Synth Technology

::: History of Roland in Synthesizers :::

I have some good in depth tech posts to come including a complete restoration on a Simmons SDS V ( another one! ). But to tide you over i would like to present : The Roland Synthesizer History Chronicle.

I quoted and edited from their site as i prefer to start at the beginning and not the end...  And I lose interest after L.A. Synthesis.  I really enjoy the descriptions on this list.  Classic Roland manual writing has a special kind of 'Engrish' and it's in full force on this list!



Standouts are ( and this list is intentionally on the short side! ) :

JD800 : Because it looks awesome.  Just amazing with tons of realtime sliders at cool looking angles .

SH5 : Great source and modulation capabilities.  Similar to the more advanced Yamaha CS series synths.  I like the blue more than the SH7 green.

Jupiter 8 : This is a beautiful machine.  Sounds great.  Built like a tank.

JX8P : This one makes the bucket list way before the JX3P which is more popular.  It can make gritty yet classy analog love and is capable of seriously complex tonality.

Juno 60 : Again, it's simple and classy.  Cooler to me than the JX3P with the arpeggiator and doesn't need a programmer. Plus you can save patches unlike it's predecessor the Juno 6.

System 100 : SEMI MODULAR! And it has that awesome 70's piping with tolex look!  Sexy.  More straight forward and cost effective than the System 700

SH101 : It COMES IN MULTIPLE COLORS!!!!!  And it's super popular with techno / dance and electronic crowds.  I take one in red with the keytar hand grip please.

JP 8080 : This looks great and packs a wallup!  If i saw one cheap i'd pounce.  Decent layout for a box that does too much and its much easier on the eye than the JP8000.

On to the List!


Here Goes:

1973 SH-1000

1973: SH-1000

This 1VCO analog synthesizer’s claim to fame is being the first mass-production synthesizer made in Japan. It had a selection of preset tones to choose from, and control functions to give the user freedom when producing sounds. It carried a price tag of ¥165,000 in Japan (roughly $600).

1974 SH-3

1974: SH-3

1VCO analog synthesizer making full use of control functions. There are two types — the SH-3 and SH-3A (photo) — which differ slightly in terms of appearance and internal construction. Additive synthesis oscillation creates a distinctive meaty sound.

1974 SH-2000

1974: SH-2000

This preset-only analog synthesizer (1VCO) is equipped with aftertouch. Although Roland analog keyboard synthesizers have 1V/1oct VCOs, this one uses Hz/V.

1975 SH-5

1975: SH-5

Roland’s first 2VCO analog synthesizer. The huge one-piece case blew away keyboardists at the time. This synth was also the first to have pitch bender levers.

1976 System-100

1976: SYSTEM-100

This system consisted of a small 2VCO synthesizer, expander, mixer, analog sequencer, and a pair of speakers (photo showed the basic model 101 synth). It was possible to purchase each unit separately.

1976 SYSTEM-700

1976: SYSTEM-700

The first — and only — modular synth to be made in Japan. It included 9VCO, 4VCF, 5VCA, 4ENV, 3LFO, mixer, analog sequencer, effects processors, and more. The full system was priced at ¥2,650,000 in Japan (roughly $9,000).

1978 SH-1

1978: SH-1

A 1VCO analog synthesizer with a basic circuit design derived from Roland’s System-700. In addition to being the first synth to incorporate a sub-oscillator, it was also the first to use a molded plastic case.

1978 SH-7

1978: SH-7

This 2VCO analog synthesizer was released as the successor to the SH-5. The case was made somewhat smaller, and it could play two voices, taking advantage of the two VCOs.


1978: SH-09

A number of cost-cutting measures were applied to the SH-1. The result was this 1VCO analog synthesizer, the first to sell for below ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $450). This synth played a major role in popularizing synthesizers in Japan.

1978 SYSTEM-100M

1978: SYSTEM-100M

A version of the System-700 aimed more at the general consumer. This compact modular synthesizer was made up of various modules and a rack with built-in power supply (a 32-key and 49-key keyboard was available).

1979 SH-2

1979: SH-2

The meaty sound of 2VCO + 1 sub-oscillator made this analog synthesizer quite popular. As with the SH-09, a price of under ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $450) propelled this synth’s popularity. It’s a coveted classic.

1979 Jupiter-4

1979: JUPITER-4

Roland’s first polyphonic analog synthesizer (4 voices). The 4VCO sound in unison mode is superb, and it also has built-in user sound memory function. The synth carried a price tag of ¥385,000 in Japan at the time (roughly $1750).

1981 JUPITER-8

1981: JUPITER-8

A deluxe 8-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer with 64-sound memory. Its smorgasbord of features, including key split, patch preset, and auto arpeggio, earned this synth global praise and legendary status.

1982 JUNO-6

1982: JUNO-6

This 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer used a DCO per voice to generate sound. Built-in chorus effects increased the range of sounds that could be produced. This synth also had a key transpose feature.

1982 SH-101

1982: SH-101

A 1VCO analog mono synth available in three color variations; modulation grip was also an option. The synth could run on batteries, allowing it to be slung on a shoulder strap and worn like a guitar.

1982 JUNO-60

1982: JUNO-60

A Juno-6 with newly added memory functions for 56 sounds. Roland’s proprietary DCB interface standard was used for exchanging control information with external devices.

1983 JUPITER-6

1983: JUPITER-6

Scaling down the Jupiter-8 to 6-voice polyphony, coupled with creative tweaking by Roland’s engineers, allowed the Jupiter-6 to hit the market at half the price of the Jupiter-8. It also made news with its highly stable oscillator and MIDI terminal.

1983 JX-3P

1983: JX-3P

This MIDI-capable, 2DCO per voice, 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer was released at the same time as the Jupiter-6. A PG-200 sound programmer (could be placed on the upper right on the panel) was also available.

1984 JUNO-106

1984: JUNO-106

This 1DCO per voice, 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer was the successor of the Juno-60. Equipped with 128-sound memory and MIDI, it would become a favorite of dance and techno artists.

