Contributed by Simon Ayton

This week we are very excited to have received delivery of the new AIRA series instruments. The TR-8, TB-3, VT-3 and System-1 will introduce a great way of making music for many that never experienced the fabulous TR-808, TB-909, TB-303 and System 100 instruments that became the foundation of so much greatly loved music.

It’s very rare for electronic instruments to cross musical genres. The much rapped about TR-808 is but one example that did exactly that. From Marvin Gaye to Yellow Magic Orchestra through The charmingly childish Beastie Boys to Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, the pounding sub kick and snappy snare give away its unmistakable personality.

It wasn’t just the sound of these instruments that stirred the world up and switched people on but also their unique way of working. Those were the days when an instrument came without presets and you only got out what you put in, human input was everything…


The System-100M modular synthesiser and its now hugely expensive and rare System-700 predecessor from 1976 made no sound until you patched the various sections together!


Much like a worker at the telephone exchange of the day, the user connected the VCO (voltage controlled oscillator -the part that generators sound) to a VCF (voltage controlled filter-to modify the sound character) then on to VCA (you got it, voltage controlled amplifier-to boost the result). All this would just result in a constant mono tone. To make musical notes and add expression, you then needed to busy yourself with ENV’s, ADSR’s and the like.

All this just to generate a series of monophonic notes! If you wanted to play two notes at the same time or heaven’s forbid, an entire chord, then you’d be off shopping for more leads whilst scheduling a meeting with your bank manager to run a feasibility study on the fasting ramifications and survival probability of adding a 182 sequencer and model 172 Audio Delay/Phaser/LFO/Gate to your fledgling music lab.

Luckily, with AIRA, there’s a family of fun new instruments hands on performers and sound-smiths alike can use to craft their sound in any direction they like without a dreaded loan interview…

Checkout the unboxing and first listen video of three of the brand new AIRA additions to the Roland family here.

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Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!