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In-depth Feature:  Roland XV-5080
Roland XV-5080 Synthesis/Sample-playback module:
A worthy successor to the JV/XP synths?
David Hutchison writes: .

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The Back End
The XV-5080 clearly excels at sound creation, but it is at the back end that things get really exciting. I'm referring here to the XV-5080's cutting edge effects implementation, built in EQ support for each channel, and flexible audio output options. In addition to an integrated multi-effects system, the XV-5080 incorporates chorus effects and 24-bit reverb algorithms derived from Roland's SRV-3030 stand-alone reverb module. So too the XV-5080 is the only XV series synth to incorporate digital outputs (both two-channel S/P-DIF and eight-channel R-BUS), as well as COSM processing, Roland's proprietary system for the acoustic modeling of guitar, bass, and keyboard.

The XV-5080 is a fine instrument, worthy of a much praise. It has a powerful and, I would argue, distinctive sonic architecture that distinguishes it from the rest of the pack when it comes to sound design. The improvements I would like to see (the built-in arpeggiator and control sliders) should not hinder the creative work of most XV-5080 users. Indeed, the XV-5080, with its generous 128 voices, built-in sample playback support, and digital output options, could easily function as the primary (or even sole) instrument in a project studio. The attention to detail given to the XV-5080's effects implementation, advanced synthesis functionality, and digital output options bodes well for this synth's future.

Given the $700 differential in price between the XV-3080 and XV-5080 modules, musicians looking at the former synth might well wish to stretch their budgets and step up to the XV-5080, if only for the larger graphic display and S/P-DIF digital output. While the XV-5080 easily holds its own in comparison with offerings from Korg, Kurzweil, and Yamaha, the XV-3080 faces stiff competition from several lower-priced synths, most notably the Emu Proteus 2000.

This is the irony of Roland's 21st Century offerings. While the XV-3080 lacks some of the features found in the competition (S/P-DIF output and 32-channel MIDI), the XV-5080 matches and then beats the competition in terms of polyphony, expandability, RAM, and the sheer variety of interfacing options which ship as standard. To answer my first question: is the XV-5080 a worthy successor to Roland's JV/XP synthesizer line-up? It most definitely is.

David Hutchison PhD ( ) is an Assistant Professor at Brock University (Ontario, Canada), a New Age artist, and the Webmaster for the Unofficial Roland XV-5080 homepage, which can be found at

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