Open Box (Scratch and Dent) Roland Roland VB-99 V-Bass System
Bass Effects Pedals
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The Roland VB-99 V-Bass System Bass Processor delivers 3 times the sonic firepower of the original model. Based on an enhanced custom processing engine and 10 years of R&D, the Roland V-Bass serves up a wide range of inspiring COSM bass and amplifier models. You also get powerful polyphonic effects, fresh string modeling technology, dual independent signal paths for blending sounds, a variety of different controllers, and a host of thoughtful improvements that bassists demanded. Better still, the Roland VB-99 V-Bass has a smaller, more convenient format that's ideal for both tabletop recording and on-stage use.
Dual Independent Signal Paths
The Roland VB-99 sports dual independent signal paths, which greatly expands the sonic possibilities of this system. The 2 paths can be assigned to 2 distinct sounds (patches), and mixed and layered as desired. Sounds can be blended with a single knob, and even split or switched via playing dynamics. Imagine setting up a patch in which an electric bass morphs into a synth sound when you really dig in, or maybe assigning an overdriven amp sound to your low B and E strings, and a lush, string-type sound to your A, D, and G strings. The soundscapes are almost endless.
In addition to more than twice the number of patches—including everything from classic and modern basses, to acoustic instruments, and a vast range of amps and effects—the VB-99 offers greater expressive possibilities thanks to a D BEAM Controller, a Ribbon Controller, and String Modeling.
The assignable D-Beam controller allows a bassist to control his sound via hand gestures through an infrared beam of light. It's a great way to generate inspiring tones and wow an audience.
Ribbon Controller: The onboard Ribbon controller is much like those found on keyboard synthesizers—perfect for tweaking a patch or getting just the right filter setting on a bass synth sound.
V-LINK is Roland's proprietary format for controlling external video equipment, so visionary bassists can create soundscapes beyond just the music.
String Modeling is new to the VB-99, enabling to convert "Round Wound" strings to "Flat Wound" or "Black Nylon" for enhanced bass performance.
A Simple, Intuitive Interface
Of course, all the V-Bass' power would mean nothing if it wasn't supremely easy to use in the widest variety of settings. That's why the VB-99 incorporates a large, bright 240 x 64 dot LCD, with tons of helpful graphics. There are also dedicated knobs and buttons for all major functions. So you can go from tweaking an amp model to adjusting global settings within seconds.
Since the introduction of the original V-Bass, players around the world have given Roland some great feedback. As a result, the VB-99's new "bassist-friendly" features include a BASS DIRECT input/output, for sending your normal bass output unchanged through the VB-99—or blending it with the onboard sounds as desired. There's also an XLR output with ground lift switch for going direct, either live or in the studio.
Perfect for Modern Recording Setups
With the VB-99's built-in USB audio/MIDI streaming capability, you can take full advantage of computer-based setups. Just connect a single USB cable from the back of the V-Bass directly to your Mac or PC. Then trigger other sounds (via MIDI) or record your V-Bass (via USB audio) using your DAW software and plug-ins (sold separately). Roland's V-Bass editing software (free downloadable) even lets you edit and save V-Bass sounds right from your computer.
Take your bass tones to new highs and lows, and in betweens when you buy a VB-99.
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Comments about Roland VB-99 V-Bass System:
Ive owned this for five months, and Im still just getting to know all it can do. The more I learn, the more excited I get about its possibilities.
If you cant get the sound you want, it probably means you havent spent enough time with it. You can use it as a plug and play box, most of the factory sounds are very good and usable in the right context. But if you want to get the most from it, expect to spend some time working with the manual.
