I’ve been out of the music scene for a while now. Since moving to Tokyo a year and a half ago, I’ve started a new career path, and I don’t have much time to pay attention to the music industry anymore. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a keyboard programming project for a school in Taipei, which required a few classic rompler1 sounds.

Like many keyboardists and synthesizer enthusiasts, I went through a rompler phase. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m talking about. My rompler phase took place during college, where I was obsessed with trying to identify classic rompler patches in Top 40 hits from the late 90s. For some reason, I thought my parents would be interested to know that the song we were listening to featured a Yamaha MOTIF piano sound.

Before moving to Tokyo, I owned a Yamaha MOTIF XF8 and Roland XV-5050. Unfortunately, I chose to sell everything before moving because it didn’t make sense to move to a new country with a rack case and a gigantic keyboard workstation. Fast forward to 2020 – I was so excited to be able to work on a project that called for some classic Roland rompler goodness. Now that I’m all settled in and comfortable in Tokyo, I had the perfect excuse to pick up a used Roland XV-5080 or a new Roland INTEGRA-7.

During my eBay research process, I stumbled upon Roland Cloud – Roland’s subscription VST product featuring digital recreations of a variety of iconic instruments. I briefly checked out Roland Cloud when it first came out, but didn’t end up keeping it because there weren’t many useful sounds for the stuff I was working on. I was shocked to see Roland had added the JV-1080 and XV-5080 to Roland Cloud – and they apparently did so all the way back in 2017. In other words, I missed out on two years of Roland magic. Shame on me.

Anyway, I signed up for a Roland Cloud subscription, and spent the last two days playing through some of my favorite JV/XV patches. In an ideal world, I’d take hardware over software, but shelling out $500 for a used XV-5080 versus $20/month for Roland Cloud doesn’t make financial sense at this time because diapers and baby food are expensive. I do miss the grittiness of the old hardware units though. At some point, I’ll have to experiment with running the Roland Cloud recreations through a preamp to get some analog saturation and color.

It’s 2020. If you’re going through a quarter-life nostalgic phase like me, get yourself a subscription of Roland Cloud. I promise it’ll make you smile.

  1. A rompler is an electronic musical instrument with samples burned onto ROM (read-only memory). Romplers typically come in two forms - keyboard or sound module. They're well known for having excellent "bread and butter" sounds presets. Yamaha's MOTIF series and Roland's JV/XV series are two examples of popular romplers. ↩︎