Roland's FA06 Workstation - Sweet

Sampler, 16 part sequencer and 128 note poly   15-Jan-14

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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.

We'll let Gareth Bowen take over from here.

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28 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus

Lowjk    Said...

Any price drop for the Integra7 since these keyboards seem higher speced but are cheaper than the integra.

15-Jan-14 05:19 AM

Synth_Fan    Said...

But does it contain the entire Integra 7 synt engine, and entire Integra 7 Library - I'd suspect not?

And - I hope this is not Roland's replacement to the Fantom.

15-Jan-14 06:08 AM

brian from usa    Said...

Streaming samples off the SD card...that is slick. Looks like they have the MOXF square in their sights.

15-Jan-14 07:56 AM

GTRman    Said...

Nice, but I will have to wait and see because there looks like nothing really ground breaking here at this point. I have a Fantom G now and that instrument is the most used keyboard in our studio. Roland does make synths for musicians in mind.

15-Jan-14 08:04 AM

neil    Said...

rolands website says it's a flagship workstation....and as roland were selling some of the srx expansion cards at a huge discount, it looks as if the fantom g series is to be "discontinued".....probably not the time to say this...but if this is rolands big announcement, then I'm very disappointed.

15-Jan-14 08:11 AM

Coz    Said...

How many of those additional sounds can it actually hold? The entire library?

What bit depth and sample rate does it export stems at?

Can the samples be mapped across the keyboard or at least triggered from the keyboard?

15-Jan-14 10:29 AM

Atomic Shadow    Said...

Yes. Can you load your own multi-samples and map them across the keyboard? If so this would be a very good thing for me to have.

15-Jan-14 01:05 PM


Anyone else getting sick of the repackaging trend lately?

15-Jan-14 01:14 PM

Peter    Said...

pretty embarrasing for a roland demonstrator to mention that he prefers to use Mainstage!

15-Jan-14 02:47 PM

alan    Said...

User samples cannot be used a part of the synth engine ie you cannot select a user sample as a waveform in a program.

Epic fail

The sampler is only for triggering, and can only trigger 4 sample at a time

The OS looks like earlier units,and has hardly changed since the MC-909.

Its another Roland repackage.

15-Jan-14 04:03 PM

Phil    Said...

Sound rather bland tbh. Great though for porn music - so I suppose there's a market.

15-Jan-14 04:27 PM

WaveForm    Said...

I'm glad to see Roland getting on the bus with the other makers. I've used an X6 for the longest time and have grown accustomed to it's engine and work-flow. Had to loose it when I moved so I've been in a market for a cheaper alternative. I was dead certain on the MOXF but I must try this new offering first to see if the love is still there. Still, a pity about no real-time-stretching of samples, seems like this sampler was just an after thought and not really an upgrade from the other Fantom W/S.

15-Jan-14 08:30 PM

Bazzaa    Said...

Is anyone really interested in Roland anymore? Workstations? Really? Digital? Really?

16-Jan-14 03:44 AM

Leslie    Said...

Why on earth Roland is persisting in making so called workstations instead of pure synths...?! Everyone these days runs computer based DAWs and doesn't need built in half baked sequencers in synthesisers... Roland should know that, as the own Cakewalk... ;) What a mega disappointment :(

17-Jan-14 12:07 AM

PSR    Said...

if they keep lower their Fa/G serie ,casio would be more interesting !

17-Jan-14 03:20 AM

Sunnyjim    Said...

More realistic price points are always helpful, and there are obviously a load of features here, and something that is quick to boot and light to carry practical. However despite the attempts to make the interface fast and intuitive, even in the demo you can see it`s trickier than ideal. Most of all sonically it brings very little fresh to the table, apart from gimmicky DJ waggle. If Roland listened to new third party sounds for Omnisphere, Sylenth, Alchemy etc, and still offer the Axial umpteenth re-run of sounds we`ve heard too often, they are just not listening to where sound design is now. Integra does have decent cellos, acoustic bass and some guitar stuff, but albeit more HD the soundset is the same old stuff. Really new sounds and a fresh and flexible interface would however really be going somewhere.

