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First synth: System 8 now or wait for Summit?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

First synth: System 8 now or wait for Summit?

Hey guys,

First post here! Woohooo
After some years playing around with Diva, Omnisphere etc, I’m looking into buying my first hardware synth.
I was pretty convinced I was going to buy the System 8 but I just saw that Novation Summit... worth the extra money? Thoughts?
I compose for television and trailers and also play in a symphonic metal band and I’d like to have a versatile synth which I can use for both purposes.

Thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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TinyTempo's Avatar
I would like to throw the DSI Prophet REV2 into the hat. I think the feature/price ratio, usability, build quality and sound are all great. I just recently got mine (16 voice version) and can't stop playing with it
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I have both the System-8 and the Peak (which is kind of an 8 voice summit)

For me the main difference is:
System-8 is instant gratification - big sweetspot, fast programming, pretty much one-knob per function, which screams for tweaking on the fly and THAT Roland sound.
Peak is more of a programmer's synth; it has a lot more modulation options, but takes more time to sound like you want. Both synths can make sounds the other can't. the System-8 has a lot of flavours: various oscillators and filters, even multiple complete engines. The Peak has less filter options and less fat sounding oscillators, but has wavetables (which are not my cup of tea, but allows for some nice textured layers) and a lot of "details" in terms of sound design: it allows for oscillator phase reset, LFO start phase, FX parameter modulation, complete FM section.
Then the Summit has of course even more knobs, and for most functions a dedicated knob, but there is still a little menu diving involved when you want to modulate stuff. Summit has double the voices of the System-8 and I think (judging from a few youtube videos) a lot better bi-timbral mode. The System-8 "performance" mode is kind of akward to use..

In short: if you want a synth that begs to play and sounds great immediately, go for the System-8. It can do pretty much anything, except ever evolving pads/soundscapes or something like that. If you are just beginning to learn synthesis, this is probably the best choice.
If you want a sound designer's synth, go for the Summit. It can do pretty much anything, in contrast to the S8 is also great for ever evolving pads/soundscapes/drones etc, but you have to work it to make it sound really great. I'd recommend this as a second synth when you already have another great sounding synth for the bread and butter stuff (like the System-8).

Conclusion: first get the System-8 and the Summit later
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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drxcm's Avatar
 

For what it’s worth I own a System-8 and have zero interest in Summit.

System-8 is incredibly immediate and sounds wonderful. Easily one of my favorite synths I’ve ever had.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Get the System-8, and if you don't like it, sell it then go buy a Summit.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Coorec's Avatar
System-8 is a fantastic first synth. Not only because Rolands user interfaces are great and intuitive for beginners, but also because you can expand on the synth models.

Welcome to GS.
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Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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mutilatedlip's Avatar
I'd go S8.

I own the S8 and the Summit looks amazing. However, the S8 has a massive sweet spot, is half the price, and if you use Omnisphere, recent updates mean it is an amazing controller for it, amongst other things.

The Peak/Summit sound absolutely fantastic, but for a first synth, probably a little too complex.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRProductions View Post
Hey guys,

First post here! Woohooo
After some years playing around with Diva, Omnisphere etc, I’m looking into buying my first hardware synth.
I was pretty convinced I was going to buy the System 8 but I just saw that Novation Summit... worth the extra money? Thoughts?
I compose for television and trailers and also play in a symphonic metal band and I’d like to have a versatile synth which I can use for both purposes.

Thanks!
Hi and welcome.

If your priority is the sound, the S8 will not get you anything better than the software you already own, or can own as cloud plugins.
Summit is way way way better here, as others already mentioned it has much more sound design possibilities - which is not a problem for you because you have years of experience with soft synths.

Symphonic metal ? A link to your Youtube or Soundcloud please.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
Hi and welcome.

If your priority is the sound, the S8 will not get you anything better than the software you already own, or can own as cloud plugins.
Summit is way way way better here, as others already mentioned it has much more sound design possibilities - which is not a problem for you because you have years of experience with soft synths.

Symphonic metal ? A link to your Youtube or Soundcloud please.
I do prefer the basic raw tone of the oscillators of the System-8 though, so if sound is your priority..

