Roland Unveil New Aira System 1 SH-101 (Video Demos)

Big updates to existing Aira range this month, more hardware on the way, A-B demos with the virtual SH-101…

MusicTech was invited to the launch of System-1 last week at the rather great SSR college in Camden Town. As part of the launch it was confirmed that the first plug-out synth – a software synth that can also run within the hardware System-1 synth – will be the classic Roland SH-101. It’s expected that this will be the first of many classic Roland synths that will be coming out to run in System-1 or standalone in your sequencer.


We were shown how the plug-in works within Logic (see the first video below) as a regular synth plug-in with a virtual SH-101 replicated on screen – neatly you can change its colour too – and how the hardware System-1 can then act as its controller. 

The ‘plug out’ option was then demoed where you load an SH-101 sound into the System-1 so it then effectively becomes a hardware SH-101 that you can then use independantly of the computer (so for live use). We were then A-B’d the System-1 version of the SH-101 next to the real thing (see the second video below).

There was more major Aira news too – although little on specific details just yet. The existing TB-3 (bass unit), TR-8 (drum machine) and VT-3 (vocal transformer) will have major software updates in July (we’re hoping the TR will get more patterns at least). Best news of all, though, is that there’s more Aira hardware on the way – indeed Roland has set up a new division to cover the Aira range and future releases. Again what this will be is subject to the now usual Aira secrecy although there was shouts of ‘Space Echo’ among the assembled throng of invited VIPs.

And from these VIPs Acid House pioneer Marshall Jefferson, Adamski and Fathless’ Sister Bliss were on hand to talk about their Roland experiences over the years with Jeffferson on particularly good form, modestly saying that he and his cohorts pretty much discovered acid house because they didn’t know how to use a TB-303 properly…

From what we heard of the SH-101 plug out, it sounds pretty good and we’ll bring you the full review asap. In the meanwhile check out these videos and let us know what you think.

See video demos below