1984 MKS-30

1984: MKS-30

A 2U-rack vesion of the JX-3P. Although the JX-3P’s MIDI receive channel was fixed to ch. 1, the MKS-30 has programmable channels. The PG-200 sound programmer for the JX-3P could also be with this model.

1984 MKS-80

1984: MKS-80

2U-rack size, 8-voice polyphonic version of the Jupiter-6. Nicknamed the Super Jupiter, it stood out for its ability to play a wide range of sounds, from musical instruments to special effects. The MPG-80 sound programmer was also available as an option.

1984 JX-8P

1984: JX-8P

An upgraded version of the JX-3P, the JX-8P analog synthesizer featured 6-voice polyphony and two DCOs per voice. A separately sold PG-800 sound programmer was also available.

1985 JUNO-106S

1985: JUNO-106S

This JUNO was equipped with stereo speakers; other than that, the specs were completely identical to the JUNO-106. As a common feature in this time — internal sound memory could be backed up to a cassette tape.

1985 ajuno1

1985: α JUNO-1

Pronounced “alpha JUNO-1″, this was a low-cost model in the JUNO series. It had 49 keys, and a specially designed sound-generator IC. Although it had 6-voice polyphony and 128 sound memory, it was below ¥100,000 in Japan (roughly $420) – quite an appealing combination.

1985 alpha juno 2

1985: α JUNO-2

A step up from the α JUNO-1, the α JUNO-2 had 61 keys. The JUNO series was always popular for its string and bass sounds, and still is to this day. The PG-300 programmer, common to the α JUNO-1 and -2, was also available.

1986 JX10

1986: JX-10

This 76-key, DCO-type analog synthesizer incorporated 2 JX-8P sound generators. With 12-voice polyphony, this synth was nicknamed the Super JX. The PG-800 sound programmer could be used with it.

1986 mks-70

1986: MKS-70

A rack version of the JX-10, this model could also use the same PG-800 sound programmer as the JX-10. Equipped with three different effects — portamento, delay, and chorus — it also had a memory cartridge slot.

1986 mks-50

1986: MKS-50

This rack-mounted model of the α JUNO series made it possible to add portamento, detune, and other parameters to patches. It was equipped with chord memory, and could also use the PG-300.

1987 D-50

1987: D-50

Equipped with the Linear Arithmetic (LA) synthesis, this was Roland’s first digital synthesizer. It also had a digital filter/effects processor. One of Roland’s best-selling models, this synthesizer also excelled at analog-style sound.

1988 D-550

1987: D-550

This rack-mounted version of the D-50 synth also had an LA sound generator. Creating sounds was made simply by using a PG-1000 external controller that enabled manipulation of edit parameters in real time.

1988 D-10

1988: D-10

Although this digital synthesizer was reasonably priced, it borrowed the D-50’s LA sound generator, and also had multitimbral capability and rhythm machine functions. It had seven types of digital reverb, and the first built-in ROM player.

1988 D-110

1988: D-110

A stand-alone version of the D-10 sound generator, this sound module fit in a 1U rack. In addition to its main stereo output, it also had six individual outputs.

1988 D-20

1988: D-20

This model contained the same basic features of the D-10 but added a sequencer capable of 9-track multi-recording and a 3.5-inch floppy drive. The sequencer supported real time recording method.

U-110 Roland Synthesizer

1988: U-110

A simple-playback sound module with a DC-PCM sound generator. In addition to a wide range of built-in musical instrument tones, it could hold up to four memory cards at once. By combining these, users could create custom sounds.

1989 U-20

1989: U-20

This keyboard used the RS-PCM sound generator, which retained compatibility with the U-110′s tone data. It was distinguished by a unique system of operation, with sound patches that managed tone data, and keyboard patches that managed MIDI data.

1989 D-5

1989: D-5

The greatest feature of the D series was an onboard LA sound generator. With a chase function and arpeggiator at a price of ¥99,800 in Japan (roughly $725), this synthesizer offered outstanding cost performance.

1989 U-220

1989: U-220

Employing the RS-PCM sound generator system, this upper model of the U-110 aimed at even higher sound quality. Preset tones were increased from 99 in the U-110 to 128 in U-220, and an onboard effects processor provides built-in chorus and reverb. 1990 D-70

1990: D-70

This synthesizer used Advanced LA synthesis, which is an evolved form of LA synthesis. It had a built-in DLM function that could generate a variety of wave data for synthesizing. This innovation created an infinite range of sound creation possibilities.

1991 JD-800

1991: JD-800

This digital synth employed a large number of sliders on the panel to allow real-time control of all parameters with an analog feel. Each Patch could consist of up to four Tones for creating fat sounds.

1991 JX-1

1991: JX-1

While low priced, this playback keyboard had the ultimate selection of preset sounds, from acoustic instruments to analog synthesizers. It also had an edit function with eight parameters. 1992 JV-80

1992: JV-80

With eight paramaters sliders, this PCM synthesizer could be operated with an analog feel. This was the first synth compatible with the best-selling SR-JV80-Series expansion board.

1992: JV-30

The lower model of the JV-80, this 16-part multitimbral synthesizer captivated users with its 189 high-quality, built-in PCM tones and ease of operation. Editing filter, envelope generator, and vibrato was possible.

1992 JV-880

1992: JV-880

This PCM sound module, with the high-quality sound and functionality of the JV-80, was made to fit into a compact 1U rack-size. In addition to four main and sub outputs, the module has a Preview function that allowed users to check tones without using any other equipment.

1992 JW-50

1992: JW-50

This workstation had an onboard GS sound generator with a built-in 16-track sequencer. In addition to a backing function as a composition-support tool, the JW-50’s ease of editing tones made for an appealing instrument.

1993 JV-1000

1993: JV-1000

This workstation featured a refined version of the JV-80 sound generator, with a built-in MC-50MKII sequencer engine. Expansion boards made this workstation expandable up to 993 patches, and 56 voices.

1993 JV-35

1993: JV-35

This model offered superb cost performance. While low priced, it allowed expansion boards to be installed, adding extra sounds and voices The separately sold VE-JV-1 provided the synth-engine equivalent of the JV-1000.

1993 JV-90

1993: JV-90

The JV-1000 synthesizer with the sequencer removed, the JV-90 was based on the concept of expandability. Expansion boards could be used to expand the number of voices and sounds as needed.

