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Phil O'Keefe

The Roland Boutique series modules

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Have you heard about the Roland Boutique modules? Essentially they're new versions of classic Roland products - often with reduced polyphony. They have a similar look and sound to the classic units, but are much smaller (in keeping with the current craze for miniaturizing almost everything in Japan) and they use modeling instead of sampling or analog synthesis for sound generation.

 

The most recent addition to the Boutique line is the new SH-01A synth, which is obviously based on the SH-101.

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/news/roland-announces-sh-01a-synthesizer

 

They're supposedly "limited", and the price on the first three modules (the JX-03, JU-06 and JP-08, based on the JX-3P, Juno 106 and Jupiter 8) all dropped by $100 recently, which I suspect means they're phasing those out.

 

There are other models too.

 

Have you tried any of them, and if so, which ones? What did you think?

 

 

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I tried the DX 7 one and thought it was decent

I had one on the road in the late 80's and I wasn't a fan of them then but liked them for their metallic sounds that when midi with warm strings made a nice sound !

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I have the Jupiter 8 one. It's pretty decent, but only 4 voices. The sound is good. I'm looking real hard at the SE02 minimoog clone.

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I think the polysynth re-creations are totally lame, so...pass. A supposed re-creation of a 6- or 8-voice poly with only 4 voices and microscopic sliders? Puh-lease.

 

However, I have the TB-03 and it's a pretty decent (and affordable) re-creation of the classic techno mono synth/sequencer. The knob feel is like butter. Purists think it sounds like crap, but I think it sounds pretty good for the price and build quality.

 

I also have the TR-09 drum machine which is a pretty spot-on version of the TR-909 drum machine. I also plan to get the TR-08 when it comes out in a few weeks.

 

The SE-02 Boutique is different, it's actually analog and they don't waste precious panel space on those stupid pitch/mod ribbons. I might be interested in this at some point.

Edited by elsongs

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I tried the DX 7 one and thought it was decent

I had one on the road in the late 80's and I wasn't a fan of them then but liked them for their metallic sounds that when midi with warm strings made a nice sound !

 

I don't think there's a FM synth in the current Roland Boutique line... maybe you're thinking of one of the Yamaha Reface mini keyboards? They did one called the DX...

 

https://usa.yamaha.com/products/cont...ept/index.html

 

I had a DX in the 80s too, and while they're notoriously tricky to program, I always thought they were capable of making some very cool sounds.

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I have the Jupiter 8 one. It's pretty decent' date=' but only 4 voices. The sound is good.[/quote']

 

Any issues dialing up exactly what you want with those short sliders? That would be my main concern with the JP-08... I'd be worried that the sliders would be too short to allow the precision you need for fine tuning patches.

 

The four voice limit is a real head-scratcher. I wonder why they did that - shortage of CPU power for all eight voices? :idk: At least you can chain two of them to get eight voices, although that doubles the price tag - but it's still going to be a tiny fraction of the price for a vintage JP-8.

 

I'm looking real hard at the SE02 minimoog clone.

 

I never really thought of it as a MM clone, but I can see where people think of it that way - three oscillators, similar panel layout, etc. etc. Looks like a pretty solid analog monosynth - and for a synth designed by Studio Electronics, it's certainly inexpensive.

 

 

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I find the Roland Cloud products better suited to pro work. It's too kludgy to incorporate products that use wall warts, are not rack mountable, and have 1/8" audio jacks. But running the Roland classic synths from their Cloud software on a laptop incorporated into the pro rig works extremely well.

 

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I think the polysynth re-creations are totally lame' date=' so...pass. A supposed re-creation of a 6- or 8-voice poly with only 4 voices and microscopic sliders? Puh-lease.[/quote']

 

The Jupiter 8 might have been a little ambitious to try to cram into such a small physical footprint, but the JX-03's are working surprisingly well for me. I am not having any problems with the knobs on them.

 

However, I have the TB-03 and it's a pretty decent (and affordable) re-creation of the classic techno mono synth/sequencer. The knob feel is like butter. Purists think it sounds like crap, but I think it sounds pretty good for the price and build quality.

