Roland’s latest entry into the Eurorack format is an exciting system of modules that work extremely well together, but also extend the functionality of just about any module in your rack. I paired up the 510 Synth and 505 filter module for this review and found them to be a great match for beginners and pros alike.
The System 500 510 (which is a mouthful so we’ll call it the 510 from now on) is a single-voice analog synth module. It takes up about 20hp in your rack, is painted a fairly sexy black and offers discrete outputs for square, saw, and triangle waveforms. It has a lowpass filter with 2 inputs and contains switchable hipass modes. The VCA has a switch that allows it to go from linear to exponential, and to top it off the synth is ‘normalled’. This means there is a ‘default patch’ that makes sound with no cables attached. This is handy in a pinch, but most of the fun of Eurorack lies in that glorious mound of spaghetti you create.
The 505 filter is the filter section of the venerable SH-5 packed into a 16hp space. The SH-5 is known for its bass response, and its filter is highly sought after. In contrast to a standard ladder filter, the SH-5 filter (and subsequently, the 505) allows for deep bass power at any frequency, and keeps your bass pumping even when you modulate the resonance. The 505 is a dual filter - it has a multi-mode section and a bandpass section, and the switchable outputs allow you to re-route your signal even after everything is all patched in. The filters can be used separately or quickly patched together in serial.
The System 500 modules were quite easy to set up. In what is becoming ‘the norm’ for Eurorack, there are minimal instructions in the box, but of course more verbose help is available on Roland’s website. The only little ‘trick’ I found difficult was deciphering the ‘normalled’ patch of the 510, but a quick glance at the online manual helped me figure out why the synth was making noise with no cables plugged in.
The Roland SYR-E84 case is really nice for keeping everything organized as well as for carrying around - it’s way more portable than most cases and everything fit in nicely. I was anxious to see how ‘nice’ the System 500 modules would play with my other Eurorack modules, so I patched them into my Tiptop Audio case. Everything worked just as expected, and the input/output levels of the System 500 modules all matched my other modules from various companies perfectly.
The 510 has a pretty nice filter section on it to begin with, so at first I wasn’t sure I’d need to do much with the 505… but then I patched them together. Whooooaaa baby. I never owned an SH-5, but if the 505 is any indication of what it was like, I see what all the fuss was about. When you get into the lower range and use something fun to modulate the resonance you get motion and growl together at a level that is just deeply satisfying. These 2 modules work extremely well together, but truth be told, I had just as much fun routing my other modules through them as I did using the System 500 separately.
The 510 and 505 are really special modules. The construction is rock solid, the sound is wonderful and the features are extensive. The 510 is easy to get into for a beginner just starting out in Eurorack, and the 505 is most definitely a ‘must have’ filter for any audio enthusiast. I’m excited to see where Roland goes with this!