Roland Cloud Review
Scenario 1: Aira Synthesizer Owner
This is the primary mode I am in: I own a
Roland System-1 and a Roland System-8. As such, there are
two things I get out of the Roland Cloud that are useful.
First, I get the System-1 and System-8 librarians. Without either of these, loading patches is either not very easy (System-1) or tedious (System-8). As such, I can afford to squeeze it into my budget: I canceled my Netflix. The librarians make sharing and saving patches much easier.
I can't say completely easy: there are features that Roland could implement in them that would make life easier, such as copying ranges of patches into other patches. For example, combining all the Aira Transient patch sets 1-4 into one patch set of 64 patches requires me to one by one double-click the patch I want to load it, then go to the new patch and slot and click "write." That the Transient set got released in four sets of 16 rather than one of 64 is slightly annoying, but in theory I should only have to combine them once. I combine these, by the way, because the System-8 patch selection in the VST can scroll off the screen. But this is a "good problem" because Roland has released so many patches for the System-8 that it's ridiculous (again, in a good way).
As for me, I play the Aira synthesizers in church. I really don't want, nor care, if the VST lets me change parameters: I hate the mouse-only interface. I'd rather be twisting knobs and moving sliders. But that's just me. I have a friend that actually likes DAW-based synthesizers, so to each his own.
Another great feature of the System-1 and System-8 Roland Cloud Librarians is that, having subscribed to "Ultimate" level, I can put any Plug-Out in either of my synthesizers. Or both. I have essentially unlimited access to the Pro Mars, SH-101, SH-2, System-100, Juno-106, Jupiter-8, and JX-3P.
Finally, probably the best feature is all the patches. In my humble opinion, the JX-3P is nice, but when there was only the first factory patch for it, it was almost useless in church, except for "Organ 2". Now, however, with the Synthwave set of 64 for the JX-3P, I have PD Emotive Pad and many other great patches. So without the Cloud, essentially that Plug-Out slot on my System-8 was superfluous. Now, with all the Plug-Out patches for the JX-3P and the other Plug-Outs, I am almost drowning in great patches! There are thousands of patches!
In this mode of use, in church, I have almost no need for everything else on the Roland Cloud, other than the Aira (System-1/8) and the Legendary (all those Plug-Outs) categories. But it's worth it. And Roland has a loyalty program: every year I get a lifetime access key to one of the Legendary Plug-Outs.
To be fair, very few people in church are going to recognize any of the Legendary Plug-Out patches. No one has ever walked up to me after church and said "man I loved that Jupiter-8 sound!" It doesn't happen. So really, it's not like the church musician "needs" to be doing all this old-school stuff. But I am someone who also likes to busk, so the System-1 and System-8 are excellent for conjuring up some Synthwave stuff. Not to mention almost all the legendary sounds from the 70s and 80s.
Scenario 2: DAW Synthesizer User
I have used the Roland Cloud Concerto series in
my DAW before. As such, I used it for piano + pads (Concerto
Piano plus Sugar series). I was able to dial in the pads as
being not velocity sensitive but the piano being velocity
sensitive, thus when I played very softly, the piano
"disappeared," but the pad remained, etc.
I am very happy with how that ended up sounding. If I did this a lot, I am sure I'd love using the Cloud for this. There are so many very-high-quality sound samples on Roland Cloud. Much less I also have access to all the other VSTs like the Aira, Legendary, and many other series old synthesizers like the D-50. And the drum machines, like the TR-808.
Overall, I loved using the Roland Cloud in my DAW in church. And I would also recommend it. Having the subscription means I have an insane amount of VSTs for only a little per month. Buying a real D-50 or any of the other real deal synthesizers on the Cloud would be super expensive (this also apples to the previous section: the Junos and Jupiters aren't cheap, and neither are their Boutique re-issues).