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Roland DS88 vs FA08
#2740842 12/13/15 07:52 PM
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(Or could be titled the FA06 vs. the DS61)

The FA series have always been intriguing to me, but with our lovely Canadian dollar being like it is (Dec/2015), the FA06 sells for $1599 before tax (I kid you not) and the FA08 sells for $1999.99 before tax. Talk about cost-prohibitive...

So today I happened to see the DS88 on display - I had a little play on it, it was kind of nice actually. Granted I have a lot more to discover about it, but it was pretty reasonably priced for an 88 key board. (Organs were useless as far as I could tell)

Can anyone summarize what this new DS line is compared to the FA?

It looked and sounded nice for the money. (Which is really what it's all about for me...I don't need another keyboard, but if something is inspiring and fun in a new way, I'm all for it!)

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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
iluvchiclets #2740863 12/13/15 10:32 PM
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You're not going to get Roland's "SuperNatural" sound set with the DS88 - which is their newest sampling tech - particularly good at smooth transitions between velocity layers. Even the FA-06/08 only comes with some of these sounds - the rest reserved for their top boards (Jupiter-80, 50) and the Integra rack module. Most of the sounds would be from previous gen Roland gear like the JV and XV racks. But hey, like you say, sounds nice for the money. Some nice inclusions here are the

"wave expansion slot is rewritable internal waveform memory. You can download data from the Axial sound library site and write it via a USB flash drive into the JUNO-DS's internal wave memory (slot)."

and the The Ivory Feel G keyboard action is decent, I prefer it to what they stuck in the Korg Kross 88 which is of similar price. But you'd have to play the Kross to see if you prefer the sound set.





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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
ElmerJFudd #2740916 12/14/15 07:18 AM
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DS88 is basically an FA-08 lite. Same keybed, but less features.

Less the amount of sample pads, less sounds, no SuperNatural tones as ElmerJFudd said, less synth capabilities (the FA has Roland's VA synth built into it, which is kinda nice).

That said it seems pretty good for the money. Our of curiosity, how much did the DS go for in comparison to the FA over there?


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
nadroj #2740943 12/14/15 11:17 AM
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One nice things the DS-88 has over the FA's is the ability to play samples on the keyboard.

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
nadroj #2740951 12/14/15 11:54 AM
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I think the sound breakdown is this:

DS = the 64 mb Juno-DI soundset, plus some additional sampled (not SuperNatural) sounds ("updated acoustic and electric pianos, additional organs, and other stage essentials"), and ability to load in one expansion pack

FA = the 64 mb XV5080 soundset (I don't know how/whether that differs from the Juno-DI soundset), the ability to load in two expansion packs, and then outside the realm of pure sampling, the SuperNatural (behavior/modeled) acoustic/rhodes/wurli pianos, clav, acoustic and electric basses, acoustic guitar, ensemble strings, VA synth, clonewheel organ.

Then there are the differences apparent from the front panel... FA offers larger (more informative) screen; 16 pads instead of 8; 6 knobs instead of 4, each with 4 parameters instead of 3 (including quick EQ access), though DS has 4 additional dedicated volume sliders. FA has an auxillary (sub) output, and additional controls (D-beam, two buttons above the pitch/mod stick, additional pedal). DS has battery operation. There are also differences in how they use custom samples and, I believe, in their sequencer functions. FA supports up to 16 simultaneous effects, DS I think only 3.

Caveat: My time playing an FA was minimal, and I haven't played a DS at all. This is just what I've gathered from reading up on them, so is presumably not an entirely complete/accurate list, but it should at least sum up the major differences.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
AnotherScott #2740972 12/14/15 01:13 PM
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Thanks everyone,

I knew you folks would be able to sum it up perfectly for me...it can be confusing going back and forth between the two products on the Roland site. As a consumer, we all know we can really dig into the finer details.

ElmerJFudd - I actually owned the Kross 61 before stepping up to the Krome 73. I was very pleased with what the Kross had to offer in terms of sounds. The keybed on the 88 was sluggish for sure, but actually felt really nice for playing Rhodes and Wurli! I may be alone in that feeling... laugh

Nadroj - The FA series sells for $1999 and $1599 CAD.
The new DS series sells for $1399 and $999.

