Roland Integra 7


1 2 3ALL

Ultimate XV Tribute? Luxurious Rompler with Lamentable Limitiations? Flawed Masterpiece? You Decide!

The latest, heaviest and arguably, most abundantly adorned, sonically pure and stunningly versatile case of oscillating liqueurs in my collection. Again I must lament over the absence of an analogue artisan amidst such billowing swarms of samples, however stirring they may be  but if Moog’s magic has fostered the finest creations a binary free paradise can bestow, Roland’s intoxicating Integra surely came close to a definitive demonstration of the delights delivered by a digital utopia.

A rack mountable relic with detachable ears, this handsome machine could be easily mistaken for an amp or media streamer and looked equally at home when perched on a desk, reclining on fashionable coffee tables or indeed, any surface that could accommodate its imposing 24x43cm frame. However, upon closer inspection, one noted the diligent diagram elegantly embossed atop the roof, aptly illustrating but a fraction of its fabulous potential.

Whatever the century or decade, no matter the age or era, when it comes to to adjudicating audio excellence, a ubiquitous community of cantankerous experts will ensure every contemporary device endures a crippling cacophony of crotchety criticism.  If it didn’t warrant their investment, it isn’t worth anyone’s, and everyone must know.

Probe a little deeper, read between those pious posts and almost without exception, one discovers it is they who have pawned pearls from Nana’s ear rings to acquire one of their subject’s ancestral counterparts.  The rhetoric of any such crowing cynic casting a caustic eye over the Integra would be rigorously reduced to rudimentary rancour.  For it it is difficult to rationally dismiss a premium product whose design was not only influenced by a roundly revered heritage, but directly incorporated the defining elements of several senior siblings.

SRX boards, remember them? The perfect gift for your faithful furnisher of frequencies.  Bite sized PCBs bursting with 64mb of  luscious loops dedicated to making your brass broader, your woodwind warmer, your strings sweeter and pianos prettier….for once let’s cut this alliterative adulation short.

Since their introduction in 2000, an impressive range of sixteen, including a quadrilogy of “special editions” had inhabited the headphones of incisive engineers.  Of these,  a tremulous total of twelve had trotted into regular retail, ok I mean it this time.

The Integra 7 stood in a direct line of “JV” and “XV” descent, two families of elders whose penchant for packs of potent PCM patches became a long standing tradition, I’m warning you!  Those from clan XV eagerly savoured SRX cards whilst esteemed JV guild members relied on those from the “SR” series, which numbered over twenty but typically provided a fourth to an eighth of the storage space.

Hey…utter the purists in unsettled unison, greater memory does not always coincide with superior quality, rarely in fact, listen to the two orchestral boards, authentic enough for the most critical professional, convincing enough to complement a crop of film scores.  Where would you find finer loops, or a more sincere form of acoustic acclaim?

Indeed, and who with credible listening skills would challenge such waveforms of wisdom? Apparently, not even Roland themselves.  For in a bold bid to avoid fixing what wasn’t broken, they conscientiously populated several SRX modules with complete sample sets lifted from this copious archive of SR superlatives. Having trousered a tidy sum from offloading a loaded JV-1010, upgraders to say, a Fantom XR, could reap the benefits of their new purchase, bask amidst inspired masterpieces and compose another with the electric ensemble that had ignited their fame and fortune.

If you haven’t yet slumped into a coma, you’ll be wondering why these succulent slices of sonorities have so stimulated my salivary glands – oh can it get any worse! Well, just before we inspect the Integra’s most alluring treasures, its worth emphasizing why a product whose premier retail price sat a shade south of £1200 could be argued to constitute a breath snatching bargain.

I’ve already mentioned one redoubtable forefather, the JV-1080, 640 tones out of the box, crammed onto an 8mb ROM and customisable down to the nuances of each contributing voice (remember, voices make up tones, atoms make up molecules!).  64 voice polyphony, 16 parts, one timbre for each and six 1/4 inch outputs on the rear.  Price at launch? £1085 (according to Soundonsound).  Space for four “SR” expansion cards but none supplied as standard.

How about the JV-2080.  The magnificent next of kin.  The  Jehova in the “JV” bloodline. ROM size, the same.  Audio outputs, as before. Polyphony, identical. Timbre count, no change.  Tones tallied 768, 40 flavours of EFX essence were added and scope for expansion rose to eight “SR” slots…all of them empty.  Present a cheque for £1399 in the spring of 1997, and its yours.

Let’s consider the XVs.  First up, the XV-3080.  The admirable apprentice in a partnership of two.  Default tonality now stood at 1152 vibrant patches, vigorously vibrating atop 32MB of ROM and sheltering amongst its ranks all Daddy JV-2080’s originals.

Poly prowess 128, part potency 16 and timbres to match.  Hex-way quarter inch hardware outputs and comfortable accommodation for four SRX residents…but sadly, once again, none present on the grand day of opening.  Draw a wad of 130 crisp tenners from the wall and you’ll receive a pound to fund your journey back home.

Stalwart efforts to be inventive when imparting lists of specifications should illuminate the author’s grey matter and give rise to a pleasurable reading experience, that is, until a scarcity of smilies leads to puerile pretension.

As I fear that delicate balance may be about to tip, I shall convey following comparison in the most honest fashion my heart head and soul shall allow…. with a fabulous fact laden TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why? Because it pits my Integra’s resounding resume against that of the one beast I’d concede to be worthy of its waveforms.

The XV-5080.  Having never seen, heard or touched one in anger, my love for this enviably appointed MIDI Megalodon was and remains absolute.  I  was desperate to stash one mint, to tenderly lift it from its box, smell the fresh polystyrene and the mint pages of a manual I’d never read.

You know me to foster a Fantom XR, a supposedly superior descendant.  Stock samples with a higher bitrate, a native wave ROM twice as capacious, built-in sampling, time stretching and detailed editing, room for four times the RAM.  And yet, having combed countless threads thriving with the knowledge of true sonic scholars, were I offered a spotless 5080 in trade, I’d snatch it in a hemi-demi-semi quaver.


1 2 3ALL

Pages: 1 2 3