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TOPIC: Roland need a new top of range

Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 09:23 #5905

In view of the fact that the BK9 is now discontinued, it's time that Roland introduced a new top of range arranger.
The E-A7 is now the most expensive board in the range and I like it a lot, especially all those knobs, sliders & buttons, which give excellent control over every facet of the board..
No one expects the E-A7 to compete fully with such as the Tyros5, Korg PA-4X and Ketron Audya at it's present price point but Roland fans remember when Roland were the masters in the game

We now need something similar but with new features such as larger twin screens (or a 15" single screen, capable of displaying PDF scores), some new sounds and some new styles.

I have had a few few Rolands in the past (still have a EM2000 in my loft and I own a BK-7M module which is close to being brilliant except for the cost paring which demands such a tiny screen and too frequent use of that horrible data wheel.
Too many products in the bargain basement category which are discontinued in a short space of time.

Come on Roland - we are not afraid to spend money if you can come up with the goods and bring out a real top of range and even a matching module.
Waiting in hope.
Tony
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Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 20:00 #5906

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In a way, I agree with you, Tony, but in a way, I kind of hope that Roland take as long as it takes to get it right, for once! :evil:

Indeed, the E-A7 has many things that are an improvement over the old Roland Way, but it also makes many backward steps I think have seriously hurt its usefulness. I have posted several times about these, but I'll precis them here...

Performance List back to 999... In fact, no limit! For those that use tablets for lyric display, it needs to be long enough for their entire repertoire.

Return the FC-7 input... Some of us play with BOTH hands! Putting the seven switches on the panel isn't as good as having them at your feet.

Fills back to six... The E-A7 is the first Roland arranger for well over a 15 years that has only four fills. This means most of the legacy styles made since the six fill system started (I think the G70 was the first) will not play all of them. I find that transitions using six fills give more variety and are more musical than four fills. The code already works, the styles are already made, why cut something that works? :dry: Even the lowly BK3 uses six fills. This wasn't just a TOTL arranger feature....

Return the video out. Even a BK-5 has that. Great for lyric display, karaoke sing-alongs, pictures projected while you play...

Now, start to think about a BK-9 or G70 replacement. and things get even stickier. There was a BUNCH of really killer features from the G70 dropped for the BK-9:

Slider control of Makeup Tools (so both Styles and SMF's easy to adjust on the fly), the touchscreen, aftertouch - although I have often made the argument that the BK-9 was an updated E60 (which had no aftertouch) rather than an updated G70 (which did).

Easy editing and replacing of ROM content (so the Style Family buttons call up YOUR edit of a ROM style rather than having to go to the stick and flounder around trying to find it).

Three UPR and two LWR Parts (I miss those probably more than anything as they really don't have a decent workaround!).

Roland's G70/E80 Guitar Mode lacked only one thing to make it a killer app... multiple Drum Tracks, so control notes didn't get transposed (the BK's were the first Roland arranger that could do more than one Drum Track). The BK's added that, so a fully style-ready Guitar Mode like Korg's and Yamaha's got dropped. Doh! :ohmy: It had little use as a live ONLY feature, it was desperately needed to make style guitar Parts better. Imagine it today with the BK's MUCH better guitar sounds! :woohoo: :kiss:

I wasn't a big fan, but I know a LOT of arranger users miss the vocal harmonizer. Maybe a partnership with Digitech, who make killer ones, would be like Korg's partnership with TC Helicon? Hate to say it, but Roland's standalone harmonizers suck, in comparison!

Roland have a unique opportunity to leapfrog the competition right now. I truly believe they have EVERYTHING in place to make an arranger that blows Korg and Yamaha away. Combine the best of the G70, the BK-9 and the E-A7 in one lightweight, easy to use package, and watch the dominoes fall...

But will they? History does not make this look likely. :angry:

Search for 'E-A7' and 'Diki' in the poster field and you'll find my other thoughts on the subject.
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Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 20:14 #5907

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BTW, Tony... dig that BK-7m out of retirement, pair it with an iPad or Surface, and you get your brilliant arranger with all the control buttons and sliders you miss, and you can almost drop using the data wheel altogether.

In the meantime, despite some of the additional buttons the E-A7 adds, I would NEVER use it as a BK-9 replacement. Too many sounds (all the SN sounds, the VK sim, and a ton of great normal Tones) are missing and the RAM for the sampler isn't enough to replace them all, even if you could find any content for it, which almost none exists!

