Synth Site: Roland: PMA5 mini: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Rob a part-time user from USA writes:
The PMA-5 is a lot of fun to use and its a great protable (runs on batteries) device you can take anywhere. Its only about the size of a paperback novel. I wouldnt recommend it as your only piece of gear, but its a cool scratchpad and big fun to play with. For that I have to give it a 5/5.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Aug-05-2001 at 21:57
Funcky a hobbyist user from US writes:
I chose the PMA5 over the QY70 for 2 reasons. I like the roland sounds and patterns. Not to said that yamaha is inferior but I found it oriented toward dance music IMHO of course. Over all the patterns are better than program such as Band in the Box but lacks the controls if you want to mute instruments in selected parts. The things I really like is the portability of this piece. You can bring it everywhere since it look like a walkman. Step edit can take alot of work since I came from program like band in the box when it comes to inputting the chords.

The sounds is just your standard GS/GM. I would personally recommend this piece to people who have to kill sometime and want to substitute this instead of reading a book or magazine.

Good luck.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Jan-19-1999 at 12:20
Dwane Woodard a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Price paid: 375 USD The PMA-5 is one of the sleekest phrase based sequencers that I have seen. I

added it to my current rig as a workstation instead of buying another keyboard

with a workstation included. I use it for rehearsing away from the group - by

adding in the chord changes from a fake book, or by entering in our own info I

can rehearse my parts with different effects (room settings) etc. I also use

it's sequencer to record tracks. I now only use my computer to archive info.

(Does anyone have a midi data filer... cheap?). It is also easy to modify the

built in styles using loop mode/rehearse functions. The coolest feature is the

ability to take a section from a midi file and incorporate that as a user style.

(E-mail me or see manual for help on how to do that...) SOUND QUALITY

I use the PMA-5 with my synth to produce rich sounds. By layering sound on my

keyboard and using the PMA I can layer up to 3 sounds producing very phat tones.

(Accomplished by utilizing its line outs with my keyboards) EXPANSION

I have used the PMA to copy drum patterns from the Ensoniq MR-61, Bass phrases

from the Yamaha QY700, stole riffs from midi files - if you take the time the

user phrases are easy to build to allow for &quot;expansion&quot;. Unfortnatly their is

no way to change things like the attack/decay etc. of the built in sounds on the

PMA-5 like on the Yamaha QY70, but that's why we have synths... right? EASE OF USE

I found it is fairly easy to use. I thought the interface was kind of intuitive

and have found most of the capabilities without having to read the manual. HINTS/TIPS

Use the most of the user defines styles. I have made changes to the Introduction

phrase very easily to make a robust A or B pattern. I have also expanded fill

sections. It is also possible to copy BASS patterns/Drum Patterns from different

styles to make new and innovative styles. Experiment.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:09
Mark Sabbatini a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Review of: Roland PMA-5

Price paid: $416 (in Anchorage, no less, where there's no sales tax) Description: A portable music workstation, similar to those pen-based handheld

computers that don't recognize people's handwriting. Unlike the computers, the

pen-based system here is fairly easy to learn and use. Features: 306 voices (GM/GS), 16 drum kits, 28 note polyphony, MIDI in/out,

computer in/out, foot pedel jack to start/stop songs, 1/8&quot; headphone/audio out

jack, 4-track sequencer with additional 4 tracks for song patterns, 100

built-in styles (6 variations of each), memory for 200 user styles and 20 songs,

various reverb and chorus effects. Runs on AC or 6 AA batteries. What it does: Just about everything. Enter chords and choose a style and it

can serve as a backing track performer. Use the on-screen keyboard to compose

or record (one note at a time). Hook it to a controller and it's a tone

module. When hooked to a computer ($50 for the kit, which is a must have for

anyone with a PC or Mac equipped with MIDI) it can exchange files with other

programs. Sound quality: The demo songs and styles will probably blow you away (I bought

mine on impulse after spending 45 minutes playing with it in the store), but

it's usefulness in the real world can be a bit more limited. I'd say the GM

sounds are generally about 80 percent of the quality of a Korg tone module

(based on the X-3 keyboard) I use for MIDI studio work. Decent results can

be obtained by substuting other built-in sounds. It certainly is good enough

for at least causal gigging and the demo proves someone with some patience can

wring a lot out of it. Impressions of use: Expect to spend a couple of hours learning the pen system.

Entering and editing songs using the built in styles and chords is fairly

easy, but a bit slow to those used to programs such as Band in Box. I find

the results much better however, EXCEPT the styles often have too much going

and there is no way to silence a voice (except during performance, which is

useless) unless you take up valuable memory by turning it into a user style. Its composing tool stuff looks intimidating, but is actually fantastically

simple to use and fairly powerful within its note-at-a-time limits. It bills

itself as a great way to try ideas on-the-road and I concur there. Its MIDI data is a little unusual, in that it limits volume to eight predefined

settings. So far I haven't found this to be a problem, but someone might. A BIG

plus if you buy the computer kit is the PMA can store and play GM songs,

overcoming the volume, track and other limitations. The price for this is

a hefty chunk of memory and most song parameters can't be edited. The biggest problem is memory: 21,000 notes. This is more than you'll ever need

if all you use is the built-in styles for backing and don't record melodies.

But if you try to download masterpieces from your computer to play on the road,

you'll find it woefully short - it can hold maybe one reasonably complex song.

The way around this, if the song is pretty straightforward, is to make user

styles out of 4- or 8-bar sections of the song and then just specify a C chord

for the whole thing so the key doesn't change. Speaking of chords, the PMA-5 has a serious limitation on available chords if

you're into jazz. Most chords to the 9th are available (no 2nd and limited sus4

though), but not much beyond. Again, user styles can probably overcome this,

but its something worth thinking about. Overall: I'd definitely buy the unit in the same circumstances, but the fact it

can do so much simply makes the few things it can't do that much more

frustrating. The one piece of advice I'd give potential buyers is to see

what Yamaha's new QY-70 costs and sounds like, whenever it comes out, since

it seems to be aiming for the same market and has better specs.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:09
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