Monday, April 29, 2013

Roland Juno-106 "Synful" ad, Keyboard August 1984

Roland Juno-106 synthesizer "Synful" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the June1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

This ad ended up running in Keyboard Magazine for five months starting in the June1984 issue of Keyboard (skipping July). I had a subscription to Keyboard, but I ended up going down to my favourite gear store and buying a second copy just so I could cut out the big colour front cover photo of the Thompson Twins as well as a few of the black and white photos from the feature article on Tom Bailey. I remember being particularly angry when, coincidentally, a girl with the last name of Bailey drew a moustache on both Tom and Alannah Currie when I put up that photo in my locker at school.

True story - you can't make that sh!t up.

Roland had regularly advertised on the coveted inside front cover of Keyboard Magazine from around March 1980 (starting with a Jupiter-4 ad) until around January 1983 (ending with a Jupiter 8/MC-4 ad). Then it more sporadically took over the page 7 spot with ads for the Juno-60, SH-101 and this ad for the Juno106.

If the inside front cover of a 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine was equivalent to living on a private island, then page 7 was like living in the South of France. Still a pretty good gig if you can swing it. And early on it was clear the Juno-106 deserved a nice little property in the South of France.

The Juno-106 is kind of a big deal and it really is amazing just how iconic it has become. There are a number of ways to measure the popularity of a vintage synthesizer. Some use the new-to-now price ratio, others the number of times it pops up in interviews with artists in magazines. And of course, you can measure it by looking at the number of comments that can be found on such sites as Vintage Synth Explorer. In the case of that latter measurement, the number of comments would be 176 at the time of this writing.

Let me throw out another number at you: 11. That would be the number of comments that the Siel DK600 (another synth that came out around 1984) has managed to pull together on VSE.

Poor thing.  :)

If you believe the ad-copy for this Juno-106 advertisement, you would think this thing was packed to the brim with features.
"Roland's JUNO synthesizers are known for packing them in. More features, (and followers) than you can count. But this time, the JUNO has outdone even itself"
Wait... what? More features than I can count?   Like multiple oscillators? Nope. Just one. Loads of modifiers like ADSRs and LFOs? Nope. Again, just one of each. Arpeggiator? Sequencer? Nope. Nope.

Truly, not feature-rich. In fact, if all I had were the specs of the machine written on a piece of paper, I would more likely turn my nose up at this single-oscillator synth. And many readers only had just that when the Spec Sheet promo for the Juno-106 appeared the following month in the July 1984 issue of Keyboard. More than a few probably stopped reading after that second sentence:
"Roland Synthesizer. The Juno-106 polyphonic synthesizer is the latest addition to the Juno line, which includes the Juno-60 and Juno-6. The 106 features a 61-note, 5-octave keyboard with six DCOs - one per voice. each voice has its own VCF, VCA, and envelope generator. There is also an LFO and a chorus circuit. Performance controls include a portamento section, pitch-bend, LFO trigger sensitivity control, and master volume. The instrument features 128 user-programmable memory positions, arranged in two groups of eight banks each. Each bank holds eight patches. Hands-free switching between memory positions can be accomplished via a rear panel patch shift jack. A cassette interface for off-loading programs is also included. The unit is equipped with MIDI in, out and thru ports. The instrument can receive note event, pitch-bend, LFO modulation, and program change information via MIDI. Stereo and mono outputs as well as a headphone jack are provided. Measurements are 29.68" wide, 4.6" high, and 12.6" deep. Price is $1,095.00. RolandCorp., 7200 Dominion Circle, Los Angeles, CA 90040."
But, to cast aside the Juno-106 based purely on specs misses the point I'm trying, and as yet, to make.

The rest of the ad-copy doesn't hit this point either, but does tell readers a few other things.  The 106 includes 128 programs - double that of the Juno-60. It has polyphonic portamento. And MIDI (This is 1984! A new era!).   

But like I said. It still doesn't really get to the real point of the Juno-106.