The action is BK5 quality, not the excellent BK-9 action, which, despite the lack of aftertouch is easily as crisp and pro-feeling as a T5 or PA4X.

No Chord Sequencer (no arranger should be without one!).

Not enough MFX (Roland's next arranger should have the 16 MFX the FA series have!)

If you need something better than an E-A7, and still want a lot of control buttons, I'd take a serious look at a BK-9 paired with an iPad...

Let Roland take their time and get it right (not that they will! Pretty sure they never read here :angry: )
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Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 23:03 #5909

Hi Diki,
Can you tell me more about the software to control my BK-7M.
I don't have an Ipad or Surface Pro but I do have a Lenovo Windows 10 Tablet so I should be able to run Surface Pro software.
I knew there was something available for Ipads but didn't know it also covered Windows tablets.
Looked in Rolands support but couldn't find any info on this.
Thanks mate,
Tony
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Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 23:26 #5910

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The PC side of things isn't covered by Roland.

Check out the GESINI sub-forum here, and also do a search for PC BK software and generic MIDI software. There are many programs you can set up sliders and buttons to send MIDI commands, which can give you a lot of control not available from the front panel.

Stuff not available by MIDI can also be got around by programming two or more Performances (that CAN be addressed by MIDI) that change the relevant parameters. No notes get cut off when changing Performances, so it can do some pretty slick stuff...

Unfortunately, Roland's iPad BK-9 Editor, which allowed you to get right into the nitty gritty of live performance (but sadly never gave you a graphical front end for the Makeup Tools or Sequencer, which would have been killer!) does not, to my knowledge, work with any BK's other than the BK-9. Something to do with sys-ex addresses....

And Roland support..? Don't make me laugh! :whistle:
Last Edit: 16 May 2017 23:31 by Diki.
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Roland need a new top of range 16 May 2017 23:29 #5911

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BTW, do you have an FC-7? Ton of stuff that can do.

If you prefer switches by hand, an FC-7 is simply seven dumb momentary switches, so easy to build your own custom switch bank and plug it in there.

What do you control the BK-7m from?
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Roland need a new top of range 17 May 2017 10:46 #5917

Disappointing that Roland don't offer Windows software too.
Might consider an FC-7 to make things easier but as I'm ready for a new master board, I may just wait to see if Roland introduce anything new (even a module with a screen big enough to read and and buttons in place of Data wheel Don't want a bargain basement board but something with a future..
I also have a Ketron Midjpro which, unlike BK-7M is easy to use with good styles & sounds but I also like to have my Roland styles & sounds available..
Driving my modules from Tyros4 at the moment - I did use my Technics KN7000 (my favourite board of all time) but Midi out is now faulty and repair seems a bit doubtful.
Thanks for the info Diki - I wish Roland had your enthusiasm.
Tony
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Roland need a new top of range 17 May 2017 17:07 #5918

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TBH, as lackluster as Roland's enthusiasm and support for their Arranger Division seems to be, I am utterly surprised and delighted that they even have iPad apps for them!

But, as with all things Roland these days in the arranger department, their solution is half realized and inconsistent. Where are the editors for the other BK's? It would have been simplicity itself to port the BK-9 Editor to work with the other BK's, especially the BK-7m which desperately needs it (more even than the BK-9 does!).

And where are the apps to address the rest of the OS other than just voice editing and Performance creation? A graphical front-end to the Makeup Tools would have returned the ease of use of the G70, who's touch screen OS and slider control made editing styles and sequences, even on the fly at a gig, a piece of cake! And a graphical front end for the Sequencer (yeah, I know, why is the BK-9 the only BK with a proper sequencer? All G/E series had one!) would have made it a viable alternative to using a DAW, which it currently isn't, unless you are really strapped and have no computer at all!

However, Tony, I think you are being a bit unfair to the BK-7m. The problems you are having with it are more a result of what you are using to control it with than what the unit is capable of. Other arrangers, especially ones as ancient as that Technics, but even modern ones like Tyros and Korg, they simply are NOT set up to be flexible MIDI master keyboards.

Pretty much everything you need for normal arranger operation, they have MIDI codes so a master can control them. From Performance selection in the first place, to Variation selection, Fills, Breaks, Part volumes and effects, and basically everything an iPad or Surface can address can be addressed by a capable enough master keyboard.

