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Played a new Roland Fantom 7 last weekend. Initial thoughts


EscapeRocks
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At one of our show last weekend,  we had an opener, who are good friends of ours.

 

After we finished our sound checked, I noticed their keys player setting up.  "oooh, a Fantom 7," I said to myself.   I haven't seen one in the wild in person yet.

When they finished their check, their keys player and I started chatting and comparing notes.  I asked how he liked his new Fantom.

 

At that point, he handed me the keys, so to speak, and told me to go ahead and play.   It was a couple hours till doors opened.  Mains and monitors we're off, so I plugged in my ears directly to the board.

 

I went thru a number of the basic factory sounds.  All very nice.

One thing that stood out to me was on Piano sounds:    The semi-weighted keys did not prevent me from playing clear piano passages.  I couldn't quite do the "Billy Joel 'Prelude/Angry Young Man' test," but I was able to do runs and trills with no effort.

I was also able to play synth sounds doing runs, etc. with ease.   Verdict:   They keybed is wonderful

 

The touch screen made sense, especially if you've used one, as I have/am on my old MODX, Nautilus, etc...

 

I did not get into messing with the arpeggiator

 

I did play with the controls; knobs and sliders.    All were solid

 

For the sounds he programmed for his gig, he had a lot of cool control assignments per program.  Filter sweeps assigned to Mod wheel, Various ADSR assigned to sliders, and so forth.

 

All in all, my impression after messing around for about 30 minutes was this board is a winner.

It sounded fantastic during their set FOH.  His pianos cut thru nicely

 

I returned the favor and let him mess with my rig.  I fired up a Mainstage Concert I don't use currently, and let him have at it.  He really liked Omnisphere ;)

 

 

 

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David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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47 minutes ago, EscapeRocks said:

His pianos cut thru nicely

I demo'ed an RD2000 in a music store a few months ago, I was quite impressed with the quality of the pianos as well, especially from the V-Piano engine.  They cut through very nicely but also sound great (and realistic) in a solo context, would definitely consider one if I had the $$ (and the room).

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Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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14 minutes ago, eric said:

Nice review! When will one be joining your rig? :D 

 

I haven't played a Fantom since the very earliest ones, seemingly 12-15 years ago? Somehow I haven't been around much Roland gear lately, other than some Boutiques.

 

I took some GAS-X after the show so I'm good.  :D

 

It is very nice.  If I ever were to go in on the Fantom, it would be the 6

 

I've barely scratched the surface of Omnisphere, and I'm having too much fun with that.    

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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I had a Fantom 7 for a month and I really agree with your sentiment.  I ended up returning it for a Fantom 8, which has the wood keys and is a very nice action for piano.  Might be heavy for some, but if you have played the RD-2000 that would tell you what to expect on the Fantom 8.  In many ways, I'd rather have a Fantom 7 or 6 for gigging instead of the 8 but I change things so much that sometimes you have to fill the need you have and I needed a weighted 88.  No regrets, it's just too large to get around with.

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Yamaha U1 Upright, Roland Fantom 8, Yamaha YC88, Nord Stage 3C, Nord Wave 2, Viscount Legend Live, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Mk2, Arturia V Collection 8, Komplete 13 Ultimate

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I played the Fantom 7 only briefly, but agree that it has one of the nicest semi-weighted actions, and piano was quite playable on it. If it wasn't double the weight of the PC4-7, I'd have definitely considered it!

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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There's a lot going on in that board for sure, and it does sound huge.

 

Couple of knocks:

 

1. I'm hearing reports of hard-to-engage aftertouch. I realize not everyone needs it, but if you're paying for it, I'd assume you'd want it to work well.

 

2. Purely personal aesthetic reaction The right-hand controls look a bit of a mess. "How about throwing a handful of synth parameter controls on there? Don't forget sound selectors.  Oh yeah, and drum pads too!" Perhaps in practice they make total sense, but they really break and otherwise slick appearance. It would be great to have some blank real estate there and really leverage the external USB device input more so you can add class-compliant pads and knobs of your choice. The K2700 is perhaps a better of example of how to fit a lot onto one panel, although it teeters on the edge of "too much" for me.

