscillator mode, it has all the character of my SH09.
I haven't played around with the System 100 plugout yet.

The Cloud versions of these instruments are identical to the plugouts that can be loaded into the System 8.

In the early 90s, I was one half of an electronic music duo called "Mother Venus". During that time, we had an SH101 in the rig and I used it live as well. The SH101 Cloud VST brings back all my memories of this synth and given the accuracy of the other plugouts, I have no reason to doubt this one either despite not having a 101 physically in my studio these days.

Regarding the System 8 itself, it's own engine is fantastic and despite not actually being physically analog, it doesn't feel in the slightest bit digital to me. There's no digital stepping, aliasing or artifacting that I've noticed. It is a different (and very powerful) flavour to any of the other Roland analog synths and I would have purchased the System 8 for this alone.

The Cloud instruments are fairly hefty CPU munchers but not really any more so than some other great sounding VST instruments such as u-he Diva.
The one exception here is the System 8 VST. It IS a huge CPU hog and you'll need a decent rig to use it with a lot of polyphony in a big mix.

The 808 and 909 Cloud plugins sound every bit as punchy as the physical hardware. They really cut through a mix as one would expect. I've used both on one track on the new album I'm working on and they have my thumbs up.

To sum up, I have to say Roland have a real winner with their latest ACB creations whether they are run via Cloud instruments or as plugouts on a physical System 8.

Last edited by ReaDave; 05-27-2018 at 03:51 AM.
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