Keep on reading that August 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine, and you will eventually hit page 78 with a Keyboard Report on the Juno-106 by Dominic Milano.

Right at the beginning, he points out what could have been the Juno-106's Achilles heel. But quickly puts that myth to rest - well, at least as far as the Juno-106 is concerned.
"Polyphonic synthesizers that feature a single oscillator per voice have been looked on with disdain for years by experienced synthesists. the contention is that somehow they don't sound as good as the "standard" two-oscillator-per-voice instruments... But it's also true that there are single-oscillator instruments that offer a lot more than just relatively low cost. Roland's new Juno-106 is one of them."
And finally we get to the point.


The Juno-106 offers sweet sweet sound. Enough to make this $1095 synthesizer worth every penny. And more. And to help get that sound, the Juno-106 includes low and high pass filters, a noise source, a stereo chorus unit built in, and a juicy sub-octave generator. As Dominic states:
"For a single-oscillator instrument, it really punches."
Got that right. Super yummy punchy bass!

End note: Oh. And like I mentioned before - this thing has sweet sweet MIDI as well. Or as Dominic puts it in his keyboard Report:
"...the instrument packs more control over MIDI functions than any instrument we've seen to date". 
In fact, apparently one little known feature of the Juno-106 even among my fellow 106-fanatics is the ability to hook two 106s together with MIDI such that the front panel controls of the master can affect the controls of the slave. And even though I tend to use my Juno-106 mostly for bass sounds - never holding down more than one note at a time - I'm always on the look out for another realistically-priced 106 just so I can hook them together and try this out.

I'm still waiting.   :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boss Play Bus HA-5 "A rough audience" ad, Keyboard 1984

Boss Play Bus HA-5 portable amp and PA system "A rough audience" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the February 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Two boss ads in a row... and you can see why.

Even though I don't really have that much of an interest in portable amps, I do really enjoy these Boss ads. I have to say that the Dr. Rhythm advertisement that can be found in the December 1984 and January 1984 almost pales in comparison to this HA-5 ad that immediately followed in the February and March 1984 issues. Its almost disappointing that each ad only received two months of ad space. They both deserved so much more.

The Dr. Rhythm ad featured only one frame, but we get five gorgeous frames of story line with the studly Mr. Play Bus and his... er... Playbus. I'm comfortable enough in my heterosexuality to say that's one good-looking man.

Everything about this ad leads back to the pop-culture of the moment. The kid's clothing looks right out of a Duran Duran poster with their bright shirts and sports jackets. And the reference to Dallas, a show popular amongst the not-so-hip adults, rocks. And kicking them out of the garage for being too loud cracks me up. Even the Betty and Veronica look-a-likes sitting in the sand adoring the boys screams pop culture.

The details within each frame are also a pure joy to discover. The one guy stepping in kitty litter. The cat freaking out because of the noise. The one kid with "The Kools" t-shirt. And.... a TR-808! Go Roland/Boss!

I'm guessing this was Boss's answer to Yamaha's portable "Producer Series" of gear that included the portable MA10 headphone amplifier and MM10 Mic Line Stereo Portable Mixer. And its interesting that Boss also chose to use artwork in their ads.

The Boss Area Web site is a good resource for many Boss products, the HA-5 included. Some good specs for the HA-5 as well as the RH-11M can be found there.

Like I said at the beginning - not much of an interest in portable amps... and not much else to say.

This awesome ad speaks for itself anyways.  :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boss Dr. Rhythm DR-110 "Lousy guitar playing" ad, Keyboard 1983

Boss Dr. Rhythm DR-110 drum machine "Lousy guitar playing" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the December 1983 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Wow, if my blog labels are any indication, this is my first ever Boss post. It's even more of a wonder this ad hasn't been posted yet since I have such an infatuation with vintage (and not so vintage) drum machines. My drum machine shelf is overflowing but the collection just keeps growing. Its a good thing that many of these 80s drum machines are so small.  :)

I distinctly recall this ad from 1983 - that's gotta say something. Maybe I identified with the teen struggling as a bedroom musician. Or maybe I was already infatuated with drum machines. Or maybe it was the comic-style artwork used to market to its target audience with pin-point accuracy. Probably a bit of all three. And those are the exact same reasons I like this ad today. Especially the artwork (see the blog's "artwork" label for other ads based around artwork).