 

I saw a video with them side by side that seemed to show that there was noticeably less "bounce" and motion to the TB-03 than the TB-303, but who wants to pay three or four grand for a vintage 303? :eek2: I remember one sat in the display case in a local store for years back in the early 80s... I really should have bought it, but they wouldn't budge off the full retail (close to $400 IIRC) price that they were asking for it. That would be the bargain of the year if you could find one for that price now! :D

 

I have a TB-03 incoming that I will be checking out and reviewing... it might even arrive today, if the UPS notices are to be believed.

 

I also have the TR-09 drum machine which is a pretty spot-on version of the TR-909 drum machine. I also plan to get the TR-08 when it comes out in a few weeks.

 

I saw the TR-09 at NAMM when they first announced them, and got the demo, and played with it for a while - I was really impressed with just how well they nailed the TR-909. I wonder if they'll ever do a TR-707 or a R-8 in the boutique format? I suspect not, but who knows?

 

The SE-02 Boutique is different, it's actually analog and they don't waste precious panel space on those stupid pitch/mod ribbons. I might be interested in this at some point.

 

Yup - the only "real" analog model of the whole lineup so far - everything else uses modelling. It does look like a very interesting synth...

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Update: I bought a TR-08 last weekend. I actually enjoy it A LOT! The authentic TR-808 user experience causes you to program patterns in a way that's different than merely sequencing TR-808 samples. It's actually very inspiring. I put it next to my piano and was able to write some new music just from programming rhythms on the TR-08!

 

I even had fun with the machine literally minutes after buying it. This is what I did in the parking lot of the music store just after buying and unboxing it: :)

 

[video=youtube;cfARuVvVlDI]

 

 

Edited by elsongs
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That's awesome! And it definitely has that classic 808 sound - at least from what I'm hearing on your video. Very cool!

 

I really don't need one, but the TR-09 has been tempting me... I've been having fun with the TB-03, and a drum module to go with it might be nice. I've been using iSpark on my iPad as its rhythmic partner, which isn't too bad - I might need to make some of my own sample sets for it. There's an Oberheim DMX type kit in it, but nothing that has the full 808 sound set, or full 909 sound set - at least not that I've found so far.

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Posted (edited)

I discovered the RolandBoutiques after they had been out for some time. The TR-09 and a few others were was already discontinued by the time i was aware of these.

I've got the TR-08, TB-03 & SH-01a with the K25m keyboard dock, these units are a lot of fun!

Edited by Danoman
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I've still only got the pair of JX-03's and a TB-03. I've thought about getting a couple of other ones (like the TR-09 and the JU-06A) but I haven't done so yet. I didn't opt for the K25m - I have my TB in a stock case, but I replaced the side panels with oak pieces. My JX-03's are in a dual tier oak stand, and daisy-chained for 8 voice polyphony. I also picked up a couple of the Behringer module-style synths (a Pro 1 and a Model D), so I've got a nice little collection of vintage-inspired synth modules to play around with now. I even picked up a Twisted Electrons Crazy8 sequencer so I can do hardware-based sequencing sans computer if I want to. I'd still like to get a drum machine module at some point, although iSpark and my SparkLE controller still work pretty well with my old 2nd gen, iPad mini, which is now dedicated to pretty much just that purpose alone since I replaced it with a 5th gen iPad mini for general tablet use.  

How do you like your SH-01a Danoman? Did you ever have an original SH-101? If so, how do you think it compares to the original? 

 

 

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On 3/16/2020 at 7:18 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

How do you like your SH-01a Danoman? Did you ever have an original SH-101? If so, how do you think it compares to the original? 

 

 

I like it, but i've hardly scratched the surface in all that its capable of as I've gotten real busy shortly after adding that piece to my collection. I don't have any experience with the SH-101 so i wouldn't be able to compare the two. I just started a 4 day weekend off from work, hoping to fire up the boxes and refresh myself on how to program them.... it's been a while. I'm pretty intrigued by the videos i've seen on the JU-06A, that unit seems fun. Sounds like a pretty nice set up you've got there!

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2 hours ago, Danoman said:

Sounds like a pretty nice set up you've got there!

Thank you. I really enjoy it - it's a lot of fun, and that's a big part of the point, isn't it? Music should be fun IMHO. :)

 

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