ZEN-Core is spelled just like that – caps first, lower case last. With it, Roland is shouting its way into the conversation about 21st century gear with a new brand-oriented synthesis system.

ZEN-Core will be the engine that powers Roland’s future synths and other electronic instruments, from “performance and production synthesizers to grooveboxes, stage pianos and more.”

This is low-key right now, but it’s bigger news than the launch of Roland’s AIRA line, the boutique models or anything else the company has done (or not done, as the case may be) that has garnered press in the last few years:

ZEN-Core base engine tones created on one instrument can be shared with other users or transferred into completely different compatible Roland hardware. Performers can take sounds made on a FANTOM and play them in the spotlight on an AX-Edge Keytar, or perform a JUPITER-X synth patch on an RD-88, dramatically simplifying setup and expanding tonal options. Sounds are easily shared with a bandmate or co-creator, even when using different compatible Roland hardware. With ZEN-Core, users have access to the sounds they want, in the format they want, wherever they produce or perform.


What Roland is talking about is total integration, though admittedly one that would lock users into the Roland ecosystem. If they’re able to carry it off, though, and ZEN-Core is as robust as they claim, it would be a major selling point for Roland brand instruments over competitors (and especially cheap clones):

The Roland ZEN-Core multi-timbral engine combines the latest Virtual Analog and PCM (up to 256 voices) synthesis techniques with powerful DSP effects. Advanced synthesis features include new VA oscillators, precisely modeled filters, ultra-fast and smooth LFO and envelope modulators, and high-resolution control of primary editing and performance parameters. Sounds created for the base engine will be compatible across all ZEN-Core instruments, opening-up a world of opportunities for creators and sound designers alike.


Owners of Roland’s latest gear – FANTOM synths, JUPITER-X series synths and RD-88 pianos – can expect a system upgrade to “start using the same compatible sounds across all models, adding a new collaborative capability to their instruments.” ZEN-Core will be introduced to the MC-101 and MC-707 grooveboxes later.

Roland prepared this full release about ZEN-Core, or see it with more pictures here.

Photo: Roland Jupiter-X via Roland ZEN-Core.