Using the System-8 hardware is so much more fun than any VSTi.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Ive had the S8 for a while now, and while its a great UI, mostly great sound (never liked the J8 on it) its the most disconnected Ive felt to a synth and its never been recorded, in fact it's off to UPS this morning. Ive said it in another thread why, and its just me, but I can never get over the feeling that Im using a very good midi controller with software...even when the PC is turned off. It feels similar to using the V collection with my keylab...not that I have anything against software but I prefer it in my PC and not taking up the space of a synth.

If you want that roland sound its all there. But for the price of a summit Id prolly go with a prophet rev 2 and a Deepmind. The DM covers a lot of that 106 tone (arguably the best on the S8) and the prophet, while not instantly gratifying, at least my P08 wasnt, offers something different that bread and butter sounds. My P08 is the synth Ive owned the longest, for a reason.

Cant comment on the summit but since the Peak came out Ive probably bought half a dozen synths and its never been on my radar...it never peaked my interest, must be summit that doesnt gel with me, Ill get my coat
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Bad Machinery's Avatar
 

Given that Roland abandoned the System 8 after promising that it would be an ever expanding "ecosystem", I would recommend against it. A good controller is likely a better investment.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Machinery View Post
Given that Roland abandoned the System 8 after promising that it would be an ever expanding "ecosystem", I would recommend against it. A good controller is likely a better investment.
That's like saying "don't buy the Summit: Novation may not ever update it".

You're mixing PLUG-OUT with the SYSTEM-8. Whether or not there will more PLUG-OUT won't diminish the S8 current capabilities, and is irrelevant to the OP's interests since they're looking for an hardware synth not an integrated software suit/service.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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login's Avatar
I won a System 8 and I have wanted a Peak/Summit for some time, originally I would have bought the Peak if it had a keyboard, I really needed the keyboard since it would be my only "synth action" controller in my studio. If I was going to buy today I would get the summit, nevertheless I am very happy with the S8:

System 8 Pros:

- The UI is almost excellent
- The sound is superb
- Even without much modulation the last update wich provided aditional oscilators and filters gives the System 8 a very wide sound palette, I would even say that it can go further than the peak

System 8 cons:
- For a modern synth the preset management is simply outdated, to few slots and a very convoluted preformance system
- Only "8 voices"
- There are some quirks I hate about it: the arp is global, you can't have different arps per part. An external keyboard can't trigger the arp.
- 4 octaves

Summit pros:
- 5 octaves
- More modulation
- Nice saturation across different points
- Excellent effects (system 8 effects are mediocre).


Since I havent used the peak outside of tweaking it in a store I can't point out the small issues it may have.

If I could I would get both XD
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by login View Post
I won a System 8 and I have wanted a Peak/Summit for some time, originally I would have bought the Peak if it had a keyboard, I really needed the keyboard since it would be my only "synth action" controller in my studio. If I was going to buy today I would get the summit, nevertheless I am very happy with the S8:

System 8 Pros:

- The UI is almost excellent
- The sound is superb
- Even without much modulation the last update wich provided aditional oscilators and filters gives the System 8 a very wide sound palette, I would even say that it can go further than the peak

System 8 cons:
- For a modern synth the preset management is simply outdated, to few slots and a very convoluted preformance system
- Only "8 voices"
- There are some quirks I hate about it: the arp is global, you can't have different arps per part. An external keyboard can't trigger the arp.
- 4 octaves

Summit pros:
- 5 octaves
- More modulation
- Nice saturation across different points
- Excellent effects (system 8 effects are mediocre).


Since I havent used the peak outside of tweaking it in a store I can't point out the small issues it may have.

If I could I would get both XD
About the arp: it can be triggered from an external keyboard, but you have to set remote kbd to ON. This will ignore the midi input settings though: it will respond to any incoming midi channel
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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the_soulcatcher's Avatar
Best thing you can do is going to a music store where you can test the desired synths yourself.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Bad Machinery's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToyBox View Post
That's like saying "don't buy the Summit: Novation may not ever update it".

