February 22, 2012

Roland SPV-355 Review

I seem to have gotten a little off topic lately (though, what is the topic really?), and what better way to get back on than a good, old fashion instrument review?

I was really excited to get one of these. It seemed like the perfect little thing; a two oscillator, voltage controlled Roland Synthesizer. Well, it is that but not quite like I'd expected. The main thing I dislike about this synth is that the ADSR has been reduced to an ADS (didn't realize how crazy that looked till I typed it out!). So you have attack, decay and sustain but no release. It was meant to be the sort of synthesizer you controlled with other instruments; so besides the normal cv and gate ins and outs you also have an audio input and a little switch to select between voice, guitar and brass. The envelope follower is fine, and indeed -- if you have something with some release plugged into it you'll get that release that's missing. But the pitch to cv converter is pretty dodgy at best; not worth wasting any time on I don't think.

There's also no LFO, which is fine... I think that perhaps Roland tried to make this unit something interesting and in the process forgot about some of the basics. I suppose I should spend some more time with it though before judging it so harshly. On the up side: it looks beautiful and if you don't mind working around it's flaws is quite nice to have around, if not for practicality then for morale. I guess what it boils down to is that I just wish it was a rack-mounted SH-09 (which unfortunately does not exist).

Roland SH-09: Simple, Timeless, Elegant, Intuitive, Approchable.


  1. Interesting little rack synth. I suppose each has its own charm, aka quirks.

    ADSR... you could name a song that. Or have a band called Sustained Release.

  2. Hm..no Release is a shame. Generally my Attack and Release are all the way up. Since usually the most distinguishable part of any sound is the attack, it's fun to remove it entirely. Slightly ambiguous and lush noise. I guess that synth will be best for staccato lines. Plus, sometimes limitations (with instruments or otherwise) can challenge ones perception and open new doors.

  3. I completely agree! I'm hoping after I spend a little more time with this it will open some doors, free my mind, expand my horizons. I'm mostly trying to use it is a second oscillator for my SH-09 being controlled by a CSQ sequencer. But maybe i should think of it more as it's own thing. idk.

  4. I've used one extensively.

  5. I generally used voice to control it.