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Unhappy-ish with Roland FA06 - alternatives?


llatham

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The keys. Arghh.

 

I have a Roland A800 as well and it's the same keys. Too easy to hit a black key.

 

I have an old Roland D-5 and that's the size and feel (synth action?) I grew up with and like.

 

I feel like I've given the FA (and A800) the benefit of the doubt, and gigged with both a lot, but I'd really rather have something more like the old D-5 action - or something where the keys are really the size they're "supposed" to be for a synth!

 

I also don't like the way the FX are done on the FA06. You can't turn an individual effect on or off with a simple button push. You can't assign a button to Tremolo on an Electric Piano to turn the Trem on and off for instance. You either have to save a trem and non trem version of the patch and switch between them, or send a sysex message remotely.

 

I have an old Sound Canvas as well and while obviously it needs to be sent sysex messages, at least you can just turn the effect on or off on any patch as the FX block is like a different section. The FA has some "built in" (like Leslie speed on some of the organs" but to do something simple like just turn trem on and off on a patch it's way more difficult than it needs to be.

 

Really irks me.

 

It also irks me that a lot of the lead synths and such have a delay on them by default - again, you just can't switch it on or off - you have to save two versions of the patch. Annoying.

 

Finally, maybe someone can educate me here - I was playing with a trombone sound and noticed a really obvious place where the sample changed. It reminded me of the sound quality of the free virtual instruments that were poorly sampled that come with Cubase LE (the note C drastically changes in timbre when going to the note C# for example). It's clear that on that patch there just aren't as many samples taken per octave, or it was just badly done.

 

Is there any way around this - do the SRX, or JV, etc. sounds use different samples? Or is it just hit and miss per patch? IOW, is there any way I can tell any particular patch (by it's name or designation) is going to be sampled better?

 

 

There are many things I like about the synth that make it good enough to keep - I like the interface, I like the sequencer (though any heavy duty sequencing goes to Logic), I like that it samples (though it's too bad it's pretty limited and assigned to one channel and all that - and it doesn't perform live like I'd like) and overall the sound quality is pretty good - plenty of defaults, powerful editing, downloadable sounds are good (too bad you can only put 2 packs in, and the other sounds on roland's site aren't updated anymore from what I can tell). I like that it's an interface.

 

Is there another 61 key keyboard in a similar price range with similar features that keeps most of the things I like but doesn't have the funky keys, allows you to turn on effects per sound with a button push (or assign it to the mod lever/wheel) and maybe whose sampling is overall better?

 

I'll have to trade the FA, and probably add the A800 in and still take a hit on it.

 

But the FA is not a "performance" keyboard for me. It's a great "home studio" keyboard or "producer" keyboard or whatever, but I'm doing mostly live work with it and it's just not cutting the mustard.

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I'm using the FA-06. The action irks me also but it does what I need for the gig. I have considered getting something else and the top options I can come up with are 1) a used Fantom G or 2) a Jupiter 80 plus a SP404SX sampler.

 

I am not running any sequences live. If I wanted to I still have the Kronos-88 as my Main board. If I had a Fantom G I would use that. I like Roland sequencers they are what I learned first. The like the Fantom G sample editors better than the Kronos also and the Roland file management is not as whacked out as Korg's ..... But the Kronos sounds nice and has a ton of resources.

 

Other options I have considered is a SP404SX plus :

3) Prophet 08 or

4) Virus TI2 - 61 key (Universal power supply, cost $2,150 from Germany)

 

But truth be told my current rig is working well enough. I probably play 85+% of my parts on the Kronos. I use the FA for the pad sampler. IMO the strength of the FA for me is its dynamic memory allocation on the sampler's SD card storage and that there are no time limits on your samples. The only advantage for me with a SP404SX is the ability to apply effects to the one shots over the top. If I want to sample instrument sounds to play from the keyboard I use my Korg.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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If you menu dive and set it up you can assign effects to any of the buttons or knobs and save it that way for future. Doesn't even take a lot of menu diving - using the shift button you can set up what you want and save it within seconds. I do it in plenty of songs.

