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Roland VR700...better than the VR 760?


B3bluesman59

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Quick glance seems that the biggest difference is the older model had a dedicated synth section. I tried a VR700 recently and thought it was the same pianos & organ as the one made 10 years ago, in a needlessly heavy package for a non-weighted keyboard.

 

http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=542

 

http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=1063

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the pro is the old one was a swiss army knife, you could layer,split and had your piano organ internally and synth sounds from expansion cards.

the con is the new one sounds equally as terrible as the old one

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I used a VR-760 for several years as the second tier keyboard in my rig. Also, I had the opportunity play the VR-700 at NAMM.

While I did offer some initial impressions of the VR-700 earlier in the year, I have since had the chance to spend some time with one at the music store where I teach.

 

To respond to the OP's original question: It depends. If you're looking for a strictly self contained 'board with improved sounds the VR-700 may be a good choice. The audio file playback features and USB memory function are also nice additions, along with the improved rhythm pattern section.

Some feel that, in offering the VR-700, Roland was trying to compete with Nord; if that's the case they fell a little short, IMO. Not that, for what it does, the VR700 is a bad instrument. Noting the improvements/additions I mentioned above, it appears to be a very capable workhorse in its' particular niche.

 

Being that Roland doesn't offer two different keyboards in this genre (like the Electro, and Stage), I would've offered a single keyboard competitive (and beyond) to the Stage. In addition to the new sounds/features: 1) Include all of the previous features/functions of the VR760 (including expansion board capability); 2) have separate outputs for each section (Organ, Pianos/EM Instruments, Synth); 3) provide useful MIDI controller features, similar to what is offered on the Hammond XK-3C, Stage, etc.. MIDI assignable drawbars would have been a thoughtful feature too. A set of control features would acknowledge that players sometimes use other sound sources in their rigs...

 

It makes sense that, when producing a next generation of a particular model type, a manufacturer would improve upon the previous model - in all ways. At least Roland did this well with the on-board tones. In reading through the VR-700 page, and the Roland Insider article, the use of the VR-700 as a combo organ appears to be the emphasis; especially when the reference to future Insider installments hints at a in-depth presentation of using a second keyboard to create a two manual setup. This seems a bit redundant, as the company already has the VK-8 - which offers the same two manual/pedal via MIDI arrangement. It seems a shame that the main purpose of MIDI on the VR-700 is for organ connectivity/expansion.

I don't think that Roland created a new and improved VR; it seems more like they added to their organ line - creating an organ that offers 76 keys, some decent pianos/EM keyboards and non-editable synth tones, and audio/USB capabilities. The "... Ultimate All-In-One Stage Keyboard" claim by Roland seems to be a bit generous.

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  • 4 months later...

One important difference no one has mentioned is that the VR-760 had aftertouch, the VR-700 didn't. I think the VR-700 is more versatile in its split/layer functions, though.

 

Some feel that, in offering the VR-700, Roland was trying to compete with Nord; if that's the case they fell a little short, IMO.

 

Well, I think if you compare them price-to-price, it's a tough call. The VR-700 is the same $2k price as the Nord Electro 3-61.

 

Starting just from the perspective of features...

 

Main advantages of Nord:

* light weight

* sample library, including the ability to load your own samples

* separate outs for different sounds

 

Main advantages of Roland:

* 76 keys instead of 61 (the step-up Electro for $200 more has 73... but still doesn't include a low E)

* real drawbars

* split and layering of sounds

* judgment call, perhaps, but I think the Roland keyboard is superior to the Nord for piano, and at least equivalent for organ

* better stored patch selection facility (8 banks of 8, for better one-touch patch recall)

* pitch bend and modulation lever

* greater number of tweakable parameters

 

and smaller things (to me, anyway)... the Roland has XLR outs, supports MIDI over USB, has MIDI and audio file backing track playback over USB (compared to Nord's more limited monitor input), a more flexible pedal arrangement, a bunch of drum rhythms, and the pretty useless d-beam and v-link. Also, it can support an upper/lower/pedal organ configuration.

 

But of course, you have to compare the sound, not just the features.

 

In terms of organ sound, I would be fine gigging with either of them (although I don't like either as much as a Korg CX3... it's personal preference). If I were feeling fussy, I'd probably put a Ventilator on either of them.

