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Roland System 8
Old 2nd December 2019
  #8341
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
The whole notion that there's a driver+app needed to install the plug-outs which will absolutely get abandoned at some unknown point in the future, makes me really wary of buying such a product.

For each of those synths being emulated (I own some of them), they may need maintenance, but no OS update or whim of a company is going to make them suddenly not work. I realize it's not quite the case with the S8 as you'd technically just be stuck with whatever you loaded into it last, but still, it's not appetizing.

Much better would be if you could load in all the synths into some sort of storage, and then only 3 of them could be 'active' in the memory. Anything to avoid the hassles of computer interfaces and software indefinitely.
I'd say these caveats are something to be aware of, for sure.

The SonicState review stated you could back up and restore plugouts from the SD card, but based on reports of people trying to do so (much) earlier in this thread, that appears not to be the case. You'd expect a full backup and restore to also restore the plugouts you were using. I've never tested it but by all accounts it doesn't work that way. For someone who's touring with this and needs to be sure they can get back up and running if something goes wrong, that is definitely a bit of a concern.

If the driver ever stops working and is no longer being updated, you would also lose the ability to transmit MIDI and audio over USB. Of course, you can still use regular MIDI and audio cables, but that means you also need additional audio and MIDI ports for your computer. That would definitely be a bummer for me, but at least the synth remains fully usable, if less convenient.

In my case, while I liked the idea of being able to swap in different plugouts, I ended up deciding to just stick with the built-in ones anyway, because they're the only three polysynth emulations and I'm a big fan of all of them.
Old 23rd January 2020
  #8342
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basehead617's Avatar
Can someone describe the 'control surface mode' of the System 8?

Is it like run the S8 plugin on the computer but the physical synth controls the parameters?

Or is there a way to run it so that the S8 itself gets total recall from the DAW and you're actually recording the audio and able to record automation as if it were a plugin (not midi) like overbridge?

The manual is very flimsy on this stuff..
Old 23rd January 2020
  #8343
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basehead617's Avatar
Also, I'm wondering why they didn't bother with a Jupiter-4, Jupiter-6, and JX-8P plug-out.

They seem like no-brainers to me! It's weird to do the Promars but not the J4.

Is the rumor that there's nothing else in the pipeline?
Old 23rd January 2020
  #8344
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
Can someone describe the 'control surface mode' of the System 8?

Is it like run the S8 plugin on the computer but the physical synth controls the parameters?

Or is there a way to run it so that the S8 itself gets total recall from the DAW and you're actually recording the audio and able to record automation as if it were a plugin (not midi) like overbridge?

The manual is very flimsy on this stuff..
I believe the Control Surface mode just shuts off the audio engine of the System-8. I don't think it's anything more than that. So when I use the System-8 as a control surface, I just turn the volume all the way down, which effectively does the same thing.

I could totally be mistaken though if another user happens to know better and wants to chime in.
Old 23rd January 2020
  #8345
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login's Avatar
The surface control mode doesn't turn off the S8 engine, it is can be controlled by external MIDI. SO it is useful if you are using the S8 as a sound source but you are not tweaking it at all. If it was accesible by a single button this could be quite practical in live situations.

The intended use is controlling software, obviously the plugouts are the prime targets because of the interface.
Old 24th January 2020
  #8346
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basehead617's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkybot View Post
I believe the Control Surface mode just shuts off the audio engine of the System-8. I don't think it's anything more than that. So when I use the System-8 as a control surface, I just turn the volume all the way down, which effectively does the same thing.

I could totally be mistaken though if another user happens to know better and wants to chime in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by login View Post
The surface control mode doesn't turn off the S8 engine, it is can be controlled by external MIDI. SO it is useful if you are using the S8 as a sound source but you are not tweaking it at all. If it was accesible by a single button this could be quite practical in live situations.

The intended use is controlling software, obviously the plugouts are the prime targets because of the interface.
Thanks, I think this answers it for me.

I have read that the hardware runs at 96khz. Do the plugins sound identical to the hardware if you run your session at 96khz?

If so there's not much reason to use the plugout in a studio setting, just use the plugin with the hardware as a control surface
Old 24th January 2020
  #8347
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by login View Post
The surface control mode doesn't turn off the S8 engine, it is can be controlled by external MIDI. SO it is useful if you are using the S8 as a sound source but you are not tweaking it at all. If it was accesible by a single button this could be quite practical in live situations.