1993 JV-50

1993: JV-50

This model featured the same functions as the JV-35, with a built-in SMF player. As with the JV-35/90, it was based on the JV-series concept of expandability, capable of up to 56 voices.

W-50 Roland Synthesizer

1993: W-50

Intended for Professional Use / Church Environment (Complete library of rich Organ sounds,etc). This keyboard was a collaboration with Rodgers Organ (a Roland subsidiary).

1993 JD-990

1993: JD-990

This sound-generator module achieved the operability of the JD-800 via a large-screen display. In addition to enabling ring modulation and oscillator sync, it was equipped with an FXM function and eight multi-effects processors.

1994 JV-1080

1994: JV-1080

This synthesizer module featured 64 voices and 16-part multitimbral specs. Nicknamed the Super JV, the module could carry four wave expansion boards simultaneously, enabling up to 1,741 patches that spanned a wide range of music genres.

1995 XP-50

1995: XP-50

This workstation featured the sound generator of the JV-1080, and a sequencer with loop recording and quick play. It also featured Realtime Phrase Sequence (RPS).

1995 XP-10

1995: XP-10

This XP-series model was aimed at the more affordable price range. Equipped with 16-part multitimbral GM/GS sound generator, it also incorporated a newly developed arpeggiator with 30 different styles, a Combination Palette, and more.

1996 XP-80

1996: XP-80

The top model in the XP series, this synthesizer was based on the XP-50 with many refinements added on, plus 76 keys with weighted action. The sequencer memory could hold about 60,000 notes, three times that of the XP-50.

1996 JP-8000

1996: JP-8000

This 8-voice synthesizer offered an impressive array of knobs and sliders to manipulate its analog modeling synthesis engine. It had a built-in Motion Control function that allowed operations on the panel to be recorded and played back.

1997 JV-2080

1997: JV-2080

This sound module became so popular, it was considered a world standard. With features such as 640 patches and 16 multitimbral parts, it represented the pinnacle in sample-playback synthesis at the time.

1998 XP-60

1998: XP-60

This model compressed the features of the XP-80 into a compact 61-key body. All operations conformed to the XP-80. New expansion boards went on sale at the same time, increasing the appeal of this instrument even further. 1998 JX-305

1998: JX-305

The playability of a keyboard was added to the functionality of the MC-505 Groovebox, which was a hit product at the time. The main appeal of the model was easy operation with inspiring realtime operation.

1998 JP-8080

1998: JP-8080

This rack version of the JP-8000 sound generator upped the power even more. Built-in Unison and Voice Modulator, an increase in polyphony from 8 to 10, and external audio input were some of the features that distinguished this module.

1999 XP-30

1999: XP-30

The last model in the XP-Series. Although the sequencer was removed in order to lower the price, it boasted a full lineup of features, including 1,406 patches and an arpeggio function.

1999 JV-1010

1999: JV-1010

This compact half-rack module inherited the rich preset sounds of the JV-1080 and 2080. Able to hold one SR-JV80-Series expansion board, it could handle up to 1,151 patches.

2000 RS-5

2000: RS-5

While reasonably priced, this synthesizer contained the same high-quality sounds as the JV/XP/XV series. It was also easy to operate, with knob controls for LFO, filter, and other parameters.

2000 XV-88

2000: XV-88

The XV-88 was the full-sized keyboard model of the XV series. This 128-voice synthesizer was equipped with an 88-key, hammer-action keyboard. It could hold up to four expansion cards (two SRX series and two SR-JV80 series).

2000 XV-3080

2000: XV-3080

This 2U-rack synthesizer module had the same sound generator as the XV-88. It could hold up to two SRX-series and four SR-JV80-series sound expansion boards.

2000 XV-5080

2000: XV-5080

The top-of-the-line XV module, it had the highest-performance sound generator of its time, as well as a smorgasbord of attractive features, including Matrix Control and sample playback via SIMM.

2001 Fantom

2001: Fantom

A new breed of workstation with a large graphical LCD and centralized control of its numerous functions. This 76-key workstation featured professional XV-5080 quality sounds and a wide range of realtime performance functions.

2001 XV-5050

2001: XV-5050

This 64-voice, 16-part sound module fits the high sound quality of the XV-5080 into a 1U-rack size. Editing software is also included that allows all parameters to be controlled via computer.

2001 SH-32

2001: SH-32

After 20 years in retirement, the “SH” prefix was revived. This ambitious product integrates the traditional panel interface to evoke images of the first SH-series, plus programmable arpeggiator and many other new features.

2002 XV-2020

2002: XV-2020

The XV-2020 synthesizer module put Roland’s acclaimed XV sounds in a half-rack unit with USB and GM2 compatibility. It offered two SRX expansion boards, 16 multitimbral parts, and three effects processors.

2003 V-Synth

2003: V-Synth

The V-Synth integrated Variphrase technology, allowing realtime control of waveform pitch, time, and formant for organic and animated sounds. It also offered analog-modeling synthesis, COSM filtering, and the unique TimeTrip Pad.

2003 Fantom-S

2003: Fantom-S

This 61-note workstation keyboard offered seamless integration of audio and MIDI with advanced sampling features such as realtime time-stretching and Skip Back Sampling, plus a Dynamic Pad Bank, mastering effects, and USB file exchange.

NKB 03

2003: RS-70

With a fresh collection of quality sounds, a Loop Sequencer, and friendly Direct Access buttons for instantly selecting patches, the RS-70 introduced a new level of performance power for live or song production at an attractive price.


2003: RS-50

A scaled-down version of the RS-70, this live-performance synthesizer provided great Roland sounds and performance-friendly features including Phrase/Arpeggio Generator and Multi Chord Memory to the entry-level market.

2003 VariOS

2003: VariOS / VariOS-8 / VariOS 303

Thanks to its open-ended hardware/software system, VariOS could emulate Roland’s most popular synths. VariOS 8 emulated Roland’s vintage Juno and Jupiter, and VariOS 303 emulated the classic TB-303, without draining the host computer’s CPU.