The DR-110 seems to be at or near the beginning of what I call the third "wave" of compact drum machines. I don't know if you can actually call it "waves", but my mind always wants to categorize everything.  In my head, the initial wave included first gen machines like the Ace Tone FR7L or Roland TR-33/55/77 series. Then the second wave included more compact machines like the Boss DR-55, Korg KR-55 (1981), Sound Master SR-8 (1982) and Clef Master Rhythm (1982).  And the third wave included drum machines like the Roland TR-606 (1982) or Korg KPR-77 (1983).

Well then, you may ask, where does the LinnDrum fit in? Or the Roland TR-808?

That's the thing - they don't fit into those waves. To me it seems like after that first wave or so, drum machines split off into two streams. The first stream consisting of lower-priced drum machines like those above. The second stream consisting of higher-priced professional drum machines like the Linn LM-1 (1980) and the Linn Drum, as well as the Roland TR-808 (1981), and Oberheim DMX (1981). And then later drum machines like the Sequential DrumTraks (1984).  But as higher-end technology such as sample memory got cheaper, the two streams merged again later in the 80s to bring us drum machines like the Korg DDD-1 (1986), Roland TR-505 (1986) and Kawai R-100 (1986).

Now, like I said - this is how my mind categorizes them - and not necessarily how they should be categorized. Don't email me angry letters.   :)

So, like I said, I kinda fit that DR-110 into that third wave of cheaper drum machines that weren't necessarily made for professional use. You only have to look at this DR-110 ad to know Boss was also thinking along these lines. The whole theme of the ad is NOT one of a professional musician in a studio, recording a hit record. Nope. It's one of a father telling his "98 pound [bedroom] musician" that his rhythm sucks donkey balls. And although the ad-copy does describe the sounds of the DR-110 as "studio quality", even Boss doesn't go as far as saying it could be used on professional records. 
"Whether it's a bedroom jam, or a drum sketch for the studio..."
Luckily, myself and many others didn't listen to the ad and didn't stop at just using it to form drum sketches.

My DR-110 gets used regularly, either sampled clean or pumped through my modular, or my ever-growing Boss half-rack effects tower (see right with my 303). I bet they could make those effects racks even smaller now - maybe 1/3 or 1/4 racks with itty-bitty knobs. How adorable would *that* be attached to a Monotron.

 I really enjoy the sound of the DR-110 and often when I'm asked about it, I compare it favorably to the TR-606. And it looks like I'm not the only one that makes this comparison. Through Vintage Synth Explorer's DR-110 page, I came across a nice short video by AnalogAudio - a lovely way to end this blog post:

End note: You can also listen to my 303 being pumped through that Boss micro-effects rack tower on the Retro Synth Ads SoundCloud page. Scroll to the bottom and look for "Short bit" and "Boring stuff" (which includes a few notes so you can tell when each effect is applied).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Roland "The Creative Answer" Original Stickers, 1977 or 1978

Roland "The Creative Answer" Original Stickers from approximately 1977 or 1978.

If you haven't guessed by now, I don't just love old synth ads. I've posted brochures, catalogs, newsletters, sell sheets and even belt buckles. But I'm pretty sure this is the first sticker set. 

So.... like, awesome.  Where to begin?

Well, that small middle sticker is a good place to start. Yup - that's a circular System 100 sticker with an actual little System 100 photo. Looks almost like a poker chip. When I was first getting into synths, a good friend had a System 100 in his basement and I loved going over there to noodle on it. I think it was the modularity of it that interested me most. Especially the sequencer. It was in great condition too.