The intended use is controlling software, obviously the plugouts are the prime targets because of the interface.
You're thinking of the OFF setting for Local Sw, which disconnects the System-8 from its internal engine and only transmits MIDI, but that MIDI can be sent back to the System-8 to control it. This is basically "DAW mode".

Setting Local Sw to SURFACE disables the S8 engine and turns it into a control surface, as Funkybot described.

From the System-8 Reference Manual entry for "Local Sw":

Quote:
OFF/ON:
Enables/disables the connection between the controller section (keyboard, pitch bend/modulation lever, wheels, panel knobs and buttons, pedals, etc.) and the internal sound engine.
Normally you should leave this “ON.”

SURFACE:
Choose “SURFACE” if you want to use operations on the SYSTEM-8 to only control an external sound module. The sound engine of the SYSTEM-8 does not produce sound.
Old 24th January 2020
  #8348
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
Thanks, I think this answers it for me.
See my previous post for the correct info. Surface mode completely disables the System-8 engine. If you want to use the System-8 to control both plugouts and plugins, the best Local Sw setting is OFF. Enable it as a MIDI controller in your DAW, then create a MIDI track to send the MIDI back to the System-8 (so it can control itself). You can then create additional tracks with Roland Cloud plugins and the System-8 controls will automatically map to the right parameters. Many of the plugins even have a "System-1 Layout" or "System-8 Layout" setting that matches the System-8 layout and makes it easier to figure out which knob/slider/button controls what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
I have read that the hardware runs at 96khz. Do the plugins sound identical to the hardware if you run your session at 96khz?

If so there's not much reason to use the plugout in a studio setting, just use the plugin with the hardware as a control surface
Yes, and you don't need to run your session at 96 kHz. In the plugins, the internal sample rate is controlled by the "Optimize for lower CPU usage" setting.

There is one big reason to use the System-8 instead of the plugin — CPU usage. The Roland Cloud plugins (especially the polyphonic ones) chew up an enormous amount of CPU. Of course you can only have one instance on the hardware (or two, if you use Performance mode, but they'll only have four voices each). What I do is use the System-8 by default and only use plugins if I need multiple instances.
Old 24th January 2020
  #8349
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
Also, I'm wondering why they didn't bother with a Jupiter-4, Jupiter-6, and JX-8P plug-out.

They seem like no-brainers to me! It's weird to do the Promars but not the J4.

Is the rumor that there's nothing else in the pipeline?
I'm still hoping they'll make those. I especially would love a boutique version of the Jupiter-4, with a ProMars mode. For once the four-voice limit of the boutiques will actually make sense!

There are no credible rumors about what they are or aren't working on.
Old 30th January 2020
  #8350
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basehead617's Avatar
For those that use the System-8 as a control surface for Roland Cloud plugins, how well does it work? Is it easy to get used to the mappings like is it intuitive?

Does the S8 disable backlighting on 'not hooked up' parameters on the surface when controlling the plugin?
Old 30th January 2020
  #8351
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
For those that use the System-8 as a control surface for Roland Cloud plugins, how well does it work? Is it easy to get used to the mappings like is it intuitive?
Couldn't be easier. The plugins are all set up to expect the same CCs transmitted by the controls on the System-1 and System-8. The plugins even have an option to display a different layout that matches the S1/S8.

Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
Does the S8 disable backlighting on 'not hooked up' parameters on the surface when controlling the plugin?
No. There isn't a practical way they could make that happen. The lighting is always based on which of the internal synths is currently active on the System-8.
Old 31st January 2020
  #8352
Gear Nut
Is someone tested the control surface mode of the System 8 with the new Roland Jupiter Xm ?

I'm not found of the user experience of the Jupiter Xm but if it's the midi chart is compatible, it can be a cool way to edit the Xm.
Old 31st January 2020
  #8353
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basehead617's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormchild View Post
No. There isn't a practical way they could make that happen. The lighting is always based on which of the internal synths is currently active on the System-8.
Hmm seems like they COULD find a way to make it work in control surface mode. At least if the USB connection has some bidirectionality. In that mode, plugin tells S8 what it is, S8 changes surface lighting. Get out of control surface mode, goes back to active plugout lighting.
Old 31st January 2020
  #8354
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
Hmm seems like they COULD find a way to make it work in control surface mode. At least if the USB connection has some bidirectionality. In that mode, plugin tells S8 what it is, S8 changes surface lighting. Get out of control surface mode, goes back to active plugout lighting.
Sure, anything can be done if you're willing to spend the time and money on it, but I seriously doubt it's worth the effort in this case.

