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The only instrument on the list still in production, Roland’s V-Synth is, as its name implies, sold as a synthesizer, rather than a sampler. In truth, it’s a little of both. It combines a couple of different synthesis techniques, including the same analogue modelling found in Roland’s SH-201. This is coupled with a sophisticated and, it must be said, relatively unusual take on sample-playback.
Like many modern ROMplers, the V-Synth comes with loads of familiar samples that are used as the basis for the various preset patches. However, the V-Synth parts company with most ROMplers in that it allows the user to overwrite the entire factory sample set. These samples can be combined with the analogue modelling engine and spat through the COSM-based filters and effects. All the usual synthesis functions are present and accounted for and well, it really doesn’t sound that unique, does it? No, not until you take a hard look at what Roland’s sample-playback technology can do with your samples.
Y’see, some time back, Roland had a bit of a fumble with its high-priced VP-9000. This was the instrument that introduced the company’s tim-stretching-pitch-shifting sample manipulatin’ VariPhrase technology. While the promise of altering a sample’s tempo without affecting its pitch is now old-hat, back in 2001, it was rarely seen on a dedicated hardware unit. Unfortunately, the price (over 3k!) of the VP-9000 seemed kinda steep for a one-trick pony.
However, that same technology, when seen as part of a more versatile instrument makes a lot of sense. Especially if said instrument has hi-falutin’ performance doodads like a pair of D-Beam controllers or the Time Trip touchpad that can be used to 'play' the sample manipulation in real-time.
The V-Synth is a different take on sampling. If you want to stack up 127 velocity-layered drum hits or create a meticulously multi-sampled piano patch, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. However, if you want to lob in some samples and then render them utterly unrecognizable, then V-Synth is your boy.