BMF Product News
Four pages packed with news hot from BMF
With the British Music Fair only just finished we take the opportunity to tell you about a number of exciting new Roland and Boss products which were given their first UK showing at Olympia in August.
Jerry Uwins has given the Roland DEP-5 Digital Effect Processor, JX10 synthesizer, Jazz Chorus 55, DAC15B bass combo and Boss CS3 Compression Sustainer and Dr Pad I, II & III PCM digital percussion units the once over
Simultaneous, programmable multi-effects at a staggeringly affordable price predict big success for DEP-5
Just when everyone was beginning to think that the market for revolutionary multi-effects had run out of steam along came Roland with the amazing new DEP-5.
Hitherto, multi-effects devices have only been capable of producing one or, depending on available parameters, at most two effects at a time eg pitch shift with delay. DEP-5's advanced digital technology allows four different and fully programmable effects — Reverb, Delay, Chorus and Equalisation — to be reproduced simultaneously! But how much, we hear you mutter, does all this flexibility cost? Surely an arm and a leg? Not at all. The DEP-5 will set you back a mere £675!
DEP-5's clever technology is packaged as a 1u 19" rack unit and, for the more technically-minded, features a 16-bit A/D-D/A converter, a newly developed 28-bit processor for reverb simulation, and a 16-bit micro-processor for functions control. Going through the spec the following features are revealed.
Reverb and Delay-wise, DEP-5 offers 15 basic settings — 8 Room, 5 Hall and 2 Plate. Pre-Delay time is up to 0.5 sec, Reverb time to 99 secs, and HF Damp controls the ratio between high-frequency reverb decay and the total reverberation.
Three dual-function front-panel controls neatly take care of the active EQ and Digital Chorus sections. The EQ is 3-band with a parametric mid-range for precise and subtle control of the overall tone envelope. The Digital Chorus, producing far more natural and detailed effects than any analogue unit, offers user-control over feedback, rate and depth.
An Algorithm Select function provides 11 different and programmable multi-effect combinations. As starting points these, in addition to manual programming and combining of each effect, allow the user to easily produce a wide variety of impressive effects which would be difficult or maybe impossible to achieve even by combining separate effects units.
DEP-5 can store up to 99 effects programs, available for recall via front-panel control, remote footswitch or via MIDI from, say, an external keyboard or rhythm machine. To hand, alongside the easy-read LED display showing memory number and parameter value, are all the various touch switches for selection, storage and outputting of the effects functions. In common with such devices, DEP-5 provides variable input and output levels (+4dBm to -20dBm) and balance of direct/effect signals. Via its twin outputs the unit can simulate stereo effects even from a mono source. And its two input jacks allow use in all types of signal processing situations.
What more can be said except to suggest that, judging by the number of people clamouring to get to the machine at the British Music Fair, a fast jog down to your local Roland stockist to try out DEP-5 should be top of your list of things to do.
It's no surprise that the Super JX (JX10) synthesizer and S10 and S50 sampling keyboards attracted great interest on Roland's stand at the recent Music Fair.
The conclusions of two respected music journalists tell their own story and are typical of overall press and dealer reaction to the JX10. "A professional instrument of the first order which proudly joins the ranks of the megasynths... Ignore it at your peril" — Simon Trask (E&MM). "The mega JX10 is surely the Jupiter 8 of the middle Eighties. Fab" — Julian Colbeck. 'Nough said!
The S10, at £999, can store 4 samples, sampling time up to 4.4 secs, and three split points. The S50, at £2,175, can store 16 samples, sampling time as long as 17.5 secs, with an incredible 61 split points. Both are fully MIDI'd, with velocity sensitive keyboards, Alpha-dial sample modifying and built-in disk-drive storage. Two display connectors on the S50 allow straight-to-screen display of all sampling, playing and edit functions. No interface required.
The S10 and S50 give you professional sampling power at your fingertips.
New bass brother for DAC combos
The introduction recently of the DAC-15 and DAC-15X broke new ground in getting the most out of small packages. Now Roland continue the trend with the DAC-15B bass combo.
