Roland AIRA Compact Series: T-8 beat machine, J-6 chord synth & E-4 voice tweaker

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Roland intros new battery-powered AIRA Compact Series with the T-8 beat machine, J-6 chord synth, and E-4 voice tweaker, each for $199,99 USD.

Compact synthesizers and drum machines are very popular. They are portable, fit in every backpack, are often feature-rich, and are very affordable. Especially perfect for mobile battery-powered setups or small studios. The pioneer of the mini synths was Korg with his Volcas. Modal later came with its powerful mini digital synths and soon there will be a lot more of them from Behringer.

Roland now also dares in the mini Synthesizer field with the new AIRA Compact Series. Attention: this news is not labeled as Superbooth 22 News as Roland will not have a physical booth at SB 22.

Roland AIRA Compact Series

Roland AIRA Compact Series

The Roland AIRA series has risen from the dead. Okay, almost dead. The series was quiet for a long time. now it’s back in compact form with three new products: the T-8 beat machine, J-6 chord Synthesizer, and the E-4 voice tweaker.  Or should I just describe them as “Rolcas”. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw these new Roland boxes.

AIRA Compact Series is based on the voice technology of the TR rhythms, TB basses, JUNO synths, VT effects, and more. Roland promises a perfect balance between portability and power. All three units share many key features: they are driven by Analog Circuit Behaviour (ACB), not ABM like the ZEN-Core engine, has built-in lithium-ion batteries, and give you handy interface options.

You can mix from one master unit multiple AIRA compacts and monitored them with headphones or an external speaker systems. They also give you interface options with DAWs, mobile music apps, and hardware instruments via USB-C, MIDI in/out, and sync in/out.

Roland AIRA Compact Series

Roland T-8 Beat Machine

The T-8 beat machine combines the sounds of the iconic Roland TR- drum machines and TB-303 bassline Synthesizer in a portable device. It features six drum tracks that can be filled with sounds from the TR-808, TR-909, and TR-606 using the classic TR-REC workflow.

It also comes with creative features from the big brothers like step loop, pattern shift, probability, shuffle, and more for creating evolving grooves.

Roland T-8 beat machine

Then, these are joined by an authentic TB-303 bassline recreation with controls for pitch, decay envelope, cutoff, resonance, and more.  The 16 keys are used to program the drum tracks, the synth part, as well for guiding through deeper functions. Plus, you get a delay and reverb to refine your sounds.

Roland J-6 Chord Synthesizer

The J-6 Synthesizer is based on an ACB-powered emulation of the iconic JUNO-60 Synthesizer paired with a powerful chord sequencer. The synth engine (4 chords) offers hands-on controls for the filter and envelope. There are no knobs for the oscillator. Also here, you find a delay and reverb with dedicated knobs to polish the sound.

Roland J-6 Chord Synthesizer

For this synth, however, you don’t need to go into the harmony or chord lessons. It comes with 100 built-in ready-to-use chords sets. They allow you to create chord progressions with a one-touch press on the built-in keyboard.

The latter is also made for menu diving and activating sequencer functions including shuffle, last, clear, and more. There are also different styles and variations onboard that invite you to create catchy dancing lines and rhythmic patterns.

Roland E-4 Voice Tweaker

Third and last device is the Roland E-4 Voice Tweaker. It’s basically the baby of the Roland AIRA VT-4 voice transformer. It combines advanced voice transformer tools and classic vocal effects with a hands-on interface. The E-4 has a mic input, hopefully also compatible with line-level, where the signal goes straight into a looper with up to 24 seconds of loop time. From here, you can start manipulating your signals.

Roland E-7 Voice Tweaker

The E-4 has sliders for shaping the pitch and formant of your voice. Then, it comes with the beloved AIRA scatter functions controllable with a big center knob. On the effects side, you can play with an auto-pitch, harmony, and vocoder effects. A reverb, delay, and other effects are onboard to polish your sounds.

According to Roland, the E-4 is suitable for traditional vocal enhancements, punchy beatboxed grooves to crazy alien soundscapes. Of course, you can also turn your voice into the “We Are The Robots” voices, and more.

First Impression

The “Rolcas” look very interesting. I really like that Roland did a lot of things right with their AIRA Compact Series, especially on the connection side (MIDI in/out, USB-C, internal battery). I’m curious how versatile they really are and whether there are editors for possible hidden features.

The new Roland AIRA Compact series (T-8, J-6, and E-4) is available now for $199,99 USD each.

More information here: Roland 

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  1. Electronic garbage! Stripped-down cheap junk, I will not buy them, although I own a Roland MX-1. Hey Roland and Novation, go away with your built-in lithium-ion batteries! And take a look at KORG while you are leaving, they offer some innovation and also let me use my own replaceable batteries.

  2. E4 looks cool. Something Ive been looking for for a while is a looper with simple clock sync! Could be a nice solution with extra effects :V

  3. At first glance, I was hoping that vocal processor was a mixer/FX unit. The E-4 is similar to a product they already have out! If Roland is bringing Aira back, bring back Aira Modular. Just a single, completely customizable eurorack module.

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