The System-8 already has bi-directional communication with the Roland plugins for sending and receiving patches. The problem is the plugins have no way of knowing which track is currently selected in your DAW. So Roland would have to develop DAW integration software to treat it as a control surface, which would be completely different for each DAW, and each integration would need ongoing maintenance to keep working with future versions of each host.

What happens if your System-8 has Local Sw set to "on" (in which case it's still controlling itself, in addition to sending MIDI CCs)? If the currently selected track in your DAW is one of the Roland plugins, which lights should be on?

If your DAW lets you record-enable multiple tracks, a Roland plugin might be actively playable even though it's not the currently selected track.

All this just to get the right lights to light up? Would be a nice feature to have, but even if I was in charge I'd say no to that.
Old 21st February 2020
  #8355
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Stormchild's Avatar
I might be the only one who didn't know this, but I just now noticed when you're selecting the slot where you want to save a patch, you can actually play the patch in the selected slot. This helps you decide which one you want to replace when saving a new patch, but you can also use this to compare a modified patch to the last saved state (a feature I thought was sorely missing on the System-8).

After making some changes to a patch, push Write, then push Enter twice. This takes you to the step where you choose the patch slot. Now you can hear the previously saved state. Push Exit to back up one step and hear your modified version again. You can keep pressing Enter/Exit to go back and forth between the original and modified versions of the patch.

I've been meaning to ask Roland to add a compare function…little did I know it was there the whole time.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8356
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Is System 8 comparable to original JX3P taking info account the niuances of original JX3P? I hear mixed comments on this, I just like JX3P sound so better original or it doesnt matter?
Old 25th February 2020
  #8357
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felipesku View Post
Is System 8 comparable to original JX3P taking info account the niuances of original JX3P? I hear mixed comments on this, I just like JX3P sound so better original or it doesnt matter?
Roland Cloud trial. You can get an idea from that since it would be the same thing.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8358
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felipesku View Post
Is System 8 comparable to original JX3P taking info account the niuances of original JX3P? I hear mixed comments on this, I just like JX3P sound so better original or it doesnt matter?
I haven’t played with a real JX-3P, but I’m a big fan of the plugout. One of the patches I made for the JX-3P is now my favorite overall patch on the System-8, so I’ve set it to load that patch by default when I power it on. I play it alongside my OB-6 all the time and they both sound amazing, especially together.

One thing to note: While the plugin versions in Roland Cloud are the same emulation and give you a good idea of what it’ll sound like on the System-8, there are a few things about running it on the hardware that are much nicer. The filter cutoff and LFO rate knobs are high resolution, 24-bit encoders with 16.7 million values instead of the usual 128 of MIDI, which means the filter is ultra smooth with absolutely no stepping, and the LFO rate can be adjusted so it’s exactly in tune with any given pitch at audio rates.

The rest of the controls have 8-bit resolution (2x precision — 256 values instead of 128) when using local control. If local control is turned off and you control the System-8 by passing its MIDI to your DAW and looping it back, everything behaves like standard 7-bit MIDI. It’s much better to use local control.

Anyway, there’s a whole bunch of info you didn’t ask for, and I didn’t really answer your question.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8359
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drxcm's Avatar
 

I’ve never owned a JX-3P but the System 8 plugout version is one of my favorites. It was a great addition to an already awesome synth.

System 8 forever! (Until System-16 comes out!)
Old 25th February 2020
  #8360
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basehead617's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drxcm View Post
I’ve never owned a JX-3P but the System 8 plugout version is one of my favorites. It was a great addition to an already awesome synth.
It really is QUITE good
Old 25th February 2020
  #8361
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonekratz View Post
Roland Cloud trial. You can get an idea from that since it would be the same thing.
Yes Ive teated it and it sounds quite good just I cant compare with original. Im curious what JX3P users think about System 8 niuances in sound. Im especially curious if the emulation is nearly close or identical because it really matters.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8362
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Rented Seagull's Avatar
 

I have played both, and the JX-3P sounded like it had more low end and was less stable sounding. Its been a while and I no longer have the original.