From a rugged, tuned reflex cabinet measuring under 19" high, the DAC-15B's specially designed 10" full-range speaker pushes out sheer bass power. And don't be deceived by the modest 15W RMS output; this little giant is pretty loud!
At the front end there's everything to hand for creative sound control. A two-volume set-up including separate gain is backed up by an EQ system that really does the business. It's active, it's three-band, and the mid-range is effectively parametric, offering control of frequency and level.
So whatever your playing style you'll get the bottom line from the DAC-15B. There's even a headphone socket for private rehearsal.
What about the bottom line price-wise? Well, the DAC-15B comes in at just £149, making it as sweet on your pocket as it will be for your music.
Based on the popular CS2, the CS3 features Tone control as well as the standard facilities of Level, Attack and Sustain, and incorporates a newly developed VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) chip in its compression circuitry.
You'll be convinced as soon as you switch on! Beautifully smooth, virtually distortion-free sustain and compression — even with the most powerful humbucker — and a high-end quality unique amongst pedals. Conventional compressors tend to roll off the top frequencies, CS3's new tone circuit puts them all back, and more! At £85 you'll be doing yourself a favour.
First there was Dr Rhythm now Dr Pad joins the practice!
Dr Pad are three compact and self-contained PCM Digital percussion units offering user-simplicity with a good degree of control and versatility.
Each version, DRP I, II and III, contains six different preset voices — from conventional kit sounds, to Latin Percussion, Gongs etc — activated by hitting the integral touch-sensitive pad. Conventional sticking techniques can be used — an important plus for drummers.
Not only does the user have dynamic and tuning control over the sounds, but variable Pitch Sensitivity allows pitch change according to stick velocity — the harder the hit, the higher the pitch. In addition, a decay control gives up to 10 secs decay time and there is variable selection of Sweep range (up or down) and Sweep Time.
Dr Pads can be used individually, daisy-chained together or, via Trigger In, as a sound source of an external rhythm machine. Used this last way, the unit can still be played independently. And, like the BP1 Pad Controller, Dr Pads can trigger the Boss RSD10 Sampler.
Each Dr Pad has its own level control of easy sound balancing when using more than one unit, and Boss have thoughtfully provided a Minimum Sensitivity control to protect against accidental triggering by external vibrations. The pads are equally at home in table-top use or integrated into an acoustic kit using the BHP2 holder which permits one or two units to be fitted to a normal tom stand. Power comes via 9V battery or using a PSA mains adaptor. Particularly useful here is the DC Thru jack which allows several Dr Pads to be driven from one adaptor.
Dr Pads are great value for money. At just £149 each they're the affordable way to beef up your percussion flexibility. And who says Boss have to stick at just three? What about DRP IV, V and so on? Well, if you have any good suggestions for further interesting and useful sound selections why not drop Roland a line? We'll be pleased to hear from you.
JC55 is born! A grandson for the JC120 — Jazz Chorus Grandaddy of them all
Time flies doesn't it? Just when Roland launch the JC55, a moment's reflection would tell us that the inimitable JC120 has already celebrated its twelfth birthday — and is still going strong! No mean feat in the notoriously fickle, flavour-of-the-month amp market.
Just exactly how many players have relied (and continue to rely) on a JC amp to help further their musical development is, of course, a matter for speculation. But it's a cast-iron bet that the role call would be extensive and far too long to list here.
Let's take a look at what makes the JC55 such a worthy newcomer.
Well, packing the punch are two separate power amps each delivering a meaty 25W RMS to one of the two 8" heavy-duty speakers. This independent amp/speaker configuration, in conjunction with Roland's special Chorus circuitry, is the key to those unique sounds so much a trademark of the range. What's more, the distinctive Chorus effects produced in the Fixed mode can be tailored to taste in Manual using the Rate and Depth controls.
Other functions gracing the front panel include variable distortion, 3-band EQ, reverb and High/Low inputs. A glance round the back of the sturdy, road-proven cabinet reveals outputs for footswitch operation of Chorus, Distortion and Reverb, alongside line-out jacks allowing the choice between mixed or true stereo chorus — eg when DI'ing to the desk.
