RE: System 100M vs System 700 (and System-100)

From mikekent
Sent Wed, Dec 20th 1995, 23:11

bzzzt robot blrrrt <> said in a mechanical voice created by
running a P5 (better than P600) with polymod FM to VCF through a Phlanger
and Voco(r)der:

>I've been mulling over the possible differences between the 700 modules
>and the 100M modules.  Does anybody out there have first hand experience
>with the 700 vs. the 100M? ... (text deleted here)
>I'm talking features and
>audible differences between the oscs and filters etc. ... (text deleted here)
>Also where does the System 100 fit into the picture? ... (text deleted here)
>I wonder why Roland varied their line of gear where US
>companies tended to have a basic lineup of modules and then offered
>different configurations of those modules.

I have briefly used a System-700 (the big, complete configuration). I own a
small System-100m, and a complete System-100.

Why did Roland make the different models? This is my educated guess:
   The System-700 was Roland's first modular. It's design concept was
similar to other modulars of the mid 70s. It was big and expensive. These
big budget modulars were generally only affordable to wealthy musicians,
big studios, and universities.
   Then Roland decided to add a model at a lower cost for school sound labs
and slightly less wealthy musicians. The System-100 was designed to provide
a cost effective access to some modular type patching. Roland also had
completely hardwired synths in the early SH-Series (SH-1000, SH-5, etc.).
   Later Roland introduced the System-100m as a more cost effective system
that was completely modular. Smaller in size than System-700, it uses less
raw materials to manufacture and also saves costs in shipping. The newer
technology and/or curcuit design of System-100M also helped lower the
   The System-100m eventually replaced both the System-700 and System-100
in the marketplace because of its cost/performance ratio.

How do they sound and perform?
   The System-700 I used was monstrous in sound, but the one I used was the
complete configuration. I ran out of patch cords long before I ran out of
ideas. I only got to play with it for a few hours.  Too many VCOs to use
them all in that short time. Having this many modules made it possible to
create sounds which can't be compared to any other synths except other big
modulars. I've never used any other modular of this size, the closest was a
Moog 15 which is configured to be not much more than a modular minimoog
(which is cool enough in itself but not the same as a huge modular).
   The System-100m sounds very different from the System-700. Unfortunately
I only have a small System-100m so, of course, you can't really compare my
experience with the full System-700 against it. But the System-100m does
have a different sound. How do you put a sound into words? I guess the
System-100m sounds more like other Roland synths such as the later
SH-Series (SH-09, SH-02, SH-101). I general use mine in unison with my
Pro-One and Juno2 (w/programmer) running into it as one big monosynth. This
gets me close to some of the power of a large modular.
   A complete System-100 is one of my most recently acquired synths
(keyboard, expander, sequencer, mixer and speakers). I quickly came to love
it. It has a unique sound that is definitely retro. Sometimes cheesy (the
spring reverb in the mixer spreads cheesewiz on anything) but sometimes
really huge or cutting. Some of the hardwired connections don't suit my
wants. The routing of EG is too fixed; I wish I could simply open the VCA
with a gate to save the EG for VCF only. When ever you use S/H the clock
always triggers the EG on the expander, I wish I could selectively defeat
this. A couple of small modifications should look after these limitations
in the near future.

  Each has its own sound because of unique designs to meet the evolving
marketing efforts.

  The synths on my most wanted list are more System-100m modules and then a
System-700. But I don't know how I'll ever afford them now...

Mike Kent.

........  ........