A modular synthesizer manufactured by Roland from 1976 to 1983. It was the first modular synth produced by a Japanese manufacturer, and it was considered the top of Roland's product line for most of the period in which it was in production.
The System 700 used a unique format which included both "short" and "tall" modules. Most of the complex functions, such as voltage controlled oscillators and filters, were configured in tall modules; less complex functions were packaged in short modules. A short module could only be mounted in certain slots in a cabinet, and not all cabinets had slots for short modules. 1/4" phone jacks were used for signal interconnects; an internal backplane in the case distributed power. A total of about 25 modules were offered.
A starter system consisted of a "base system" cabinet, and a keyboard. (Unlike the System 100m, only one keyboard model was offered.) An entire system was powered from the base system cabinet via interconnect cables. Because the keyboard CV/Gate signals were internally bussed to the VCOs, VCFs, and VCAs in the base system, the base cabinet was sold in a fixed configuration; alterations could be made only by special order from the factory, or a Roland service center. Expansion cabinets were packaged to provide certain types of capability, although the user did have flexibility about configuring these cabinets. Up to five additional cabinets could be accommodated by a base cabinet. A notable configuration was the model 717A analog sequencer, which was so large that it took up an entire expansion cabinet by itself.
The System 700 was a high-end and very expensive product. Roland was initially reluctant to sell individual modules to end users, which inhibited sales, and the line was somewhat undercut by Roland's own introduction of the less expensive System 100m in 1979. Nearly all units sold had been scrapped, or stored and forgotten about, by 1995, and it appeared that the type might be lost to history before some collectors made an effort to locate and restore a few systems in the 2000s. Working systems are rare enough, and so seldom come up for sale, that assigning a collection value now is difficult. One aspect of keeping a System 700 working is the oddball and rather difficult power supply voltage; it requires +/- 23 volts, higher than most synths and high enough that some care has to be taken in cabling and connectors.