Its basic features are the instrument (13), amp (12) and cab modeling. As a longtime owner of the Bass Variax and POD XT Live by Line 6, the only other company to attempt this so extensively, I can tell you Roland got much closer to the real instruments for bass players. Since the late 1970s, my main bass has been a 66 Fender Jazz. Most of Line 6s bass models sound similar to each other, and they didnt come close to a real Jazz bass. While I cant say that Roland completely nailed it, they satisfyingly captured some of the authentic quality of a Jazz bass. All the VB-99s bass models sound distinctly different, close to the originals, and are totally customizable. Each string is independently tunable up or down two octaves, and you can blend in the direct string sound to any degree, or not. The upright emulations are the best Ive heard, and the many user-definable parameters increase their realism in different playing contexts. In a mix, none but the most discerning listeners would know the difference. There are even Strat and Les Paul guitar models onboard. Mainly polyphonic octave-up pitch shifting through guitar pickup, amp and cab sims with effects added, the Les Paul in particular supplies a passable electric guitar. When run through distortion/OD/fuzz, delay and reverb, the shredder illusion is credible.
Im not a big fan of amp and cab modeling, so I havent spent much time with those, only enough to say each model has its unique characteristics. I can hear how theyd be very useful if you like to run direct into a mixing board, either for live performance or recording.
Most of the nine separate synth modules are impressive and versatile. You can get very fat, meaty sounds, killer classic synth basses, light airy sounds, and a lot in between, many rivaling keyboard synths. Rich, lush filter sweeps. A few modules have an intrinsic watery, excessively resonant/reverb sound to them, but even those are tweakable enough to get some usable sounds. Accurate tracking of onboard sounds is instantaneous, but you may need to adjust both the sensitivity settings and your playing technique to eliminate false triggerings. Those happen most often from either the sympathetic resonance from an open string or harmonic, or from a rest stroke of your picking fingers on the next lowest string. This only happens in a couple of the modules, and is eliminated by those adjustments.
With basically two high-quality GT-10B sound engines, you have all the standard bass effects and many unique ones too. Initially I thought some of the effects were stripped down versions of their stomp-box equivalents. For example, the Slicer has only 20 patterns, many are similar, with few adjustable parameters to create variety. Then I realized that if combined with various onboard filters, modulation, panning and pitch shifting effects, you actually have many more possibilities than the stompbox offers.
Each patch allows two separate channel paths, blendable in any proportion. You can do typical amp channel switching, using Channel A for your clean bass part and Channel B for your bass solo sound, have an acoustic bass on one channel and an electric or synth on the other, or use the same bass sound on both channels but with completely different eq, effects, and order in which you chain them. You can flip between channels by the turn of a knob, by your playing dynamics (very cool!), or by assigning that to an external controller. (For live performance, I strongly recommend getting the FC-300 for complete hands-free control of every parameter.) This is just the tip of the iceberg, you can set this up any way you can imagine.
The VB-99 is capable of many things you wouldnt know about by casually reading the manual. For example, neither the index nor table of contents mention a looper. However, theres a 10 second sound-on-sound looper available through the delay, which they call the Hold function. This can be confusing, because Hold is also the word they use to sustain a synth drone indefinitely (you can solo on top of it), and thats different than the Freeze function, which can sustain any onboard sound.
The D-Beam and Ribbon Controller are kind of gimmicky, but can be useful and add some showmanship to live performance if thats your thing. Both can control pitch bend and filter modulation, and a number of other assignable functions, like Freeze. All those can be assigned to the FC-300. I havent explored the V-Link video control.
Pitch-to-MIDI conversion drives external synths and soft-synths. Bass converters are notoriously slow, and this one may track more slowly with slightly more glitches than the GR-20 (still far from perfect for a bass), but for pads, sounds with a longer attack time, and for percussive sounds played more slowly or higher up the neck of a six string bass, its pretty good, comparable to a GI-20.
The software-based editor and librarian are a welcomed, necessary step up from the original V-Bass. They make creating, saving, and reordering the 200 onboard user patches a breeze.
Costly perhaps, but worth it. It can replace most of your stompboxes, your USB interface, and you can use your favorite bass with GK pickup to get almost any sound you can imagine. Get one and prepare to be amazed!