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Need Some Advice - Fantom FA 76

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Guys, i have a Roland RD-250s but don't feel the piano sounds are good enough for live situation. Was thinking of buying A Roland Fantom FA-76 and controlling it with the RD-250s.Any advice?how do the piano sounds compare to the latest in the RD/Fantom range?How good are the synth sounds?Also was lookin alternatively at buying a Roland GW-7 to do the same thing??
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In my opinion, acoustic piano sounds didn't get good in Fantoms until the "X". The FA76 piano is I believe the same one as the XV-5080, or close. It's not the best sound in either of these units. But I think it takes SRX-11, which is a great piano if you want to inclde an expansion board in your purchase.


Are you looking for a second keyboard? Is that why you aren't going with a module?

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I believe the classic Fantom contains the XV-ROM. So that would imply that the XV-"So True"-piano (and it's derivatives) is the best the Fantom offers. The latest Fantom (i.e. Fantom X) and the latest RD-piano's (RD300SX and RD700SX) offer far better piano's (generally perceived, though piano sound is highly subjective).


If you want a keyboard synth, go for a Fantom X. Or (and that might be considerably cheaper) go for the FA-76 and plug in the SRX-11 piano card. That is a very good piano card.


The synth sounds in the Fantom series are good, IMHO. Again, expand with SR-JV-card or SRX-cards to your likings. The thing takes two SRX-cards and one SR-JV-card in total, according to www.rolandus.com


No sampling though, and the Fantom S and X have newer wave samples in their ROM, IIRC. Fantom S has no 76-keys version (if that's important to you), Fantom X is the most recent line and hence more expensive. Maybe the Fantom XR (rack version) might be an idea. Highly expandable (6 SRX-cards), cheaper than the corresponding keyboard synth and has sampling function. An XV2020 or XV5050 might do the trick as well: those both expandable with SRX-card (again, SRX-11 is recommended). Since you plan to control the synth (at least for piano playing) with the RD-250, maybe a module is a good alternative.


Don't know anything about the GW-7.


Good luck.

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Synthesizers come in different forms: with or without an actual keyboard. If the synth has no keyboard, it's called a rack (version) or a (synth or rack) module.


Most synthesizers have different variants: the Roland Fantom X synths have 3 keyboard versions (61, 76 and 88 keys, the latter version has weighted keys) ánd a module version: the Fantom XR. Same with Motif (Motif6, Motif 7 and Motif8 alongside the Motif Rack) and the Motif ES (3 versions and a rack version). The Korg Triton has a rack version as well, as have numerous other synths.


Sometimes, a synth has less versions. The FA-76 only came out in a 76-keys version and has no module counterpart. The Fantom S (which included a new wave-ROM and thus has "updated" sounds as well has sampling abilities) only comes in a 61 an 88 weighted keyboard version (again, no module).


The module is controlled by MIDI (which you seem to know of, given the content of your postings thus far).


Handling a module requires a bit more homework because programming most of the time is a bit harder due to the interface (smaller or no display, less knobs, sometimes a computer is required for making installments, etc). The benefits of modules are weight/transportability and cost.


Just look at a Roland XV-2020 module and see for yourself that it fits in any case or backpack, although it offers the same synthesis capabilities as the FA-76 (having the 4-stereo-toned XV-synthesizer engine) and is expandable with two SRX-cards. I think it fits right on top of your RD-250.


Just surf around on the various synth manufacturer's sites.


Hope this helps.


Good luck.

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If the RD250s has a MIDI OUT plug (which I expect), then it will work.


Well, I'm a Dutchman, so I can only give a local indication:


* Roland XV-2020: new EUR 650, used ca EUR 400

* Roland XV-5050: new EUR 800, used ca EUR 500

* Roland SRX-card (expansion): new EUR 300 (the SRX-11 is fairly new, so no 2nd hand prices available)

* Roland Fantom XR: new EUR 1200-1300, used ???

