Roland SYSTEM 100
Category: Products / synth / old analog mono
Added: 13-Dec-98 | Author: admin
New price: discontinued | S/H price: very rare - alot of cashola
Roland SYSTEM 100The Roland System 100, released in 1975 and manufactured until 1979, was an affordable analog semi-modular synthesizer.
It is only semi-modular, because while all the basic component parts - the 101 synthesizer (37 notes), the 102 expander, the 104 sequencer, the 103 4 channel mixer with built in spring reverb and mono fx send/return & the 109 speakers- could be used on their own with other equipment, there wasn't full true modular flexibility, as with the later Roland System 100m, which itself isn't as fully flexibile as roland's flagship of the time, the Roland System 700. However, the idea was to use all the component parts together to build a complete monophonic system in itself, which effectively gave a two oscillator synthesizer with sequencing, monitoring and effects capabilities. Roland allowed those with an eye on the budget to buy each part separately and also to build a more complex system, which may for example, consist of three 102 units and a keyboard, for a richer sound and more complex synthesis capabilities. Each unit was independently powered, which means that there wasn't an issue with attenuation of signals (eg. weakening of oscillator power due to complex patching etc), which was a problem with the MOOG modular systems.
Some of the notable uses of the system (in various configurations) was by DANIEL MILLER/ DEPECHE MODE on A BROKEN FRAME and even more notably by HUMAN LEAGUE (MK1 INCARNATION) where the albums REPRODUCTION and TRAVELOGUE used the system 100 multitracked to provide nearly all the arrangements, including the drums and percussion. VINCE CLARKE is also a big user, and it can be heard on many of ERASURE'S ALBUMS, including the "all analog" works post 1991. THE K2 PLAN has also used it extensively in a similar vein, multitracked and with the sequencer providing odd syncopations and effects.
The Roland SH-5 AND SH-7 are very similar in styling, although it could be argued that the SH-7 is weaker sounding. The SH-5, however, is more powerful with a true multimode filter. Both these synthsizers are complete keyboard units, as opposed to the modular nature of the system 100.
The System 100 is still very sought after and desirable due to the power of its filter (very similar sounding to the tb 303, so could be 18db/oct, although sounds even more powerful)and also the sequencer and patching capabilities, which are easier to get to grips with simply because the 101 and 102 are internally normalised so can be used in a more traditional manner without getting into any patching at all (other than cv and gate for the expander to trigger it, although the sample and hold unit can trigger it. This again was unique as it procided a lag time feature and selectable sources for it, including external sources). Also, Roland, uniquely for the time, didn't have the oscillators "locked in" to fixed footages or pitches, which allows maximum flexibility for sound sculpting. However, conversely it can be a little tricky to play in a conventional manner as there is no dedicated pitch bend or modulation controls like later synths. The envelopes dont sound as snappy as later roland synths, although this isn't really a problem when using it with a sequencer. It can also be used with a midi to cv converter , as it supports the 1v/oct standard.
As with many vintage synthesizers, the oscillators can be a bit unstable at the lower frequencies. Furthermore, although roland's build quality is legendarily superb for nearly all their equipment, the keyboard on the 101 is prone to mis-triggering and double-triggering, which was a common problem until their later synths , such as the jupiter 4 onwards. Prices for a full system are around 3000 to 5000 pounds, depending on the overall condition, with individual units going from 150 for the speakers, to 800-900 for the 101 and 102 units. It needs to be left on for a 30 minute or so warm up if testing or using, to let the discreet oscillators settle in. However, a handy A=440HZ tuning oscillator is built into the 101 to check for tracking across the keyboard range.
It created a very unique sound, because it contains no SSM or CURTIS chips, and hence its discreet technology ensures it doesn't sound like anything else in a mix. Lots of character and incredibly versatile.
The Roland SYSTEM-100 ..... please add your comments
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