Roland 521 Dual VCF and Roland 512 Dual VCO

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SB-SIX
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Post by SB-SIX » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:45 am

I have a few questions for the 512 owners:
- Does the pitch change alot during warmup? ie do you need to wait before keeping it in tune?
- What is the range of the fine tune? Is it easy to dial in 5ths for instance?
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Aiyn Zahev
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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:39 pm

SB-SIX wrote:I have a few questions for the 512 owners:
- Does the pitch change alot during warmup? ie do you need to wait before keeping it in tune?
Not that I've noticed, no.
SB-SIX wrote: - What is the range of the fine tune? Is it easy to dial in 5ths for instance?
5ths can be reached at about 90% of the control's travel.

And shameless plug if anyone want's to hear the filter (the oscillators are mostly the 512 as well)
[video][/video]

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SB-SIX
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Post by SB-SIX » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:46 am

Thank you very much Aiyn! The filter sounds really nice too, great vid.
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Post by nashsnazzy » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:17 pm

The vocal sounds of that filter sound really sweet. I don't know why the Roland modules don't get more love.

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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:18 pm

nashsnazzy wrote:The vocal sounds of that filter sound really sweet. I don't know why the Roland modules don't get more love.
They are quite traditional I guess, nothing particularly exciting. Also fairly wide hp for some people, and dual everything makes them more expensive and a bit cramped. I think they are great however.

I think the Oscillator module is the best of the lot and probably the only irreplaceable module for me:

Dual oscillators
3 CV inputs per osc with 2 attenuators
2 types of sync
PWM
relatively compact
straight up great sound

And since it's all on the one panel it's easy and inviting to experiment with different kinds of cross modulation.

As for the filter, I love it but I've got nothing to compare it to, though I have a Polaris waiting for me to hook up, but that's Multimode anyway with lots of other stuff going on.

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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:09 pm

Turns out I much prefered the Roland filter to the Polaris. I just wanted to come back on the oscillator tuning, yes I have noticed it does change tuning on warm up, I don't think it takes long, I might do some measurements.

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Post by SB-SIX » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:31 am

I'm always working several days on a patch, and have some oscs that sound wayy off when i turn on my system the next day, that i cant even remember how it should have sound. A little difference is not a problem but almost 2 semitones is... its still high on the list:)
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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:22 am

SB-SIX wrote:I'm always working several days on a patch, and have some oscs that sound wayy off when i turn on my system the next day, that i cant even remember how it should have sound. A little difference is not a problem but almost 2 semitones is... its still high on the list:)
I wouldn't say the 512 is as bad as that.

This one's for you, all 512 oscillators, and the 521 Filter. Multi-tracks with some rev/delay and compression.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/319752411" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]

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Nightly Closures
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Post by Nightly Closures » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:05 pm

Sounds great.

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Post by SB-SIX » Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:05 am

Aiyn Zahev wrote:
SB-SIX wrote:I'm always working several days on a patch, and have some oscs that sound wayy off when i turn on my system the next day, that i cant even remember how it should have sound. A little difference is not a problem but almost 2 semitones is... its still high on the list:)
I wouldn't say the 512 is as bad as that.

This one's for you, all 512 oscillators, and the 521 Filter. Multi-tracks with some rev/delay and compression.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/319752411" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]

Wow! Even fatter than the original.
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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Sat May 06, 2017 4:26 pm

I should add, the tracking on these is pretty bad, at least on mine. I get about an octave that's ok, both with CV and the onboard Octave switches. If it's in tune on one octave it won't be on the next.

The reason it's not been such an issue I guess is I use Expert Sleepers Silent way which calibrates itself to give me good tracking.

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Post by WaveRider » Sun May 07, 2017 7:16 pm

is there a documented way to adjust tracking? I can adjust my dixies no problem...

I use to have a pretty big roland system back in the 90ies.. 808-909-CR78-CSQ600x2 etc..
I was found of my 2 sh-2, I think the system 500 sounds like it.

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Post by Aiyn Zahev » Fri May 12, 2017 1:34 am

You can adjust tuning on the back, not sure what exactly it does to tracking overall, seemed just like tuning to me. The issue I had was they are very sensitive to temperature and tuning them still didn't get them to track well over a few octaves and they'd be out of tune again in half an hour.