 

Not to sound patronising, but have you studied the manual? That may help you with some problems.

 

Also some studio sets are comprised of samples/tones assigned to different keys. Are you sure you aren't accidentally playing a multi when you play this trombone sound and not an individual sound? The FA isn't a perfect instrument but I've never encountered any of the problems you have shared.

Hammond SKX

Mainstage 3

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If your budget remains the same, the Yamaha MOXF6 is the logical comparison. Not a great keybed, but better than the Roland's IMO. Kurzweil SP4-7 might be worth a look too, if you don't need to go too deep on editing.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Moxf6 does have effect buttons at insert, system and master levels on the panel that bugged OP about FA. I never use those buttons, I program what I want into the voices. programming is a menu diving experience, but I don't know of this magical synth that has a lot of function that isn't. But I spent 4 yrs programming in motif-speak so it was very easy for me to integrate the Moxf for travel use.

 

if small keys were a huge OP deal, most say Yamaha has small keys. I don't know, all I have now is an XF7 and moxf6 and they are fine to me. I like the Moxf keybed personally and love the light weight for travel. For a $1200 board it's a pretty sweet deal. Construction is a bit plasticky but they all are in this price and weight range and I have no construction issues at all yet.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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You can absolutely assign the left hand buttons to turn things like trem or chorus on and off, I have it programmed on several of my sounds.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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I have the FA06 (and have owned quite a few other "similar" boards.)

 

I agree with a lot of the above answers - the MOX and MOXF series are another flavor of the kind of all-in-one keyboard. Each have their own maddening quirks in programming and generally getting around on them. You have to get used to them.

 

The Korg Krome was another one I favored for quite a while, but most people do not like their keybed. It didn't bother me, but if you don't like the FA, then I bet you won't like the Krome.

 

I also agree with the OP about the effects and using some of the front buttons to access things. Roland's interface for effects is very unusual on this FA, and I have given up trying to figure out what knobs are saved for "Studio Sets", vs what knobs are reset when changing sounds, vs...whatever!

To me, it's not clear what everything does.

 

That all being said, I love the sounds and the variety on the FA. I am continually being surprised by it. I have only used it so far at home.

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

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I will do the whole gig with only 3 studio sets. I also have a lot of replication on those 3 studio sets. The FA is a great slave. Basically in my mind the studio set is like a virtual rack like if I was using my VST host Cantabile. A set is a rack of 16 sounds channel 2-16. Then I hit those sounds from the bottom board by transmitting on the appropiate channel. Layers share the same channel.

 

If I want a big lead or bass I will sometimes layer the same sound then detune the two instances. It is just the way I work. I used to globally detune 2 TX81Zs to get monster FM basses. The FA-06 is a rack with keys and a pad sampler. Too bad it doesn't have a professional keyboard.

 

A lot of the stuff I do with Studio sets is left over from my pre-Kronos setups. Most my new sounds are just 100% Kronos. It is quicker to just program everything on one board.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I had the same issues with my FA-06 after just a few weeks. Keys were fast as f**k but 3/8" too short and a smidge too narrow. Sold it and snagged a used Fantom X6, loaded all the patches from my Fantom XR, sold the XR and never looked back. Great key feel. Familiar programming interface. MOXF6 was my 2nd choice for the swap but the X6 beat it out on key feel.

 

Fantom X6 comes in around $800 if you keep an ebay eye open.

 

~ vonnor

Gear:

Hardware: Nord Stage3, Korg Kronos 2, Novation Summit

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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Have just sold mine for the same keybed issue. Snagged an old XV88 for a steal which whilst not portable at all (its massive and heavy) gives me the majority of sounds I was using in the FA-06. Currently sampling the XV using Autosampler in Mainstage.