I am pretty sure that, with a decent modern controller, you would have the same degree of control as your Ketron, and from the master itself, not having to reach over and work buttons on the module. In fact, as long as the Technics is as capable of being run remotely as the BK and the Ketron are, I'd relegate that to a secondary position, and drive ALL the arrangers from a single master. Plenty of TOTL ones have multiple MIDI outs, capable of deciding which MIDI port to send what out from...

A fully integrated rig... wouldn't THAT be nice!

I also feel you aren't being fair to the BK-7m if you haven't got an FC-7 yet, despite your misgivings about control (or a proper master keyboard). That truly is the answer... Seven more buttons that can do a TON of things (have you looked in the manual for the long list of different choices it has?). And, as I said, if you would prefer those choices at your fingers rather than your hands, it is easy to build or re-task a set of switches of any type or kind to substitute for your feet (me, I LIKE having footswitches... I'm an old school organ bass pedal player, so a bunch of foot controls doesn't phase me!).

But honestly, the combination of a MUCH better controller keyboard and an FC-7, I'm pretty sure you would have just as much, if not MORE control than the Ketron provides...

Is there anything specific you miss, right now? perhaps I can show you how it can be done. The BK-7m is an amazingly powerful and great sounding arranger module. But it's only as powerful as the keyboard controlling it...

I think it is hardly fair to moan at Roland for not building a more expensive, larger one, if you aren't already taking advantage of the control possibilities the BK-7m already has! Roland don't need to make a bigger, better one (OK, yes, it would be NICE if they did a BK-9 in a box, but that's a tiny market!), you need to get a better controller and use the one you have!
Last Edit: 17 May 2017 17:11 by Diki.
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Roland need a new top of range 18 May 2017 13:25 #5924

Hi Diki,
The Technics KN7000 has a very good midi spec despite its age (better than Tyros4's) but since the midi out failed, my setup is with the Tyros4 as master then my Ketron module and last on the midi chain is my Technics KN7000 or the BK-7M.

I understand what you are saying and agree that the BK-7M is a good little module but it's still spoiled by the cut down operating system and this isn't being unfair to the BK-7M because nobody who buys a module and already owns 3 keyboards, expects to have to buy a new controller keyboard or an Ipad plus an FC-7 pedal controller just to make it fully usable.

I own 4 modules in total, a Technics SMAC 1200, a Solton MS40, a Ketron Midjpro and my BK-7M and I have gigged with them all (some for many years) and the only one that is difficult to use is the BK-7M. Yes, it would be a brilliant module with some new equipment to help make the control system easy but this shouldn't be necessary when the other 3 modules can be used without problem jsu as they stand.

I may still invest in FC-7 pedal system and I'm certainly not averse to spending money and like to get top of range equipment but an arranger is what suits my needs so I don't have the space or the wish for a pure keyboard controller as this would cut me off from the sounds & styles on my Technics and Tyros keyboards.

Were Roland to introduce a new range topper arranger as they did in the past, this would be the first one I would consider as an upgrade to my present system but if they don't offer the stuff that people want to buy, they will just carry on losing business to such as Yamaha, Korg and Ketron and the result will be making musical toys.
Tony
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Roland need a new top of range 18 May 2017 16:46 #5927

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I hate to disagree, Tony, but I think you have missed the point.

Whether the MIDI works or not, no arranger is capable of being programmed so that the Variation buttons on one can control the Variations on a module (unless the same manufacturer and model, if even that), or the Bass Inversion on/off, or the sliders that control its own voices to sent the MIDI that controls another. I rather have the feeling, with your Ketron, that you are basically using one arranger to sent it notes, but actually reaching over somehow and pressing whatever buttons you need on the module itself.

Hence your problem with the BK, it doesn't have that many buttons! But they CAN be set up with MIDI. But not with your dumb controller. You have to use something more capable. But let's be fair... you paid probably less that $1000 for that BK-7m. A TOTL Roland would set you back at least $2500. That means you still have $1500 in the kitty for a controller, which is WAY more than you need!

