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Roland FA-08 88-Key Workstation
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- Light, mobile body with 88-note Ivory Feel-G KeyboardOver 2000 sounds from the flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module16-track sequencer with non-stop loop recordingExport sequencer tracks to SDHC card or as multitrack audio or MIDI to your DAWOnboard sampler based on the SP-404SX16 independent FX engines, six COMP+EQ processors, global EQ, chorus, and reverbSix user-assignable Sound Modify knobsD-Beam, Rhythm Pattern, Arpeggiator, and Chord Memory functionsGuitar/Mic and Line input jacksDedicated input
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FA-08 88-Key Workstation. Roland's new FA series reimagines the music workstation, streamlining it for effortless realtime power, ultra-fast workflow, and maximum versatility. Ready to support any type of music you play, the FA-08 comes with a massive sound collection inherited from the flagship INTEGRA-7, dozens of studio-quality effects, and expressive realtime controls, plus onboard sampling with zero load time for instant audio playback from the 16 backlit pads. The sequencer features simple operation and non-stop loop recording, letting you capture songs and ideas as they come and export them as multitrack data to use with your DAW. Flowing seamlessly into every part of your creative world, the FA series morphs instantly from standalone use to become the command center of your computer music studio, with USB audio/MIDI interfacing, powerful real-time controllers, DAW transport controls, and much more. No Work, All Play Music workstations play an important role for keyboardists in a wide range of creative activities, from live performance to song development to production in the studio. However, they can often be complicated and difficult to use to their full potential, bogging down the creative process and inhibiting the flow of ideas. In developing the FA series, Roland has completely reimagined the music workstation to provide musicians an inspiring platform that's extremely powerful and versatile, yet simple and intuitive at the same time. With a streamlined interface and focused, practical features that maximize your creative flow, the FA series allows you to experience newfound freedom to deeply explore and develop your musical ideas with less effort than ever before. Perform and Record with a Massive Selection of Roland's Very Best Sounds The true measure of any music workstation lies with the quality and diversity of its sounds. Filled with over 2000 tones directly inherited from the INTEGRA-7, Roland's flagship pro sound module, the FA series truly d...
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Downside: the brasses could be better out of the box, even the ones you download from the site are a little thin sounding.
The build quality is solid, there is nothing cheap about it. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the Roland FA08 looks great, which includes cool attention to details like the coloring schema and a different variety of material used to make it stand out compared to the other two keyboards. I'm not a big fan of the reflective glassy (plastic really) panels which underline and sink the controls slightly. It looks great, but I can see this easily getting scratches and dings over time, as opposed to durable matte plastic composite more commonly used. However, appearance should not be a deterrent nor incentive in instruments since it's all about sound, and it the case of workstations/synthesisers, function as well.
Screen and controls:
The interface does not take away from its roots and maintains a sufficient exposure of traditional push buttons and knobs that provides quick access to necessary functions. I like the 16 key Sampler pad and the smooth (as opposed to incremental) 6 global EQ turn knobs the alternate between 4 different modes (including a custom assign section). The LCD screen is far superior than the two competitors, which clearly displays relevant information but is not a touch-screen like the one offered in the Korg KROME and smaller. The Yamaha MOXF8 screen felt crammed and outdated. The only downside for the screen for the Roland FA08 is that certain items are a bit small, a bit larger display (by 2 or 3 cm) would have nailed it on the dot. The general control layout is non-intrusive and well spaced and positioned. In comparison, the Korg KROME depends more on the LCD display for controls (the manual controls are a a minimum due to its touch screen), while the Yamaha depends purely on its manual controls due to its lack of modernized display (to toggle and inform), while the Roland FA08 sits somewhere in-between with a balance of both (with balance being the more reoccurring theme for this Roland workstation).
The weighted 88-note keyboard feels great (what Roland calls Ivory Feel-G Keyboard), far superior to the Korg KROME which had a surprisingly cheap feel, but not quite as nice as the Yamaha MOXF8 (Yamaha's GHS keyboard is a definite strong-point). The keys feel heavier then the other two and have no aftertouch (but can be programmed via alternate components, ex pedal or assignable knobs) and is a feature I don't really care for. Overall, I like the key performance and programability, weight and texture. However, key feel is subjective so it's based on individual needs and what one might be used to.
The sound quality is impressive, paired with an adequate pair of monitors the 2000+ onboard sounds flow in fantastic clarity (1115 superNATURAL synth tones, 5 SuperNATURAL drum kits, 897 PCM Synth tones, 56 PCM Drum kit presets, and 256 GM2 Tones, 450 SuperNATURAL Synth PCM Waveform, 1083 PCM Synth Waveform) most borrowed from the Integra 7 (which is a good thing) but falls short of the Integra's 7 5000 sounds. Fortunately this can be remedied with the FA08's compatibility with the Roland Axial library as well as the ability to import sounds from Integra's 7 backup file. With those two things considered, this pretty much puts the other two keyboards to shame (although I do wish this extra step wasn't necessary). From a relative judgment, the sound is crisp and clear and suffices for entry-level to semi-pro production. I could not find Roland's specification for the operating bit rate and frequency, but the sampler can import 8/16/24 bit and 44.1/48/96 kHz frequency sources from several formats. The max 128 polyphony sounds (capable of 16 channel multisampling) is same as the Yamaha unit, while the KROME is limited to 120. While this isn't impressive, one might consider this understandable for a workstation within this price point. The analog synthesizer provides much control over sounds, this has grown on me quite a bit, not to mention creating new ones to your liking. Editing is quite intuitive, it wasn't long before I had a solid grip on its functionality and controls. Now that I reflect back on my sessions with it, there is something very fluent when interacting with the device, there aren't any obstacles that frustrate or irritate. It's overall design is very inviting. I have not attempted to export anything to my PC for further processing at this point. Since I run a lot of custom built software this isn't straight-forward in my case (I might amend further comments related to this subject once I get there).
Overall, as an independent instrument, thus far I had tremendous pleasure composing, editing, and playing on the Roland FA08. All things considered, I'm very satisfied with my purchase. That's my two cents anyways.
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