RE: mod wheel

From mikekent
Sent Mon, Sep 9th 1996, 22:29

>Which is why I find curious, Roland, the kings of analogue synths, only have
>a switch instead of an actual mod wheel. Jeez even some of their old
>analogues only had a button. SH3 springs to mind. I wouldn't say this was
>the most ingenious marketing tool I've ever seen. Certainly put me off
>Roland for life. Well except for the SH-5. Well Ok it doesn't have a mod
>wheel but it does have a knob.

This is my own opinion, NOT an offical response from Roland (many of you
already know that I work for Roland). I have used many synths, including a
number of moogs with wheels, and I prefer Roland's controllers.

Throughout the evolution of synths everyone has tried to offer unique
controllers. Moog had wheels, Arp had their PPC pad, Oberheim tried their
reverse (IMO) benders, some companies have used spring loaded benders to
return to zero automatically, some have used joysticks, etc. Moog even had
a sideways mounted wheel on the Sonic-6 I own, the Nordlead has its own
stick, and the Prophecy has its log. There have been all kinds of
variations of ribbon, pedals, pressure sensors, and numerous other examples
of unique controllers. Wheels are good but not necessarily always the best

Low Budget synths have often been less generous in features including
modulation controllers. Today Roland is seen by some people as, quoting
you, "the kings of analogue synths". However, many of the synths that are
now part of today's analogue retro-revoution were low budget models
(including your example of SH-3, SH-101 is also a prime example). A button
was seen as a good compromise between some more costly controller (ribbon,
wheel, etc.) and no controller at all.

Roland has felt that their sideways bender lever was the most natural, and
has tried different ways to offer bender and modulation close enough
together to be controlled simultaneously with one hand. The latest version,
such as on the XP-50/XP-80/A-90 is excellent, sideways bender and
rotatation forwards for modulation, kind of like a spring loaded joystick,
it feels really great to me and offers great control. I invite you to try
the latest improvements.

>Even their MIDI controller keyboards only have a switch

Maybe you missed some models. Roland's professional master controller
keyboards for the last 6-8 years (A-50, A-80, and the new A-90) have
featured classic Roland controls AND two wheels.

>I don't get roland's philosophy. So they make a real beaute sounding synth.
>Then they strip off any control you might have over it.
>Then they change
>their mind and give it back in the form of a PG XXXX controller.

Most people never programmed their own sounds, never used the knobs. Roland
was forced to remove the expense of all of those knobs to remain
competitive when other companies removed the knobs and the bulk of
customers stopped paying the extra price for models with knobs.

Programmers are for those of us who know better and use the knobs. How many
other companies offered something? Most companies just ignored the problem
and only offered menu systems.

I hope this makes Roland's decisions make a little more sense and puts them
in perspective. I look forward to even more variations of real time editing
control and modulation controllers in the future.


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