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Boss SY1000 mini review

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Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby arkieboy » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:10 pm

So those of you who are friends on facebook know I’ve had one of these since Friday last week. As there are still a few units left in the country from the first delivery I thought I ought to pass comment to help those who are pondering if they should consider buying one on the basis they will sell current gear to cover the cost.

If you can afford to just drop £1k on a SY + GK3 + cable, and you have no problem with a GK wart on your guitar, then go right ahead. It’s loads of fun!

What this isn’t

This isn’t a replacement for the Roland GR line. If you have a GR55/20/30/33/1/50 - the sample+synth based units - and you mainly use it for real instrument emulation then this isn’t the replacement with better tracking and better sounds you’re hoping for.

Similarly if you have a Fishman Tripleplay or an Axon AX unit this won’t be a straight replacement. I’m pretty pleased with the stability of the midi tracking of the SY but it isn’t as fast as my AX100MkII. I’ll be selling my AX but that’s because I mainly use it to trigger (virtual) analog synths which the SY covers =really= well.

If you have a VG88 then you’ll be as pleased as punch with the upgrade. The guitar modelling is vastly improved - especially noticeable in the acoustic guitars. Although incredibly useful live, the VG88 (and VG99) acoustic guitars never made you wonder if you hadn’t bought out your Faith/Takamine/mid range Yamaha by mistake. Whereas the SY just might.

If you have a VG99 its less definite. There are some things the ’99 can do that haven’t made it into SY land - I have a few patches I can’t quite transfer and the hold function isn’t as good. It turns out the wave synth still has a couple of tricks left up its sleeve, and I’m already considering budgeting for a EHX freeze pedal to put in the FX loop. Plus the low-fi nature of the ’99 is endearing, when you have a hi-fi alternative! So if you’re experimental/ambient you’d want to keep both units if you can because this isn’t exactly a VG1000. I can’t as it happens.

If you have a SY300 or a SY1 then the whole point of this is it is 6xSY300 wired individually to each string. If you’re not going to strap on a GK2/2a/3, retrofit a GK-Kit/Ghost/RMC piezo or pick up a second hand ‘Roland Ready’ guitar, then save your money.

What it is

Playing a lead sound on the dynamic synth is little short of a revelation. The dynamic synth takes the sound of the raw string and re-shapes the waveform, not into an acoustic guitar, or one of several easily recognisable electric guitars, but into one of several synth waveforms without audible delay. Provided you’re strings aren’t rattling over your fretboard - which causes glitching - the purity of the raw waveforms is the sort of thing you would expect from a Roland virtual analogue. Single and dual oscillators are supported within each of the three instrument slots - and super-saw - with a detune parameter when you select dual/supersaw. The envelope is picked up off the guitar string, but this still has modulation destinations with pitch, PWM, filter, amplifier. You have oscillator sync, 2 LFOs, 12/24 dB/Oct filters of several kinds including a Moog Ladder filter. 

And the ‘sequencer’ which is actually a step LFO. I have a bet with my son that I can emulate ‘Map of the Problematique’ in one patch which I’m confident of winning. Read the manual online if you want a full parameter list.

Taking the envelope from the guitar and the practically immediate tracking means you feel incredibly connected to the sound. Its a soloists dream.

For when you need more fine control over the envelope the OSC synth has your back. This is an internal pitch detection virtual analogue thing - the last time we had an analogue synth built into a Roland guitar synth it was the GR700 with its JX3P derived sound source, and its comprehensively blown out of the water by the SY. I know - I owned one.

I did hook up the unit to MainStage today and immediately got good results triggering samples for pads. So much so I thought ‘why not give a piano a whirl’ and blow me down if it didn’t immediately work too. Nicely it will act as your audio interface and you can route the return from your MacBook Pro to the main or sub outs down the very USB cable you are sending MIDI (what do you mean? There are other kinds of computers for music?!!) You won’t be doing fast licks on the bottom strings but it was stable and predictable and clean which means I’d be confident using it for the odd ballad kind of thing if I wasn’t blessed by DaveB’s wit and stories every other Sunday. But its there.

Finally it will also act as a guitar multiFX with amp modelling. Its not as comprehensive as my Helix, and I'd like a more powerful EQ or loadable IRs, but the shorter down time between presets means this box could probably do it all. If I could live with just the four patch change pedals that is. Its lovely and compact and ought to happily sit on a rack tray, but I need more than four patches freely accessible for one of my bands so it will probably live in the FX send return of my Helix. BTW it has an assignable mono send/return which you can use as a guitar out in this configuration.

