MATRIXSYNTH: Roland Promars Compuphonic | The Red Planet

Friday, December 13, 2019

Roland Promars Compuphonic | The Red Planet

Published on Dec 13, 2019 Alex Ball

"A musical demo of the Roland Promars Compuphonic from 1978.

This guy accompanied the release of the Jupiter-4 and is basically its monophonic sibling, although it has some differences.

The Promars has a “dual VCO” and it works as follows: The master VCO has sawtooth, square, variable pulse, sub oscillator and separate white noise. There is a second VCO (which also has its own sub oscillator) which is slaved to the waveshape and modulation of the master VCO, but can be tuned independently.

There’s a switch to the bottom right of the instrument that flicks between'“A-Tune, off and B-Tune' for VCO 2. These are two manual tuning settings for the second oscillator and a mute in case you just want one VCO. An example would be tuning the second oscillator up an octave and turning on the sub oscillator which would give you three octaves of a note with the middle note being duplicated. You can also create some very cool detuned sounds that really reminded me of the Prodigy (listen the pitch-bent lead line in the verse sections of my track).

There’s the usual Roland resonant low-pass / basic high-pass combination and then two envelopes (one is invertible), which makes the Promars more flexible than the Roland SH synths of the era. You can overload the VCA for drive too, which is a welcome feature.

The LFO is excellent on the Promars with a very wide frequency range. There’s four waveshapes available: sine, square, sawtooth and inverted sawtooth.

There’s also the familiar performance section to the bottom left of the synth which can be used to modulate VCO, VCF and VCA with bender or LFO. Portamento is found in this section as well as a “hold” switch that sustains a note indefinitely. I used this in the breakdown section where Carl Sagan joins us.

The “Compuphonic” name refers to the fact that it has eight memory slots. There’s also ten pretty terrible presets available, but they have their charms.

On the rear it has mono output, headphone output, CV/Gate in and out and external control of the bender if you wish to connect a foot pedal.

I created as many sounds as possible on the Promars including most of the drums with the exception of the hi-hats, cymbals and claps that came from the TR-606 and TR-808 respectively. I also made a subby kick on the Promars and then layered a filtered kick from the TR-707 to add a click to it in certain sections.

In the chorus section of my track I tuned the VCOs in intervals for some stacked chords. One pass was tuned in 5ths, the next in 4ths, the next a major 3rd and the next a minor 3rd. You have to be careful about what you’re playing in each part, but you get some interesting chord voicings and interactions that you wouldn’t be able to play on a poly in the normal manner.

It’s only the second time I’ve played a Promars and it’s a really cool synth and it certainly looks the part!

Sounds used:
Roland Promars Compuphonic (1978)
Roland Juno-6 (1982) into Seekers Voice Spectra Vocoder
Roland TR-606 (1981)
Roland TR-808 clap sample (1980)
Roland TR-707 (1984)

Thanks for watching."

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