2004 Fantom-X7

2004: Fantom-X7

The Fantom-X Series were the first “Giga-Workstations,” providing nearly 1GB of wave memory when fully expanded with four SRX cards. They also offered 128-voice polyphony, eight stereo audio tracks, and a large color LCD.

NKB 03

2004: JUNO-D

Budget priced yet big on features, the Juno-D offered 640 of new patches, a world-class array of expressive multi-effects, realtime performance controllers, and tools for groove creation and composition.

NKB 07

2004: Fantom-XR

The stunning sound of a Fantom-X workstation in a 1U rack module, the Fantom-XR provides room for over 1GB of sounds when fully expanded with six SRX cards and DIMMs for user sampling.

2004 Fantom-Xa

2004: Fantom-Xa

For musicians who craved Fantom power, but wanted a more cost-effective way to Fantomize their rig, the Fantom-Xa was the answer — a multifaceted sampling workstation with a 16-track sequencer and affordable price tag.

2006 SH-2012006: SH-201

This 49-key analog-modeling synthesizer provides the famous Roland Super SAW waveform. It also has an External Input for manipulating audio, a D Beam, and plentiful knobs and switches for realtime control.


2006: V-SYNTH XT

Named the “Synthesizer of the Year” at the 2004 MIPA Awards, Roland’s groundbreaking V-Synth now has a travel-friendly offspring. The XT is a portable new V-Synth with some spectacular tricks up its sleeves — and with enough synthesis and audio-processing power to make heads spin.

2006 JUNO-G

2006: JUNO-G

For songwriters and performers, the JUNO-G synth offers a 16-part MIDI sequencer with four companion stereo audio tracks, plus a powerful Fantom-X-quality sound engine, 128-voice polyphony, and SRX expansion.


2007: V-Synth GT

Onboard dual-core engine supercharges Elastic Audio Synthesis with revolutionary Articulative Phrase Synthesis, which models the performance behavior and nuance of acoustic music instruments, plus Vocal Designer.

2007 Sonic Cell

2007: SonicCell

With its dual SRX expansion bay, built-in USB audio interface, and ability to play SMFs and WAV/AIFF/MP3 files, SonicCell puts the power and legendary sound quality of a Roland hardware synthesizer on the desktop.



Decked out with an extra-large display, USB backing-track functionality, a Click output for drummers, performance knobs, hands-free patch select, master MIDI control, and more, the 76-key JUNO-STAGE offers onstage power at a great price.

Fantom-G6 Roland Synthesizer

2008: Fantom-G6

The Fantom-G6 is a dream instrument that redefines the boundaries of playability and creativity with its advanced sound engine, revolutionary ARX SuperNATURAL™ expansion bay, large-sized color LCD, powerful new audio/MIDI sequencer and more.

2008 Fantom-G7

2008: Fantom-G7

The Fantom-G series redefines the boundaries of playability and creativity with its advanced sound engine, revolutionary ARX SuperNATURAL expansion bay, large-sized color LCD, powerful 152-track audio/MIDI sequencer, and more.

Player for larger-than-life performances.

2009 AX-Synth

2009: AX-Synth

The battery-powered AX-Synth is an eye-catching 49-key remote keyboard with a high-quality sound generator onboard. It’s self-contained and equipped with powerful, solo-oriented sounds from Roland’s latest generation of synths.

2009 JUNO-Di

2009: JUNO-Di

A traveling musician’s dream, the JUNO-Di is lightweight, can run on batteries, and is easy to use. It’s packed with 1,000+ great sounds, has a friendly control panel for easy editing, and a Song Player for larger-than-life performances.

VR-7002010: V-Combo VR-700

With a legendary Virtual Tone Wheel organ and dedicated harmonic bars onboard, plus banks of essential ensemble sounds, the V-Combo melds an entire rig into one convenient instrument for easy transport and fast setup.

2010 AX-09

2010: Lucina AX-09

This 37-key ultra-light synth is designed to fit all musicians — even kids. It’s loaded with 150 excellent sounds, all easily selectable with the onboard category buttons, and features a USB Audio Player function for jam-along fun.

2010 SH-01

2010:  GAIA SH-01

Affordable yet powerful, the GAIA SH-01 is a high-performance value with old-school charm. The triple-stacked engine provides massive virtual-analog synthesis under the control of hands-on knobs, sliders, and buttons.

JUNO-Gi Roland Synthesizer

2010: JUNO-Gi

What propels this power-synth into another realm, however, is its supercharged feature set with over 1,300 fresh sounds, an onboard eight-track digital recorder, and pro effects created by BOSS. Write, record, mix, master, and perform anywhere with the new JUNO-Gi.

JUPITER Synth Legends Vol. 1

The emulations in JUPITER Synth Legends provide you with a large selection of authentic vintage sounds to use alongside the advanced acoustic and synth capabilities already in the JUPITER-80/-50. Featured synths include:

  1. JUPITER-8
  2. SH-101
  3. TB-303
  4. JUNO-60
  5. JUPITER-6
  6. JUNO-106
  7. D-50

2012 JUPITER-80

2012: JUPITER-80

A live-performance powerhouse that pays homage to its legendary namesake with road-proven hardware and massive sound, yet blasts into the future with advanced SuperNATURAL® technology.

2012 JUPITER-50

2012: JUPITER-50

By combining the supreme expression of the JUPITER-80 with the travel friendliness of the JUNO series, the new JUPITER-50 brings SuperNATURAL® sound and pro performance to every stage and studio.

2012 INTEGRA-7

2012: INTEGRA-7

The powerhouse rack comprises a “greatest hits” collection of sounds from Roland’s flagship keyboards and V-Drums modules, plus a coveted lineup from the legacy SRX library. It also introduces a new technology called Motional Surround, a 17-part ambience engine that lets you graphically control the distance and position of each part within 360-degree sound field.


2013: V-COMBO VR-09

Travel-ready, affordable, and outfitted with top-level Roland sounds, the V-Combo VR-09 is the ideal all-in-one solution for performing keyboard players. Dedicated piano, organ, and synth sound engines—organized in three intuitive blocks on the front panel—provide all the essential tones you need, right under your fingertips.