I make software noises.
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28 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

If it wasn't double the weight of the PC4-7

Ah, the major problem with the Fantom series, that they need to go on a diet.

Just looked it up, the Yamaha Montage 7 is only 4 pounds heavier than the Fantom 6.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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12 minutes ago, johnchop said:

It would be great to have some blank real estate there and really leverage the external USB device input more

 

That's a feature you get if you upgrade to the Fantom 8. ;-)

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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1 minute ago, jeffinpghpa said:

I had a Fantom 7 for a month and I really agree with your sentiment.  I ended up returning it for a Fantom 8, which has the wood keys and is a very nice action for piano.  Might be heavy for some, but if you have played the RD-2000 that would tell you what to expect on the Fantom 8.  In many ways, I'd rather have a Fantom 7 or 6 for gigging instead of the 8 but I change things so much that sometimes you have to fill the need you have and I needed a weighted 88.  No regrets, it's just too large to get around with.

 

I do enjoy the heavy Roland 88 note pianos.   I have an A88-MK2 Controller, and it's keys are wonderful.   I got tired of hauling the weight,although it is 20+lbs lighter than the Fantom 8 :)

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, johnchop said:

It would be great to have some blank real estate there and really leverage the external USB device input more so you can add class-compliant pads and knobs of your choice.

I agree, if roland had something like that you could get a set of dedicated drawbars like a Crumar D9u or D9x, but that would also require Roland to make their keyboards respond to Midi CC messages.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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I own a Fantom 7 (I posted some initial thoughts in the regular Fantom thread a little over a month ago). I agree that the keybed is quite nice, even for pianos. There are plenty of things that Roland could change or improve on (also noted in my review), but it's a great feeling instrument.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, MODX7, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Hammond: SK Pro 73 | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Roland TD-17 KVX | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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I really enjoyed playing brother Allan Evett’s Fantom 7 when we got together for a local hang a few weeks ago. Out of this world pristine sound, and I was able to easily put together a custom string patch using the Jupiter-8 and Supernatural (I think) engines. I also enjoyed hearing it when I saw Journey last summer. Their second keyboard player, Jason Derlatka, was playing a Fantom 7. Sounded massive.

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"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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15 hours ago, Moonglow said:

I really enjoyed playing brother Allan Evett’s Fantom 7 when we got together for a local hang a few weeks ago. Out of this world pristine sound, and I was able to easily put together a custom string patch using the Jupiter-8 and Supernatural (I think) engines. I also enjoyed hearing it when I saw Journey last summer. Their second keyboard player, Jason Derlatka, was playing a Fantom 7. Sounded massive.

And massive in more ways than one :laugh:. I have an SKB ThinkTank hard case for my YC-88, and a Gator semi-rigid case for the Fantom 7; the cases are interchangeable for each instrument. 

F7 YC88.jpg

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On the size--not really sure why these newer Fantoms are so huge.  In particular, the 88 is very deep (and correspondingly heavy).  Obviously having controls like the stick on the left increases the width (as shown in the pic above compared to the Yamaha).

I don't see any positive to bigger size, so I guess it must be that they have "more stuff" packed in there!

The only reason I kind of ruled out the Fantom is cost...same with the Forte7, but I happened to come across a used one of those.  Speaking of that, it's very compact (fits in some 61 key cases.)

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20 hours ago, Moonglow said:

I really enjoyed playing brother Allan Evett’s Fantom 7 when we got together for a local hang a few weeks ago. Out of this world pristine sound, and I was able to easily put together a custom string patch using the Jupiter-8 and Supernatural (I think) engines. I also enjoyed hearing it when I saw Journey last summer. Their second keyboard player, Jason Derlatka, was playing a Fantom 7. Sounded massive.

Excellent!

 

Yeah I saw Jason using that, and he still does. He likes it.  Jon uses one at home and in the studio, and when he's doing his other stuff in Florida

Maybe it's because I understand Roland that I was able to easily navigate and put some simple patches, without asking for help ;)

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Stokely said:

On the size--not really sure why these newer Fantoms are so huge.  In particular, the 88 is very deep (and correspondingly heavy).  Obviously having controls like the stick on the left increases the width (as shown in the pic above compared to the Yamaha).

