Roland System 700

Roland System 700 Image

The System 700 was a great big modular analog synthesizer system from Roland. A major player in the modular synth market, it competed against monsters like the Moog Modulars and the ARP 2500 & 2600. A very fat sounding synth. Incredible flexibility and great sound and design. Unfortunately this synth requires a lot of knowledge about synthesis and signal flow in order to maximize its full potential. Truly a professional instrument, even by today's standards! It is used by Vince Clarke of Erasure, Human League, Richard Barbieri, Vangelis, Nitzer Ebb, Aphex Twin, Hans Zimmer, and Depeche Mode.

The System 700 consists of the Main Console (pictured center), the Keyboard Controller, and five optional "blocks" (pictured above surrounding Main Console). A complete system as pictured above has a total of 47 modules (see Tech. Specs for modules info). Most System 700s were sold in the following configuration blocks:

"Block 1" (Main Console): This is the Heart of the System, and it contains all the basic modules necessary for a professional system. It has 3 VCOs, 2 VCFs, 2 VCAs, 2 LFOs, 2 ADSR egs, Noise, Ring Mod, Voltage Processor, S/H, Envelope Follower, "Integrater" (Lag Processor), Mixer, 2 X 5 multiples, Headphone Monitor Module, and an Output Module, which includes Stereo VUs, a six-position test-tone, Phase Shifter, Spring Reverb, and voltage controlled Panning. Most common module connections (power, cv, gate) are made internally for easier patching.

"Block 2" (Keyboard Controller): The 61-key two-voice Keyboard with Portamento and Pitchbend controls.

"Block 3" (Sequencer): a 3 X 12 step sequencer with Pulse Shaper, Clock Oscillator, and Series / Parallel output sections.

"Block 4" (VCO Bank): 6 VCOs, a dual ADSR envelope generator, LFO, Sample and Hold, 2 X 5 Multiples, and a small Mixer.

"Block 5" (VCF/VCA Bank): 2 VCFs, 3 VCAs, 2 dual ADSR envelope generators, 2 X 5 Multiples, and a Gate Delay.

"Block 6" (Interface/Mixer): a Frequency-to-Voltage Converter Interface, a VCA, 9-channel Audio Mixer, and a Fixed Filter Bank.

"Block 7" (Phase Shifter/Audio Delay): a 2-channel Phase Shifter and a 2-channel Audio Delay, 4 input Analog Switch, and a (1X12, 1X4, 1X8, 3X4) multiple.

Blocks 3 through 7 were options and could be arranged by the original owners in any way. Roland also released a Lab version, the "Laboratory System 700", the size of one lower wing cabinet with 3 VCOs, ring mod, VCA, mixer, LFO, Sample & Hold, Dual Envelope Generator, and VCF. Full Systems can cost as much as $18,000 and the Lab System is between $3,500 to $4,000!

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26 Visitor comments
December 14, 2013 @ 2:07 pm
where was it mentioned that aphex twin used a system 700? he did briefly have a system 100 keyboard but thought it was rubbish and circuit-bent it till it died :(
September 1, 2013 @ 6:30 pm
I'd love one, but not at the prices theyre going for now. Ive been fortunate enough to use one as well, and 8 years ago i turned down the chance to buy a fully restored one for less than £10k. it really is the dog's dangly bits, with a phenomenal amount of power and flexibility. The holy grail of roland and indeed one of the best modular systems ever produced.
Ed Mac
August 15, 2013 @ 6:48 pm
A Roland System 700 is played by the main character in the Hammer House of Horror episode "Witching Time" in his home studio...
Liam (Zulu Dalek)
June 18, 2013 @ 3:58 pm
I only ever met one of these beasts once on a visit to The London Synthesizer Centre back in '79. Even though I was only 16 (and obviously without the readies to purchase one) I was allowed to have a go because I had an MS20. For three hours I patched and tweaked and filtered and sequenced. I have now had 34 years experience with synthesizers of most makes and the System 700 is still firmly and warmly in my heart as wonderfully expressive and versatile beast. I still want one but my wife won't let sell her granny.
February 15, 2013 @ 3:30 pm
User rating 2.91??? Not sure if joking!! Of the 308 votes, I bet only a handful have actually heard it in real life! I bought my complete System 700 in summer 1990, together with an MC-8 microcomposer and an additional System 100 4cv keyboard. The fattest and punchiest thing Roland ever has produced, period. The discreet vco's and filters are out of this world. Very bass heavy, and also quite easy to use - the layout is very logical. Build quality is excellent. Hooking up the system to the polyphonic 4cv keyboard with 2 vco's per voice and separate filters makes it the ultimate poly to me.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.11 (365 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • 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.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    by TheFritzy

    Manual - Roland has made manuals for most of their products available as free PDF downloads.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators -
    702A,B,C,D,E: VCOs with four waveforms (sine, triangle, sawtooth, and rectangle), PWM, and range knobs (LO to 2'), and a pitch control (+-12 semi-tones)
    702A: has a PWM input and slider, and LFO1 mod input is hard-wired
    702B: has a hard-wired ADSR1 and LFO1 modulation inputs and sync
    702C: has a Sample & Hold and LFO1 input and sync
    702D: like A but with a socket instead of hard-wired mod inputs
    702E: like B&C without the hard-wired inputs
    708A: Noise and Ring Modulators
  • LFO -
    706A,B: LFOs (rate/delay)
    709A,B: Sample & Hold Modules
  • Filter -
    703B,C,D: 12dB VCFs
    703E,F: 24dB VCFs
    715A: Multimode Filter, Mixer
  • VCA -
    704A,B,C,D: VCAs
    705A: Dual Envelopes
    707A: Envelope Follower
  • Arpeg/Seq - 717A: Analog Sequencer
  • Keyboard - 701A: 5-octave 61-note keyboard
  • Control - 712A: CV Processor
    713A: Gate Delay
  • Effects - 720B: 2-channel Phase Shifter
    721B: 2-channel Audio Delay
  • Misc. -
    710A,B: Multiples
    711A: Output module (Stereo VUs, a six-position test-tone, a Phase Shifter, a Spring Reverb, and voltage-controlled Panning)
    714B: Frequency-to-Voltage Converter, Envelope Follower
    716A: Mixer
    718A: Power Supply
    723A: Analog Switch
  • Date Produced - 1976 - 1982

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