Source :  The Roland Synthesizer History Chronicle

::: I.F. :::

::: Simmons SDS-V of the Future :::

I've promised these and so fresh for 2013 here they are!  Extensive photos of the inner life and workings of a Simmons SDS-V with the MFB SEQ-01 sequencer built in. But first, a little background.

Simmons electronic drums were developed by Richard James Burgess and Dave Simmons.  Burgess' idea was to make a fully electronic drumset that could be played  by a real drummer or a sequencer.  He pioneered this idea while working on the first Landscape album From the Tea-Rooms of Mars... To the Hell-Holes of Uranus ( a great soundtrack styled listen BTW ).  In 1981 he produced the Spandau Ballet hit, "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)".  It was the first breakthrough hit with a real drummer playing the now famous hexagonal pads and the first production Simmons SDS-V brain.

They offered a Kick drum, Snare drum, Toms, and even High Hats and Cymbal modules although the Cymbal and HH ones are super rare.  Seven of any combination could be housed in one brain and triggered via octagonal pad, sequencer, and even acoustic triggers attached to drums.  There was even an open/closed HH pedal input to trigger 2 different variations from the HH module.  You could program your own sounds via the front panel of each module with full controls for 3 presets on the front and one 'factory' set inside that are all adjustable.  The Brain did double duty of allowing trigger inputs while offering basic mixing of the internal sounds via a stereo and mono output ( with individual out as well ).  These brains quickly became cult like in their status and were used in everything from jazz bands by Bill Bruford to rock groups like Def Leppard ( by the one armed Rick Allen ) and of course funk and dance groups like Prince.



And i never get bored of this song:



I had picked up an SDS-V brain with a Kick, Snare, and 3 Tom modules.  But there was those two empty slots at the end... hmmmm... Then it occurred to me, What if i turn this Brain into a full DRUM MACHINE!!! Lo an behold, a few Googles later yielded my plan of attack.  I could fit a modern modular sequencer into this old brain and make an instrument of the future past! There's some technical hurdles to surmount in adding a sequencer to the SDS-V brain.

1, The MFB SEQ-01 is designed to work in a modular synth case.  the SDS-V case is of equivalent hight but the mounting holes are not lined up. So, more accurately, the MFB fits vertically and horizontally but the mounting holes don't line up.  To avoid damaging the original mounting setup i opted to temporarily put  washers over the adjacent screws to hold the sequencer in.

2, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be routed to the trigger or sequencer inputs on the SDS-V cards. I had a few options here.  One was to connect the sequencer outs to the Simmons' native sequencer inputs.  The other was to hook it up to the trigger or pad inputs.  I opted to use the trigger inputs ( counter intuitive, i know! ) because this gave me a gain adjustment on the face plate of the brain for each trigger from the sequencer to the drum module.  The SDS-V drum modules are very dynamic and it's useful to be able to hit them with sequencer trigger more or less to taste.

3, Lastly, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be powered and it runs at a different voltage than the SDS-V. I had MFB modify the Seq-01 to run on 15 volts in the SDS.  Then i connected the power from the +/-15 volt rail in the Brain to the power input on the MFB edge connector.  Pretty straight forward!



Photos by J-poo.


Future plans for the SDS-V:

1, So, there's one quirk in the Simmons SDS-V design i'd like to point out.  The audio outs are wired pin 3 hot.  This is the XLR wiring convention used by many old British companies and it's the opposite of the US convention of pin 2 hot.  Reversing this would be great to more easily interface with other equipment.

2, I'd eventually like to disconnect the back panel sequencer jacks from the SDS-V modules and instead wire them to the MFB SEQ-01 outputs.  This way the sequencer outs  could be used to drive more than just the Simmons modules.  there's actually 12 sequencer slots and the Simmons SDSV can only hold 5 cards with the sequencer installed. Maybe someday!



Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDS-V - Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

::: IF :::

::: A LinnDrum of Distinction :::

The Linndrum we have has a long and illustrious lineage!  It was originally owned by a good friend of mine who is now a great painter ( Alvan Long )!  He is also a drummer and was in several boston bands long before my time!  Here's a Pure No Wave Gem from one of those bands called  The November Group: :::


So, some of the people involved in that band started a studio called New Alliance Audio.  After several years the Linndrum was packed up in it's road case and put into storage.

And it sat there for almost 15 years.  Those years took a toll too.  The batteries leaked, the capacitors went bad, and the foam from the road case became a rubbery dust that permeated everything!

When we pulled it out of storage i decided to send it to Bruce at FORAT for a refurb. He's the Linndrum expert!  He fixed the batteries, power supply, sliders and pots, EVERYTHING!

I love this machine and use it all the time.  It's built like a tank, has the OG JL Cooper Midi interface installed ( so it can sync to anything ), and it sounds great!  The Linndrum also had a great 'pocket'.  The shuffle is sexy and if you tweak the hi hat decay while it's playing you can create a great human feel.  It's a great middle ground between the bright and open Roland 808 / 909 drum machines and the darker Oberheim DX / DMX 8 bit eprom machines.



Linndrum VSE

Linndrum WIKI

::: IF :::

::: Korg VC-10: A diamond in the rough Part 1 :::

This week i am going to start an extensive series of mods on an old Korg VC 10 Vocoder.  The Korg VC 10 has a reputation for being flawed in some ways but i think it has a lot of potential despite this.  I always felt that it had an ill defined sound over all.  It lacks a clear robotic synth vibe and also employs it's noise generator in a not always useful way. The demo is pretty dorky and kitchy but someone posted the original korg demo for this box and i think it clearly demonstrates the design limitations i'm referring to.  It wants to sound cool but it comes across sounding mushy and muddled to me...



So, i did some research and found a good amount of info as to possible modifications, this first post will pertain to two major sound quality related modifications:

1,   There's a quirk in the way the 20 sound generators are treated. Channels 17 to 20 have their carrier input connected NOT to the generator/noise/external mixer, but rather to noise only. The problem here is that this noise signal is attenuated by the generator/noise mixer, resulting in that there will be no carrier to channel 17 to 20 if you turn the generator/noise mixer knob to the generator only position! (which you may often do). Yes, the four highest channels will be quiet! Performing this mod will increase the speech recognition and add the missing edge to the sound.