So this DS is kind of like an FA lite, huh? Hmmm, that may be a good way to look at it. Kind of like Roland's answer to the Kross.
It might be a nice way to get some Roland sounds into my collection. I will try some experimenting on editing with it next time I am in the store. I want to make sure I can access those LFO's quickly to get some wobble in my pads. (err...that sounded funny...)

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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
DulceLabs.com #2740973 12/14/15 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted By: DulceLabs.com
One nice things the DS-88 has over the FA's is the ability to play samples on the keyboard.


FA can do this too, though it has to be on a certain channel. I use it for string samples that need velocity.

OP, let us know how you get on with the DS!


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
iluvchiclets #2740976 12/14/15 01:24 PM
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I don't think the FA and DS is very much alike at all. They are totally different animals.

The advantage of the FA is it has the Fantom 16 part studio set based architecture. It is like 4 times the sonic possibilities. Then the $500 Roland SP404 is thrown in on top of that.... plus the sequencer.... and it uses dynamic memory allocation from the SD Card so have a lot of flexibility on how you apply your resources.

It gets back to how or if you want to apply it's capabilities. The Juno may easily be a better fit. It depends on how you like to work.

Last edited by CEB; 12/14/15 01:32 PM.

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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
CEB #2741016 12/14/15 04:38 PM
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Thank you CEB,

You have given me some points to think about...


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
nadroj #2741030 12/14/15 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted By: Nadroj
Originally Posted By: DulceLabs.com
One nice things the DS-88 has over the FA's is the ability to play samples on the keyboard.


FA can do this too, though it has to be on a certain channel. I use it for string samples that need velocity.


Did they add this in an update? I swear I read that samples couldn't be mapped across the keyboard...

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
iluvchiclets #2741033 12/14/15 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted By: iluvchiclets
Thank you CEB,

You have given me some points to think about...


I don't mean to imply one is better.

Read or find some vids on Studio Sets and decide if that is how you want to organize your work.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
DulceLabs.com #2741038 12/14/15 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted By: DulceLabs.com
Originally Posted By: Nadroj
Originally Posted By: DulceLabs.com
One nice things the DS-88 has over the FA's is the ability to play samples on the keyboard.


FA can do this too, though it has to be on a certain channel. I use it for string samples that need velocity.


Did they add this in an update? I swear I read that samples couldn't be mapped across the keyboard...

not from an update, it's been that way since day 1. You can assign what channel you want to use as well, in the setup menu.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
DanL #2741040 12/14/15 05:53 PM
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The other thing to bear in mind is that a used FA-06 is almost identical in price to a new DS-61, at least here in the UK.

However don't be too tempted by just having 'more' sounds in the FA-06; when I demoed one in a store I found it exhausting going through the endless patches, most of which sound very similar maybe with a few different fx or portamento speeds attached.

Sometimes it's better to work out the limitations of a synth and work flatout on getting the best out of it.

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
Marillo #2741045 12/14/15 06:34 PM
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I hear that. There are a ton if really good synth sounds. A lot of supernatural synths. 7.5 billion saw pads (I exaggerate a little). It is just easier to program what I want on the Korg than to go hunting. LOL


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
DanL #2741052 12/14/15 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted By: DanL
Originally Posted By: DulceLabs.com
Originally Posted By: Nadroj
[quote=DulceLabs.com]One nice things the DS-88 has over the FA's is the ability to play samples on the keyboard.


FA can do this too, though it has to be on a certain channel. I use it for string samples that need velocity.


Did they add this in an update? I swear I read that samples couldn't be mapped across the keyboard...

not from an update, it's been that way since day 1. You can assign what channel you want to use as well, in the setup menu. [/quote]

I think we are confusing the ability to trigger a sample from the keyboard, and actually mapping a sample across the entire keyboard to be played (Like you can on Kronos).


