“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” crooned Andy Williams, but we have a feeling that Mr. Williams didn’t have to worry about buying gifts for the musicians in his life. Otherwise he may have been singing a different tune. Such is the jam of this consumerist world we live in, there’s just so much choice.
What if everything you needed was under one roof, but that roof had just the things you were looking for and not an endless number of light bulbs or 1000s of different types of washing detergent? Well, we only have to look as far as Boss and Roland’s current product lineup to see that there is something nifty for practically every musician. Whether you’re shopping for a saxophonist, drummer, guitarist, DJ, pianist, touring musician or producer, the Japanese giant has got your Christmas list all sewn up.
In this Holiday gift guide we have cherry-picked the best that Roland and Boss has to offer for that very special musical creative in your life.
Aerophone ($829.99, €874.00, £769.00) and Aerophone GO ($499.99, €499.00, £439.00)
Announced in a whirlwind launch back in 2016, that also included over 30 other products, the Aerophone AE-10 digital wind instrument was followed, earlier this year, by the smaller and more portable Aerophone GO.
While it may support traditional sax fingering, the AE-10 also features over 100 high-quality sound models (66 new ones added with its 3.0 update) including soprano and baritone sax, clarinet, trumpet, string instruments, and an array of expressive synth sounds. Plus there’s an Aerophone Editor app that dials you in further with customizable sounds and more.
In contrast, the Aerophone GO is Bluetooth compatible, which enables you to connect it to a mobile device and use the Aerophone GO Plus and Aerophone GO Ensemble apps. This Plus app allows you to play along with your favourite songs and offers various learning aids, and also features 50 additional sounds while the ensemble app allows up to seven Aerophone GO players to perform together wirelessly—think classrooms, street performances and impromptu jamming.
Read more: Aerophone AE-10
Read more: Aerophone GO
TD-1DMK V-Drums ($699.99, €699.00, £615.00)
For the vast number of electronic drum kits that Roland makes, it’s perhaps the entry-level editions that capture the imagination the most. The latest model isn’t just aimed at beginners, but also a gateway for many skill-levels into the world of V-Drums. If you’re planning on buying any type of electronic kit this Christmas, then it has to be this one.
Very much a plug-and-play beast, the kit offers 15 preset kits and multiple onboard coaching modes, most of which are designed with timing and feel in mind. You'll also be able to connect to a windows/mac Melodics app, which offers free, progressive play-along lessons.
The all mesh-head kit is also being pitched as quieter than its competitors for a harmonious home life, and lightweight enough to move around the house, weighing just under 18kg.
Read more: TD-1DMK V-Drums
Boss Katana amps (complete range) ($99.99 - $599.99; €114.00 - €629.00; £100.00 - £554.00)
Made up of three affordable combos and a head; the Katana-50, Katana-100, Katana-100/212 and the 100W Katana-Head, each amp boasts five channels and 55 built-in effects, plus Power Control to lower the various wattages and replicate tones at a range of volume levels.
Boss has since added to the range with what was billed as the world’s first fully wireless guitar amplifier (no cable and no power cord), the Katana-Air, which, among many things, can provide 12 hours of playing time on a single charge, while a motion sensor switches it on and off depending on whether the guitar is being played - clever stuff.
The Boss Katana Mini produces a big sound despite its small size, and offers impressive control over your tone. Thanks to its speaker-emulated output, it's ready for direct recording and silent practice, too. A 3-band EQ allows you to shape your sound with bass, middle, and treble controls. It also comes with a built-in delay effects section, and is perfect for adding a sense of space to lead tones.
Another addition is the pro-level Katana Artist-100 which is the new flagship for the range, built in a semi-closed cabinet around a premium 12-inch Waza speaker, inspired by the benchmark 25-watt British stack speaker from the 1960s.
Given its aggressive pricing, the Katana line marks a serious statement of intent from Boss, and one whose functionality seems squarely aimed at taking on Blackstar, Marshall and co in the affordable do-all amp sector.
Read more: Boss Katana amps
GO:Mixer ($99.99, €104.00, £92.00) and GO:Mixer Pro ($169.99, €169.00, £149.00)
The GO:Mixer and GO:Mixer Pro are little audio swiss army knives for your smartphone. Both models provide a plethora of I/O options. Basically, if you’re recording any audio with your smartphone videos, you need these.
The Pro edition ups the ante by adding onboard power from a couple of AA batteries and raises the input count to a jaw-dropping nine inputs, which is rather impressive for a smartphone audio mixer at this price.
Read more: GO:Mixer
Read more: GO:Mixer Pro
SPD::ONE Line ($199.99 - $249.99; €244.00 - €294.00; £215.00 - 259.00)
Designed for use by guitarists, singers, DJs and producers as well as drummers, the SPD::ONE pads come in four flavours: Electro, Kick, Percussion and WAV Pad. All models use USB-MIDI for recording rhythms and triggering sounds, can be run from power supplies or batteries, and operate on tabletops or floors - they can be clamped to drum or mic stands using included mounting hardware, too.
The Electro contains 22 iconic sounds, including fat snares, crisp hand claps, electronic cowbells and more, plus you can even import your own original audio data into one of the 12 internal sound banks.
