The story behind the new Roland SYSTEM-500 Modular Synth

Discover how the new all-analog SYSTEM-500 was born after a chance encounter

Josh Holley is head honcho of Texas guitar-pedal manufacturers Malekko, and a self-confessed synth nut. So when Malekko was invited to collaborate with Roland on a modern reboot of the iconic SYSTEM-700 and 100M analogue modular synths, perhaps it’s no wonder he felt a little awestruck. “It’s a lot of responsibility,” he recalls in this video featurette on the making of the new SYSTEM-500. “Like, ‘Hey kid, make a Roland product and represent Roland’. It’d be a shame if I did something half-assed…”

Spend a little time in synth circles and you’ll soon hear someone sing the praises of the original Roland SYSTEM-700 and SYSTEM-100M. Both products were trailblazing modular synths that became firm favorites in every top recording studio. As music professor and synth expert Enrico Cosimi reminds us of the formidable SYSTEM-700: “It was a new world. So big, so menacing, so powerful…”

Following a chance meeting with Roland staff at the Tokyo Festival of Modular, Josh took the magic of those products and fused it into the Roland SYSTEM-500. So was born an affordable new range of fully analogue modules boasting the classic styling of the originals, not to mention the same powerful oscillators, envelopes and filters. “Every part that’s on every one of these modules,” he explains, “is the best that you can possibly get…”