March 1, 2012

Orchestra Hits: Compairing the Roland RS-09 & RS-505 String Machines



As I told you in my
Church Synthesizer post, I've had an RS-09 since I was quite young and I've truly loved it for about seven years now. I recently acquired an RS-505 (I think one would also consider it a church synthesizer), which I had assumed would be just an expanded version of the 09. This is not so. I do like the 505 and I'm very glad to have it but I think it will still take some time to grow on me. One of the big differences between the two is the string sections. The RS-09 string section is meant to (or maybe just does) sound like a solo stringed instrument. Ran through some reverb I think it actually sounds like a pretty convincing violin (probably not to the trained ear, but, you know, at a passing glance -- what is the listening equivalent of a glance?). The RS-505's string section can't really sound like a convincing solo stringed instrument, but then the 09's string section in my opinion can't sound like a convincing ensemble. So neither is technically inferior, just different and for my own sensibilities I prefer the 09. But the 505 does have those bass and contra-bass sounds that are pretty great. Over all though the 505 has a much duller sound than the 09. The filter on the 505 just doesn't seem to open up as much as the 09. They are both wonderful though and I'm sure that before the end of the age comes to these slopes I will tell you much more about them. I haven't even mentioned their organ or synthesizer sections.

Also: Those organ-style rocker switches on the RS-505 take some getting used to. Which way in on, which way is off? I don't know! Unless you're some nice, old lady who's used to playing the organ. Of course there is a version of the 09 that also has rocker switches, but this is not the version I have. I have the other version. The version with those lovely buttons.

5 comments:

  1. I'm currently interested in purchasing a used RS-09 and came across this blog while researching them. Where are you able to find all these vintage Roland synths/drum machines? I'm looking on ebay and they're insanely priced!

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  2. I've been collecting (and using!) these machines for almost two decades now. In the 90's, before the days of ebay, you could find analog synthesizers and keyboards at pawnshops all through midwest America for next to nothing. Somethings are a little pricey these days but I guess that depends on what your priorities are. I once stopped receiving dental care when I desperately needed it in order to start buying and building a modular synthesizer. But the Roland RS-09 is actually very reasonably priced right now, for how amazing it is. Strike while the iron is hot! All of these things will only go up in price.

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  3. Success! I was able to find a RS-09 for about 400 large ones, but am glad I made the investment. I kept going back and forth weather or not to purchase the 808 model with black/grey buttons, but ended up getting the traditional color schemed version. Which do you prefer? Also, I just purchased a Boss guitar pedal and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Boss is a subset of Roland. My products match! Now i just need to track down a case for the RS-09 (sadly mine doesn't come with one).

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  4. One last question...maybe you can help me out (since you seem to know your stuff). My RS-09 makes a strange fuzzy/feedback noise when I adjust the volume knob. It's only apparent when the knob is being turned, but when I stop the fuzz/noise goes away. Also, when I unclick every button, I can still hear a faint sound of the notes being played through my headphones (which are plugged into the quarter-jack port in the back). Are these problems or just how this synth is? I tried contacting Roland but they won't help (just just said it was old and prone to have problems). Please let me know. Thanks!

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  5. Well the fuzzy noise when turning the knob is just a dirty potometer. As far as the other sound goes... I'd say, unless it's really bothering you or you're working on something that is super professional, I just wouldn't worry about it. All these old keyboards have little quirks. It never hurts to take these things into the shop for a tune up.

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