Roland System 100

Roland System 100 Image

The System 100 is a great and classic analog synth! It's a beautiful semi-modular monophonic synth consisting of 5 module components: the Synthesizer 101, Expander 102, Mixer 103, Sequencer 104, and Monitor Speakers 109. The Synthesizer 101 section is the heart of the system, from which you could add-on any of the other modules of your choice. Different combinations of these components can be used to create systems of varying potential.

The Synthesizer 101 section is a fully self-contained analog mono-synth. It features a 37-note keyboard (with no performance controls, velocity or aftertouch), and lots of sliders to tweak. Its design is similar to the SH-series analog synths. Controls for the VCO, LFO, VCF lowpass/highpass filters, VCA with ADSR, Noise, and Portamento/Glide effects are all within hands reach. There's also a handy A-440Hz tuning oscillator, like on the Minimoog.

Roland System 100 Image

The Expander 102 section is a keyboard-less version of the 101, designed to stand upright and behind the main Synthesizer 101. More than one Expander 102 can be added to make your system fatter and fatter! The Expander is identical to the Synthesizer except that it replaces Portamento/Glide effects with a Sample-and-Hold feature for the LFO, the Noise gen. is replaced by a Ring Modulator, and the A-440 tuning osc. is replaced by weak/strong sync inputs and a mix-in jack. The Expander is an excellent way to add more oscillators and synth effects (the s&h and ring-mod) to a System 100. The oscillators can be synced if you have both modules. The 101 & 102 are already internally patched and ready to produce sounds, but that can be bypassed by external patching.

The Mixer 103 is a cool add-on. Features 4 inputs and 4 sliders, and mixes these down to 2 outputs. There are two analog VU meters (a nice touch) as well as panning, mono effect sends/returns, and a built-in spring reverb! The Model 103 is designed to sit on the right side of the System and feeds the Monitor Speakers. The speakers provide a stereo monitoring source which is another great (optional) touch! The Mixer not only has outputs for these speakers, but also Line-Outs for use live or in the studio! On the left side of the System sits the Sequencer 104. This analog sequencer can be used to drive your System with a 12x2 step pattern sequencer. It features variable gate time, series or parallel modes, Start, Stop, Continue, and Step buttons.

The System 100 is a great sounding analog system with the classic vintage Roland sound. Although it is itself an impressive system, Roland took the concept a step further developing additional modules for the System 100m. Although the 100m has greater patching freedom, it doesn't sound as warm as the 100. Apparently the 100 has the same filter chip as a TB-303, but it certainly doesn't produce the same sound, the System 100 sounds better! Whatever configuration you find a System 100 in, they are all powerful, warm, and useable machines!

It is used by Orbital, Vince Clarke, Aphex Twin, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Electronic Dream Planet, Tangerine Dream, Groove Corporation, Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, Freddy Fresh, Joy Electric, Luke Vibert, Human League, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, Tears For Fears, Vangelis, Hans Zimmer, and Meat Beat Manifesto.

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43 Visitor comments
September 11, 2009 @ 4:33 pm
I just got a System 100 ( 101 ,102,104) in combination with a MC4 Sequencer and it just blows my mind !!! This thing is absolutly crazy. I have a lot of other great Synth´s like the Jupiter 8, Oberheim OBX, MS20, Minimoog etc. but the System 100 blows them all away when it comes to thick and dirty basslines, crazy modulations, filter sweeps etc. The Sample and Hold of the 102 unit has a very unique and dirty sound. The Sequencer 104 is simply but very powerful if you combine it with a Drummachine or the MC4 Sequencer. It is worth every cent i paid for it !
May 28, 2009 @ 1:44 pm
I got my System 100 as my 21st Birthday present way back in 1978.... it is now 2009 .... it still works having not switched it on in 7 years!!!!

As I type it is being recallibrated and restored to its fomer glory... with a view to being pride of place in my new studio

I'm hoping to remember and sample my favourite sounds and use it to our neybores annoynace LOL
Permanent Wood
May 11, 2009 @ 5:38 am
I bought the 101 & 102 in 1980 used. I added the TR 606 Drumatix to the symtem, it's two tom tom outputs would trigger the oscillators while pitch could be changed by playing the keyboard, with it all being repeated using a Roland DC10 Analog echo. I have great old jams on tape playing sax, E. Guitar & Bass to this Pitched Rythem. It's all to cool & oozing with thick vintage synth sound. Nothing new will do what it DO! I've sold off Strats, old Tube amps, & compleat studios, But I can't sell this old setup. I keep an old Teac 3300 Half Track just to play all the Fantastic Jams that came about because of this System. Long may it live! J.D.B. Permanent Wood Studio, Las Vegas, NV.
April 28, 2009 @ 11:53 am
Also used by Doris Norton and Tyndall (German synth-duo).
January 13, 2009 @ 2:25 pm
I have had my Roland System 100 (101 + 102 + 104) since 1977 when bought as new. That tells how much I like it. I think it is easy to go without patching, and when patched I goes into new realms. Sound is distinctive from other analog from the time period.
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Rated 4.1 (358 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO with PWM and tuning from 10Hz to 10kHz, External Sound-In jack (Synthesizer 101 and Expander 102), White/Pink Noise (Model 101), Ring Modulator (Model 102)
  • Filter - High-Pass filter, Low-Pass filter (Synthesizer 101 and 102 Expander)
  • VCA - ADSR envelopes (Synthesizer 101 and 102 Expander)
  • Keyboard - 37 keys (Synthesizer 101 only)
  • Arpeg/Seq - 12 x 2 step sequencer, variable gate times, series or parallel configurations (Sequencer 104)
  • Control - CV / Gate
  • Date Produced - 1975-1979

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