 

In terms of piano sound, I prefer the Nord (I really like the Bosendorfer!), but for gigs, if it were my only board, I'd prefer the Roland because its piano sound is good enough and its keyboard is much more playable for piano (both because of the feel of the action and for having the extra keys). Plus it's nice to be able to do things like layer strings.

 

I did not get a chance to hear the EP and clavs on the Roland. And I think it's safe to assume it doesn't have anything like some of the great sounds in the Nord sample library.

 

Bottom line for me, for a single gigging board focussed on piano and organ, I'd go for the Roland, if I could handle the bulk and weight. It sounds at least good enough, and the ergonomics of the drawbars, extra keys, keyboard feel, and split/layer functions would make it a better single live board, IMO. Plus you can do left hand bass with it, though I haven't heard the quality of its bass sounds (and it's unfortunate that they can't be sent out a different output from the organ).

 

OTOH, the light weight and the terrific sample library are big Nord temptations. If I was gigging with two boards, I'd go for the Nord, because it does have those great sounds, and many of its limitations vis a vis the Roland are solved by adding another board (i.e. something with a better feel for piano playing, where I could also do left hand bass, and have a source for additional sounds I could layer or split). But adding a second board means it's no longer the same price as the Roland.

 

Looking at this exercise from a different perspective, what's the best choice for a gigging piano and drawbar-ish organ for around $2,000? There really isn't even any option from Korg or Yamaha. I'd go for the Roland over the Nord, as I said. But maybe the best thing to do would be to get a Yamaha P95 and a Hammond XK1... if you really care *only* about piano and organ, since there is very little else in that combination. Or look at a Kurzweil.

 

Edit: I do want to clarify, I don't think the Roland has a great keyboard feel for piano by any means, but it seemed surprisingly playable for an unweighted board, whereas I really dislike playing piano on the Electro keyboard.

 

 

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what's the best choice for a gigging piano and drawbar-ish organ for around $2,000? There really isn't even any option from Korg or Yamaha. I'd go for the Roland over the Nord

 

I agree with this. I finally got a chance to audition the board recently, at West LA Music. I liked it much better than I thought I would. Roland's entries into the B3 clone world tend to viewed as second tier compared to Hammond, Nord, etc., to say nothing of the software models. This probably isn't the board for players who absolutely have to have the best B3 emulation. But I would have no problem gigging with it. The pianos are suprisingly playable from the non-weighted keyboard. It's a really nice organ-plus-pianos package at a reasonable price.

 

Like others have said, the weight and bulk is a big detractor. It just seems gratuitous. Wooden end blocks? Why? Also, the synth and other sounds appear to be minimally editable (though I haven't researched this). If all you need is some very generic strings, pads, leads, you might be satisfied. Otherwise, you'll have to add more to the rig. Once this ceases to be an all-in-one solution, it loses much of it's appeal, IMO.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

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I think you are discounting a few of the other Nord features that are better than what the Roland has to offer.

 

leslie sim and CV emulation- while maybe not as good as an XK3c, it's better than the Roland

all the other sounds- clavs, wurlie, Rhodes, electric grand

ability to change out pianos/other sounds for the ones you like.

new sounds and software updates made available to download

 

The nord can also do a lower manual or pedal setup, but not both at once.

 

I have done hundreds of gigs with my older Electro and have never really had a problem playing piano sounds on it. Yes, it's nicer to play them from a weighted board, but if the objective is "good enough", which is what the Roland seems to offer, then it fit the bill for me.

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It is interesting to read everyones views on the VR760/700. Just last week I picked up a slightly used VR760. I have a weekly one-niter with a little R&B group and have been bringing my RD700GX but have not been satisfied with the organ sounds or the quasi-drawbar setup. Given the tight stage area, adding my XK3 to the mix isn't a great option.

 

I'm not sure what you guys are hearing that I'm not, but to me the VR760 sound just fine. Is the organ as good as my B3 at home, of course not. Is it as good as my XK3 or a Nord, probably not, but that is kind of subjective. Anyone in the audience who knows what a B3 sounds like and can't see the keyboard setup is going to think there is a B3 on stage. The rotary speaker effect isn't the best, but it does what it needs to do, as does the chorus/vibrato, percussion, etc.

