The compact analogue synthesiser has hit the shops without any prior warning.
Considering the fanfare that went up around Roland’s grand unveilings at the 2015 Musikmesse, it’s surprising that they would let any of their associated products slope on to the market without so much as a press release. The latest moves made by the Aira range introduced the System 1m and System 500 modular units to both excited and dubious gear heads, while the JD-XA synth highlighted where the fruitful crossover between analogue and digital technology can yield the most enticing electronic instruments. While there are further modular units being planned as Roland continue down that particular path, in the meantime a surprising little gem has popped up on the radar which should appeal to those who fancy some of that erratic hands on studio magic without committing to a full modular rig.
The Driftbox-R is in fact made by Japanese manufacturer Reon. Attracting some kind of cult status for the quality of its circuitry and the diversity of sounds it could produce, Reon’s original model is now a sought-after gem with a diminutive price at odds with the sounds it is capable. Roland have stepped in to commission a limited run of the synth with Aira green styling, the idea being that its CV/gate capabilities make it a fine device to demonstrate the function of the SBX-1 Sync Box. Those connections also mean that the Driftbox-R can link up with any kind of analogue set up, with the potential for sequencing and triggering from an external source truly opening up the depths this humble box can stretch to. Retailing at £379, it’s a fair price for a device that can cover a lot of basses, leads, pads, tones and textures.
The Driftbox-R Limited by Reon is available now