The Roland FA-08 is an 88-weighted key synthesizer workstation.
It is equipped with sounds from both Roland's XV series of sound modules and the newer SuperNatural sounds. Additionally, there is a complete Virtual Analog Synthesis engine on-board that allows 3 oscillators to be programmed in many ways.
There are 16 pads that can be used for triggering loops, samples, and sounds, a pitch bend and modulation joystick, 6 rotary knobs that can be assigned to a variety of parameters, a D-beam control, and a screen with a scroll wheel for editing and creating sounds/songs.
The polyphony is 128 voices.
Editing sounds is extremely easy and fun. The supternatural Synth engine is a breeze to use. Everything appears clearly labeled on the screen and navigation with the buttons is straightforward as can be.
I found using the sequencer to be a little annoying at times, compared to the Fantom G, but this is only personal preference. The G has a larger screen that is arranged more like a DAW. The screen shows your instrument list and numbered bars of the piece. You can see a color coded representation of which bars have audio or midi of that instrument recorded.
I do like however, the ease of constructing and performing loops. This is much easier than the Fantom G.
The sampler is pleasant to use. It is based on one of Roland's standalone samplers and works quite well. The sampling and looping capabilities make me feel that this workstation is aimed at the EDM market heavily. The Fantom G came out at a time when it was still common for people to produce their tracks on a workstation, but I believe that today people lean towards the DAW because of it's easy access. This keyboard gets it right and puts fun, easy to use functions at your finger tips without having to fire up a computer to create a few loops and play with ideas.
That said I don't personally use the keyboard to create complete tracks. I don't think any workstation will match the speed at which this can be done in a DAW today.
The sounds are fantastic. The XV series sounds still hold their own today and work well in a mix.
The supernatural side of things is the best aspect of this keyboards sound. The synth is just incredible, and Roland has been great at supporting it and uploading more sounds to their AXIAL website where you can expand your preset bank. The synth is especially good at imitating a variety of vintage gear such as Jupiters, Junos, and Moogs.
I don't notice any problems with the converters, they sound great through my speakers (yamaha HS series) and I enjoy them all very much.
The best part about this keyboard is it's loop triggering and portability. It's lightweight and small enough that I can take it to a gig without much trouble, and since I can create and trigger loops so conveniently I am able to hold quite the one-man-band show.
I will say I don't like the keys as much as the Fantom G. They are still ivory-feel weighted, but they feel a little small and unresponsive to me. I will usually trigger the keys from another board at home if I am playing much.
The sound quality is great and leaves me impressed every time.
I considered getting a Korg Krome when this came out, but the many features of the FA lured me in and I have no regrets.
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