Roland V-Synth 2.0 and VC-2 Voice Designer

Roland V-Synth 2.0
Roland V-Synth 2.0

Last week I picked up a “JUNK” Roland V-Synth 2.0 which turned out to be in excellent condition. The only issue was the INC/DEC buttons had a tendency to skip sometimes. I found out that is a relatively common problem but not enough to classify the synth as Junk…laugh. Japan uses the word “JUNK” to mean “AS IS” but I know that’s not truly the same meaning. I have found 99% of synth junk in Japan to be near fully operational or at least fixable. I ended up going for the Roland V-Synth 2.0 picking it up for a rock bottom price and sure enough it works great.

The Roland V-Synth 2.0 version is built very well. The build is very similar to that of the Roland Fantom X series workstations but a tiny bit bigger in width. It’s a solid synth with a ton of options for shaping virtual synth sounds and samples. I LOVE the sampling abilities of the V-Synth. It’s so incredibly easy to drop samples in and mangle them. There is so much you can do and I find the V-Synth to be a valuable addition to my gear setup. This is one synth I will not be selling for sure. It’s a good one.

With only a week of playing the V-Synth 2.0, I only really discovered one major limitation. That is the inability to effectively split the keyboard and have the arpeggiator play in one zone only. There also is no “one zone only” hold option for sample loops. Again it’s either hold all zones or nothing at all. With that said, the arp is custom programmable and with splitting the keyboard into several zones, you can create some really cool grooves that will transpose on the fly. There also is a four track step modulator that works awesome for adding all sorts of modulation to the mix.

The key to the Roland V-Synth is to both understand what purpose you wish to use it for and to understand it’s limitations. I call the V-Synth a “work around” synth that requires you to get creative with it’s limitations. The Roland V-Synth 2.0 is NOT a workstation, rather a performance synth. It can be used in a midi setup for a couple of tracks effectively but ultimately it’s a synth meant to be played live. It’s a hands on synth and can really liven up a song greatly by creating that sort of mangled and glitchy sampled sound. Plus you can create some really nice motion sequences or dreamcapes. In fact I’ve found the V-Synth to be excellent for composing music because it’s so easy to create hooks and single tracks to work songs around. The V-Synth is definitely an idea machine.

In addition to the Roland V-Synth 2.0, I found over on Yahoo Auction Japan the Roland VC-2 Sound Designer expansion card for a hundred bucks. That’s really cheap compared to most Ebay prices provided you can even find the VC-2 card. It’s a great addition to the V-Synth and provides a wealth of vocal sound design possibilities. You do have to reboot the V-Synth to use the card which eliminates the original V-synth capabilities unlike the V-Synth GT, but it works well nonetheless. The V-Synth 2.0 is not my main board, rather I use it to add to other gear so for one or two tracks it works well. I already have a couple of Roland D-50 synths so I’m on the fence about acquiring the Roland VC-1 D50 card. That might be pretty redundant if one already has a D50. The VC-2 Voice Designer card on the other hand I think compliments the V-Synth really well.

With the Roland V-Synth 2.0 there are a lot of tips and tricks floating around the web. The V-Synth is a very powerful synth with lots of bells and whistles aboard. There are some glaring limitations such as splitting the arp and effects to one zone only, but there are ways around it. For one is to resample the arp and slot the sample into zone 1. Then hold with your finger and play your melody on the right. Yes, you have to hold the loop down because there is no latch for the loop, but it does work. Despite some limitations with polyphony as well, the V-Synth is a very strong synthesizer for creating just about anything you need in a mix. The sample capabilities as mentioned are amazing.

There are also plenty of great V-Synth patch libraries available but I found the following “Analog Legends” set to be invaluable. I just recently purchased these patches and I highly recommend them for analog sounds. They are the best I’ve found thus far and will also work well as templates.

Another great V-Synth patch library is from JayB. I found some excellent zone split template patches in this set and also highly recommend it. It’s a free download.

2 thoughts on “Roland V-Synth 2.0 and VC-2 Voice Designer

  1. Mike.

    Hi Jim,

    I just picked up a V-Synth with a (hopeully!) minor issue.

    When I’m in the ‘TVA’ screen I can adjust the ADSR using the touch-screen, but when I move the sliders, nothing appears to happens on the screen, or to the patch currently being played. When I move the sliders, does the corresponding parameter on the screen also change?

    All other controls work fine and the TVA sliders appear in good shape and (mechanically) working, but they have no effect.

    Am I missing something (being a V-Synth newbie) or will I have to operate?

    Any hints/bewares when opening a V-Synth? Any chance you have the service manual (seems almost impossible to get).



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