The dude with the headphones and the guitar are also fantastic because the imagery is a great reflection of the time period.  The bandana/scarf around the neck, the hair cut, the v-neck shirt. All of it.  Even the boots with the stars on them.

But, with no date included on the sticker sheet, I had to estimate the year it was printed.

The colouring is still so bright that a part of me is still not convinced this is from the 70s. I did a few Google searches to see if I could find anything similar and nothing came up. A few Roland Orzabal (Tears for Fears) stickers came up though. I almost got sidetracked looking for other 80s new wave band stickers.

I also decided a few MATRIXSYNTH searches were in order. LOTS of great stickers there from a lot of synth companies. I recommend doing a few searches yourself if you are interested. But again, nothing resembling this Roland sheet came up.

With my suspicion *almost* subsided, my first idea to estimate a print date was to look at the tag line found in some of the stickers - "The Creative Answer" - to narrow down the time period. But I'm writing this part of the blog post in a hotel room and don't have access to my library of documents. I tried a couple of quick Google searches with the tag line but it didn't bring up anything.

Reviewing other Roland ads already posted on the blog found that by 1979 Roland was already using the "We Design The Future" tagline in brochures and ads. Earlier ads like this 1977 MicroComposer ad, this 1977 System 100 ad, or this 1978 "You simply don't outgrow the best" family ad don't seem to mention "The Creative Answer" anywhere in the ad-title or ad-copy. But my blog posts still make up a small sample size of world-wide Roland ads, so that tag line could still very well have been used somewhere else in print. Very likely, I'd say.

In the end, I had only the few pieces of gear that were included on the sticker sheet to help me. And based on the System 100 - introduced around 1976, and the SB-100 - introduced around 1977,  I decided that most likely the sheet was printed in 1977 or 1978.

Even now I'm still a little suspicious that these stickers may not be from the 70s at all. But they look nice, especially that System 100 sticker.

And I'm keeping 'em.  :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Yamaha CS-01 "Full Synthesizer Performance You Can Take Anywhere" brochure, 1982

Yamaha CS-01 synthesizer "Full Synthesizer Performance You Can Take Anywhere" two-side colour brochure from 1982.

While searching through my Yamaha brochure pile I came across this two-sider. Gah - can't believe I didn't add this one to the rest of the Producer Series blog posts!

If you recall, back at the beginning of March I was going through a bit of a Yamaha Producer Series fetish that included some great artwork that could be seen in ads (they look so juicy lined up in a row like this)...

... as well as in an awesome brochure that also pushed the mobile aspects of each piece of gear...

Artwork so good that I threatened to make T-shirts, or get a tatoo, or something. I don't really recall that part.  

Anyways, the final blog post in the series concluded with an new ad that came out a fair bit later, pushing some of Yamaha's new Producer Series gear while at the same time pushing aside those lovable characters. Instead we got actual humans photographed with the gear as Yamaha tried to swing the professional/studio angle.

What's interesting about this just-added CS-01 brochure is that although it came out at roughly the same time as the original 1982ish ads, it didn't include the characters. Instead we get a nicely dressed human using the synthesizer against an anonymous grey wall or while awkwardly sitting on a chair in the middle of a park. Neither of which I think helped create that connection with the reader. Luckily those were small photos.

I also find this brochure interesting because you can't really tell which side is the front. The gorgeous half-page photo probably should be the front, but then the specifications, and all those additional components (excellent!) and accessories (even more excellent!) are usually found on the back of these types of brochures or sell-sheets. My only guess is that the page was meant to be folded in the middle so that you had a front, back and inside.

As I stare more closely at that photo, a few other freaky things pop out at me. For example, that BC1 Breath Controller and CS01 strap aren't following that whole law of gravity thing that seems to be affecting the CS01 itself and the headphones. It messes with the brain a little seeing them floating around like that.

Another freaky thing involves the background image that frames the photo. None of those synth knobs and switches seem to have come from any Producer Series equipment. Instead it looks like they have taken the front panel of a CS40m to use as a pattern - probably to help subtly introduce some higher quality aspects to the CS-01. I'm not saying the CS-01 is cheap, its just not *as* high quality as something like the CS40m.