2,  The bias signal for the sound generator does not affect channels 15 - 20.  By routing the bias signal to all the channels you get a brighter and more well defined vocoder output as all the channels will behave together.  This will also increase the effect of adjusting the bias.  This requires adding a few resistors that are not there for channels 15 and 16 and rerouting the 100k resistors for the remaining channels 17-20.

*** On to the dangerous part! ***

1,  The process:  Locate and release PCB KLM-134 (the filter board).  Locate the wire attached to header H3-1 (noise in).  Cut or unsolder the wire.  Now locate IC1 on the same board.  Find pin 1 and follow the trace to channel 16.  Connect from this point to the (now unconnected) corresponding point of channel 17.  The channel numbers and the traces pretty easy to locate on the PCB.  That one was easy!

2,  The process:  On KLM-134, find IC1 pin 7 (bias).  Follow this trace to R2414 (100k).  Now locate Q115 (channel 15 VCA).  Solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q115 (R2315 is connected to the base).  Then locate Q116 and solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q116 (R2316 is connected to the base).  Channel 17 to 20 already have the 100k resistors you need, but they are connected to ground.  Find R2417, R2418, R2419 and R2420.  Connect them to bias instead of ground.

Both of these mods sound complicated but are very easily seen in the schematic here:




gallery columns="4"
gallery columns="4"


While i was inside the VC-10 i found a few other curious things that i will be discuss in a future post. I had to order more parts to do these bits!  It was filthy in there too, so i disassembled the bottom plate and did a thorough clean below the key bed.  It's sounding way better to me with the first round of mods.  I should have done a before / after recording to reference...

To Be Continued!!

PS: These are the main sites i used for reference, technical info, and modification ideas:

Korg VC-10 Flaws & Features

Korg VC-10 Modifications

Vocoder Historical Notes


It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...
It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...

::: IF :::

::: Korg MS-10 Power Upgrade :::

Hello! It's tech time again, Today I'm performing an IEC power receptacle upgrade on a Korg  MS-10.  It's a similar but easier process than the one I did for the Moog Rogue previously.  The MS series is often equated with the MS-10's big brother the MS-20.  But the 10 has it's perks as well.  First off, it shares a similar semi modular design which became popular in the mid 1970's.  This allowed basic sounds to happen easily without patching but also allowed more complex routing to be patched as well.  This one has been moded slightly as you can see by the green wires that go from the mod wheel to the patch bay.  It came like this and I never felt the need to change it.  The wires connect the mod button to the patch bay in more places than it would have stock.  Secondly, the Korg MS-10 sounds HUGE.  The low frequency extension on this single oscillator synth is Awesome.  I think it's far 'warmer' and 'deeper' than the Korg MS-20.  I always assumed this was due to the fact that it only has a LPF and not a HPF/LPF.

There's actually a pretty extensive article about the old Korg filters here.  It even covers the newer Korg Monotron filters as well.  The MS series started in the 70's with a proprietary chip usually referred to as the Korg35.  Later they went with a more off the shelf design that people think sounds different but not worse or better.

On to the details:

1, We aren't adding a transformer as the step down is already inside the unit.  So the IEC will better protect you and the instrument by adding a better ground and a more physically robust power input as the hard wired power cables on instruments like this inevitably get dodgy at one end or the other.

2, We will be making a hole in the shell of the Korg.  This is always scary but it gets easier with time, and having The Nibbler helps too!

3, This Korg also has a dodgy low F# key that i want to replace.  I bought one from Synthparts. Thanks Doug!

As always: Be Careful!  120 volts is enough to hurt you!

On to the pics:


I am glad that worked out!  I will be doing this with a few more instruments in the coming months...



::: IF :::

::: Roland Juno 60 Re-MIDI-visited :::

It's time, and i'm in the mood for the sweet smell of solder! The Juno 60 we have has had a basic MIDI retrofit for a long time.  It was made by a company called engineersatwork.  They make a lot of cool interfacing gadgets etc and their Juno 60 MIDI kit was cheap and easy to install, so back in the day that's what we did.  The kit replaced the DCB port on the back panel and required NO soldering.  It literally just replaced the port and did all the MIDI interface work.  It is very basic and only supports MIDI notes in and out on the MIDI channel of your choosing. The notes generated by the internal arpeggiator are as sent well.  This is an AWESOME feature. But it's been a long time and i noticed many more MIDI retrofit options popping up for various old instruments.  A while back i found this site where they are selling an 'almost' non destructive MIDI upgrade for Roland Juno 60's and Jupiter 4's. It's called MIDIpolis.

Why do this you ask>?  Well, the MIDIpolis upgrade allows the Roland Juno 60 to send and receive almost EVERY SINGLE PANEL CONTROL  via MIDI.  This is wicked!  Like a Juno 106 but sounds better and has an arpeggiator!  And yes that syncs to incoming MIDI too!  Specs are on the page, MIDIpolis.  The only thing it doesn't do is transmit the pitch bender.  But it does receive  pitch bend via MIDI!  BTW, What is with old Rolands of this era that makes it so hard to get them to transmit pitch bend info from the bender board?

And on to the guts;

So, there is soldering with this kit but it's designed in an ingenious way.  The new chip socket is soldered in piggy back fashion to the underside of the Panel Board B processing chip.  Roland Juno 60 Service manual here.  In this way it is allowed to mirror all the information coming in and out of that chip to the MIDI bus BUT if you remove the daughter board and MIDIpolis chip the Juno 60 works just as it would have originally.  Since i never removed the DCB port from my Juno ( it's bagged and tucked into the wiring harness inside ) it could still be returned to DCB factory functionality (( if you would ever really want to :-D )).

I put a lot of pictures in the gallery of the socket that holds the new board.  It's got 'forks' on one side that literally fit over the solder side tabs for IC 14 on Panel Board B.  It took serious care to make sure this was all lined up and seated nicely over all 40 pins. That's correct, 40 pins worth of  tiny cramped soldering.  Whew, i got it done though,   I actually re-soldered about half of the original IC 14 pins to make sure they were narrow and straight enough to fit into the 'forks'.  Take a look!



