Synth Site |  Boss | BL-1
BL-1 At a Glance
User rating: 5.0/5 | Read reviews (1)
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This small unit (a little larger than a VHS videocassette) is designed for only one thing: bulk dumps. It is a SYSEX recorder, intended to record and transmit bulk dumps of synths with limited memory. It has only 32k of memory, but with synths of the same vintage, this is often sufficient to retain a few banks of sounds and performances. It also can use the older Roland RAM cards M-256E and M-512E, although it will only use 256k on the M-512E.
The manual is helpful, but I acquired my first without one, and was able to navigate it fairly easily. This is not a complicated piece, with lots of menus.
It is of plastic construction, but I've dropped my first one a few times (not intentionally!), with no ill results. It feels sturdy, and since it's not as component-laden as a synth, it has less parts to be shaken loose. The buttons are decent. I sometimes wish the display were backlit, but as it is, they run for years on a 9-volt battery. I'm happy to live with the tradeoff, knowing that the unit won't suddenly quit due to the batteries being drained by a light.
I use mine for a variety of older synths, and find it quite handy for gear which has no RAM card slot or for which the older RAM cards are now prohibitively expensive. Wendy Carlos comments on her site that she uses the BL-1 to store and transmit alternate tunings for her synths.
All in all, a neat, straightforward box. My experience is that they can be had for a song, as it's an odd piece that most are unfamiliar with. My recommendation would be to pick it up if you run across it.
Links for the Boss BL-1
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