Like I said if you use silent way as I did it's not so bad. I guess it's old school electronics as other modern oscillators advertise up to 10 octave tracking. The System 500 oscs were my only analog oscillators in euro so as yet I don't have anything to compare them too. Very fat though, can't fault the sound.

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Post by miminashi » Fri May 12, 2017 2:55 pm

Before my 100m went haywire, the 112 VCOs were absolutely stable and tracked perfectly across the entire range of my CV converter. It's a shame if the 512 does not offer a comparable level of performance. Although it's important to note that the 100m modules are each enclosed in a metal box, which might account for some of the stability. The power supply is another factor that must be taken into consideration.

The tracking on my 521 is rather sharp. If I attenuate the keyboard CV about 25%, it tracks pretty well. There are two trimmers for each filter, which I assume are the scaling and offset. I'll calibrate them when I get the chance. Some trimpots are more susceptible to mechanical disturbance than others, so perhaps they got thrown out of whack during shipping. That might account for the poor tracking of the VCO, as well.

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Post by WaveRider » Fri May 12, 2017 7:28 pm

Aiyn Zahev wrote: Like I said if you use silent way as I did it's not so bad. I guess it's old school electronics .
no silent way I do use my modular alone without a computer most of the time...
I think an analog vco with good tracking is possible.... shame if the new eurorack osc do not track well...

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Post by SB-SIX » Sat May 13, 2017 5:09 pm

Wow that would really be a deal breaker if it can't track over a few octaves. Not something you'd expect from a €379 module. I have a bunch of analog oscs and they all track fine for at least 3 octaves when warmed up. Some even more than 8 octaves like the wmd spectrum
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Post by cjbattagl » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:14 am

When i got my 521 it barely tracked an octave (and I just checked ebay history -- I bought Aiyn's unit from above!)

Fortunately, the two trimpots in the back fix everything. There is one trimpot per VCO, and it affects scaling only (offset wasn't a problem).

I was able to tune it by slowly turning them until frequency doubled every time I turned the octave switch (using O+C's frequency tool). It took me about an hour, and it tracks 6-7 octaves now.

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Post by TemplarK » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:22 am

cjbattagl wrote:When i got my 521 it barely tracked an octave (and I just checked ebay history -- I bought Aiyn's unit from above!)

Fortunately, the two trimpots in the back fix everything. There is one trimpot per VCO, and it affects scaling only (offset wasn't a problem).

I was able to tune it by slowly turning them until frequency doubled every time I turned the octave switch (using O+C's frequency tool). It took me about an hour, and it tracks 6-7 octaves now.
Did you ever make a riff where you went over 3 octaves? xD Just asking haha

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Post by jensgc » Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:15 pm

Aiyn Zahev wrote:
SB-SIX wrote:I'm always working several days on a patch, and have some oscs that sound wayy off when i turn on my system the next day, that i cant even remember how it should have sound. A little difference is not a problem but almost 2 semitones is... its still high on the list:)
I wouldn't say the 512 is as bad as that.

This one's for you, all 512 oscillators, and the 521 Filter. Multi-tracks with some rev/delay and compression.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/319752411" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Thanks for this! Very informative!

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Post by ThisDudeAbides » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:51 am

cjbattagl wrote:When i got my 521 it barely tracked an octave (and I just checked ebay history -- I bought Aiyn's unit from above!)

Fortunately, the two trimpots in the back fix everything. There is one trimpot per VCO, and it affects scaling only (offset wasn't a problem).

I was able to tune it by slowly turning them until frequency doubled every time I turned the octave switch (using O+C's frequency tool). It took me about an hour, and it tracks 6-7 octaves now.
Sorry to bump this thread, but I needed some help as I am having a hell of a time trying to get my 512 to track over more than one octave.

Using Logic X's built in tune, I am using the two trimpots in the back to try and dial in.

Over CV, I was first using my mini brute as a controller. I couldn't get more than an octave out of that, but I read somewhere that the mini brute voltage offset was an issue. Ok, fair enough.

I bought a 2HP MIDI module, and lo and behold, still suffering from poor tracking on both oscillators.

I emailed Roland on backstage to ask for a service document or something on tuning the oscillator, but they've not responded. IS there a correct way to do this that I am missing out on?