PS:  Be careful!  If you finish and it looks like this, RUN!!


::: WIKKID! :::

::: IF :::

::: To Oberheim DSX or not to Roland MSQ :::

Today i will compare two old but very useful hardware sequencers.  The Oberheim DSX and the Roland MSQ - 700.  I've posted a lot of ASCII about the DSX before so this post will focus mainly the Roland MSQ - 700. Previous Reading on the Oberheim DSX:

In or around 1983 while Oberheim was refining and updating the DSX Roland released the MSQ-700  It was the world's first MIDI-compatible sequencer!

This is not to say it's better.  The DSX kicked the MSQ - 700's bottom in the features department.  But the MSQ - 700 offered some great features in it's own right.  Here's a run down:

1, 8 tracks of full MIDI Data or DCB recording and playback. ( only one or the other sadly not both simultaneously! )

In MIDI mode Each track could have a full 16 channels of data and all associated controllers.  Very inclusive and very cool.  You could have a full multipart song sequence on each track for live performance purposes. You could also mix or merge from one track to another and quantize tracks after they are recorded non destructively via quantizing while bouncing them to an open track.

2, The MSQ - 700 can sync internally or externally via MIDI, DIN Sync, or from time code on a tape.

3, It's built like a tank, solid steel all but for the side panels which are plastic but painted silver!

Roland fails is in a few serious ways, and these are where i prefer the DSX in all it's non MIDI glory.  There is no facility on the MSQ for real time sequence manipulation so you can't play and mute tracks while a sequence is playing.  Nor can you transpose or edit on the fly like the DSX can.  This is a total bummer for those who like to let the basic structure loop and drop things in and out and transpose the whole thing for fun on the fly.  The MSQ- 700 also lacks CV Gate compatibility in lieu of Roland's proprietary DCB.  The problem with DCB, besides it only being implemented on a few Roland instruments like the Jupiter 8 and Juno 60, is that it is so limited in comparison to MIDI that it's not worth the effort to use it since Jupiter 8's and Juno's can be easily Midified to a level where you can transmit via MIDI all the front panel controls for each like the Juno 106 ( which doesn't sound nearly as good ).





Roland MSQ700   ( This is a great article about the MSQ - 700 )

MSQ - 700 FAQ 1

MSQ - 700 FAQ 2

::: IF :::

::: Moog Rogue Power Upgrade :::

It's a tech kinda week.  We have a few communal instruments that we have bought as a band over the years.  This is one that has been all over the place.  It's seen many US shows, East and West Coast, and even to the UK ( TWICE! ).  You should have seen the insanely ugly power adapter from European to US power duct taped to the awful moog wall wart.  We probably went through 3 of those crap power supplies over the years as they always get munched on stage.  I guess thats why everyone eventually does the internal power supply mod for the Moog Rogue. Here's the breakdown:

1, This mod adds a standard IEC jack so that you can just PLUG IT IN!

2, We are adding a 120VAC to 24VAC transformer ( BONUS: the DC rectifiers and other power supply elements are actually in the Rogue already )

3, We are adding a fuse to protect the peeps and the circuit as there will now be 120VAC in the box ( i settled on a 200ma slow blow or mdl fuse ).

4, The transformer is wired to the place on the board where the power input jack was so you can still turn it on and off.


All Photos by J-Poo!


Here's a little background and some other resources i referenced while doing this mod:


Moog Rogue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This site posted a wealth of info in the mod:

Moog Rogue Power Supply

And once that is done this is an interesting resource for getting your Rogue up to speed again:

Moog Rogue Trim Pots


::: IF :::

::: Fully Upgraded and Updated Roland Jupiter 6 Europa :::

This is an exciting post!  I have been working on this project for months in baby steps and it's finally ready!  So here's the deal, I bought out a guy's analog collection basically to get a Roland Jupiter 8.  Included in the deal were a Roland TR-909 which i already posted about here: (  ) and a Roland Jupiter 6 which is todays post! This is quite a specimen!  When i received the JP-6 it was mostly working and very updated.  It has the Europa mod which brings it's brains up to 21st century MIDI capabilities.  The previous owner made wood sides to replace the stock metal ones, which i'm glad he also held on to.  The body went to  and was totally repainted and re-screened.  There was one large knob missing.  I tracked one down and did a course of the Retr0Bright process to get them all back to the original grey as some had yellowed due to sun damage.  The 2 prong power receptacle was replaced with a 3 prong IEC style one.  All of the sliders and pots have been replaced.  All the voices tune and STAY TUNED ( I burned this JP-6 in for 5 days in the studio and it was still in perfect tune at the end ).

In fact, when i looked under the hood the only functionality issues were in the Bender Board where the LFO 2 was non functional.  There were just some bunk components that were in need of replacement.  It's sweet to look at and is probably the most pimped out JP-6 i've ever encountered.  On a side note, the previous owner painted the bender board caps blue which is cool but i tracked down some of the original white ones to see if they looked better.  I actually settled on a mix where the 'Wide' and 'LFO 2' buttons are blue and the 'VCO' buttons are white but still have the others just in case.

::: Have a look at the pics :::


I promised myself i would sell this piece and i'm sticking to it!  I have an identical O.G. JP-6 ( this earlier version MIDI In and Out/Thru only ) that this originally was and i'm too emotionally attached to it to sell it. :-D...

It will be offered up soon on the AH list.

and or Ebay!

Analogue Heaven



::: IF  :::

::: Computer World ::: Computer Love :::

I (james) being one of 3 members to post on this blog have a problem. The problem consists of listening to suggested music and treating it with the same respect as the music I already love. Respect is probably not the best word choice, but the point remains the same. I love what I love and anything that comes into my field of hearing usually ends up being scrutinized too heavily and never given the chance it deserves.

Kraftwerk managed to bob and weave their way past the Wilco, Stereo Lab, Talking Heads, fortress and plant themselves into an unexpected place apparently reserved for them already. Computer World is the first record I had a chance to sit down with. I love it. It has all the things that make me feel as though I should be on a highway driving towards some unknown destination. Ambient electronic pop, whatever description you apply it's great. There are people who can describe them much better than I (Nick Z, XBS Blog master) but that wasn't really the purpose of this post (sorry, feeling lazy). More than anything it's a suggestion to go out and give them a listen. They are assuredly not for everyone, but if you've never listened than it's well worth it. "Computer Love" is one of my favorite tracks. If it sounds oddly familiar there's a reason. Listen and find out.

