Whether it be the DS88, the DS61, or even the JD-Xi synthesizers by Roland, I’ve shown quite a bit of love to the brand. Now with the addition of the more ‘elite’ Roland FA-08 synthesizer, we compare this model through reviews to see if it’s actually one of the worthy synths of the year or whether it is overrated. At first glance, it’s not hard to tell why this particular synthesizer is praised so highly. Like the JUNO-DS88, the Roland FA-08 workstation is an 88-key keyboard. You can’t find it in any other variations like the 61-key format and it certainly can’t be found in any mini synth variation.
One thing I’ve noticed about Roland synths in particular is that they generally all follow the same style and patterns in their design(s). This is a good thing because their patent style works well, so it’s something they’ve stuck with. Personally, I prefer the look and feel of this synthesizer over any other Roland synths I’ve had the chance in reviewing and most 88-key synthesizers in general. It is comparable to the Yamaha TYROS 5 and it would be difficult for me to choose one over the other based on UI alone. It’s a toss up. Because the UI is so clean and beginner friendly, it is a very easy instrument to play and get the hang of. I wouldn’t say it’s a synthesizer for beginners though, as it is far more complex than something such as a Korg Mini. This product is best suited for those who have at least a marginal amount of experience under their belt, and it’s great for those who play professionally or recreationally as well.
To touch on the style once more, the body is sleek and lightweight. The actual border itself is matte black and not glossy (not a fingerprint magnet). The buttons are tightly screwed and responsive. In general, I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to the physical aspects of the synthesizer. Roland nailed this aspect of their product and this definitely deserves to be listed as one of the best synths of the year.
As you could have probably guessed, the sound quality is astonishing on the Roland FA-08. Though there have been some minor complaints of the piano sound in particular not sounding the best, overall the sounds are quite great and far superior to many other products such as the MX61 and Kross. Yes, these are 61-key keyboards compared to it but given the price range, it is fair comparison. Check out this demo to get a better overall feel of what the workstation actually sounds like, and whether or not the sound and style fit you. It’s vital to keep in mind that this is a highly versatile piece of equipment and can work under almost any circumstance, but since it isn’t exactly cheap it is important for us to really delve deeply into the product before actually following through and purchasing.
This synthesizer is absolutely loaded with features. It is not quite on the same level as the Yamaha Montage 8 keyboard, but it really comes ridiculously close given the huge difference in price. Here are some of the things that make the Roland FA-08 synthesizer special:
- Light, mobile body with 88-note Ivory Feel-G KeyboardOver 2000 sounds from the flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module16-track sequencer with non-stop loop recordingExport sequencer tracks to SDHC card or as multitrack audio or MIDI to your DAWOnboard sampler based on the SP-404SX16 independent FX engines, six COMP+EQ processors, global EQ, chorus, and reverbSix user-assignable Sound Modify knobsD-Beam, Rhythm Pattern, Arpeggiator, and Chord Memory functionsGuitar/Mic and Line input jacksDedicated input.
And this just lists a few. Amazingly, Roland was able to pack so much into this keyboard making it truly feel like the high-end luxury product which it is. You simply cannot find many products with better action than the FA-08 keyboard. Feature-wise it almost feels like they put the Fantom G on a chopping block, took out all the advanced features that can be now done much better in DAW and added certain percentage of better sounding sounds. This makes it an absolutely fantastic modern synthesizer, and a much needed upgrade over the older models.
Some synthesizer keyboards are more difficult to describe than others and this is one of them. Generally this has always been the case with the best synthesizers because the amount of complexity and beauty all packed into one instrument is too overwhelming to put into words. Many people are sold on the product after getting a chance to actually feel it in person and get a taste of what the workstation is capable of doing. Fortunately, we have platforms that allow us to see such things without being in the physical presence of the product. The Roland FA-08 is a highly eloquent and sophisticated synthesizer and possibly the most powerful Roland product I’ve reviewed thus far. If you’re someone who is looking for the very best when it comes to sound quality and quantity of features alike, then this is a product you should definitely take into consideration.