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XP-80 At a Glance
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|ChemVein (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:|
Compared with the XP-50, the 80 has got a semi-weighted keyboard with 76 keys, an excellent arpeggiator, sequencer improvements, but it is the 320x80 pixel display which really gives the XP-80 the edge. After a few hours with this straightforward synth and its hardly straightforward manual, I felt that everything was under control. The graphical JD-990-like display of the LFOís, the envelopes and the FX routings makes programming easy though it still takes a lot of time to learn proper synth programming as a novice. In my opinion, a patch editor would be harder to use than the XP's GUI.
The XP offers 64 voices. Timing is quite good, even when using the internal sequencer and lots of voices at the same time. The built-in effects are workstation-standard with a nice multieffects chip.
Roland offers a wide range of good (and expensive) boards. Four of these can be installed with 8 MB of samples and patches each. Using Rolandís acclaimed music data compression, you have access to 40 MB of sound data when the XP is fully expanded. This corresponds to 80 MB in standard 16-bit, 44,1 kHz linear format other vendors use (the 2080 can hold eight expansion boards). Especially the "Bass & Drums" expansion is a natural choice containing sounds played by top L.A. studio musicians such as Marcus Miller and Bob Wilson.
The XP's MIDI capabilities are very powerful (standard MIDI trio). Its easy to play external instruments (even with the XP-80's arpeggiator). The MRC Pro sequencer even accepts sysex data from external devices.
The overall sound quality of the XPís 8 MB internal ROM (16 MB in 16-bit linear format) is very good as it features the same samples and synth engine as the JV-1080/2080 and the XP-50 (except that the 2080 features three independent multieffect chips). Especially nice are the analogue lead and pad sounds not only because the unitís excellent digital 12db resonant filters (HP, LP, BP, PEAK) can be cascaded. The ring modulator and booster structures add immensely to these 4-pole filters of the analogue past. An internal DSP offers enriching multieffects such as Modulation Delay, Phaser and various Chorus FX. Independent Reverb and Chorus effects are also included. Natural instruments work very well, though.
The 32 bit RISC chip has no problems processing huge amounts of controller data and voices (up to 64 at any given time). A hold and up to four other pedals can be used with the XP-80. The XPís semi-weighted keyboard produces channel aftertouch (no polyphonic aftertouch). A modulation matrix with two rich LFOís makes controller routings relatively easy. Two parameters of most multieffects can be realtime-controlled.
When you take your time to program a patch from scratch, the samples virtually become "alive" after a few steps. I worked with other synth which still sounded static when all modules were used - the QS synths for example. Brassy acoustic type of sounds are more expressive with virtual acoustic Yamaha VL synths, but the XP is certainly among the most expressive sample-based keyboards.
Check out an XP-80. If you don't like it don't buy it...but really, you can't go wrong.
Comments About the Sounds:
If you're looking for a workstation for Techno/Ambient/Electronic music, this is your messiah.
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