Roland Promars Plug out Synthesizer Review
by Matt Jessup
During the 1980's, if you were anyone, you would have been stood behind a Roland Synthesizer. Depeche Mode's Vince Clarke, with his Jupiter 4. Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes behind a Jupiter 4 and Jupiter 8. Howard Jones, Gary Numan, The Human League, the list is endless, Roland's flagship machines were everywhere. Every Thursday night you would be guaranteed a glimpse of the Jupiter 8 on Top of The Pops.
Me personally, I owned a Jupiter 6 for 12 years. I played it until it fell apart, unlike my beloved Jupiter 4 who suffered a horrible death at the hands of a mug of Coffee, dropped by me, onto the keys, thus filling up the inside,,,,,,lights out. I never got over it and I still miss it after all these years. Which brings me to the subject at hand. The re-issue of the wonderful Promars..
Out of the Box
At first glance, Promars looks very similar to the JP4, and you would be forgiven for thinking that it's just a Monophonic version of the 4. It is, very similar but definitely not! a smaller version.
3 FX controls. Reverb. Delay, and Time. These adjust the level of the effects and the delay time. both the Reverb & Delay are very useful and of nice quality.The delay boasting a nice long time setting, enabling great flexibility for creating more complex sequences while playing fewer notes. All 3 controls are layed out in the same position and set to match the FX controls on the panel of the Aira System 1 synth.
I could waffle on for pages about controls, Tech & Spec. My guess is, you heard it all before & would be yawning away by the second paragraph. That said, lets focus on what the Promars does, and not why.
On the Control Panel
Equipped with 2 oscillators and a choice of Sub, the Promars is a very powerful synth, capable of fat, (and I mean VERY FAT) low end chunky bass and soaring fat lead sounds. PWM is wonderfully "Thick and full" sounding, as you would expect from as early Roland classic. The 2 Oscillators have separate pitch and fine tune controls ,just a slight adjustment of these and the Promars belts out some of the most massive & hair raising sounds I have heard in decades.
so what if it's monophonic, it sounds awesome.,
No Sub menus..No sub screens. it does exactly what it says on the tin. All controls are on the front panel
2 separate ADSR envelopes for Amp & Filter and a slider to adjust between filter types (nice touch) and she self oscillates.
LFO is very flexible too, boasting a rate that can be set so fast that it simulates Ring modulation Bell, Metallic bangs, scrapes and clangs
PW can be assigned to ADSR envelope, A function I'm always pleased to find present on any synth.
No phasing of notes triggering artificial sampled waveforms . Promars is 100% authentic. and sound brilliant from the moment you open it up . It looks good too.
Slight panic and frustration with no apparent sign yet of the famous Roland Random arpeggiator. but..maybe with so many variations available from the Aira control panel, I just haven't found it yet.
To summarize then, it looks like an early Roland classic. It sounds like an early Roland classic. Nicely laid out, simple, fun & exciting to use. Most importantly, the Roland Promars sounds fantastic. Also compatable on the new ROLAND SYSTEM-1M SEMI MODULAR SYNTHESIZER MODULE which will be released in June 2015.
My Verdict & Rating
5 stars - If you let this one pass you by, you WILL kick yourself.
Audio Demo 1 Promars Fat 5th Patch
PWM dual Osc tuned apart at 5th interval demonstrates how fat the Promars can sound.
Audio Demo 2. Multi track.
Demonstrating the Promars Arpeggiator. (feat XLN Audio Addictive Drums)
all Patches by Matt Jessup