The JC55 positively shouts its pedigree and will doubtless carry forward the Jazz Chorus tradition, ensuring that the range will be as much a part of a band's backline in the Nineties as it has been in the Seventies and Eighties.
Stack the rack with an RPS-10 Digital Pitch Shift/Delay
The RPS-10 is the latest addition to the Boss Microrack System — a series of high quality mini-rack units designed for the budget-conscious musician and home recordist.
RPS-10 offers two separate functions: a ±1 octave Pitch Shift (including fine-tuning); and a Digital Delay with time selection variable between 25 and 800 msecs. Either effect can be modified, or mixed with the dry signal, using the Feedback and Mix controls.
Three Pitch Shift modes are provided, 'A' gives a short effect delay time; 'B' is slightly longer. Whichever, the RPS-10's newly developed LSI circuit minimises unwanted tremolo and time lag sometimes associated with such devices. There's also an 'Invert' mode to introduce reverse-play effects into the shift.
Whatever your preferences, you'll discover spacey unisons, slight-detune for honky-tonk and 12-string effects, funky octaves, and all those atmospheric intervals in between. Instant pitch shifts can be triggered from an external keyboard via the unit's Keyboard Control input. So when you're in the middle of that posy Wishbone Ash solo all your roadie has to do is press the appropriate key and, voila, you've changed from 3rds to 5ths.
The Digital Delay effects, which are all you'd expect from a quality box like the RPS-10, are split into five selectable ranges (plus Inverted), the Fine knob being used to adjust Delay time within each range.
Rear panel connections are comprehensive — a 9V DC Out jack for chaining units together from one mains adaptor; an output to an external tuner for absolutely spot-on pitch shifts; and jacks for footswitch control of Effect Hold and On/Off.
Input/Output options are ¼" jack or phono and there's a gain switch to match input signal level. Worth noting if you don't possess a Boss Microrack (and why not?) is that all units can be 19" rack-mounted using adaptor plate RAD-10.
All in all the RPS-10 is pretty wonderful and at £210 will be earning its keep from the word go!
Freelance engineer and guitarist Dave Kenny takes a look at the RPS-10 from a user point of view, and comes up with some useful suggestions
I particularly liked this unit and found the quality of the delay most pleasing. Single echoes came back with sparkling clarity (due to the 15kHz bandwidth) and multiple long repeats (up to 800mS) had a much more realistic sound than many other digital delays. This is because of a simple high frequency damp circuit which has been incorporated into the FEEDBACK selection. This reduces high frequency resonance and it imparts a sound very similar to a top quality tape echo unit.
I have always preferred these to digital delays as their quality is far more natural, (to my ears anyway) than an absolutely identical echo which merely gets quieter as it decays. I have been looking for a unit to replace my ageing but beloved tape echo and I strongly suspect this is it.
Apart from the obvious delay set-ups, there is also an Inverse setting, this should be read as Reverse as it takes your notes, rearranges them backwards, and spits them back at you. It took a little while to get the feel of it but the trick is to set the loop time of the Inverse with the Fine Control (Feedback Minimum) to be in time with the music and then play along. I found with the guitar the tape reverse effect was very realistic, and soft rather than hard plectrum strokes were more rewarding.
Pitch Shift A&B: Pitch shifting is achieved by storing the sound to be shifted in a memory and then re-reading it out at a different rate to which it went in — rather like playing a tape recorder back at different speeds.
To raise the pitch, the memory is read at a faster rate (it would soon run out of memory if it was read out at a faster rate than it goes in and it therefore reads some of the information twice and splices it together).
To lower the pitch the memory is read at a slower rate; to avoid the memory getting clogged up with sound, parts are read and parts are 'dumped' and the remaining bits are spliced together. Naturally all this clever processing takes a little time to perform so there is always a short delay associated with this sort of manipulation. The longer the time the unit is allowed to perform this 'calculation' however, the more accurately it will do it.
Mode A works very quickly and should be used for sound which may not benefit from too noticeable a short delay being added ie drums, guitar, bass guitar, vocals, brass etc.