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
Marillo #2741053 12/14/15 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted By: Marillion
However don't be too tempted by just having 'more' sounds in the FA-06; when I demoed one in a store I found it exhausting going through the endless patches

True. I think the key sounds to pay attention to, when comparing the DS and the FA, are just the handful of SN sounds (to the extent that those particular instruments are important to you), that's where the biggest sonic difference will likely be: acoustic/rhodes/wurli pianos, clav, acoustic and electric basses, acoustic guitar, ensemble strings. It wouldn't take long to just compare those sounds. The other main thing (sonically) is whether it's important to you to have the clonewheel organ and VA synth sounds/editability.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
EscapeRocks #2741054 12/14/15 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks

I think we are confusing the ability to trigger a sample from the keyboard, and actually mapping a sample across the entire keyboard to be played (Like you can on Kronos).


Sorry - my bad for not being more clear. Yes - that's what I meant. But now I'm wondering if the DS-88 works the same way... idk

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
CEB #2741055 12/14/15 06:57 PM
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I must admit, that did impress me with all the synth sounds on the FA series. I did a quick scroll and found myself in the hundreds.

I have not yet seen any FA's second hand, but I will keep an eye out for them. As I recall, the FA06 has the same action as the VR09? (I had one of those for about a year) I wonder if the DS61 has that same action?

I did some more fooling around with the DS88 on my way home from work about an hour ago. I enjoyed the 88 key action, although time will tell if it gets on my nerves or not. Not sure if I dig the textured feeling on the keys... Editing was neither here nor there. (After owning the Yamaha Motif, everything seems easier.) Although nothing seems to beat the Korg Krome with the touch screen. smile

Initial sounds were pretty good to my ears - fairly nice Rhodes sounds, Wurli's I didn't like too much but I will spend more time with them next time I stop by.

I am going to read up on Studio Sets.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
iluvchiclets #2743488 12/28/15 05:56 PM
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In the FA, you can save samples from sequences or audio files. These are saved to the sample bank, wich also can be assigned to a part in a studio set. Each sample slot (16 x4banks) goes to a key (ascending, starting where you place it). It means that you can manage to trigger a sample from any key you want.

FA has over 2000 sounds, I agree it's quite exhausting to look through the sounds. Pianos can be tweaked to sound better (haven't dowloaded any from the Axial website yet.

If you are on a low budget and play live, FA is a very good option. Sound can be arranged in a studio set (16) and can be changed at a tap of a pad. This is it's star feature for me.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
jvckey #2860650 06/12/17 02:48 PM
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old thread bump

Been considering one of these, be interested in any other info/experiences/etc people have. The 06 is out as I want weighted keys. I love the FA08, but the jump from the DS88 to the FA08 ($1000 vs $1800) is one seriously massive jump.

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
bill555 #2860968 06/14/17 04:58 PM
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Nobody else using these? frown

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
bill555 #2861019 06/15/17 12:45 AM
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One of my students just picked up a Juno DS88. She finds the sample-based pianos to be a good fit to her hands and ears; hasn't explored too much of the synth section yet. Another guy I gigged with also had a DS88 (I covered the piano/MD chair for a church; he was 2nd keys). I got a chance to sit down and dig into that DS88 a couple times. The piano was okay, but I found the synth more colorful and intriguing. While it is also sample-based, the synth engine had a very strong retro vibe happening - at least to my ears; almost thought I was playing a VA synth a few times.

The FA08 is a rather strong instrument. I owned one briefly, and was very impressed by the huge, SuperNatural sound set. I've been a SN fan for long time though; have has a Jupiter 50 since 2012, and the playability of the sounds is a strong point. That said, I couldn't quite connect with the action / velocity curves of the FA08 - especially on the piano tones. I'm super picky though; your mileage will likely vary.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
allan_evett #2861088 06/15/17 04:45 PM
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Thx. I haven't had enough time to tinker with the 08 to say either way on the SN sounds....offhand I didn't notice how to tell which sounds were/weren't SN though. I'll see if I can dig up a user manual online, hopefully that'll help.

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
bill555 #2861120 06/15/17 09:59 PM
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The FA does not have very many SN sounds... just acoustic/rhodes/wurli pianos, clav, acoustic and electric basses, acoustic guitar, ensemble strings, VA synth, clonewheel organ. (Though VA synth alone can cover a lot of sonic ground, if synth sounds are your thing.)

