12 Maggio 2021

Roland Personal Model Expansions and corresponding Zen-Core Tones


Zen-Core MODEL EXPANSIONS (in the past called "model banks") were born as a method to emulate some vintage Roland synthesizers in some compatible Zen-Core hardware and within the ZENOLOGY software.

To date there are 4 models compatible with Jupiter X / XM, Fantom and Zenology (the expansions Juno-106, Jupiter-8, SH-101 and JX-8P) to which is added the JD-800 expansion available for Jupiter X / XM and Zenology.

In the future, new Model Expansion will certainly be made available, which according to Roland's promises, thanks to the power of the ZEN-Core synthesis system, will allow you to create
"... new and exciting Roland synthesizers that can draw inspiration from existing hardware or be built in complete autonomy .." see link

Thanks to numerous tests and documentation on the implementation of Fantom's MIDI System Exclusive messages, I managed to obtain two results that greatly expand the synthesis possibilities of the MODEL EXPANSIONS currently existing. In detail, I managed to:

- create Personal Model Expansions in which I modified the structure of the existing ones by adding new features and, in some cases, increasing the polyphony up to double it.

- convert any sound of any Model Expansions (except the JD800) into the corresponding Zen-Core tone: this tone will sound identical, it will be editable and obviously it can be played on any Zen-Core Hardware (Ax-Edge, Rd-88, MC-101, MC-107 and MV-1 included), Zenology software and ZenBeat APP (ZC1 instrumets)

To understand how this is possible, it is necessary to think of Model Expansions, as templates (or macros) that in the “background” operate on the Zen-Core structure corresponding to the chosen model.
Each time you intervene on a model synthesis parameter, the software (firmware in the HW) modifies one or more parameters of the Zen-Core engine based on very precise correspondences, which continues to operate exactly as in standard mode. In addition, hidden Zen-Core parameters are activated and modified that cannot be accessed directly, but only via MIDI SysEx.

The interesting thing is that when any sound of a model is stored and / or exported, not only are the values ​​of the model parameters stored (e.g. OSC, Filters, ENV, MOD of a SH-101) but are stored all corresponding values ​​of the underlying standard Zen-Core structure.

In fact, if you try to export (.svz file) a tone from a ModelBank and a Zen-Core, the former, despite having many fewer parameters, will have a larger size: therefore all the values ​​of the Zen-Core sound are stored in the corresponding file.

Thanks to this feature I was able to create what I called the "Personal Model Expansions": I started from an existing model, through MIDI SysEx I modified the synthesis structure of the underlying Zen-Core model and from that moment on any modification of the Model Expansion parameters affects the new model created. Full compatibility and the ability to export and share sounds is guaranteed by the presence of the entire underlying Zen-Core tone in each user sound created.

All Personal Model Expansions are obviously editable and therefore from each it is possible to create, store and share all the changes (new sounds) you want.

I have created, for now :-) , about twenty Personal Model Expansions: here are some examples

- Personal Model Juno 106 with detuned SAW and SQR
- Personal Model Juno 106 with SuperSaw oscillator instead of Noise
- Personal Model Juno 106 with 3 Saw oscillators, two detuned (-6 +6 Cent) and one with PWM
- Personal Model JX-8P with additional SuperSaw oscillator (also in an unfiltered version)
- Personal Model JX-8P with additional stereo Strings PCM oscillator
- Personal Model JX-8P with additional oscillator with PCM stereo sample Syn Vox1 (the classic sound of the Fairlight SARRAR)
- Personal Model SH-101 with an Alpha Juno oscillator (instead of the SQR) and equipped with PWM
- Personal Model Juno 106 with only OSC SAW and SQR (also in detuned version) and polyphony that goes from 14 to 28 voices
- Personal Model JX-8P with 28 voices polyphony (eliminated the background noise oscillator which reduces the polyphony of the instrument from 28 to 19 voices)

The complete list follows (click to enlarge)

Thanks to what we have seen, the second result I was able to obtain was to convert any sound of any Model Expansions (with the exception of the JD800) into the corresponding Zen-Core tone: this tone will sound identical, it will be editable and obviously it can be played on any compatible Zen-Core Hardware or Software.

Regarding the JD800 model, it is also possible to make customizations using a Jupiter x (which I don't have :-) ) : we hope to see it implemented on Fantom soon.
This is possible thanks to a combination of MIDI SysEx messages that allow the reading and therefore the export of the entire Zen-Core tone underlying each Model Expansions (standard or "personal").
Once the Zen-Core tone is obtained, it can then be stored and then exported and shared like any standard Zen-core sound. Hence the possibility of making it play even on all Zen-Core Hardware (Ax-Edge, Rd-88, MC-101, MC-107 and MV-1) that do not natively read Model Expansions.

Obviously, when you decide to edit this sound, all the constraints of the template of the model that generated it are lost, leaving total freedom exactly as for any zen-core tone.

Further information will follow to allow you to create your own "Personal Model Expansions" freely and in a fairly simple way.

You can download the 21 Personal Model Expansions and the corresponding 21 Zen Core Tones for free here.

Here is a video from which you can verify the identical sound of a Model Expansion (performed by the Zenology-Pro software) with the corresponding Zen-Core tone that derives from it, this one played by an AX Edge, a synth natively not compatible with the Models.