Mode B is better for more sustained type sounds where the delay is not so crucial and may even add to the quality of effect ie strings, soft piano, groups of singers etc.
SAS sound technology — a winning formula for Roland's new HP Electronic Pianos
Reflecting the accelerating growth in the market for home-use electronic keyboards, Roland's Contemporary Keyboard Division took extra space at this year's British Music Fair to launch their expanded range of HP Electronic Pianos. There are now five models to choose from featuring Roland's unique SAS system of tone generation. Originated by digitally sampling every note in a concert piano's 88-key span, then resynthesising and modifying by various and probably quite mind-boggling means, SAS produces exquisite sounds of quite exceptional realism and expression from pianissimo to jolly loud!
The already established flagship models, the HP5600 and HP5500, are now joined by the HP4500, 3000 and 2000. Prices start at a modest £1,349 for the HP2000, up to £2,400 for the HP5600. Whichever you choose, every HP comes in a sleek, attractive real-wood-finish cabinet designed to complement any home environment.
Main features are common to all models so lets run through them. First, and making the most of your playing technique, are the beautiful, weighted-action keyboards — full 88-note except for the HP2000 with 76. Eight stunning sounds are available at the touch of a button: 3 Acoustic Pianos, Harpsichord, Clavinet, Vibraphone and 2 Electric Pianos; and for glitch-free sound changes, voices can be pre-selected to change when the keys or the sustain pedal are released.
For those big, enhanced symphonic effects, Stereo Chorus and Tremolo (with variable rate) can be added to any sound and, additional to overall Volume and Brilliance controls, there's a one-octave key transpose facility triggered from the keyboard itself. Fine-tune is provided to tune to other instruments (an HP always stays in tune with itself). For the more adventurous player who wishes to use the HP as part of a larger system there are comprehensive connection facilities including a full MIDI compatibility.
Every HP Piano has its own stereo amplification driving various configurations of built-in twin speaker systems. The HP5600/5500 push out a powerful 30W per channel while the HP3000 and HP2000 offer a perfectly adequate 10W + 10W. And if you're likely to get stick from next-door when you feel that irresistible urge to turn the wick up there's a headphone socket which cuts off the main speakers leaving you to luxuriate in a personal experience.
It's an oft heard claim that this, that or the other product (usually a keyboard instrument) needs to be heard to be believed. Well, with HP Electronic Pianos, Roland have good cause to encourage you to do just that. They're convinced you'll be convinced!
Rhythm machines that can be programmed to the Nth degree are all very well, but what about those many musicians — club acts for example — who simply want a realistic-sounding accompaniment machine with the emphasis on simplicity and control where it's needed? The CR-1000, at £335, could well be the answer.
Featuring 16 PCM Digital sound sources similar to the popular TR-505, the CR-1000 offers 24 basic preset patterns: the standards plus a wide choice of Latin rhythms, with a variation for each giving 48 in total.
The CR-1000 also provides a choice of intros; fill-ins and endings, and the volume of each sound source, shuffle timing, accent level and tempo can be set and stored automatically against each pattern. Tempo can also be controlled via MIDI, as can synchronised start when used with a MIDI keyboard.
With optional footswitch control of fill-in, start/stop and restart, the CR-1000 is the ideal performer's companion.
Are you keen to move into the world of creative music synthesis but pale at the technology and the prospect of having to buy all that amplification stuff? Yes? Then take a close look at Roland's new Synth Plus 80 (HS80).
At under £1000 the Synth Plus 80, featuring a 10W + 10W stereo amplifier and built-in speakers, is a home-use version of the highly successful Alpha Juno 2. The same 61-note touch sensitive, polyphonic keyboard; 64 fantastic, instantly available sounds and 64 programmable patches; user-friendly Alpha dial access to all control functions; and all the inputs and outputs you'll ever need. You can even hook up a drum machine and play along to it.
When you're ready to delve deeper and expand the system, Synth Plus 80 will progress with you. It has full MIDI compatibility and there's a cartridge facility for outboard storage of your own sound programs.
Roland Newslink - Autumn 1986
News by Jerry Uwins
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