Roland AIRA Compact S-1 Tweak Synth Review

Newest Addition to the AIRA Compact Family

Brian Griffith · 05/11/23

Roland's AIRA Compact series has brought us three delightful boxes thus far: the E-4 Voice Tweaker, J-6 Chord Synth, and T-8 Beat Machine. All of them are fantastic, with the E-4 being a personal favorite, and Roland now expand their like to include the brand new S-1 Tweak Synthesizer. Based on the sound of the classic SH-101, the S-1 is in the same lightweight form factor and offers four-voice polyphony.

This might just be one of the most powerful compact synthesizers ever created with the option to mangle the classic waveforms by drawing your own, multiplying the frequency, and chopping the wave into 16 different, independent steps. You can step your triangles and asymmilate your square waves to open up whole new layers of sound. FIne tune these details with the Comb option that repeats the Chop you just made for metallic tones, and use the Overtone option to adjust how much the Chop eats into the waveshape. You can think of the S-1 as being a pint-sized repackaging of ideas from the much-loved SH-4D; a combination of old-school Roland sounds with completely new approaches to sound manipulation.

The S-1 is also just a good sounding synth regardless of how deep you dive into the waveshape sculpting: using the Analog Circuit Behavior technology, you get simple, exceptional sound oscillators when you need them. Interacting with the onboard button-keyboard is easy whether you are playing or punching in notes for the onboard 64-step sequencer. Not limited to notes, each step can record up to 8 different parameter positions.

Performance is paramount in the AIRA universe and S-1 offers a customizable D-Motion internal sensor modulation. Couple that with the ability to record parameter tweaking in your pattern real time and you have a fun box to bring with you anywhere. Roland hits it out of the park with the S-1 Tweak Synth—a park where you could, indeed, be playing with this device.