5 Inspiring Roland AIRA Performances

We’ve been hearing from a lot of DJTT readers who have seen some of Ean’s AIRA performance videos on his Facebook page and been asking us about the gear and how/why someone would want to use it in a production or DJ setup. For a fun Friday article, we’ve rounded up five performances with Roland AIRA gear that stand out and show off some of the coolest possibilities. Read on to watch them all!

KiNK on Roland TR-8

If you haven’t subscribed to KiNK’s fascinating YouTube channel already, I highly recommend going there right now and checking out some of his studio videos which include Aira performances. This video with just the TR-8 drum machine shows off the versatility of what must be the most popular AIRA model. The performance is super dynamic – with even a bit of footwork-style rhythms in there.

Oskar Szafraniec: Full Hour-Long Live Set

Ok, so tooling around on these machines and building interesting moments out of them is one thing – but what about a full hour-long set? This video from Oskar Szafraniec shows how a full AIRA setup (centered around the MX-1 performance mixer) can be a complete rig if you know it like the back of your hand. Worth nothing this isn’t an “on-the-fly” performance – it’s clearly well practiced and individual songs/parts are being played. He’s also using elements in Ableton Live 9 – but that’s not as visible in this video.

Tech49 – Live Dubstep

We first spotted this performance routine last summer and were blown away – not only because of the tools used, but because Tech49 was crafting some incredible throwback “real” dubstep – the original liquid sound, not the modernized “brostep”. It’s a great jam session – and especially when using the TB-3 bass synth, it’s all too easy to switch to an acid-sounding bassline – but he avoided it entirely. Other gear used in the video includes a GAIA SH-01 and a SP-404 Sampler.

Sluwe Vos and David Ahlund Collaborative AIRA setup

One of the appeals to having MIDI-synced hardware setups has always been that it’s very easy to keep all of your gear in time, even if there’s more than one person using different elements of the setup. This duo on the TR-8, TB-3, and System-1 synth do a good job of staying together and building a collaborative performance.

Jacob Waters AIRA Test Drive

The complete AIRA lineup also makes an appearance in this video – but what makes it especially interesting is the way in which Jacob has done some of the routing. He writes in his video description:

“I am running the audio output of the TB-3 to the input of the VT-3 to create a drone sound. Then I chop it up with side chaining in the MX-1.”

Bonus: Ean’s Most Recent AIRA Jam

Finally we’ll throw in one more bonus video – one of the recent Aira Performance videos from Ean’s Facebook that inspired this roundup in the first place!

This week’s live studio session captured a nice progressive number with a driving techno rhythm in one un-edited take. I will be uploading a free, full length version shortly, so make sure you are subscribed to my page!

Posted by Ean Golden on Friday, June 26, 2015

Have you seen any of Roland’s AIRA line being used impressively? Share it with us in the comments below! 

airaKiNKmx-1performance videosrolandroland aira system-1TB-3TR-8VT-3
Comments (19)
Add Comment
  • drno

    it’s 1980 all over again

  • Kromii Reeves

    Hi Guys, check out my new live improvisation on Roland Aira Gears plus other stuff like Microkorg XL… Hope you like it!!! Enjoy

  • Evan Coleman

    I have watched Acid House, over the past 4 years or so, regain it’s foothold on the music world. I often see a lot of people leaving the true innovators and creators of the sound out of the conversation. It all started with Acid Traxx by PHUTURE (DJ Spank Spank, Roy Davis Jr., and DJ Pierre) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCUPc9zVfyo I grew up WITH these guys in the South Suburbs of Chicago. I’ve given them lessons in Ableton Live, and I’m doing a release on their new label Acid Soul Recordings. Here is a clip from their live show in Chicago a few weeks back. Enjoy! https://www.facebook.com/jessie.cosgrove.9/videos/o.133092990195396/963030133747637/?type=2&theater

    • Pepper Sito


    • Eloy Zoet

      Very nice, this is sorta what i was talking about in my post. Just DJing with subtle addition of sounds from the TR8, well done!

    • drno

      nice. subtle. not trying to shit all over artists work like how DJing is headed with stems and loop packs.

  • Tarekith

    Ean’s video not shown?

    • Tao Jones

      yeah man!i wanted to see that 🙁

  • orge

    Impressive stuff! 🙂
    These boxes look like lots of fun, even if the sounds they can make are a little limited in relation to modern production. The benefit is simplicity that seems to pay off loads for live/dj use.