The Kick comes with 22 realistic percussion sounds, including classic kick drums, claps, shakers, claves and more. It also features the same ability to import your own original audio data into one of the 12 internal sound banks.
The Percussion pad, again, has 22 realistic percussion sounds, including kick drums, stomp box, shakers, cowbells and the same User slot as above.
The WAV pad mixes things up a bit by allowing you to import audio files, be they full-length backing tracks or one-shot samples. Your sounds can be loaded and played in seconds.
Read more: SPD::ONE Electro
Read more: SPD::ONE Kick
Read more: SPD::ONE Percussion
Check out the five-star MusicRadar review of Roland SPD::ONE Percussion Pads
Read more: SPD::ONE WAV Pad
DJ-202 ($299.99, €314.00, £276.00)
Propping up the whole Serato controller range is the new DJ-202, which takes the two-channel, four-deck approach of the DJ-505 and further condenses the package to focus on compatibility with the Serato DJ Intro software in a more portable chassis. Think of house parties, beat battles, and club rocking with easy access to Roland’s legacy drum machines and slick vocal effects.
The DJ-202 includes large, low-latency platters, dedicated pad and transport controls, onboard sequencer, mic input with professional vocal FX and Roland claims the DJ-202 packs in the most features of any controller in its class. Your niece or nephew may be able to fund your retirement with this but you’ll end up keeping it for yourself anyway.
Read more: DJ-202
JD-Xi ($499, €524.00, £461.00)
With its unique crossover sound engine, the JD-Xi provides the best of both worlds: the warm, smooth response of classic analogue, and the clarity and versatility of modern digital synthesis.
The monophonic analogue synth section features saw, triangle, and square waveforms with pulse-width modulation and an analogue filter, plus an independent sub oscillator for low-end power.
Two digital synth sections offer a wide range of high-quality SuperNATURAL synth tones, including pads, strings, electric piano, sound effects, and many others.
And what better way to close out a holiday evening with chocolate wine and socks that sing from your great aunt Judy than with the JD-Xi’s goose neck mic, Vocoder and Auto Pitch.
Read more: Roland JD-Xi
Read the five-star MusicRadar review of the Roland JD-Xi
Entry level pianos FP-30, RP102, RP-30 ($899.99 - $1199.99; €649.00 - €944.00; £571.00 - £831.00)
When choosing a piano, it’s essential to find an instrument that suits your lifestyle, budget, and space. The Roland FP-30, RP102 and RP-30 deliver on all fronts, combining authentic piano performance and onboard practice features in a compact and affordable design.
Whether you’re looking for something portable, features Bluetooth connectivity, or will help you develop as a player, all three models have something for you.
Read more: FP-30
Read more: RP102
Read more: RP-30
Roland Boutique ($199.99 - $749.99; €64.00 - €509.00; £56.00 - £448.00)
Roland’s Boutique range hit the ground with a bang; three legendary Roland synths (Jupiter, Juno and JX) all condensed into portable desktop modules, featuring the very latest tech in the form of Advanced Circuit Behaviour (ACB). They looked and sounded great, so why stop there?
Thankfully Roland didn’t and has since released a slew of Boutique models including reworks of the classic TB-303, TR-808 and TR-909. More recently, it has teamed up with Studio Electronics to produce the first all-analogue model into the range, the SE-02. And has since followed that up with possibly our favourite of them all, the D-05, a reinvention of the hugely popular D-50.
Read more: Roland Boutique
Read the four-and-a-half stars MusicRadar review of the Roland Boutique D-O5.
Check out the four-star MusicRadar review of the Roland Boutique TR-08.
Read the four-star MusicRadar review of the Roland Boutique SH-01 .
Check out the four-and-a-half stars MusicRadar review of the Roland SE-02.
Roland R-07 ($229.99, €244.00, £215.00)
While smartphones are able to record audio, you wouldn’t trust one to capture the best quality recordings possible on-the-fly, so let the R-07 do all the heavy lifting for you. Although, your smartphone can still get in on the party as it’s able to connect to the R-07, equipped with wireless listening and remote control functionality.
The R-07 packs mission-critical recording features into a stylish and ultra-portable device that goes anywhere life takes you. High-resolution audio, one-touch Scene memory, and Hybrid Limiting ensure great sounding recordings no matter what the situation.
Find out more here about the R-07 packs.
Boss RC Loopers RC-1 ($69.99, €104, £92); RC-3 ($189.99, €159, £140)
Since the RC-20 Loop Station was first released in 2001, Boss has led the way by continually releasing new looping products. Though they’ve been used and enjoyed by various looping artists and performers, Boss still pursued an easier and more affordable solution.
The RC-1 is a straightforward looper that is easy to operate. Experience the fun of looping when you record, playback, overdub, and undo or redo loops using this compact Boss stompbox.
The RC-3 is powerfully equipped yet conveniently housed in a compact pedal. Enjoy up to three hours of stereo recording time, storage for 99 loops, a “real drums” rhythm guide, and USB 2.0 compatibility all in a small Boss stompbox.
Read more: Loop Station
Read more: RC-1
Read more: RC-3