Roland Aira Series Review (T-8, J-6, E-4): A Backpack Recording Studio

You may not consider it, however when you’re older than 19, you’ll be able to in all probability determine precisely what a classic, high-end Juno synth appears like. If you are craving that classic sound, you’ll be able to nonetheless discover it by haggling with weirdos on Craigslist and repairing historical circuitry, however it should price you in cash, time, and presumably aggravation.

Not any longer: Small, inexpensive, rechargeable, and moveable, Roland’s new Aira synth line consists of the T-8 drum machine, J-6 synth, and E-4 vocal processor. You can sync them up with no laptop computer to carry out stay or use them with an audio interface to file classic-sounding hits. Together they price lower than a Macbook Air.

The democratization of music production gear is nothing new. Top 10 singles have been crafted in bedrooms and residential studios for many years, and producers like Finneas are making hits with gear that prices as a lot as a single day’s studio rental did within the early Eighties. The Aira is simply the most recent line to step into the land of old-school synths, drums, and vocoders for lower than the value of a Walkman off eBay.

The ’80s Called

Roland Aira T-8

Photograph: Roland

The T-8, J-6, and E-4 are available compact plastic circumstances with orange, blue, and pink backs. A small USB-C port behind every synth acts as a charging port (you will get about 4 hours of battery life if you wish to take these off-grid) with 3.5-mm midi out and in ports beside it.

On high of every unit are two 3.5-mm sync ports (out and in, for pairing with different models in time) and blend in-and-out ports for sending audio by way of all three models with no mixer. It’s a pleasant contact that permits you to play them unexpectedly. On the higher proper of every unit is a quantity knob, which is small however oddly satisfying to show.

Below that, they change into their very own distinct digital devices. I gained’t get into the way to use them (Roland’s wonderful manuals and a few YouTube videos will take you additional than I can in a couple of hundred phrases), however right here’s what they do.

The T-8 acts as a 32-step sequencing drum machine, very like the basic Roland 808 (learn: Kanye West’s favourite drum machine) however with extra sounds. It has controls for bass drum, snare, hi-hat, toms, and hand claps. You also can add a bass or keyboard line. If you just like the sound of ’80s radio beats, you’ll discover these right here, in addition to greater than sufficient tuning and customization options to jot down EDM, indie, hip hop, pop, and different beats with ease.

Roland Aira J-6

Photograph: Roland

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