::: Oberheim DSX ( Part Deux ) :::

So i finally organized the Oberheim DSX photos i've been intending to post for a while. It's a pretty slick design for a Z80 world.  And it's a nice size as well as it matches up perfectly with all the other Oberheim kits of the era. I've already discussed it's functional attributes here:

So, it's totally RAD! on a historical note, MIDI came out just after this unit ( 1981 ) and Tom Oberheim was one of the synth designers on the american side ( along with Dave Smith of SCI ) to convince other manufacturers to adopt MIDI...

Here are some pics:

I have the DSX clocked to a Garfield Electronics Dr. Click II ( Thats the red cable connected to the clock in within the gallery! ) which is a topic for another post!

As ALWAYS, Thanks Paul!

Electrongate Products

::: IF :::

::: Oberheim OB-8 Innards :::

I've been meaning to post these for a while!  The OB 8 is the main instrument i play when making music in the cave.  It is interfaced with the DSX and they together form the basis for all my sequences.  The OB is usually pretty happy but once in a while it goes haywire and loses it's mind for a minute.  I've found that if i change the keyboard mode from whole to split to double and then retune the voice boards it comes back on line pretty swiftly.  It's definitely an electrical connection or solder joint somewhere.  I did a bunch of touching up when we took these pics and it's been much happier since.  i never did locate one ' bad spot ' but i poked and prodded until i was pretty sure it is somewhere on the top voice board in the control section to the left.  Pics mostly by J-poo!

Other Info:

The OB-8 ( much like the previous Oberheims ) was a work in progress.  Many didn't have factory midi or were retrofitted ( often midi I/O was cut into the left wooden side panel.  Later versions had a different silk screen on the front that denoted two sets of control features referred to as 'page two'.  This one has factory midi but no page two screen.  The voice two boards were configured with 4 voices each and communicated to one central CPU.  The boards were designated in an upper and lower fashion much like Roland's polys of the era. Each board could have a unique patch for sophisticated layering and more dense tonalities!

The left side wood panel had 8 pots that were used to pan each voice left to right.  This seems strange at first but can be very useful.  It allows you to have two patches at one time mapped to different outputs or lets the two cards be moderately panned or hard panned for a wide thick stereo spread with one or two patches.

More on the web:

Oberheim OB-8

Electrongate Products

I'll do pics of the DSX in the next post...

::: IF :::

::: TR **DR** [[ 909 ]] :::

XBS has been making an effort to do more tech related stuff this month.  In for repair today is a Roland TR-909 in messed up shape.  Someone had tried to refurbish it and made most of it's age and design  related problems worse! 1, The main drum switches were replaced which is nice but they were installed sloppily and so out of true that the buttons don't fit in properly.  On further investigation the problem was often the fact that too much silicone was used to glue in the drum switch LED's so that the switch didn't fit flush to the switch board PCB.

2, The ribbon cables were re-soldered and rendered non functional because the ribbon cable ends were not trimmed evenly prior to soldering ( anyone familiar with multiconductor cable work knows that the trimmed end lengths of all parts must be exactly correct or else they break off immediately due to imbalanced strain distribution ).

3,  One of the new drum switches was actually bad so it was replaced with one of the original ones that was removed.

On another note, the previous owner did manage to get the Roland TR-909 OS v4.0 chip in and it works which is a huge relief as that would be hard for me to troubleshoot.  Also, the pots and small switches were done well when they were replaced and all seem to be working. =D

So, I have to say that this is one of the most annoying designs ever conceived by man from a standpoint of repair and maintenance.  The boards barely fit in on top of each other inside the case with some long shaft pots going through the switch board from the voice board.  Everything needs to be taken apart to get to the switch board and that's the one that gets the most abuse!  The switch board is also where the CPU and OS live, right next to the buttons all the 'house music' dudes are banging on.  The ribbon cables are soldered to the PCB on one end and have connectors on the other.  I wish they were connectors on both ends so you could replace a cable or work on a board without having an octopus of cables to be mindful of.  They also barely fit in the case around the boards that are barely in there to begin with.  The drum switch caps are so flimsy i don't know how they were ever on there solidly in the first place.  And the OS is pretty clunky and unintuitive to make music with.  Nothing like the OB or Linn ideas in language or execution.  It does sound Great though.  I just wonder how this was designed when all the Roland synths of that era that i've been inside are immaculately designed and completely modular for maintenance purposes!  Who knows!

::: IF :::

::: It's Passion :::

XBS loves getting new Vinyl.  Especially if its really old and was never played!  We just scored an original Mirage Records copy of It's Passion by The System  for one dollar and it RULES!  This reminded me that there have been no XBS posts on The System yet.  It's a travesty!!  XBS will do more we promise!  XBS will post that performance from MIAMI VICE at some point as well...

XBS owes a lot of art time inspiration to this band.  More than making some fun jams back in the day, they also inspired our love of Oberheim and the pre midi sequencing capabilities of  'The System'.

So, The DSX is the sequencer and it can control a DX or DMX drum machine and one Oberheim poly at the same time.  It can do 10 tracks of polyphonic ( 16 voices ) to an OB X, Xa, SX, or 8  via 'computer interface' and 8 CV / Gates on the back panel for mono synths simultaneously ( US scaling and polarity ( invertible! )).  It could record up to 6000 notes, record patch and controller type changes on a dedicated data track, and do real time transposition and track track muting!

So much fun!

Our OB-8 has midi so the DSX can actually control anything in the studio!  We upgraded the brains with some help from, you guessed it, Paul at Electron Gate!



We've been saving that dry hump macintosh gif for ever, now it has a raison d'etre...

Here's an awesome jam from the first System record. Note they have a PPG in the video for no reason i can guess other than they are dancing in space!!!:

David Frank  is a Special and Visionary dude.  Thanks dude!

::: IF :::