You're mixing PLUG-OUT with the SYSTEM-8. Whether or not there will more PLUG-OUT won't diminish the S8 current capabilities, and is irrelevant to the OP's interests since they're looking for an hardware synth not an integrated software suit/service.
No, I'm not mixing PLUG-OUT with the SYSTEM-8, they are one in the same. The relevance is in the value for money proposition. At nearly $1500, I feel the System-8 is poor value for money. When I purchased mine, I was promised an ever evolving eco-system which simply never came to pass. Nor has there been any further communication regarding these promises.

In the settled dust that is the current Aira line, I feel the System-8 should be considered a "legacy product", and the price I would be willing to pay would certainly reflect that. This is the relevance.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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drxcm's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Machinery View Post
No, I'm not mixing PLUG-OUT with the SYSTEM-8, they are one in the same. The relevance is in the value for money proposition. At nearly $1500, I feel the System-8 is poor value for money. When I purchased mine, I was promised an ever evolving eco-system which simply never came to pass. Nor has there been any further communication regarding these promises.

In the settled dust that is the current Aira line, I feel the System-8 should be considered a "legacy product", and the price I would be willing to pay would certainly reflect that. This is the relevance.
I’m curious- when and what exactly did Roland promise? Got any source?

Was this before they released the FM system update, and then the free JX-3P plugout?

Last update was August 2018 if I recall correctly. Hardly enough time to call something abandoned. Even if it is, do you have evidence that nothing else is coming?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Machinery View Post
No, I'm not mixing PLUG-OUT with the SYSTEM-8, they are one in the same. The relevance is in the value for money proposition. At nearly $1500, I feel the System-8 is poor value for money. When I purchased mine, I was promised an ever evolving eco-system which simply never came to pass. Nor has there been any further communication regarding these promises.

In the settled dust that is the current Aira line, I feel the System-8 should be considered a "legacy product", and the price I would be willing to pay would certainly reflect that. This is the relevance.
You get one really nice VA synth, three pretty accurate replications of classic Roland gear, and a great interface for 1500. Not a bargain of the century for sure, but certainly a better, usable synth buy than blowing 1500 on a Juno 106, IMO.

I don't know where you got the idea that Roland was promising to give a new synth constantly.

The only thing I remember being truly promised was the Juno 106 which wasn't available at launch. The FM/formant filters/JX-3P update was a complete surprise to pretty much everyone.

Would I like other Roland synths as plug outs? Of course, but I also feel like one should buy a synth for what it is at the current moment.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
You’ve sort of presented an impossible choice. Both are fine instruments, but as someone mentioned, you can have those Roland synths in software. However, if you’ll be dragging this synth out to gigs, that might be as much as you want. Sucks they didn’t do a 61 key version.

Then there’s the Summit. Is it even in stores? I have the Peak, so I’ll speak to that. I don’t enjoy the interface, so I just program patches on a software editor I have. The issues are the way the oscillator menus and modulation matrix are presented in the interface. I find it kind of tedious. I’m not sure if they’ve improved it on the Summit. You could probably get reasonably comfortable with it over time. It’s not horrible, just clumsy. One thing I will say about my Peak is that it cuts through a dense mix like a laser. This could be important, especially for Metal. I mostly use it for leads and bass sounds. It’s a “hard” sounding synth and often I want something that does soft and squishy. It’s difficult getting that out of it.

Another one to look at is the Prophet 12. Not metal, but NIN tours with one, and as an owner it’s pretty clear why. Much better UI than the Peak (probably the best I’ve ever used) and a lot more of everything... except for wavetables. They didn’t do wavetables. Instead they give you a bunch of waves (I think it’s 13 plus the basic analog ones) and you can morph between them and alter them with something they call a Character Effect. You basically get a bass, treble, rate reducer, bit reducer and drive effect. There’s also a good delay section and distortion. I like the Peak’s filter distortion more than the Prophet’s drive, but I like the Prophet’s distortion effect more than the Peak’s distortion effect. Really, they’re both good in different ways. Importantly, you get a 61 key keyboard with a very good build quality (Peak is also well made, the System 8, not as much according to owners.)

