Trading Roland Fantom X8 for a digital piano...

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Has anyone here owned or played a Fantom X8 workstation keyboard?

I have had it for a long long time, when I bought it I thought I would use it for all of its fancy features and sounds, but it just became a way for me to play the piano on an 88 key weighted keyboard. I had to move some stuff around my house so the Fantom ended up in storage... It's ENORMOUS and heavy. I want to try to sell it or get rid of it in favor of a sleeker dedicated digital piano, now that I'm getting back into playing.

The thing is, since I'm very new to digital pianos, and it has been a while since I've auditioned acoustic pianos, I've lot my "calibration" for what sounds good and what doesn't.

So, before I dive into asking for recommendations on digital pianos, I want to ask if anyone has played the Roland Fantom X8 (or really, any Roland workstation similar to it), and what do you think of its piano voices? Where does it stack up to more dedicated digital pianos?
 

happyrat1

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I haven't played one but the Fantom X8 was considered world class along with the Yamaha Motif XF and the Kurzweil PC3K8 and the early model Korg Kronos when they first came out.

I believe they use the Roland Supernatural Sound Engine which is still being used in devices like the Integra 7 Rack Module and the newer lightweight FA-08 workstations.

There's three X8's for sale in the Toronto area right now and they are all listing for between $2000 and $2500 each.

http://www.kijiji.ca/b-gta-greater-toronto-area/fantom-x8/k0l1700272

It's still a very formidable instrument even if it is 12 years old and still holds up very well in the resale market and still compares favorably to many modern mid range instruments.

I'd say you should take a long, hard look at what's available out there today before you consider unloading it. Granted it's a 100 lb beast to transport, but as far as improvements in sound quality goes, most of the advances in ROMplers in the past ten years have been incremental rather than generational.

Sure instruments like the Kurzweil Forte and the Kawai MP11 have been throwing GOBS of memory at their piano voices these days but unless you are playing a classical program at a place like the Royal Albert Hall the nuances won't make all that much difference in a concert setting. And chances are if you were playing Albert Hall or Carnegie Hall you'd be on a real 9 foot grand from Bosendorfer or Steinway or Yamaha to begin with.

I know the itch to upgrade to the latest and greatest gear all too well, but perhaps it may be wiser to give it another 4 or 5 years and see what keyboard manufacturers surprise us with next.

From what I've seen on the market these days, keyboard technology lags computer technology in power, speed and capacity by at least a decade if not more in the dedicated workstations that are coming out today.

And software synths like Pianoteq blow away absolutely EVERYTHING that you can currently buy in a dedicated electronic piano or workstation simply by virtue of 8 core Intel CPUs and multi gigabytes of RAM and terabyte solid state hard drives.

My advice is, unless you can express a clearly defined NEED for an upgrade, stick with what you have for at least a few more years and give the keyboard workstation manufacturers a chance to catch up a bit with desktop computing workstations currently available today.

This is partly the reason why the resurgence of analog synths has made such a spectacular comeback these days. ROMplers have pretty much peaked in the past ten years and people are looking for new sounds in older technologies.

Just my $0.02...

Gary ;)
 
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Wow, I knew I joined the right forum :)

happyrat1, thank you so much, that was a fantastic and thoughtful response. You really got my wheels turning.

I’m happy to hear the Roland sound engine of the X8 is still going strong. I’ve personally always felt the pianos in the X8 sounded good, I just did’t have much to compare them to.

Regarding this:

> "My advice is, unless you can express a clearly defined NEED for an upgrade, stick with what you have for at least a few more years and give the keyboard workstation manufacturers a chance to catch up a bit with desktop computing workstations currently available today"

There are a couple things that make a new digital piano appealing:
  1. Say I sell the X8 for $2000, and spend up to $1000 on a new digital piano - I come out ahead.
  2. I’m tired of how big and heavy the X8 is. I know digital pianos are all bulky and heavy to an extent, but that workstation is ridiculous.
  3. I recently had a kid, and am starting to think how he can bang away at the piano and get familiar with it. A digital piano that sounds great with 88 keys, nice feel, and a simple interface would fulfill my needs AND be good for my son to get interested in playing around on it (built-in speakers would be a plus here, even though I don’t care for them).
I guess I more want to *simplify*, not upgrade. I was reading one of those digital pianos guides (seems I don't have permission to post the link to it just yet but I'll update when I can) that covers the price range I’m comfortable with (500-1000usd). I’m really liking the intermediate-level Yamaha and Casio digital pianos, like the Casio PX-150 and the Yamaha P-115.

But now you’ve got me thinking if those are a step DOWN in sound quality from the Roland, and I’m not really keen on getting an inferior piano sound… maybe that’s where a Kawai digital piano would shine? This weekend I’m definitely heading to Guitar Center to see what they have that I can play with.

Do you have any insight on how the mid-range Yamahas, Casios, and Kawais might stack up to the sound engine of the X8?
 

happyrat1

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Like I said earlier, keyboard manufacturers have invested gobs of money and RAM into improving the piano voices of their synths and pianos and units like the PX-5S and PX-560 have a very credible presence when it comes to the main piano voices these days.

Kawai owners swear on a stack of bibles that they have the best sounding pianos and likewise the new Kurzweil Artis and Forte are touting their new German Grand which also uses huge samples and resonance modelling to achieve the nuances of a stringed instrument.

