Roland popped down a couple of days ago to give us the skinny on a new product which was released today. Taking the legacy of the Fantom workstations and combining the pallette of the sonically stuffed Integra-7 sound module, and performance chops from the recent Junos and Jupiters,plus a large colour display, the FA06 and FA08 (88 weighted keys) are Roland's new take on the keyboard workstation.
With 128 voice polyphony, 16 part sequencer (each with dedicated FX plus a total FX), it's got enough voices to handle some complex productions.
The all new (ground up design) sequencer integrates with the on-board sampler to create a flexible workflow as far as we can see.
The sampler is interesting in that it uses the SD card storage to hold samples, so you are not limited by internal RAM. Another impressive feature is the boot and load time, we counted around 8 secs from cold to loading a full song and samples. The sampler integrates with the 16 multi-function trigger pads (four banks)which can be set to perform a number of functions including mute, numeric data entry as well as assignable MIDI duties for working with other software. Indeed the DAW integration now includes brands other than Sonar - Cubase and Logic too. These pads also have as yet undefined functions that Roland plan to utilize with OS updates via USB
Speaking of which - USB handles both stereo audio IO and MIDI with the ability to bounce sequencer tracks to discrete audio stems for exporting to your external DAW or retriggering in the sampler.
The sound engine appears to be based on the Integra 7 - you can indeed load patches from Roland to beef up the included sound set from the SD card. It has the same SuperNATURAL synth engine with four Oscillators and filter types as well as the PCM structure as found on the Integra-7.
From what we gather from our limited time with it, is that the workflow and design ideas have been completely newly designed, perhaps partly down to the new structure of the Roland corporation and with renewed focus on user input.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this is the price at around £825 street for the FA06 and £1200 ish for the 88-key FA08. Available soon.