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HBF Tech Round-up: RME’s Babyface Pro, Roland’s System-1M Synth And ROLI’s Equator

James Trigo takes you through this month’s music tech with a new audio interface from RME, a new synth from Roland’s Aira range, the System-1m, and ROLI’s multidimensional synth engine, Equator.

Up until fairly recently audio interfaces were regarded as a very functional item, with connectivity, bit rates and latancy on the minds of prospective buyers. But lately manufactures like Universal Audio and Arturia have been making looks one of the key factors too, and why not? With an audio interface a necessity if you want to get audio in and out of your computer, it may as well look good. One that’s following this trend is the most resent from RME, the Babyface Pro. With an Apple-esq aluminium build it features 24-channels at 192kHz, space saving XLR sockets, 2 headphone outs and USB 3 compatibility. Along with the hardware is RME’s TotalMix FX software giving you full control of the interface from your Windows, OSX or iOS device. Visit the website for more info on the Babyface Pro and to find out when it’ll be available.


Any addition to Roland’s Aira range gets ears twitching, and after the speculation that was conjured up from a couple of pics shared on the internet it’s now official that the hardware giant is reaching back even further into the past with a range of Eurorack ready, semi-modular synths and effects. The System-1m features the same synth engine as their System-1 but with more routing options and CV/Gate connectivity to talk to other like-minded synths in your setup. The effect modules come in 4 flavours, Torcido distortion, the Demora delay, the Bitrazer crusher and the Scooper which takes the ‘Scatter’ effect from their TR-8 drum machine and puts into one dedicated unit. All of these devices have audio ins and outs and are capable of being programmed with your computer or smartphone should the need arise. Roland have also mentioned the future release of the System-500, an analogue modular synth inspired by the System-700 and System-100m, so all ears will be on the ground for that over the coming months.


We’ve mentioned our love of the ROLI Seaboard Grand controller before, well now they’ve released the ROLI Equator, a multidimensional synth engine to compliment the controller. Similar to the plug-out technology of the System-1, Equator can be loaded directly onto the Seaboard Grand via a firmware upgrade, so there’s no computer required, although a software option will still be available for OSX. With an expansive preset library and intuitive interface, if the synth engine is anywhere near as expressive as the Seaboard Grand it should be worth a look/listen. With the software available now, and pre-loaded Seaboard Grands shipping from mid May, check out the ROLI website for more details.


James Trigo

James Trigo is an advocate for the craft of making a good tune. Whiling away the small hours with his head in a sequencer, if he's not making music he's listening to it, and then writing about it. Come say hello. Free free to contact James here: onetwotrigo@gmail.com