My advice to you would be to audition these makes and models for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

If you want to keep the weight and the price down though, I'd recommend sticking with the Casios these days,

Gary ;)
 
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My advice to you would be to audition these makes and models for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

If you want to keep the weight and the price down though, I'd recommend sticking with the Casios these days,

Gary ;)

Quick update on my digital piano journey: I spent several hours at Guitar Center this last week with some good Beyerdynamic headphones, and I was pretty impressed by the Yamaha DGX-660. Thus far that's the front-runner (the article I was referring to in my previous post that helped me was this digital piano guide - they talk about the 650 being very good, but the 660 is the newer version). Selling my Fantom X8 is going to be such a pain, I'm going local and DEFINITELY not shipping it, and I have no idea how people manage that. But hopefully when both transactions are said and done I'll end up having put a little money back in my pocket, and I'll come back here for a more thorough review of the DGX-660. Thanks again so much for your help up to this point, happyrat1 :)
 

happyrat1

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How does the DGX-660 stack up weight wise?

I noticed that in that guide they didn't compare the Casio PX-350 but instead the PX-150 which is their budget model.

Not a fair comparison in my book and highly biased toward Yamaha.

Also check out the PX-360 which is Casio's latest replacement for the PX-350.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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I just checked the specs on the DGX-660. Weight without stand is about 47 lbs.

That's only 7 lbs lighter than my Kurzweil PC3K8. Pack it into a road case and you're easily at 70 lbs. plus!

Gary ;)
 
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Also check out the PX-360 which is Casio's latest replacement for the PX-350.

Thanks! I was actually excited to go back this weekend and play a few more, so I will absolutely test the PX-350 and PX-360, whichever they have. You nailed my one reservation thus far of the Yamaha 660, its weight. The Casios look to weigh significantly less (20 lbs or so), so I'll def be paying attention to that.
 

happyrat1

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BTW, if you're looking to audition a Casio PX-360 or PX-560 take a look at your local Costco. Costco carries a lot of Casios and they automatically double the warranty when you purchase from them.

Gary ;)
 

Fred Coulter

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I'm a happy DGX-650 owner. I've checked out the specs of the 660, and it is an incremental improvement over the old model, which was an incremental improvement of the previous model, the 640. If money is an issue, you might want to see if the earlier models are available for a bit less cash.

On the other hand, happyrat1 is correct, it's not light. The stand is wood and difficult to collapse. So you'll also need to budget a stand (and loose the three pedal capability) or make sure you've got room in your vehicle for the uncollapsed stand as well as the keyboard itself. Separating the two isn't difficult; it's just a matter of loosening a couple of screws. But it's still going to be bulky.
 
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Has anyone here owned or played a Fantom X8 workstation keyboard?

I have had it for a long long time, when I bought it I thought I would use it for all of its fancy features and sounds, but it just became a way for me to play the piano on an 88 key weighted keyboard. I had to move some stuff around my house so the Fantom ended up in storage... It's ENORMOUS and heavy. I want to try to sell it or get rid of it in favor of a sleeker dedicated digital piano, now that I'm getting back into playing.

The thing is, since I'm very new to digital pianos, and it has been a while since I've auditioned acoustic pianos, I've lot my "calibration" for what sounds good and what doesn't.

So, before I dive into asking for recommendations on digital pianos, I want to ask if anyone has played the Roland Fantom X8 (or really, any Roland workstation similar to it), and what do you think of its piano voices? Where does it stack up to more dedicated digital pianos?

I'm having trouble understanding why you want to leave the X8. If it is for the weight, then the obvious route is the FA08 which is a change I made a year or so ago to get weight that I could handle without giving up on the fabulous Roland pianos. I use much more piano than anything else and I just haven't found any other piano that comes close. That being said, I try to avoid the shrill sound of asian acoustic pianos and MUCHLY prefer the sound of a Stenway. If you are a younger person who was raised on Yamaha and rock piano sounds your taste might be different.
 
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I'm having trouble understanding why you want to leave the X8. If it is for the weight, then the obvious route is the FA08 which is a change I made a year or so ago to get weight that I could handle without giving up on the fabulous Roland pianos.

It looks gorgeous but that price tag is scary. Is this the newest line of Roland Workstation keyboards?

Yeah basically I want beautiful pianos and a good feel, in a simpler, lighter package than the Roland Fantom X8. Looks like the X8 is ~65 lbs. FA-08 is 36 lbs so that's a nice difference.

Are the pianos in the FA-08 head and shoulders above the mid-level ($800 and under) pianos from the likes of Casio and Yamaha? If so, what are you basing that on?
 
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It looks gorgeous but that price tag is scary. Is this the newest line of Roland Workstation keyboards?

Yeah basically I want beautiful pianos and a good feel, in a simpler, lighter package than the Roland Fantom X8. Looks like the X8 is ~65 lbs. FA-08 is 36 lbs so that's a nice difference.

Are the pianos in the FA-08 head and shoulders above the mid-level ($800 and under) pianos from the likes of Casio and Yamaha? If so, what are you basing that on?

Well, in my opinion they are since I already voted with my wallet. I can only base it on my own ear and I'd advise you to base your decision on your own ear. I would also suggest that you listen with the type of amp you are planning on using since that makes a big difference also. Everything sounds good on earphones. FWIW I use a Bose mini stick now, but I favored Roland KC amps in the past. I just re-read your question and I don't know of any piano $800 and under that feels anything like a piano except the Casio. If I had to go to anything less expensive than the FA08 I would go to a Casio. I think the feel is decent and the sound - well that's up to you but it's not awful.
 
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