Roland have recreated their classic vocoder at a fraction of the cost — and size.
There was a fair amount of cynicism expressed when Roland announced their diminutive, virtual analogue Boutique modules in 2015 but, when I reviewed the JX03, JU06 and JP08, I was impressed. If you could live with four-note polyphony, or could justify buying two of each flavour, they were attractive propositions. More recently, Roland released the TB03 and TR09, which I’ve not tried and, as regular readers will be aware, don’t particularly interest me. But as for the sixth in the series... I was very keen to get my hands on this because, if it accurately recreates the sound and facilities of the venerable VP330, it’s going to make a lot of people very happy.
To understand my enthusiasm, you have to understand that, in the late ’70s, vocoders were either rare and expensive (Moog, EMS, Sennheiser) or more affordable but lower quality (the Korg VC10). All that changed in 1979 when Roland released the VP330, which was rapidly adopted across all genres by users ranging from 10cc to Genesis, Mike Oldfield and Queen, to Vince Clark and John Foxx, to Kitaro, Tomita and, perhaps most famously, Vangelis. But it wasn’t just for its excellent vocoding that the VP330 was craved. Although its string ensemble sound was limited to just one footage, a paraphonic ASR contour and a tone control, it sounded just...
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