17-Jan-14 04:55 AM

Michael cappal    Said...

Is this unit have a performance mode? How to expand and edit the sound you want? And one more thing if you switch to other patch does the sounds stop or delay for seconds? I wanna know bec im planning to buy this unit...roland fa 06

19-Jan-14 08:58 AM

Bad Mister    Said...

Nothing here to make Korg, Yamaha, Nord, etc. nervous.

19-Jan-14 02:50 PM

Hans    Said...

i am curious about the pattern and chord functions. Does it mean it has keyboard features like styles...;)))?

20-Jan-14 05:32 PM

Love Roland, Hate WS...    Said...

Wowee Zowee! 128 entire voices! I just CAN'T WAIT -- oh -- uh... oops -- that's right --

MY @#$%! COMPUTER CAN PLAY ABOUT 10 TIMES that number of voices -- and doesn't even BREAK A SWEAT. 128 voices is what ONE of my virtual synths can put out -- I can't @$#$%! stand it.

Seriously - come ON -- GET SERIOUS. NOBODY BUYS WORKSTATIONS ANYMORE!!! WHO NEEDS ONE?! IF YOU HAVE A CHEAP LAPTOP and a rancid copy of Cubase SE1 you would still be LIGHT years ahead of any modern "work" station...

I used to love Ensoniq -- "We don't call them workstations because we took the work out." Someone needs to read 25-year-old ad copy before putting dreck like this out to the GP.

Apart from that, Aira looks promising. And Roland still makes the best remote keyboards on the planet. So there. (YOU THOUGHT THAT I WAS HATIN' ON ROLAND, didn't you?! Not by a long shot. Just saying that this whole "we can do better than Kronos and MOXF" is @#$%!.

21-Jan-14 10:26 PM

ESJoe    Said...

Cool, but I want a Jupiter mini!

24-Jan-14 08:58 PM

selercs    Said...

Only thing that puzzles me is why is the RD800 (88 key stage piano) $2500 where as the FA08 with 88 keys and far more feature (synthesis, sequencing, sampling) only $1800? Hope the build quality of the FA08 is not compromised..Can someone from Roland answer that? I mean the price is excellent for FA08 and I am grateful for that but I wanted to clarify my doubts :)

27-Jan-14 11:53 AM

Mattsynth    Said...

Save your money for a V Synth.

28-Jan-14 07:55 AM

Selercs    Said...

Most people here bitchin about why Roland is putting out a workstation instead of a 'proper' synth.. Well guys you speak with your money.. V-synth, VariOS module Etc didn't sell as much because many people are too lazy to program.

If the FA series supernatural engine has something similar to Jupiter 80/50 as far as synth engines are concerned, I'm buying this ... This guy didn't talk about any of the synth features, only the workstation stuff.

04-Feb-14 02:51 AM

Rush    Said...

Why do people always have to moan about these workstation synths? They're mainly aimed a people that play live in bands and want something that can double up as a controller for the their DAW at home. To people who that applies to they are still very useful instruments!

04-Feb-14 09:03 AM

Steve Cooke    Said...

I don't understand why the sampler, which is supposedly based on the SP-404, doesn't offer beat sync/time-stretch. I would have sold my Fantom-G and bought one of these instead if it had included the ability for sampled loops to change tempo.

21-Feb-14 07:50 PM

Katrina    Said...

I love all the dullards commenting that nobody is buying workstations anymore. As if they are smarter than Roland, Korg, and Yamaha's marketing people.! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You guys are clueless. For the cost to tool up to make one, I trust those companies over your exercises in mental masturbation any day!

20-Apr-14 09:31 AM

Tom    Said...

I just bought this keyboard. Great sounds and it only weighs 12 pounds. My only gripe is the keybed. It seems the black keys are a half an inch shorter than your average synth action. Sorry but I'm a keyboard player. Please reconsider this the next time you engineer such a great keyboard.

23-Mar-16 04:31 PM

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