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In-depth Feature:  Roland VariOS
Albert Potts writes: .

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Virtual Synths

VariOS-08, looks familliar

Oh yeah, did I mention this thing can be turned into a virtual synth? Roland has VariOS emulations of the it's JP-8 (VariOS-08) and TB-303 (VariOS-303), with free downloads available on their site. I spent some quality time with these emulations and was impressed. Not having the originals to directly compare them to, I would have to say that while the emulations are excellent they have a cleaner, modern, brighter sound to them than do the vintage units.

Each virtual instrument has it's own PC/MAC editor that is launched separately from the V-Producer software, and manuals in PDF format. The editors are well laid out and easy to use. Changes made in software happen immediately in the VariOS hardware. Patches can be saved to the software, or to an optional PC card inserted in the front of the VariOS hardware. Saving to PC card allows you to take the VariOS to gigs without dragging a computer along.

While I loved both emulations, the VariOS-303 really slams. Big and fat, this cuts through a mix and sounds anything but "virtual". Both emulations take advantage of the VariOS fully editable effects.

VariOS-303, old faithful returns

However, my least favorite aspect of these virtual synths is that you must turn off the VariOS rack unit and then restart it while holding down the menu and left cursor buttons. A moment later a screen comes up on the LCD asking which virutal synth to load. While I realize there must be a compelling reason for this routine, I would much prefer that virutal synths be loaded without a restart. It's also unfortunate that the VariOS hardware will only allow one synth at a time.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • VariOS Tips and tricks (pdf)
  • VariOS @
  • Watch the NAMM 03 VariOS video demo

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