Just saying.  :)

Short post - because I have to get ready for the snow storm that's coming.

Yeah. Snow. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Roland "Eschew mediocrity" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland JP-4, MP-600 and RS-505 (and family) "Eschew mediocrity" two-page full colour advertisement from pages 42 and 43 in the April 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Eschew? Gazoontite.

That has to be one of the best ad-titles I've come across in a long time. Someone needs to get that tatoo'd to their ass. And make it about the same size as the ad-title in this two-page, one-time-only centrefold ad that popped up in the April 1979 issue of CK.

This advertisement features three of Roland's "newest line of Professional Keyboards", but it's really about the promotion of the "FREE-Deluxe, full-color 58-page Roland Catalog of the largest, most diversified line of electronic music equipment in the world". A catalog you can get for a mere dollar (shipping and handling charges  :)

As a centrefold should, this ad's focus is on that one big lovely photo of the three featured keyboards. There is some good detail to be found.

One of the most interesting details I found was the green colour framing around most of the controls of the RS-505. My recollection told me that these were gray, not green, and I was excited that this photo may contain a prototype. Like the grey colour found on the photo of the RS-505 on Vintage Synth Explorer.It makes me wonder if that colouring changed on other Roland synths during their life spans.

This was actually the first ad to feature the RS-505, but the keyboard itself seems to have been around a lot longer than when it first appeared in advertisements.

For example, it showed up in the December 1978 Spec Sheet section of Contemporary Keyboard. It's not the best Spec Sheet I've seen, but it includes the basics as well as the coveted retail price. Not gonna argue with that:
"Roland Paraphonic-505. The RS-505 Paraphonic keyboard has a splittable 61-note keyboard with three voicing possibilities - a string synthesizer section, a lead synthesizer and a bass synthesizer are included int he unit. A number of different settings are available on the string section, a 24dB-per-octage filter is supplied on the lead synthesizer, and the bass synthesizer has two 16' settings and one 8' setting. There is also an independent three-state ensemble mode for creating effects ranging from flanging to chorusing. Re-tail price is under $1800.00. Roland Corp, U.S., 2401 Saybrook Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90040."
But that's not even the earliest sighting of the RS-505 this side of the pond. It actually appeared even earlier in the What's New section of the Summer '78 issue of Synapse Magazine. And it contains something REALLY weird about another synthesizer featured in this advertisement. Read it right to the end:
"...Roland Corp US, 2401 Saybrook, LA, CA 90040, has released several new synthesizers recently. The SH-7 is a duo-phonic keyboard instrument with dual sample and hold, so that both notes will hold pitch after the keys have been replaced. The $1,895 unit features a 24dB fVCF with external signal envelope follower, and a "bender" that can control VCO, VCF, and VCA. The RS-505 "is a paraphonic ensemble, a strings and synthesizer combination," with a tag of $1,895. The PO-44 Space Bird is a "four-voice polyphonic synthesizer with a computer memory," listing for $2,695. No further information has been furnished on these instruments yet. Roland has also announced plans to introduce additional guitar synthesizer models later on this year..."
Did you catch it? The PO-44 SPACE BIRD. When I had first read that name, I could only assume that Synapse was referring to the Jupiter-4 - it was the only 4-voice Roland released soon after. Could you imagine if the Jupiter-4 has been named the SPACE BIRD?!?!? Pure awesomeness. I can only assume a Rave band of the same name would have sprung up in the late 80s or early 90s. Oh - and dibs on the domain name!

I had no idea. But apparently Simon James and Matt Ford of TheSimonSounds twitter account did back in 2011. Gah.Was I the only one that didn't know this?!?!

I used to want Roland to reissue the TB303 or SH101 as part of the new craze to build on old brands - like the new Korg MS-20 or even Novation's just announced Bass Station II. But now I just want Roland to create a 4-voice polyphonic analogue synthesizer called the Space Bird.

