Rebooted Roland range finds favour with diverse roster of artists

Gear of the Year 2014

It was late in 2013 that people first started hearing rumours of a new range of products from Roland. The brand which has such heritage in electronic music was causing quite a stir on message boards and forums, in anticipation of what may be following. Following levels of hype and intrigue not normally seen in the musical instrument industry, bit by bit fans were able to piece the story together and, sure enough, Roland didn’t disappoint when it formally announced the launch of the AIRA range.

Of course, this caused the aforementioned forums to verge on complete meltdown. Information drip-fed through that the new range would include new interpretations of classic Roland gear like the TR-808 drum machine, and TB-303 bass synth. Who would they be aimed at? Would they be truly analogue? Is there still a place for a hardware drum machine in today’s DAW-focused market?

All would become clear in early 2014, when the playing public were finally able to get their hands on the new range. But now, 12 months on, how have the units fared after the dust has settled? Who is actually using them in the real world? Here we take a look at a few famous faces who have taken the AIRA range to heart.


Everyone’s favourite golden-grilled drum and bass maestro has been quick to see the potential offered by the new machines. He’s spoken before of how the kind of tricks producers are able to do now are the stuff his era wanted to do, but lacked the technological clout to be able to pull off. Now, with the AIRA range, Goldie has seen technology finally catch up with creative invention and offer intuitive, exciting possibilities for musicians and producers. This video is well worth watching – you simply can’t fake the enthusiasm Goldie shows here.


Used in a live setting, the TR-8 and System-1 can really begin to show their worth. As studio units, sure, they are engineered to deliver amazing sound quality and a straightforward workflow but in a live arena the two can really shine. The video above, featuring gushing interviews from two members of Example’s live band, outlines the importance of the layout of the two units and the ease at which players can create and mangle sounds on the fly.


Finally, we look to UK stars Disclosure, who were treated a session using the TR-8 and TB-3 before a show last year. Now we all know that presets are there to show off the potential sounds you can get from a piece of gear, and we’d all normally have a play and then discard them (or at least amend them). However, watch the above video and try and deny that preset B35 of the TB-3 isn’t going to end up all over the lad’s next record. Pure, unadulterated preset heaven.

View the entire Roland AIRA range at the Dawsons website.