Also, what is the expected amount of 'slop' i am supposed to have anyways? Over 2 or 3 octaves, it's mostly within +/- 8 cents. By the time I turn the footage knob up to 4 or so, it's like 20 cents out of tune.

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Post by DJMaytag » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:29 am

I’m getting close to 50 cents out of tune across 3 octaves. Anyone know what the proper procedure is with the adjustment pot on the back?
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Post by DJMaytag » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:46 pm

Never mind. I got it back to where it was and then was able to eek out 3 octaves (well C2 to C4) before it starts to get too far. Luckily the two OSC’s track between themselves pretty solidly.
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Post by OnTheRocks » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:59 pm

I recently got a 512 and am having tuning issues as well. It was 30 cents off going up just one octave. And it was consistent using both an external keyboard, and a different external sequencer. I adjusted the trimmers on the back of the 512 and got it to where it was tracking great, within 1-2 cents over 6 octaves. But now, the range/octave switches on the front of the unit are practically useless, as turning it one click, from say 16' to 8' makes it go so far out of whack you have to re-tune it with the fine tune. Definitely not suitable for jamming or live use. I could work around this using something like a Beasts Chalkboard, which would also remedy the weird squelchy noise the 512 makes when switching octaves, but I shouldn't have to add another module just to make this one work properly. Does anyone have any more info on this? I wish Roland or Malekko would post a proper calibration procedure. This way I could rule out if this particular module is bad, or if this is just the design of the 512.

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Post by Vokx » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:55 pm

I'm having the exact same issue. Although mine came perfectly trimmed, tracking 6 octaves within a few cents. The octave switches are also way off. Needing to re-tune after every switch-over. I have my 512 just over 6 months now. At first I thought I would easily work with/around it, but it's really starting to annoy me now.

So, a proper calibration procedure would be more than welcome indeed. Hoping this can be calibrated though.

I have a Made in Japan unit btw.

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Roland System-500 512 VCO Tuning and Scaling Instructions

Post by benski » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:08 am

I could not find official instructions, but it was straightforward enough to figure out. I wrote up instructions for others to follow:

512 tuning instructions

I used the tuner built into Ableton Live that shows very precise measurements, but you can use a chromatic tuner with a just high/low indicators with this method.

There are two adjustments per oscillator. On my non-Japanese model, the trimpots are labeled R and on my Japanese model, VR
Octave Switch trimpot with the screw close to the circuitboard - VR5 (osc1) and VR67 (osc2)
Keyboard Tracking trimpot on a blue trimpot module - VR19 (osc1) and VR81 (osc2)
Absolute Pitch trimpot with the screw close to the circuitboard - VR12 (osc1) and VR74 (osc2) - This one is very sensitive!
  • 1. Patch the sync output to your output module and then to your tuner
    2. Set the front panel octave switch to 32’ .
    3. Play a low note on your keyboard. Adjust the front panel Tune knob until it is in tune.
    4. Play another note 3 octaves up.
    If the high note is too high, turn the blue trimpot screw (VR19 for Osc1, VR81 for osc2) clockwise (counterclock for non-Japanese model) slightly - it will make the pitch even higher.
    If the note is too low, turn the trimpot counterclockwise (clockwise for non-Japanese model) to make the note even lower.
    Yes! You read that right - we are making the high note even more out of tune.
    5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until no more adjustment is needed.
    6. Play a low note on the keyboard
    7. Move the front panel octave switch to 4’ and adjust the trim screw on the circuit board (VR5/VR67) until the oscillator is in tune. This is the opposite of what we did in step 4.
    8. Switch back to 32’ and adjust the front panel Tune knob if necessary.
    9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until no more adjustments are necessary.
    10. Repeat the entire process until no more adjustments are necessary. I found that the two trimpots do not influence each other, but you might have a difference experience.
    11. Align the tune knob with 0
    12. Adjust the absolute pitch trimpot (VR12/VR74) until the pitch is dead on. This one is very sensitive!
    13. Repeat for the second oscillator in your module.
NOTE:
You don't have to use 3 octaves if your keyboard is small, it can be 1 or two octaves, but using a larger octave range in steps 3&4 will reduce the impact of your tuner's tolerance on the oscillator scaling.
Last edited by benski on Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

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