* Motif ES rack: new EUR 1200, used ???

* Motif Rack: new EUR 700-800, used ca EUR 500


Look around on local music store sites for relevant prices or on ebay (which I seldomly do, I don't like buying expensive stuff from a distance).


Korg isn't very famous for their piano sound, so I wouldn't go for that route. I'd go for

* XV-module + SRX-11

* Fantom XR or

* Motif ES Rack


So the first option is the cheapest one. Be sure to check out the piano sound out of any instrument for yourself. It's very difficult to obtain an impression without playing a unit yourself, especially when acoustic piano sound is involved.


Good luck again.

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Two more thoughts:


1) my list isn't limitative. Some prefer Kurzweil or other brands. So do look around and ask around.


2) MIDI only sends information, no sound. The module (like a 2nd synth) should be plugged seperately into a mixer/amplifier/speaker system. Sorry if you knew this already.

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No, that won't work. It wouldn't work with an keyboard synth like the FA-76 either.


MIDI is an information protocol and sends no audio. You press a C4 on your RD250s and via the MIDI cable, information is transmitted, like "play a C4 note in the module" (in MIDI language this is called a "note on message"). Releasing the note on the RD250s again sends information to the module: "stop playing the note" (note off message). The MIDI protocol is sophisticated enough to send information about the volume ("velocity") of the note (in 128 levels), as well as information concerning the presence of a pressed sustain pedal, etc.


By setting the module to a certain sound (for instance a string sound), the module produces the sound, which needs to be amplified. So the audio output(s) of the module need(s) to be connected to a amplification device, just like the P250s needs to be connected to an amplifier.


If you only want the RD250s to act as a controller (essentially an information generator for the module) and you don't want the RD250s to produce any sound itself, than it's not necessary to connect the RD250s's audio out(s) to an amplifier.


So with the right module (which can offer you al the sounds you need), you could exchange the need for an amplifier for the RD250s with the need for an amplifier for the module.


Hope this clears some stuff.

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Typically, these kind of synths (as opposed to the (virtual) analog kind of synthesizers) offer hundreds of sounds. The Motif series offers 3 banks of 128 sounds each and on top of that a "General MIDI" palette (which doens't offer more variation of sounds). The ES presumably offers some more sounds. The XV-synths offer approximately 700 or more sounds. With expansion cards on board, this number even grows. I believe the Fantom XR (unexpanded) already offers over 1000 sounds (Roland calls those "patches", whereas Yamaha calls 'em "voices").


If transportability is a big issue, then go for a module. But I always have liked to have a 2nd keyboard at hand, which is a little easier and flexible for live playing purposes (adding a quick 2nd sound on the fly, editing/tweaking a sound on the fly). For editing, it's like I said before: a module is a little less user friendly than a keyboard synth, because of the number of knobs, the often bigger display on a keyboard synth, etc.


I think Roland is more user friendly to beginning synthesizer users than Yamaha. So my advice would be to pick up a Roland, unless Yamaha offers better sounds to your ears (and in some departments like Rhodes piano's, Yamaha is very much appreciated, also by me). It all depends on taste, budget, purposes, etc.


My very personal advice would be: look for a Fantom S (61 keys) or Fantom X (61 or 76 keys), pop the SRX-11 piano card into the Fantom S (and the SRX-12 card in the S or X if you like a really good Rhodes piano sound). Good sounds, user friendly interface and flexible enough to expand or change course with, if the future learns that this would be necessary. A good cheaper route is the one you began with: a FA-76, but do add the SRX-11 for the desired quality acoustic piano.


If you only need basic synth sounds (an occasional synth lead, string ensemble or pad sound) and no expandability is required, look for a Roland RD300SX.


And if money really is no issue and one piano-style keyboard suffices, then ditch the RD250s and go for a RD700SX or a Fantom X8. :)


Good luck and enjoy you quest!

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