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In-depth Feature:  Roland Fantom XR
Albert Potts writes: .

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An Integrated Synth and Sampler
The first thing that surprised me about Roland's Fantom XR is how much of a sampler it is. As a long-time owner of an XV-5080 I knew the synth features would be excellent, but the growth of the sampler side of the design was a bit unexpected.

The Fantom XR combines its sampler and synth engines in ways superior to the XV-5080. Samples can now be used in patches just like any other onboard waveform. This is a major improvement, as it allows much greater freedom for integration of user and 3rd party samples into the programming possibilities.

Roland has made the process of sampling easy and intuitive with the Fantom XR. A couple button presses and you are recording. You can sample in stereo or mono, from the digital inputs, analog inputs, or from a microphone. Though to sample with a microphone you'll need to have an external preamp, as there is no preamp or XLR input on the Fantom XR. The two 1/4" inputs double as stereo, mono, and mic inputs (or is that triple?). Samples can also be loaded into the Fantom XR from your computer, via USB or from a card.

There are several different sampling procedures available for users of the Fantom XR:

  • Sampling: where you sample an external sound source from the sample inputs.
  • Re-sampling: to record the internal sound generator, and the external audio source will not be captured.
  • Mix-Sampling: to record the internal sound generator and an external sound source from the inputs.
  • Auto Divide Sampling: an extended sound source is automatically divided into separate samples at moments of silence.
  • Solo Sampling: where you can play the Fantom XR and sample from the inputs at the same time, but only the source at the inputs is recorded.

    It is also possible to manually divide a sample during recording by repeatedly pressing "Enter" as you record. This makes it simple to record vocal phrases, even down to the syllables, or multi-sample instruments. To hear back your newly recorded samples, you can play a note on your keyboard, or press the volume button. I like the volume button feature because it allows the user to hear the recording back without requiring a keyboard to be connected.

    In addition, there are effects available on the inputs, usable in most sampling modes. They are: Equalizer (two band)
    Enhancer (modifies the high frequency content to add sparkle)
    Compressor, Limiter, Noise Suppressor, and Center Canceler (removes sounds like vocals from the center of the stereo image).
    The external inputs also feature the ability to be routed to the output effects.

    So, effects on the input and effects on the outputs. The outputs effects include routing to the three MFX processors, Chorus and Reverb.

    There are also many ways to edit samples in the Fantom XR. You can create patches, multi-sampled patches, and rhythm sets from the samples you've recorded or imported via USB. In addition, processing features include: truncating (trimming), Emphasis (boosting high frequency range), Normalize, Amp (change the volume of the sample with an envelope), Time Stretch, and Loop.

    All in all, the sampling features on the Fantom XR are well thought and easy to use.

    More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Roland US Fantom pages
  • Fantom XR Price @ Zzounds

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    Ray Phenicie    Said...

    I fully agree with the hardware vs. software evaluation. I've upgraded the Cakewalk sequencing program three different times before switching to the Cubase 4. My E-mu Proteus 2000 still runs fine and I have to wonder sometimes if maybe we've been enslaved by the tyrants at Intel and Microsoft.

    29-Jul-07 12:50 AM

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