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

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The Marriage of Hardware and Software
The Roland VariOS is a hardware/software combination, consisting of a 1 rack unit box that communicates with it's Mac or PC software via midi or USB connection. The VariOS is compatible with Windows® XP Home/XP Professional/2000 Professional/Me, with Windows® XP/2000 recommended. Recommended processors are Pentium, Celeron, Intel-compatible, running at 500 mHz or faster. Mac compatibility includes OS 9.0.4 or later and OSX, running on a G3/233 mHz or faster processor. A USB port is required on either platform.

Sample format is 16 bit 44.1k , with 24 bit AD/DA converters. Internal processing is at 32 bit floating, with the effects section operating at 24 bit fixed. The VariOS will hold 128 samples, and has 46 meg internal RAM along with another 32 megs of flash memory. Virtual synths are first loaded from the computer, are then stored in the VariOS flash memory, and loaded from there for any subsequent use.

Although most control is taken care of with the V-Producer software, the rack unit does have several front panel controls. From left to right are Pitch, Time and Formant knobs, a two line LCD, Menu, Exit and cursor buttons, a value control for editing data, a volume knob, headphone jack, and finally, the power switch. Both the Value and Volume knobs are dual function, meaning they can be pressed as well. Additionally, there is a PC card slot on the front for storing data, allowing the VariOS to be used standalone in live situations, without a computer. The amount of storage depends on the PC card.

The rear of the unit sports the USB connector, Midi In/Out, digital outs on optical and coaxial, stereo auxilliary audio inputs on 1/4" jacks – for routing to the outputs and switchable mic/line, plus stereo main out and stereo direct out. Also on the rear is a standard three prong IEC power connector. More and more manufacturers are going to external wall warts, and I'm very happy to see Roland sticking with internal power supplies.

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

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