I think the System 8 version would sound closer with the condition knob turned up. I tend to leave mine as it is, like it's a JX-3P fresh off the assembly line.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8363
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rented Seagull View Post
I think the System 8 version would sound closer with the condition knob turned up. I tend to leave mine as it is, like it's a JX-3P fresh off the assembly line.
I don't really like the effect of the condition parameter and always end up turning it off. It does what it's supposed to do…but it turns out I don't want my synths to sound old and broken.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8364
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormchild View Post
I don't really like the effect of the condition parameter and always end up turning it off. It does what it's supposed to do…but it turns out I don't want my synths to sound old and broken.
I want mine to sound dated as Im doing lofi stuff. If you turn the knob up it sounds realistic or rather emulated/distorted/bit reduced in nature?

Last edited by Felipesku; 25th February 2020 at 02:02 PM.. Reason: Wanted yo add more.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8365
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felipesku View Post
I want mine to sound dated as Im doing lofi stuff. If you turn the knob up it sounds realistic or rather emulated/distorted/bit reduced in nature?
It loses some brightness and the filter sounds dirty, in the sense of a dirty contact that makes it noisy. There might be some other effects. Basically it’s a general loss of fidelity. It’s not a digital sounding effect; I think they did a decent job simulating real aging, at least in a general sense. Old analog synths of the same model end up sounding different from each other because they’re subjected to different conditions. Pretty sure the Condition knob does the same thing every time and doesn’t attempt to incorporate randomness. Maybe they’ve tuned it for each plugout.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8366
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormchild View Post
It loses some brightness and the filter sounds dirty, in the sense of a dirty contact that makes it noisy. There might be some other effects. Basically it’s a general loss of fidelity. It’s not a digital sounding effect; I think they did a decent job simulating real aging, at least in a general sense. Old analog synths of the same model end up sounding different from each other because they’re subjected to different conditions. Pretty sure the Condition knob does the same thing every time and doesn’t attempt to incorporate randomness. Maybe they’ve tuned it for each plugout.
Yes I found that the condition parameter does different things to different plug-outs.

I barely use it, but that's mostly because it is buried in the menu. If there was a shortcut to access it, I might use it more often.
Old 25th February 2020
  #8367
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felipesku View Post
Yes Ive teated it and it sounds quite good just I cant compare with original. Im curious what JX3P users think about System 8 niuances in sound. Im especially curious if the emulation is nearly close or identical because it really matters.
Ah got it. I misundersood the context and thought you were coming at it from being a JX3P owner already (current or former). I love the plug-out personally (also have a JX-03 boutique) but have never owned the original. Still considering getting one as they're still pretty inexpensive.
Old 27th February 2020
  #8368
Gear Head
 

Cuckoo has patches out for this synth. Grabbed them and they are pretty great. Sound like nothing I've heard on any of the existing presets, very glassy and cutting. There's a lot of expressivity and subtle detail to them - exquisitely programmed.
Old 27th February 2020
  #8369
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Stormchild's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Dairy View Post
Cuckoo has patches out for this synth. Grabbed them and they are pretty great. Sound like nothing I've heard on any of the existing presets, very glassy and cutting. There's a lot of expressivity and subtle detail to them - exquisitely programmed.
Check out this video if you haven’t already seen it. He goes in depth on System-8 sound design. I didn’t like it at all (I find his approach interesting…just don’t care for the results), but you might enjoy seeing how the sausage gets made.

Old 27th February 2020
  #8370
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ZT Scheer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felipesku View Post
Yes Ive teated it and it sounds quite good just I cant compare with original. Im curious what JX3P users think about System 8 niuances in sound. Im especially curious if the emulation is nearly close or identical because it really matters.
I had a JX-3P for many years. It's one of my all-time favorites. It has a unique tone which skirts the line between grainy and smooth, quite unlike anything else, IMHO. The JX-8P and JX-10 are supposed to be "upgraded" versions, and they retain a lot of that character. I like the JX-3P the most though.

I've only had an hour or so messing with a System-8 at stores, NAMM, etc. ... off-n-on. I have the Roland Cloud VST version running through the Fantom as audio interface.

Both the System-8 plug and the Cloud VST hit me as capturing that JX-3P character almost perfectly. There are some niggles here and there if you are going for 100% 1:1 perfection, but none that bothers me in the slightest.

If you are going for all of the typical JX-3P pads, stabs, etc. ... really spot-on, IMHO.
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