Nord Stage 2EX | Nord Wave | Mainstage 3

K&M Spider Pro | JH Audio JH5 IEMs | Behringer XR18 | Radial Keylargo

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You can absolutely assign the left hand buttons to turn things like trem or chorus on and off, I have it programmed on several of my sounds.

 

You can't assign the MFX switch to S1/S2 - only the TFX.

 

That's my problem. It's just a stupid oversight on their part. I've confirmed with Roland and you just can't do it (I think though, it's possible with SysEx messages).

 

If I want reverse delay on a guitar sound - guess what, reverse delay is only available as MFX, not in TFX. So that means I have to save two versions of the sound, one with reverse delay and one normal, and either put both of them in the same studio set and toggle between them, or, put them in two different studio sets and toggle between them.

 

Additionally, TFX affect all of the sounds in a Studio Set - so if I wanted to (and I wanted to) use a controller to play a sound on Channel 2, and the FA to play its internal sound on Channel 1, if I assign TFX to S1 for the studio set, the trem's going to come on on BOTH the channel 1 and 2 sounds.

 

The same is true if you wanted to layer say, a Piano sound with Strings, but for some reason wanted one with an effect and the other without.

 

IOW, TFX affects everything that's sounding in a studio set.

 

MFX affects individual parts. But S1 can only be assigned to control TFX, not MFX.

 

The only way to control MFX is top get into that edit screen while you're playing and manually turn the MFX switch on and off!

 

So yeah, if I just wanted a single instrument sound, or the same effect on any layered sound, I could absolutely assign the TFX to that effect and turn it on and off with S1.

 

But the problem comes in when you need to turn on and off effects on any individual part within a studio set at different times and in different combinations with the other parts.

 

Simply put, TFX is the only thing you can turn on and off, and MFX is not.

 

This means, if playing a single sound, or playing layered sounds that use the same effect, you could use TFX to turn on and off an effect, and you could use MFX to put an effect on a sound that's never going to change (like trem on EP for an entire song). So you could have EP with trem and Strings with flange in the same studio set as MFX - but there's no way to turn those sounds on or off individually.

 

I kept coming into situations where I might want Piano with no effect playing at the same time as Organ that had Leslie on and off (in addition to speed changes).

 

I have to set up one studio set with piano and organ plain, then another with piano plain and organ leslied and toggle back and forth between the two (bad example because S1 may work as leslie on an organ sound and not affect a piano sound, but hopefully you see my point).

 

So basically trying to use the FA in a "multi-part" situation where effects need to work independently on the parts just isn't possible.

 

Sorry, not trying to be antagonistic, just trying to explain my frustration.

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I will do the whole gig with only 3 studio sets. I also have a lot of replication on those 3 studio sets. The FA is a great slave. Basically in my mind the studio set is like a virtual rack like if I was using my VST host Cantabile. A set is a rack of 16 sounds channel 2-16. Then I hit those sounds from the bottom board by transmitting on the appropiate channel. Layers share the same channel.

 

This is basically how I was using it. And my controller allowed me to select various channels (could assign 2-5 to buttons) and it worked great.

 

However, as I was responding to Dan - I can't turn on effects individually per sound - so yeah, if I wanted an EP with trem (that didn't have it via mod) I had to put one on Part 2 Channel 2 and one on Part 3 Channel 3 and toggle between those two channels on the controller.

 

But you can't do that from the FA06 itself with a button push - it has to be changing parts or being in an edit screen to do it (those are button pushes too of course). But it meant I couldn't have any consistency from Studio Set to Studio Set, and while the bulk of things including duplicates could be done from studio set, those effects are six one way half dozen the other - either changing a channel, or changing a set - and if something has to be on one keyboard...I mean I had some quick changes where I needed to play EP with flange on one keyboard and the regular EP on the other - that gets confusing after a while especially if you have to do it the opposite way for another song (which happened to me in one instance).

 

It would be so easy if they just let you assign MFX to S1 and S2 and let you pick which part you wanted them to affect. Problem solved.

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