 

The acoustic piano sound is usable. It would certainly not be my choice for a piano only type of gig (not to mention the non-weighted action) but again, it does the job; people know they are hearing a piano sound. And the control you have over the piano sound, sparse though it is, allows for a good variety of tonality. Same goes for the EP and clav voices.

 

The synth section is OK. There are some decent sounds for layering, soloing, brass stabs, etc. The advantage of being able to install up to two SRX expansion boards is nice. The VR760 I purchased had the Ultimate Keys board installed. The acoustic piano sound in that board is better than the stock sound, and there are a huge number of other sounds to choose from.

 

All in all, it is a very nice, usable instrument. It sounds good, is extremely easy to get around on in a live situation due to the great amount of front panel control, has a very decent feeling 76 note keybed with aftertouch, real drawbars, and is fairly lightweight. I'm happy.

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I Play, Therefore I Am

 

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I own/play a VR 760. It is not my current main board as I know have a Kurz PC3. What I disliked about the Roland is their pianos. They all sound stuffy to me. I have played a 700 last year and liked the pianos on it, the organ seemed unchanged to me.

 

If I didn't have the PC3 I MIGHT consider the 700 as a single board. I still use my VR760 if I want/need two.

 

Pete

 

"all generalizations are false" ~Mark Twain

 

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I think you are discounting a few of the other Nord features that are better than what the Roland has to offer.

 

leslie sim and CV emulation- while maybe not as good as an XK3c, it's better than the Roland

all the other sounds- clavs, wurlie, Rhodes, electric grand

ability to change out pianos/other sounds for the ones you like.

 

I agree, that's a big Nord advantage I left out... that they continue to make new sounds available for it, whereas the VR700 will always have the original sounds of a VR700.

 

I didn't get specific about leslie/CV emulation quality or other detailed differences in the organs, because I didn't have the opportunity to hear them side by side, so I was left with just an overall impression of, "sounds very good, certainly giggable, but not the best I've played" for both of them. (I should also mention that I don't happen to use C/V. My original tonewheel Hammond was so old it didn't have them!)

 

As I mentioned, I did not get the chance to hear the EP/clav sounds of the Roland, so I didn't comment on them... but if I had to guess, I'd imagine the Nord probably has the edge there. I really just looked at the two from the perspective of "piano and organ" boards with bonus sounds... but sure, if EP or clav is crucial for someone, that could sway things too. Each will have some make-or-break differences for someone, whether it's needing a specific sound, or needing light weight, or needing to split and layer, so certainly I understand choosing either. But I do think the Roland is at least very competitive here, and seems to not get the respect of the Nord, which I think is a shame. As I said, if you need a single board for primarily piano and organ--which I don't think is too small a niche--I think the Roland would actually be the stronger board for many players.

 

I have done hundreds of gigs with my older Electro and have never really had a problem playing piano sounds on it.

I do like the current Nord piano sound, but unless I'm just rocking away Jerry Lee Lewis style, I just can't warm to the Electro keyboard for piano, I don't think I can play with any subtlety on it. The Nord's Bosendorfer sound itself easily beats Roland's piano, but I'll play better on the Roland, which means, in the end, it will actually sound better. (Unless I can trigger the Nord's piano from some other board.)

 

BTW, this all comes out of having finally had a chance to play a VR-700 recently, albeit briefly, and being pleasantly surprised. If it might fit someone's needs, I think it would be a shame for someone to overlook it simply because it doesn't have the buzz.

 

If Roland could cut some of the weight/girth down, added the ability to pan sounds to one output or the other (essentially turning the stereo output into a pair of mono assignable outs), and added a bit more MIDI capability (i.e. the ability to include separate MIDI program change commands in your presets, in case you want to add a module for some other sounds), I think it would be a particularly good board.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I always preferred the Roland Vk8 and VK8m chorus vibrato (with the sim off ) to anything else until the Numa came along. I am not hearing the same chorus from the VR 700 however, though it may be hidden in there.

 

B-3 er disagreed with me but he likes chorale and chorus vibrato mixed together, wheras I do not.

 

The drawbar tones on the Roland VK8m seemed fine to me also. I did the sim bypass on mine.

 

I think the VR 760 was similar to the VK8m. I personally like that organ. I liked the keys too.

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