Roland’s Zenology plugin brings its “most advanced sound engine ever” to your DAW, and promises seamless compatibility between software and hardware

Having started Roland Cloud, its plugin subscription service, almost as a side project, it’s clear that Roland now sees software as a key part of its business, and several new announcements today reflect that. There’s a new software synth, Zenology, and changes to the way that Roland Cloud is paid for and presented.

Zenology is described as “an expandable plugin version of the Roland ZEN-Core Synthesis System for macOS and Windows”. Based on five decades’ worth of synth design, it includes analogue, analogue modelling, digital and combined analogue/digital engines, and introduces seamless compatibility between software and hardware.

Zenology includes thousands of sounds, all of which can be navigated from a simple browser which enables you to organise, share and import them. Crucially, there’s also compatibility with a range of Roland hardware - Fantom, Jupiter-X and RD-88, for example - meaning that sounds can be shared between the plugin and your ‘real’ instruments.

Roland Zenology

(Image credit: Roland)

We’re told that Zenology is set to evolve into a “sound designer’s dream”, with deep editing capabilities and new synth engine Model Expansions. Based on Roland’s Analog Behavior Modelling, these will include the likes of the Jupiter-8, Juno-106, SH-101 and JX-8P. The Pro version of Zenology, meanwhile - scheduled for release later this year - will include multiple synthesis types, a deep modulation matrix, and eight tempo-syncing step-LFOs.

The launch of Zenology also heralds a change to the way that Roland Cloud is paid for. Whereas previously, there was one price for everything, there’s now a tiered membership structure:

Roland Cloud Core Membership (USD $29.99/year or $2.99/month)
Core membership unlocks Zenology featuring over 3,000 tones, 80 drum kits, and full access to all ZEN-Core Sound Packs and Wave Expansions.

Roland Cloud Pro Membership (USD $99/year or $9.99/month)
Pro membership unlocks forthcoming Zenology Pro with full access to ZEN-Core’s full editing capabilities and Model Expansions, and unlocks the D-50 and TR-808 plugins. 

Roland Cloud Ultimate Membership (USD $199/year or $19.99/month)
Ultimate membership unlocks forthcoming Zenology Pro PLUS unlimited access to all other Roland Cloud plugins.

Roland Cloud is now being moved to the main website, and to use it you’ll need a free Roland account. You can then sign up inside the Roland Cloud Manager; free account holders can access the free Zenology Lite software synth, which includes 176 tones and six drum kits.

Those who aren’t keen on the subscription model can also choose to purchase Lifetime Keys: these give you full access to the Roland software instrument (or instruments) of your choice for as long as your Roland account is active, with free ongoing updates included.

Find out more and start exploring on the Roland website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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