The Integra 7 might at first glance seem to be a Jupiter in rack form, but it turns out there’s more to it than that — much, much more...
Based upon the XV5080 rackmount synth, the Roland Fantom X family (launched in 2004) was both a critical and a commercial success, due in no small part to the immense range of sounds that could be wrung from its capacious ROM and SRX expansion boards. Four years later, the company released the Fantom G series and, at first sight, this appeared to be the next big thing. But first sights can be deceiving. The new models couldn’t host SRX boards and Roland released just three of its new ARX boards, covering nowt but drums, electric pianos and brass. Consequently, I have every sympathy with owners who, had they been able to afford the criminal record, might have propelled their Fantom Gs through the windows at Roland UK.
The next, seemingly unrelated, chapter in this story occurred when Roland launched the Jupiter 80, a synth based in large part upon the company’s new Supernatural physical modelling technologies. But, despite modest success, neither this nor the more recent Jupiter 50 took the world by storm, so I was rather underwhelmed when I heard that Roland were to release a Supernatural synth module. Happily, that proved to be a misjudgment because, as we shall now see, the Integra 7 will be of huge interest to XV and Fantom owners, as well as to players wanting to get their hands on a rackmount Jupiter.
Although it looks complex, the Integra 7 actually comprises just two distinct synthesizers. The first is a Supernatural synth derived and expanded from the new Jupiters. As shipped, this offers 256 Supernatural Acoustic Tones and 1109 Supernatural Synth Tones, 26 Supernatural Drum kits, and six ‘virtual’ expansion boards — five containing a total of 108 additional Supernatural Acoustic sounds, and one with seven additional effects for the Supernatural Drums. The second is a PCM-based synth derived from the XV5080, and this includes all 896 of the XV’s preset patches, all of its drum kits, plus 12 of its 14 SRX boards and a high-resolution GM2 expansion pack with 512 additional PCM-based sounds.
To integrate all of this into a coherent whole, the Integra 7 eschews Roland’s traditional Patch/Performance architecture in favour of something called a Studio Set, which is a multitimbral setup offering 16 Parts plus an external audio input. With the exception of a Drum Kit Part (which offers additional compression and EQ effects) each Part comprises a Tone (ie. a patch from one of the synth engines), an MFX effects unit, and a dedicated EQ. The patches are editable within their usual constraints and, once assigned to a Part, they can be further modified to determine their levels, pitches, pans, key ranges, the MIDI channels to which they will respond, and so on. The outputs from the Parts are then mixed before the whole shebang is sent to Roland’s standard chorus/reverb architecture or to the new Motional Surround effect (see box) and, finally, to a global EQ.