Pleeeeeeeeeese Roland!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Roland Saturn SA-09 "The Hot Sound of the Saturn" ad, Contemporary Keyboard, 1980

Roland Saturn SA-09 "The Hot Sound of the Saturn" full page colour advertisement from the front inside cover of the July 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

This was the last Roland ad of in this campaign series. And unlike the other ads in this series that saw only small, inconsistent runs for the most part, this Saturn SA-09 advertisement ran consistently through the second half of 1980 - July to December. And always in that most excellent front inside-cover position. Not too shabby.

Roland had taken over that front inside cover position only two months earlier with the Jupiter-4 ad from this same series (see below for image) running in May and June, before handing the reigns over to The Saturn.

[Side note: Roland would keep the front inside cover position pretty much exclusively until February 1983. That's almost three years. Not a bad run for Roland.]

This SA-09 advertisement is slightly different from the previous ads in the series. It's all subtle, but still significant. First, Roland decided not to put the name of the synth at the very top of the ad, instead using 'Roland Presents".

Secondly, Roland decided to switch up the background of the photo to be more "hot" looking - a carry-over from the ad-title no doubt. Its almost like there are embers glowing underneath the keyboard. All the rest of these ads featured very solid, subdued colours, with a very subtle slight shading or glow. 

But the big news to me has to do with the Saturn SA-09 keyboard itself. In particular those lovely Roland buttons in beautiful bright red, yellow, white, green and blue! You can find similar colours tucked underneath the keyboard on the Jupiter-4, but this time Roland proudly displays those colours right on the front panel. There isn't a lot of them, but its a start.

When I think early-80s Roland, I think of those buttons. Those are pretty much the colours that appear in my dreams whenever I'm lucky enough to have caught up on my sleep and hit REM. Similar buttons can be found on Roland's TR-808, Jupiter-6 and Jupiter-8. I associate this button style so closely with Roland that I went into a kind of confused state when I first came across Korg's X-911 guitar synth. Those do look like Roland buttons, don't they!?!?

I also really like this ad because Roland acknowledges New Wave music. Sure, they talk about it kinda like grandparents, adding a "the" in front of it. Kinda like "Hey son, have you been on the Twitters today?" or "Use the Google to find out that info". Yeah yeah... not really, but that is how I read it in my mind. The fact that this new music style is being acknowledged can only be a good thing.

Roland actually went even more "pop culture" on our asses earlier in this ad series when they dropped "squadron of Cylons" out of the blue in that Vocoder Plus ad. Reading it today immediately puts the ad into it's historical perspective. And made me happy.

Very happy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roland Organ/Strings RS-09 "The Sensible Addition" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Organ/Strings RS-09 "The Sensible Addition" full-page colour advertisement from page 11 in the December 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Roland made a lot of keyboards during this era, and their series of ads to promote all this new gear is a testament to this. The Jupiter 4 synth. Vocoder Plus with strings and voice. The RS-505 strings, brass, bass/synth. And now the RS-09 organ/strings machine.

I've gone on endlessly about the design/style of this ad series. No need to start up on that *again* (psst: really really good, especially as more ads get added to the series). But as the series begins to include more keyboards, another curious pattern begins to develop - the look of each keyboard itself. 

The Jupiter-4, Vocoder Plus, and RS-505 all look "similar" to me. I know, there are distinct differences - but they all look like they belong to the same family. But, the RS-09 looks distinctly different. Gone are the wood side panels and left-side controls. Sure, with less features (and a price tag of $795.00 to match), there are less controls in general. But to me, lacking any splashes of colour or wood, it takes on more of the look of two Roland synths that came before it - the SH-01 or SH-02 - or the SH-09 synth that followed.

I know its wrong, but it is those physical details that, in my mind, allow me to throw the RS-09 into Roland's "synth" bucket rather than the "string machine" bucket. Even with the organ-like flip-switches (I don't even know the proper name for them is), it still evokes that warm fuzzy feeling I get when I think of Roland synthesizers. On the reverse side of this weird brain behaviour is that my brain puts the Jupiter-4 into the string-machine bucket when compared to the look of the Jupiter-6 and Jupiter-8. The younger me immediately dismissed the Jupiter-4 for looking too string-machine-like next to the totally synth-y look of the Jupiter-6 and -8. 