And that controller would be capable of integrating your entire rig, no matter HOW many arrangers you have. You could use sounds from the Technics, while playing SOME style elements from the Ketron, and some style elements from the Roland. One slider could control filter cutoff on a Roland sound, while another could alter the reverb send on a Ketron Part. One button could send Variation changes to ALL the arrangers simultaneously! All would start and stop and clock to each other.

But you can't do that with ANY arranger as the master. They simply are not designed to be good controllers.

All you would gain from a new TOTL Roland would be yet another arranger that simply did not talk well with the rest of your rig, and you would still be having to hit buttons on the Roland to get things to happen on the Roland, buttons on the Ketron to have things happen to the Ketron, and buttons on the Technics to... well, you know!

Hardly optimal or musical!

A decent controller opens up possibilities you can't even dream of yet, and an ease of playing I don't think you quite grasp. You know how easy it is to play ONE arranger? All the buttons are right there, all the controls at your fingertips... Now imagine ALL your keyboards able to be played as easily! No hitting something here, something there, not hitting something you want to (like those BK missing buttons!) because your keyboard is too dumb! Simple (or at least as simple as trying to play several arrangers at the same time is ever going to get!) and massively powerful at the same time....

Go on... Think about it! :woohoo:

Now, before we get off track, please tell me EXACTLY what you want to do on the BK that you currently can't. Perhaps I can show you a simple way to achieve it? B)
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Roland need a new top of range 18 May 2017 18:10 #5928

Hi Diki - You are correct in assuming that I operate my Modules with their own buttons and just transmit note information and have always worked this way..
I do understand what you mean with regard to a master controller and I do agree that what you suggest would work well and make my playing easier than it's ever been..

The problem is that I would then have to use a big ugly 3 tier stand to accommodate another keyboard and my rig is in our living room which is not large to start with and one corner of it already looks like a music studio - I would expect to get some serious aggravation from my partner if I brought another board in.
If I had another spare room, I would probably get a controller but, under the circumstances, it's just out of the question.

Thanks for your offer of help but I manage fine except in using the BK-7m in the same way I use my other modules and there seems no answer to that.
It's mainly just scrolling with the data wheel and looking for stuff that's difficult, especially with ageing eyes and fingers and saving stuff is a nightmare with the write process you have to go through.
Tony
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Roland need a new top of range 18 May 2017 23:54 #5931

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OK, let's just address your problem....

One of the FC-7 input choices is Perf Up/Down. So there goes the need to use the scroll button to change Performaces while playing. Set your Performance List up so stuff you medley together (or multiple Performances for a single song, which is an amazing way of doing quick changes to the key setup without interrupting the song), and a quick tap or two on the Up or Down button, that problem is utterly solved!

As to Tone choice, yes, again it's a PITA to find Tones in a hurry on the BK-7m using the wheel. I hate it. So I don't do it..! :evil: I program the Tones I need for a song in the performance of the song itself. Need multiple choices? Change Tones then store as a Performance of the same name song, with the lead tone name.

Alternatively, use a Performance Hold to 'hold' the style and variation and tempo, then changing Performances only changes the Tones up on the keyboard. No offense, but the Ketron has hundreds of Tones per sound family. I fail to see how this is any easier on that...

Have you taken a look at GESINI's software yet? That is a Windows solution (which will work with touch screens) which can do at least as well as the Roland iPad apps, which can do fast scrolling and touch screen entry of Tone selection OR Performance selection (plus a bunch of other things). And don't forget, you can get an iPad Mini used for about $100, which would give you a touchscreen control of the BK-7m larger than any current TOTL arranger (Korg really having the only one, so far...).

Just think... a $1000 BK-7m and a $100 iPad Mini (spend $200+ and a full size used iPad is yours if the Mini is too small). You already have the BK-7m. $100 for an iPad Mini and your problems are solved. Or a $2500+ new Roland TOTL (if they ever make one!).

That's basic math, in MY book! :evil:

Lastly, use a master controller, and you can put all the keyboards out of sight Up on a shelf, even in another room. You might even be able to ditch the Technics. I've seen translations to Roland of a LOT of the basic Technics styles. A master keyboard, and the Ketron and Roland Modules, you are good to go... Less gear than you have now, and one 'Ring to bind them' rather than two. But, be that as it may, one $100 used iPad Mini and an FC-7 solves ALL your BK-7m issues.

Problem solved, I'd say! :whistle:
Last Edit: 18 May 2017 23:55 by Diki.
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