Roland’s $199 Aira Compact series are a serious play for entry the level

It may appear arduous to imagine, however till now Roland hasn’t had a real competitor to Korg’s seemingly ubiquitous Volca line. Certain, the Boutique vary is moveable and battery powered, however they’re additionally twice the worth of a Volca. And that is with out the keyboard accent. Now, although, the corporate lastly appears to be taking the entry stage significantly with the Aira Compact sequence.

These new $199 devices borrow tech from their large siblings within the Aira line, just like the VT-4 Voice Transformer and the TR-8 Rhythm Performer. The T-8 is a drum machine that makes use of Roland’s Analog Circuit Conduct (ACB) to recreate sounds from the 808 and 909, and the J-6 Chord Synth does the identical, however for the Juno-6. Whereas there is definitely nothing improper with having extra moveable funds synths and drum machines, it is the E-4 Voice Tweaker that basically stands out. It brings pitch correction, a harmonizer, vocoding, plus pitch and formant shifting and a looper to the world of cell music {hardware}.

Roland Aira Compact

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Earlier than we get too far into specifics, although, let’s go over what all three have in widespread. They’re all fairly tiny, for one. Whereas they’re solely barely smaller than a Volca, the cumulative impact is clear. On the again are ” MIDI out and in jacks, in addition to a USB-C port that is used for charging the interior lithium ion battery, however also can deal with MIDI and audio over USB. Throughout the highest are ” sync out and in jacks, in addition to combine out and in jacks, which let you daisy-chain a number of gadgets collectively.

The power to attach all three Aira Compacts, with out the necessity for an exterior mixer, is undeniably enormous. If you’re making an attempt to craft a transportable music making setup the much less gear and cables, the higher.

T-8

Roland Aira Compact

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The T-8 is certainly essentially the most easy of the three, and possibly essentially the most instantly usable. Whereas it has extra superior options, anybody who’s ever used a step sequencer earlier than ought to instantly be capable to begin placing collectively fundamental beats. Whereas I suppose I ought to be grateful that you simply get 32 ​​steps as an alternative of a measly 16, it would not really feel like it might pressure the {hardware} terribly to go for a full 4 bars.

Fortunately, there are some instruments at your disposal to modify issues up. There’s a fill mode, plus step looping for creating prompt customized fills by simply holding down a couple of buttons. There’s additionally per-step and grasp chance choices for introducing a contact of unpredictability, plus substeps, ship results, accent and velocity parameters. In some methods, it is a extra succesful sequencer than you’d discover on a Volca Beats. That stated, Korg has automation within the type of Movement Sequencing, which the Aira Compacts lack.

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