Using the Roland FA-08 as Controller and Sequencer


Joined
May 6, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Back in 1993 or so I purchased a Roland JV-1000. I chose it and learned how to use it largely through the help of the folks on Harmony-Central and CompuServe. I recently posted the following on the former and got no replies whatsoever. The latter disappeared a century or two ago so I am looking for a new place to seek wise and sage counsel. Hopefully I'll find it here.

As guitar player, the synth and its sequencer has served me well producing backing tracks to play guitar over, producing cassettes and later CD's for friends to listen to, bandmates to teach pieces to and coworkers to confound and confuse. Most of these folks are still talking to me so I guess that the music wasn't too offensive. For years I have blissfully used what is probably very old tech, but it indeed worked and some nice music (given a decided lack of talent) was happily produced. Probably the best times I have had in my life have been in my little bedroom studio.

A few months ago, the JV started to act strangely. The display got screwy and the SEQ out MIDI connection stopped working, so I took it to the service guy for a battery replacement (long overdue) and a few button repairs. It kinda worked for a month or two and now the display is completely gone on the sequencer part and just gibberish on the synth part. Rather than continue to sink money into a long obsolete piece of equipment, I am thinking of replacing it. So I have come here in the hope of being steered in the right direction.

The idea is to just replace the workstation with another synth/sequencer. I know that a laptop would be the more modern approach but there is little room for it and the requisite hardware in the "studio". The intent is to simply record parts into the sequencer using the synth engine while also using the keyboard to control the rest of the old modules that all still work (namely Akai 2800 with a whole lot of very useful CD-ROM's, Korg X5DR, Kurzweil Micro Piano, Roland SH-32 and a nicely expanded Roland JV-1080 (that I found new in the box in my basement recently), I use all of these to record two tracks on the 8 track recorder through the mixer and inserted effects. Then I add guitar(s) and sometimes even vocals (if the wife is not home) in the remaining tracks to burn CD's to give to friends and/or bandmates. This will mostly be music music (as opposed to vocal music). I love synth sounds and sound effects and such to go with my fusion style electric guitar and I would hate to not be able to use the sampler and the (new to me) JV-1080. I know that this is an outdated method but remember that I am a guitar player and like many of us, the technology beyond tweaking patches in multi-effects units eludes me (hence the simple and easy use of the JV-1000 serving me well all these years)

I am looking at the Roland FA-08. It needs to serve as a MIDI controller, a standalone synth and have an easy to use sequencer to run all the modules. It would also be nice if it could read the Akai CD ROMS but that is probably obsolete by now. I would like it to be the Roland out of an old time loyalty (plus the wife bought me t-shirts) but if there is a better and more cost effective option I would be silly to not consider it. I love the idea of weighted keys and that is an absolute must. Also I do not like used equipment for the most part.

So towards this end, I went to both GC and Sam Ash yesterday and am no further along. GC didn't have a unit and the salesman just wanted to talk about his guitar playing. The Ash guy was incredibly condescending and essentially told me that MIDI is dead, I am wasting his time and I need to replace everything, not just the JV. Perhaps he is right but it would not make me happy.

I did get to try out the FA-08 at SA, nice keyboard! I love feel of the keys and it seems that they have improved the synth engines a bit since the JV series. However, I tried playing with the sequencer and still have no idea if I can use it to do what I described above. Obviously the structure of everything is very different from my old Roland but no way do I want to spend that kind of money without knowing what I need to know. The JV had three MIDI ports; In,Out and Seq Out. Out would play the modules while sequencing, Seq Out would reply them while you play other channels or play the whole thing when done. You just had to flip the switch on the MIDI patchbay. The FA-08 seems to have only have In and Out (with apologies to Alex DeLarge). The Performance mode of the JV separated the channels and allowed you to mute the JV when using one of the modules plus allowing voice reserve on those used but not muted. The FA has the channels separated in the sequencer mode but here is no performance option. In the sequencer, it does not seem to have any way to mute itself, control outboard hardware and serve as a controller for the whole setup.

So I am asking, can the FA-08 serve the purpose described above?

… and just to complicate things, I also have an XP-10 that I got for $50 to play some gigs awhile back with a band that had no use for electric guitars. It does have the performance mode that the JV had but no sequencer and no weighted keys. I also have a spare laptop. If I can’t determine what I need to know about the newer Roland, I’d have to use these instead, assuming that a) there is any easy sequencing program that will work with the XP-10 as the controller and b) there is hardware to interface the controller to the computer and then the computer to the MIDI patch bay. The question then becomes, what and which of those should I be looking at?