What's really messed up about this whole situation is that once I actually listened to the RS-09, my brain wanted to immediately throw it back into the string machine bucket. I just wasn't impressed. Seriously. And I should have know better - it does say "organ" right in the name on the front panel of the instrument.

Its like in all those 80s movies when the dude puts the girl on the pedestal at the beginning of the movie, but then when he finally meets her he begins to see all the flaws. And like that guy, who at first denies the flaws and continues to try and make the relationship work, so did I do the same thing with the RS-09.

I first decided to listen to the RS-09 on Vintage Synth Explorer - they have a few audio samples on the right side of the RS-09 page. The first sample sounds okay to me, but I just couldn't get into the others. Just not my thing. But as soon as I looked back at that lovely image of the machine, my mind flipped right back into "synth" mode. I put it right back on that pedestal. 

I decided to give it another chance through YouTube. I found a decent demo with a guy who could even play.

Again, very organ-y. It just doesn't do it for me. Yet I want to buy this machine. And I want to like it.Just because of how it looks.

I know its a problem. I know its discrimination. I'm embarrassed.

Help.   :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Roland Paraphonic RS-505 "It Starts as a Symphony Orchestra" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Paraphonic RS-505 string synthesizer "It Starts as a Symphony Orchestra" full page colour advertisement from page 5 in the September 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

This wasn't the first advertisement to feature the RS-505, but it made sense to post it now since it's part of the Roland series of ads I'm currently infatuated with. In fact, I probably should have started with this ad since it was the first of the series to appear in the September 1979 issue. The Jupiter-4 ad started a month later in October, and the Vocoder Plus the following November.

On its own, it is a pretty ordinary looking ad. But as you put the series of ads together, they start looking a lot more like a set of Pokemon cards you want to collect and preserve. Distinctly different, but yet definitely complimenting each by following a tried and true formula - Ad title/photo/three columns of ad copy.

For the longest time I couldn't put my finger on it - but it must have been sitting there in my subconscious for a while. What I finally figured out was that one of the big reasons I'm drawn to these ads is that they all contain the retail price of the instrument. In the case of the RS-505 its $1,695.00. I have a lot of respect for a company that is willing to put a price in a magazine ad. And I think consumers, even more than 30 years ago, realized that this was the retail price and chances were that they could pick it up in-store much cheaper. 

Flipping through the rest of the September 1979 issue of CK with this in mind (a great activity for an Easter Sunday while sipping a coffee and beheading a white chocolate bunny) one will quickly realize that none of the other big ads had included the price:

Another interesting point about this ad (and some other RS-505 advertisements I've run across) is that Roland itself never refers to the RS-505 as the "Paraphonic RS-505". "Paraphonic" is not only a cool word that balances on that fine line between technology and art, it's also clearly labelled RIGHT ON THE FRONT PANEL OF THE INSTRUMENT. Why not include it in the ad-copy? Even today, my small circle of synth addict friends always refer to the machine the Paraphonic 505. Time has spoken. Its a well-liked term.

In the past I've had a bit of a chip on my shoulder for string machines. They didn't offer the full control of a synthesizer and so as a youngin' I probably wrongly considered them like toys. I'm not sure if it was when I got my Korg Trident, or maybe when I starting paying more attention to bands that regularly used string machines like The Cure, but I've grown wiser with age. But, there is only so much real estate in the studio, and if I have to choose between making space for a keyboard like Roland's  Jupiter 4 or 6, or the RS-505, the true synthesizer is going to win most of the time. I'm sure I'm loosing out through my discriminating behaviour.

Maybe its just time to take down a wall or two (figuratively and physically) and just double the size of the studio.

But first, Time to start on the legs of that bunny.