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Help me with some taxonomy here


zeronyne

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Back in dinosaur times, it was easy to figure out where workstation keyboards sat in their internal hierarchies. Korg had their "Pro" and "ProX" designations for their keybeds, Yamaha went with "smaller numbers are better" (except for some annoying exceptions), and Roland did the simple 6/7/8, roughly associating to the number of keys. Korg and Ensoniq did similar naming conventions.

 

But the days of these manufacturers creating the complete complement of variations (61 unweighted, 76 unweighted/73 weighted, 88 weighted, rackmount with full controls, single space rackmount) is over, but most companies have stuck with some sort of consistency in branding.

 

Except Roland.

 

So can someone give me a quick primer?

 

What is the highest-end, fully programmable workstation keyboard? The JP80? FA?

 

And what is their highest end rackmount? The Integra?

 

And is their flagship non-workstation board the JD-XA? System 8?

 

I've been out of the hardware purchasing cycle since the V-Synth, so I appreciate any info I can get. Thanks.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Goodness...

 

I'd say:

top tier stage piano/basic workstation - RD800

 

workstation keyboard - FA08 (if hammer action is a requirement), JP80 for a different flavour

 

sound module - integra 7

 

flagship synth - JD-XA

 

The issue here is probably more variation in product category and target market, rather than 'flagship' models. Someone looking for a System-8 probably doesn't need something like a JD-XA. The FA series will suit other buyers over a JP series. Roland seems to do a 'series' with different sizes, rather than cut down variations of top tier boards (a la Motif - MOXF - MO, or Kronos - Krome - Kross). I guess the exception to that is the JD-Xi being a cut down variation of the JD-XA, but on the whole they seem to have avoided the trickle-down nomenclature of the other manufacturers.

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To answer, in the order of your questions (and to the best of my knowledge):

 

FA08

 

Integra 7

 

Jupiter 80

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What is the highest-end, fully programmable workstation keyboard? The JP80? FA?

 

And what is their highest end rackmount? The Integra?

 

And is their flagship non-workstation board the JD-XA? System 8?

I'd say it's a little bit more complicated than that.

 

JP-80 is a stage performance synth without workstation features.

RD-800 is a stage piano, so it's not fully programmable but fairly powerful.

FA is a workstation with only a subset of the sounds of the JP. It has the full legacy rompler soundset though that the JP hasn't.

JD-XA and System 8 are very different beasts architecturally. JD-XA is a SuperNatural (VA-style but mainly sample based) and analog hybrid, while System-8 is "truer" VA plus state of the art emulation of specific analog instruments like the Jupiter-8.

 

I'd say that either all of them are flagships in their category (which are, in some sense, newly defined categories) or that the concept of one flagship is somewhat abandoned.

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Roland abandoned the pro workstation market. The FA-08 is playable. The FA-06 action is ass if you are comparing it to the old Fantom workstations. I use a FA-06. The sounds and architecture are nice. The hardware is shit. But sadly I would buy it again unless I found a good deal on a Fantom G.

"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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JP80

 

Yes is deeply programmable. But it is a performance synth. No sequencer no sampler. Nice keys, Nice hardware. The architecture is amazing if you are in to big massive layers. In addition to being a kick ass synth it has super natural acoustic and electro-mechanical emulations.

 

FA

 

The FA has a sampler, but it is basically a built in SP404. Good for one shot samples. It is nothing like the Fantom's sampler. Fantom had the coolest sample editing tools and I always thought was the easiest best instrument for setting up sample based patches.

 

The FA has programmable engines. I like the VA. The sequencer is user friendly as sequencers go. If I have to sequence something I use the FA. The Kronos is good but I just have a lot more experience with Roland sequencers.

 

Studio Sets are cool and the FA lets you have a whole lot of them. I like to use the FA studio sets live like virtual racks, the way I set up racks in Cantibile. At gigs I only use the FA in Studio Set mode. The FA is a great MIDI slave. The FA has some limitations if you want to use it as a controller. It is a good all in one instrument.

 

The SD Card memory on the FA is dynamically allocated. It is very good. You have NO size limits one your sample sizes if there is free space on the SD Card.

"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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