I hope I described what I need adequately, If so and someone wishes to help me out here with answers, Mille Grazie in advance
 
Ad

Advertisements

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,246
Reaction score
4,399
Location
GTA, Canada
First off for Roland help try visiting http://forums.rolandclan.com/

Secondly, the FA-08 can do what you ask of it but you'd be better off sequencing with a laptop.

Search youtube for MIDI Sequencer tutorials and DAW tutorials.

Google freeware DAW for a few options out there you could try before you buy.

Also search youtube for Roland FA-08 Sequencer Tutorials to get a better idea of the limitations and capabilities of a modern keyboard sequencer.

The resources are out there. You just need to know where to look.

Hope this helps :)

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,246
Reaction score
4,399
Location
GTA, Canada
BTW, the Ash guy is a jerk.

MIDI is NOT dead and still makes beautiful music.

USB is a cheaper option these days but quality gear still comes with true 5 Pin MIDI IN and OUT ports..

MIDI Thru is not used as much anymore and most people handle the MIDI routing with a computer these days.

I still own and use a couple of pieces of vintage MIDI only gear and they blend beautifully with USB only gear using a computer to handle the routing.

Hang on to your retro gear. Vintage sounds are making a big comeback these days.

Gary ;)
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2012
Messages
496
Reaction score
165
Fud!

Gary has a very good point about computer based DAW software. It is the current state of the art music production method, and is immensely easier and more efficient than sequencing on a workstation sequencer. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it is well worth it, in the long run. Plus, all of the current Roland workstations provide for seamless integration with all of the top DAW packages for both MIDI and audio sequencing. Since you mentioned the FA-08, I just wanted to let you know it is worth considering, regardless of the sequencer, but there is something much more important for you to consider. Your JV-1000 is/was a 76 semi-weighted key with synth action. The FA-08 has 88 fully weighted hammer action keys with an action almost identical to a real piano. If you are not used to that, it could be a problem for you - at least for a while. The FA-06 is a 61 key semi-weighted synth action model, but the FA-07 is the closest to your JV-1000 - 76 semi-weighted synth action keys. I think Roland may refer to the FA-06 and FA-07 as fully weighted, but I use semi-weighted, as fully-weighted is synonymous with "hammer action" to a lot of people.

Good luck with your decision!

Ted
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 6, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the replies guys ! I had a feeling that this would be a helpful forum

You convinced me to not get the new keys. I guess what enamored me the most was the weighted action. Since I didn't come from a piano background, the semi weighted JV-1000 and XP-10 didn't bother me all these years but I've been fooling around on an old Kurzweil that the band uses and fell in love with the weighted keys. It really helped my playing in speed and precision significantly like the difference between cheapo and high end guitar necks. Certainly a revelation.

I realize that the reasons that I didn't want to use the spare laptop are actually a bit silly:

1. I only needed a sequencer. I mix and EQ through the mixer, add compression and effects through inserts or directly and record/burn CD's in the 8 track.
2. To use a laptop I would have to remove the SH-32 to make space. I just found this (and the JV-1080) in my basement, just started using it and was having a blast. Guess it goes back downstairs. That's a big "oh well".
3. It will take a lot longer to do the set up this way and I am anxious to record some new things, but patience is a virtue.

So let's try option B. It might even save me money (goodie ! more guitar FX pedals :) )

Now I need an 88 key weighted controller, perhaps one with more modern piano sound like the FA-08 has (sounded way better than the Micropiano or the Akai). I can start researching that by seeing what is available and trying them out in the stores. I can use the XP-10 (yuck) in the meantime

I need a program to download but I may not be able to do it online with the computer in question

I need two connectors:
a) keyboard to computer (USB to USB?)
b) computer to MIDI patchbay

This part I have no idea about but will research as suggested

still the same type of setup with the only computer use being the sequencer

Someday, I would like one of those setups where everything is a plug in and all recording, mixing, quantizing et al is done with several huge computer screens and the only hardware are the guitars and one keyboard but I need to win LOTTO first. Anyone got he Power Ball numbers for the next big one?
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,246
Reaction score
4,399
Location
GTA, Canada
Ad

Advertisements

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,246
Reaction score
4,399
Location
GTA, Canada
Here's an article on the best free DAW softwares out there today.

http://routenote.com/blog/the-10-best-free-daws-available/

Actually you can already use VST instruments, Sequence MIDI, Record live and add effects on most of them without the need for multiple screens.

They really have turned a computer into a recording studio in a box these days.

And a lot of those options support multiple platforms so it shouldn't really matter what brand of computer you are using.

Your biggest worries with home recording are memory size, CPU speed and latency and operating system clutter. (ie. how much crap is running in the background)

But with a bit of careful tweaking even a modest computer can achieve remarkable results.

Gary ;)
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top