    I’m personally trying to get my head round the elektron product range in a similar context and it’s a much steeper learning curve. It may even be impossible to get as “live” a performance without ninja level skills (dataline) or extra midi controllers for key parameters.


    • drno

      Every live PA with these boxes I’ve seen in chicago clears the floor unless its someone who know’s what they are doing like Phuture. You can get this sound in any music program today.

  • Jacob Watters

    Thanks for sharing my video. 🙂

  • Eloy Zoet

    Nice round up of inspiring video’s. Thnx for that! What i would be even more interested in, is seeing a good sort of instructional video about how you can use the TR8 (and maybe TB3) in combination with a traditional DJ set. And how it can add an extra dimension to your set. Using like 2 CDJ’s and DJM900 for instance. Maybe have a sampler (Akai’s MPX16 or so) present for triggering one-shots or loops on the fly. I can’t find many video’s of dj’s doing this. I’m currently thinking about getting a TR8 to add more of some subtle extra sounds in my dj set (instead of getting full freestyle jamming with it). Just having more dynamic freedom in my set than just with 2 decks and traditional FX. BTW i like playing anything from melodic deep-/techhouse to techno music. (the lower BPM, darker kind, like Adam Beyer’s Drumcode style for instance). If Ean could do a video on how to best incorporate this in a DJ set, would be awesome!

    PS: Also maybe a tip i found on midi syncing your DJ setup with the TR8 is using the Soundbite Micro audio > midi function. (shown here: https://youtu.be/B_NnmHuR-Js)
    Ean didn’t show this option in his may 10th video about Syncing drummachines with a DJ set, he did say the midi out of the DJM isn’t working properly with syncing the TR8. It drifts after a while or when changing BPM. Cool tip i found, working great so i thought i’d share it with you.

    • orge

      I’ve been interested in pretty much the same thing and picked up a soubdbite for syncing my machinedrum with a traktor dvs setup. It kinda worked, but definitely not the “set and forget” that I was hoping for. A cdj would provide a more stable audio signal to sync with so might work better.

      Since then, I have had more success syncing the Machinedrum with traktors own midi clock – again I am using dvs for the main tracks. This works ok, but can drift a little over time. Again, this is probably due to slight fluctuations in the source tempo.

      I found that hitting the midi sync button in traktor brings this back into line though. So the final piece of the puzzle was to get the drum machine to send a midi note at the end of each 16 bar phrase. This is received by traktor and triggers a midi sync via controller manager.

      This works very well and gives me exactly the versatility I was looking for – 2 decks and some step sequenced drums for fills. Most challenging thing is not getting distracted by the drums and remembering to mix in another track! 😉

      I have also used cdj2000 in Hid mode with a midi fighter twister sync’d to traktor via midi. This was rock solid and required none of the resyncing above, so would expect an aira etc to work well with this too.

      From my experience, you may have some success with a cdj/soubdbite setup but it will prob feel similar to 2.5-3 deck mixing. Ultimately, you may find that it is little better than plugging the bpm reading in from a cdj and nudging the track to keep it in time. At least this doesn’t have the possibility that the soubdbite doesn’t screw things up as your base track heads into a breakdown or funny rhythm. You will likely have a much more fun time if you can go the Traktor route in dvs or (even better) hid with later cdj’s.


      • Eloy Zoet

        Yes i have DJM900 and CDJ900’s now. I used to have a full DVS systeem with Traktor Scratch Pro setup (2 X1’s, F1 and Audio10 soundcard). But i sold the Traktor stuff a while back and bought CDJ’s because i decided i don’t want to play with laptop anymore… Mainly because i wanted to get back to basic and having more focus on my decks, crowd etc instead of finding myself staring at a laptop screen lots of the time… More random fun mixing, more go-with-the-flow instead of using playlists etc. Don’t get me wrong, i like Traktor and what it offers but i decided it took away to much of my attention and spontaneous ‘loose’ playing style. BUT when i get the TR8 i will certainly try it out in combination with Traktor setup.

  • deeflash

    I have a few of my own AIRA videos up on YouTube, a mix of performances and tutorials.

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    I’d like to see a couple videos of this line of gear in the hands of Minilougue, Dapayk or Dominik Eulberg to really test the Airas’ mettle.