Synth Site: Roland: U-20 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.7 out of 5
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Micah Puffer a hobbyist user from Northwest Ohio writes:
I bought my U-20 for $375 about a year ago. I've really enjoyed playing with it. It has some really great sounds. It has, however given me some minor problems when I used it for MIDI on my "dinosour" computer in my room.

Do you know how I can set it to the factory presets? If you would e-mail me at the above address, I'd be really grateful. Also, if you have any PCM cards that you wanted to get rid of, I'm in the market to buy some.

Thanks.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-19-1999 at 18:49
Don a professional user from USA writes:
I owned a U-20 for about six months in 1990, and then promptly replaced it with the module version, U-220, which I still use to this day. What bothered me about the U20 was the same as most of the other complaints here: note lag, poor keyboard feel, screwy user interface, etc. Although it was a nice looking keyboard, I preferred the feel and interface of my Korg T3. All of the compliments directed toward the piano sounds somewhat mystify me, though. Especially with what is available now. I never considered this unit a source for good pianos. But some of the pad, string, and individual solo instruments I still use. The shakuhachi sample, though overused, is one of the best emulations I've heard. The D50 and Jupiter 8 samples come in handy at times and allow me to have more options with less stuff to haul around. And the dist. B3 adds some realism and growl when mixed with other B3 sounds. My advice, if you like the sounds, would be to forget the U20 and look for the U-220 module.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Nov-09-1998 at 13:40
Pete Holmes a part-timer user from USA writes:
Got one of the first U-20s when they became available in the early 90's and as soon as the processor update became available, I had the update installed. That solved most of the MIDI delay which occured with those fast dense chords. For years it was used for weekend gigs... the wedding and country club fare. You can actually hear it at http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Delta/5861/page-2.htm (click on the band). I found the U-20 to be a perfect gig instrument. The piano sounds are clean and realistic, when sequenced, the guitars are so realistic that folks cannot tell the U-20 from the real thing, and best of all it is LIGHT WEIGHT... as said by a former Fender Rhodes/B-3 owner. However, the erratic keyboard problem has always given me a headache. Right now several of the keys don't play, and quiet a few are very erratic.... time for cleaning / repair. However, it also makes a great instrument to use as a sound module for recording.... which in it's current state, is how I use it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Aug-22-1998 at 22:32
AP a hobbyist user from United States writes:
I regret that I did not get one in 1990. It was the good old days when sythesizers at least looked nice. Now, most synthesizers sound okay but they are just plain ugly. U-20 is the preatiest synthesizer I know and it sounds good too, as I recall. The esthetic features of the an instrument are as important to me as it sound. Nobody questions this when it comes to guitars so why is it not the case with the synthesizers?

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Aug-19-1998 at 16:52
Keith Sandberg a hobbyist user from Melbourne, Florida writes:
I bought my U-20 in November 1991, almost entirely based on the quality piano

sounds. I had a Juno 60 at the time, so having a lot of wild and whacky analog

sounds from the U-20 wasn't important. I knew up front that programming would

be a chore, but I wanted a keyboard that I could PLAY, not program -- the factory

sounds of the U-20 are VERY clean, and the piano (in my opinion) still matches

any keyboard out there. Most of the other acoustic instrument samples are very

good too, while the more traditionally &quot;synth&quot; sounds are only average (the U-20

doesn't &quot;synthesize&quot; sounds from &quot;scratch&quot;, it only plays back samples).

I thought the Juno/Jupiter string and brass samples sounded pretty close to my

old Juno 60, however! I use the U-20 primarily in my home studio. It's connected to a PC running

Cakewalk Home Studio. I haven't had a problem with the U-20 not being 100% &quot;GM&quot;

compatible -- the biggest incompatibility is simply that the U-20 only can play

6 voices (or MIDI tracks) at once. The drums ARE GM-compatible, and I had no

problem playing the Cakewalk GM MIDI demos thru my U-20 once I set the U-20 MIDI

channels to match the Cakewalk settings. Programming the U-20 is an incredible chore -- even after 6 years I still don't

&quot;get it&quot;! If you're not happy with the factory sounds you hear, DON'T buy this

keyboard, because you'll go insane trying to &quot;tweak&quot; anything. Actually, it's

not THAT bad, compared to other Roland keyboards, but programming the U-20 is

definitely NOT for beginners. Roland REALLY ought to do us all a favor and start

including Editor/Librarian software with all its keyboards, since they just can't

seem to make an intuitive user-interface. I see other users have had problems with the keys and with dust -- I haven't had

any problems, but I keep my keyboard at home under a cover. The keys themselves

DO seem to be pretty cheap, but I lent my U-20 out to a friend for 4 months who

was playing clubs in Minneapolis, and it survived unscathed. As a matter of

fact, my friend (who is an avid Ensoniq user) went out and bought a used U-20

for himself! The U-20's &quot;Play&quot; mode for live performance is very straightforward

and as I said before the sounds are VERY clean -- you can't find better piano,

strings, or brass sounds for the $400 cost of a used U-20! The BIGGEST problem I have experienced with the U-20 is the &quot;Voice Reserve&quot;.

The U-20 is capable of only 30 notes at once -- when I start adding the 4th,

5th, and 6th parts to my more ambitious compositions, notes will start dropping

out as the U-20 reaches its capacity. I constantly have to go into &quot;Edit&quot; mode

and tweak the &quot;Voice Reserve&quot; settings for each part. It always seems to happen

when I least expect it, too, which makes it even more aggravating! All in all, I am very happy with my U-20. Even though it is 6 years old, it

still is my main keyboard and does everything I need it to do. If you're like

me and all you need is a HIGH quality-sounding keyboard, and you don't care about

programming, MIDI, or multi-timbrality (i.e. if you play live a lot), a used

U-20 at $400-500 is a terrific BARGAIN. I give it a 4 out of 5, with one point

being deducted because of a most non-intuitive user interface.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:13
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