I don't see any positive to bigger size, so I guess it must be that they have "more stuff" packed in there!

The only reason I kind of ruled out the Fantom is cost...same with the Forte7, but I happened to come across a used one of those.  Speaking of that, it's very compact (fits in some 61 key cases.)

 

The Fantoms have always been large   I had my old Fantom X6 apart to fix a couple unseated cables.  There was a lot going on inside.  It was all still modular, but a ton of modules :)

I personally liked the substantial/solid feeling of it.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/17/2022 at 2:29 PM, Mighty Motif Max said:

I own a Fantom 7 (I posted some initial thoughts in the regular Fantom thread a little over a month ago). I agree that the keybed is quite nice, even for pianos. There are plenty of things that Roland could change or improve on (also noted in my review), but it's a great feeling instrument.

This thread piqued my interest in the Fantom, but after reading your in-depth discussion on the original thread, it's a definite pass. Thanks, MMM!

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On 2/18/2022 at 4:37 PM, EscapeRocks said:

Yeah I saw Jason using that, and he still does. He likes it.  Jon uses one at home and in the studio, and when he's doing his other stuff in Florida

I was surprised to see that Jonathan was still using his Jupiter-80 with Journey. I was fully expecting to see a Fantom on top of his V-Grand.

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"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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1 hour ago, Moonglow said:

I was surprised to see that Jonathan was still using his Jupiter-80 with Journey. I was fully expecting to see a Fantom on top of his V-Grand.

His rig hasn't really changed in the last few years and despite having techs and access, he's been about keeping it simple.

The Jupiter 80 is fully programmed and talks with the V-Grand, as well as all the rack stuff.

 

As much as he's traveling, recording solo, and with Journey, and playing Sunday services when he can, I'm not surprised.  Simply from a logistics standpoint.

 

Funny, when he's working on song ideas at home, he's got a Komplete Kontrol S88mk2, and Logic ProX on a Macbook pro.  On the road in the hotel, he'll bring an S49 mk2 for working stuff out.

 

In the vocal Rehearsal room back stage, I've seen all manner of simply 88 note slabs with speakers.. Casio, Korg, Yamaha...  I haven't specifically seen a Roland yet...

 

Okay  too much info  :)

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David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Moonglow said:

I was surprised to see that Jonathan was still using his Jupiter-80 with Journey. I was fully expecting to see a Fantom on top of his V-Grand.

I wonder if he has updated his rig for this tour?  I guess I'll find out next Sunday when I go to see them at the Prudential Center

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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30 minutes ago, ABECK said:

I would think it's not like the Journey set list really changes much, if at all.  If he's got a rig dialed in, it makes sense he'd have little reason to keep up with the Joneses.

True, he stuck with the Ensoniq TS-10 for years, and he's had the Triton Studio in his rig basically since it came out.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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Wait till you see the rig this tour

The Roland Piano is now Red.  Harkening back.   Makes sense since a lot of their fopcus as been like the first released song "The Way We Used To Be"

  Still using the Jupiter 80 up top, and the Triton and Organ to his left.

 

Also, Jason Derlatka, the second keyboardist/vocalist has added, a Kronos 6 to his rig.  Fantom, then Kronos to his right.

 

Not the best pic of Jon's piano, but best I could off a screen grab.  At first I was thinking it was just lights, but Neal's wife had a very clear and very brief look at is while scan the stage with her phone.

 

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David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, EscapeRocks said:

Wait till you see the rig this tour

The Roland Piano is now Red.  Harkening back.   Makes sense since a lot of their fopcus as been like the first released song "The Way We Used To Be"

  Still using the Jupiter 80 up top, and the Triton and Organ to his left.

 

Also, Jason Derlatka, the second keyboardist/vocalist has added, a Kronos 6 to his rig.  Fantom, then Kronos to his right.

 

Not the best pic of Jon's piano, but best I could off a screen grab.  At first I was thinking it was just lights, but Neal's wife had a very clear and very brief look at is while scan the stage with her phone.

 

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Looks good, I can't wait for Sunday!  As much as I love Journey though, I really bought the tickets because Toto is playing with them too, and Toto is probably my favorite band, and I regret not seeing them last time they were in town in 2018.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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