Anyway, sorry to be more confusing, but if I were going to buy a single hardware synth right now, it would be the Prophet 12. Then I’d start saving for my next.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Addict
I'd better hope a Prophet 12 was built better than a System 8 considering their price difference!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Bad Machinery's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by space skeleton View Post
I don't know where you got the idea that Roland was promising to give a new synth constantly..
Give? I've purchased the TR-8/606 update, SH-2 plug, Promars. I've also purchased the S8, TR-8S, TR-08, TR-09. In addition I am currently subscribed to the Roland Cloud. I have no problem paying for stuff.

But I personally feel like Roland promised a business model with the System 1/System 8 that they have since failed to follow through with. I personally would not have purchased the System 8 had I known this at the time. It's not a personal insult if you like it; after all, I own it too.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by space skeleton View Post
I'd better hope a Prophet 12 was built better than a System 8 considering their price difference!
Dunno about the 12 but Ive got an OB6 and a Pro2 next to a JDXA and previously the S8, and the Rolands are like toy plastic controllers in comparision..and if price is the only consideration my Pro 2 was $200 less than the S8 and my OB6 only $350 more than the XA....luckily the XA sounds fantastic or it would be off to UPS too

Oh yeah OP, buy a JDXA...it even looks metal! You can get all the vintage Rolands from the SN engine in there as well as all its modern tone
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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drxcm's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Machinery View Post
But I personally feel like Roland promised a business model with the System 1/System 8 that they have since failed to follow through with.
I never saw such promises.

Am curious. What / how many more plugouts Roland have had to do to make the System-8 fulfill your expectations?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by drxcm View Post
I never saw such promises.

Am curious. What / how many more plugouts Roland have had to do to make the System-8 fulfill your expectations?
4 1\2
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Gear Maniac
Isn’t symphonic metal the cheesy stuff with trombones and triangles and choirs that sound like they were singing Carmina Burana? Ain’t gonna get those out of any synths mentioned here, jd-xa gets the closest. I used Kurzweil PC3 for that stuff in my sorry youth. Not proud of it . I think bands like Symphony X are utilizing sample libraries for their current sound.

For those basic synth sounds like saw leads and strings, both of them will do fine. Personally, I hate jd-xa keys, they just feel wrong to me. System 8 has similar ones, so in that sense Summit might be a better choice.

Last edited by eighteenisnine; 4 weeks ago at 10:28 PM.. Reason: Typos
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by space skeleton View Post
I'd better hope a Prophet 12 was built better than a System 8 considering their price difference!
If you can afford a new Summit, you can afford a used Prophet 12.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Pip
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Pip's Avatar
S8 moving on.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Gear Nut
 

I have both the System-8 and Peak and I feel they're complimentary. The System-8 user experience is like a Jupiter 6 or 8. Immediate, simple and satisfying. FM is drop dead simple to get into. The Peak's panel OTOH gets you a sound that's about 98% there and then you need to dive into the matrix mod to finish up the sound. I can't imagine the Summit to be anything less than the Peak so I would say the S-8 and Summit would be a nice pair!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
[...]
Then there’s the Summit. Is it even in stores?
[...]
Nope, should be September.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
[...]
The issues are the way the oscillator menus and modulation matrix are presented in the interface. I find it kind of tedious. I’m not sure if they’ve improved it on the Summit. You could probably get reasonably comfortable with it over time. It’s not horrible, just clumsy.
[...]
Nope, menu works the same way. They added more dedicated controls here and there, so Summit is a bit better than Peak overall, but it does not solve your issues with how narrow the menu structure is.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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Fuseball's Avatar
Personally, I had the S8 for a little over a week before I knew that I absolutely hated it. So many weird compromises, even with the UI. Terrible patch storage and management. Unusable fx. I thought I liked the Roland sound but it never felt anything like my Juno 60 or JP6. I can’t really recommend it as a gigging synth as I don’t think it’s sturdy enough and those plastic edges are going to get battered.

I’m with zerocrossing on the Peak/Summit. I don’t love the menu-diving but I can imagine the sound cutting through in a band setting.

My own left field suggestion would be to look at a Nord Lead A1 too.
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