One final observation - I think if you want to be an early adopter you probably want to be the sort of person who will happily head over to https://www.soundonsound.com/series/synth-secrets and lose a month working out how to apply it all to the SY-1000. Its hooked up to Boss tone studio so some day there will be all the killer presets you'll need if you're a player rather than a programmer. But as of today the presets aren't bad but they demonstrate the =wow= features rather than build out a solid basis for performance and composition. I made a pretty passable Vox Humana preset today in the OSC synth and I'm going to have a lot of fun getting to grips with the synths in here. But that's not for everyone.

I’m interested to see what Paul W makes of it in the magazine, but for me, this is the guitar synth I’ve been waiting 30 years for.
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby Wonks » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:56 pm

Thanks for that, Steve. You'll be able to demonstrate it for me in person in a couple of weeks or so!
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby 2pods » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:22 am

Nice review Steve.
I've only just finished going through the guitar mode patches. I'm well pleased.

Time to put the GK3B on the bass and try that out now.
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby John Egan » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:37 am

Sounds like very nice piece of kit. Mind you, I'm pretty happy with my Godin ACS connected to a very old Roland pitch to MIDI converter from Soho Soundhouse. It tracks very well, and I can use it to trigger any synth plugin or module. It's a setup I bought more than ten years ago. It,s a great help to someone like me with negligible keyboard skills.
Regards, John
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby zenguitar » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:46 am

You got me searching for UK dealers and considering.

Just managed to resist. I have a Peavey 6 string bass that belonged to my late brother that I fitted a GK3B pick-up to (on an SOS stand at Analogue To Digital in Exeter many years ago now) and an Axon AX50. But so far no guitar with a GK pick-up.

In the medium term I need to get a workshop up and running first, finish a couple of projects, and then a Strat with a Ghost Hexaphonic pick-up is on the agenda. Pretty sure the SY1000 will still be available (new or second hand) or an updated version, when I am ready to treat myself to another synth guitar.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby Forum Admin » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:52 am

FYI, there's a full SY1000 review in the upcoming (at the time of writing this) APRIL 2020 Sound On Sound.

Should be on the website by 19 March. See https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/boss-sy-1000
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby Wonks » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:29 am

Forum Admin wrote:FYI, there's a full SY1000 review in the upcoming (at the time of writing this) APRIL 2020 Sound On Sound.

Should be on the website by 19 March.

April edition, eh? Not falling for that! ;)
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby arkieboy » Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:52 pm

zenguitar wrote:You got me searching for UK dealers and considering.

Just managed to resist. I have a Peavey 6 string bass that belonged to my late brother that I fitted a GK3B pick-up to (on an SOS stand at Analogue To Digital in Exeter many years ago now) and an Axon AX50. But so far no guitar with a GK pick-up.

In the medium term I need to get a workshop up and running first, finish a couple of projects, and then a Strat with a Ghost Hexaphonic pick-up is on the agenda. Pretty sure the SY1000 will still be available (new or second hand) or an updated version, when I am ready to treat myself to another synth guitar.

Andy :beamup:

You do know it has a bass mode ... ;-)

Dynamic synth on bass - no pesky physics to get in the way. Dynamic synth on fretless bass - what might that be like?
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby Forum Admin » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:33 pm

Wonks wrote:
Forum Admin wrote:FYI, there's a full SY1000 review in the upcoming (at the time of writing this) APRIL 2020 Sound On Sound.

Should be on the website by 19 March.

April edition, eh? Not falling for that! ;)

And it's written by Monsieur Paul White too; he of Fool's Day infamy. But in a nutshell he thinks it's the best tracking on any Boss/Roland guitar synth system he's used - and believe me PW has owned almost all of them. He loves geetar symphs. :thumbup:
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby zenguitar » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:59 pm

Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!!!

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby BJG145 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:04 pm

It sounds great...but I'm afraid it would make the die-hards at the Norfolk Blues Society hate me even more. :(
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby arkieboy » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:35 pm

Apologies - I forgot the Boss GP10.

As far as I can tell the best advice I can give you is go sell a kidney right now. Completely supersedes your unit.
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby BobTheDog » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:58 am

Anyone seen these for sale anywhere?

PMT seem to have one but I have had a run in with them before so would prefer not to deal with them.
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby Wonks » Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:33 pm

Andertons sell them but have no stock. I'd imagine that CV19 is hitting the factories and supply chains hard everywhere.
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Re: Boss SY1000 mini review

Postby BobTheDog » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:17 pm

Thanks Wonks.

I should have got one before the SOS review came out!
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