The DS doesn't have any at all.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
AnotherScott #2861350 06/18/17 10:37 AM
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It actually has a lot, just that it's a small % of the overall sounds. No, I'm not a big synth sound/"electronica" person...the acoustic instruments (and somewhat the elec guitar) sounds are far far more important. Need to get back and check these SN sounds and see if it really trips my trigger enough to consider the 08. Thx!

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
bill555 #2861359 06/18/17 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted By: bill555
Thx. I haven't had enough time to tinker with the 08 to say either way on the SN sounds....offhand I didn't notice how to tell which sounds were/weren't SN though. I'll see if I can dig up a user manual online, hopefully that'll help.


When you hit a category button and then the enter key, it brings up a list of everything in that category. They are listed by type- S/N 1st, then PCM, then User and EX. There are a TON of S/N synth sounds. There are anywhere from a couple to a dozen S/N sounds in the other categories. I don't think there is any brass.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
DanL #2861385 06/18/17 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted By: DanL
There are a TON of S/N synth sounds. There are anywhere from a couple to a dozen S/N sounds in the other categories. I don't think there is any brass.

Right. The single "SuperNatural Synth" engine can generate countless synth sounds. The thing that's relatively scarce on the FA are the "SuperNatural Acoustic" tones, which as I said, are only acoustic/rhodes/wurli pianos, clav, acoustic and electric basses, acoustic guitar, ensemble strings, plus the clonewheel. No brass (among many other SN sounds you will find in an Integra or a Jupiter 50/80).


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
AnotherScott #2861488 06/19/17 01:51 PM
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Yeah and that's frustrating. I'd probably pay somewhat more for a DS88 if it had even a few more key instruments with SN sound (presuming it strikes me as worthwhile in the first place; the jury is out). Giving me "SN sound" for some electronica synth sounds is like giving me a check for $.00. There's no point.

Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
bill555 #2861500 06/19/17 02:17 PM
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I have played both keyboards extensively. The big difference to me are the supernatural EPs on the FA-08. They just in another league. DS88 Eps are really not useable for me.
But I found the GrandDS piano In the DS88 really fun to play and totally giggable.


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Re: Roland DS88 vs FA08
Roland_Guy #2916560 03/21/18 06:53 PM
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I finally got to play a DS. Most of this thread focusses on how the FA is better than the DS, with the one known advantage of the DS (albeit described vaguely in thread) being that samples can be stretched and played over the entire keyboard. Well, I discovered some other nice advantages of the DS over the FA...

...Both have patch remain when switching from one tone to another. But when you switch from one split/layered combination of tones to another (called a Performance on the DS and a Studio Set on the FA), the DS still has patch remain, the FA does not. (You might get glitches from changes in the effects, though.)

...When you split the keyboard into a simple left/right combination, on the FA, hitting the Octave Up/Down buttons will transpose both sounds. On the DS, it will transpose only the sound that's been highlighted on the screen (i.e. just the left or just the right). This is a tremendous feature if you're trying to do LH bass on a 61-key board. If you find you need to move your RH sound up or down in its playing range, you can easily do it on the fly, without messing up the range of your LH bass sound. I don't know if any other 61-key boards can do this, but this feature alone would make me choose this 61 over others if I had to do LH bass on it. Unless I missed it, there's no way to do this on the FA.

...There was mention of how the DS has 8 pads and the FA has 16, but that kind of misses the bigger point that the pads do entirely different things. Each can do some things the other cannot. One interesting difference here is that, while both boards implement ways of using the pads to select sounds, and both boards have ways to do numeric data entry, the FA uses its pads for both functions, with no quick way to toggle between the two functions, while the DS instead uses its Favorite buttons (under the display) as a numeric entry pad, toggled with its own front panel button. That means you can have your pads set up for sound switching on the DS while simultaneously having access to numeric entry, whereas you effectively do not have numeric entry available on the FA if you're using the pads for sound selection (or anything else, for that matter).

Also, while not necessarily better or worse, but just to clarify some info from earlier in the thread, ...Sonically, the Juno DI base soundset of the DS (to which the DS adds 184 DS-specific tones) is not the same as the XV-5080 base soundset of the FA (to which the FA adds its SuperNatural sounds). However, the XV-5080 sounds are available on axial to be loaded into the virtual expansion slot of the DS, with the caveat that you can only have one bank of them installed at a time (and there are 8 banks of them in total).


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