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BK 5 in the house, general questions

4 weeks 1 day ago
Thekatester
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1102
Greetings from cold Wisconsin. I have been a Roland fan for many years and have used the VA series (I have two VA-76s). I just received the BK-5 and have some questions.

1. Does this keyboard typically include at purchase the Roland USB drive or is that a separate purchase. I have already inserted and formatted a generic USB' Is there software that works with formatting in Windows 10?

2. Is there a way to modify the three note chord necessary to use the accompaniment feature?

3. I have used the Roland Data Base Manager (RDBM) for years am trying to determine how to convert the Music Assistant, style and song files and load them in the USB. I wonder how to load the styles into the USB bypassing RDBM so that the files can be read (if they can). I don't want to re-write all of the Music Assistant files! UGH!

Thanks for any information in advance!
Kate

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4 weeks 1 day ago
Willem52
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1103
Kate,

The Database format has been changed since the VA series and de RDMB tool is not developed anymore.
Did you try to import your VA User Performance Set (UPS) in the BK ?

I do not understand fully your USB formatting question, you should always format an USB stick in the Roland Arranger.
Windows 10 should however not have any problem with the USB stick formatted in the Roland Arranger.

Roland E-80 V2.03 + SRX-06 + SR-G01, FC-7, PK-5, SC-8820 and EMU Xboard61.
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4 weeks 21 hours ago
Bill Tracy
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1104
Congrats-BK5 is a nice board. The drive does not come with it-Just about any USB drive will work. Do a search here and you might get some info on preferred brands. I think you are asking about chord fingering-you can set this from a few different types. See page 68 in the manual.
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4 weeks 11 hours ago
Diki
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1106
Welcome Kate.

Unfortunately, you are several years too late to be able to import your UPS from the VA76. There is an ability to import from a G70 UPS (although with obvious limitations, like fewer Keyboard Parts, etc.), and if you know of a utility that will convert from VA76 to G70, you might be able to import them, but there will still be a ton of work to do... Maybe so much that it might just be better to start all over.

Now, naturally, you can import and play the VA76 styles in the BK5, but firstly, if they used any Variphrase stuff, that's gone. VA76 was the last Roland to use that technology. Then you may have a fair bit of Makeup Tools work to correct or improve the drums and other Tones which may not select either the 'best' BK Tone (there's a lot of newer sounds, especially guitars and basses, drum kits etc.) or one that sounds identical to the VA76.

Then there is the question of the Keyboard Parts... You have probably noticed you only get 2UPR and 1 LWR Parts (If you want MBS, you have to use the LWR Part), which is less than the VA76 (as it should given the price difference!). So, even if a VA76 registration could import, you are going to lose some of it (if you layered LH sounds, for instance, or had a bass Part set).

Fortunately (I assume... you didn't mention selling them yet) you may still have at least one of your VA76's and this will help out no end. For starters, if you are gigging, I would keep using the VA76 for a while until up to speed on the BK. I might suggest simply playing the styles in the BK at home, and try to see if any of those seem better than (or different from, but in a good way!) the styles you are familiar with...

One of the tendencies when we get new gear is to want to transfer all our data over, but this often ends up with us sounding pretty much the same as we did before the new arranger! The same old styles, the same old lead sounds, and we end up wondering why we bought it in the first place!

Now is a great time to settle down with the new arranger and (if you still have a VA76 and are gigging) learn it without the pressure of converting your UPS immediately. Like me, you have certainly taken a long time between arrangers (I went from G1000>G70>BK-9) so you should really HEAR quite an improvement. But only if you take the time to find and use the new sounds and styles, and convert whatever older material you MUST have to use the new capabilities of your arranger.

To that end, I seriously recommend making familiarity with the Makeup Tools one of your first priorities. This, for starters, is by far the easiest style and sequence header editor in the arranger world, so no reason to avoid it! It offers easy changing of sounds, effects, dynamics and voice programming for your styles, and even allows in depth editing inside a Drum Kit, so styles brought in from the VA76 can be made to sound at least as good if not better!

Chip away at the problem of transferring your old songs and setups in a methodical way, and before you know it, you'll be ready to stop using the old keyboard. And, if you took the time to audition BK styles in the same category as older styles, you may very well have found fresh styles and sounds that will invigorate you and your audiences on older material!

One thing you will surely learn to appreciate is the BK series' Performance List being 1000 entries long! No more swapping floppies, no more waiting for the ZIP to whir! Unless you have a vast repertoire (and you can always quickly load new Performance Lists if you exceed the 1000 limit), you can have every song you do ready to go instantly... Pretty nice, compared to the 128 User Program limit of the VA76. Plus thousands of styles stored on the stick all instantly available, MP3 and SMF's, etc..

Sadly, you waited a generation too long to get easy data transfer between your VA and the BK series, so I'm afraid I think you will have to redo a lot of the work. But the styles WILL play, albeit after a little tweaking to sound their best.

And, to possibly give you a leg up on converting the styles, we have here www.roland-arranger.com/index.php/styles...ed-for-g-70-and-e-80 a bunch of VA styles already converted to G70/E80, which are sonically very close to being BK ready.

I'm not sure which fingering system you prefer for chord recognition, but the BK offers a good choice. One of the newest is 'Pianist2', which is a variation on the old Pianist '3 notes for a chord' system... With Pianist2, it's 3 notes for a chord with the sustain pedal up, 5 notes before a new chord pedal down. If you are a pianist at all, you will be amazed at how much more accurately this follows normal piano playing, and allows you to be quite pianistic without freaking out the chord recognition.

You can also set a different fingering system for each Performance, or set a 'Hold' so one system applies itself to all Performances.

The advice here is correct about USB sticks. Basically, any decent USB2 stick will work, and please format it in the BK. It will format as a FAT32 stick, so easily readable and writeable in either Windows or Macs. I use PNY 64GB USB2 sticks, no issues,

Best of luck with your new Roland, please let us know how you are doing and if you have further questions. B)

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.
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4 weeks 7 hours ago
Thekatester
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1108
Thanks, Diki, for your thoughtful, inspired approach to the dilemma of changing from old to new. Your post gave me the vision I was lacking, I should begin as if I am learning a new instrument for the first time and give more creativity to the challenge ahead. I plan to work slowly at re-inventing the song parameters to come up with new, different and (hopefully) better sets.

I work with about 500 preset program files now, so the 2 tb drive is ENORMOUS to me. I typically use a combination of arranger/midi files depending on the type of show. I still have two VA76s, a marvelous keyboard in my estimation. I haven't used to Variphrase too much. I do record a bit so am used to layering vocals myself. I have the Roland VS1680, now another obsolete piece of machinery. Now I wished I would have utilized Variphrase, it is an impressive addition to a vocal performance.

I see that you have the BK9. I really like at least 76 keys but I read that there were some glitches initially. Are the keys any larger than the BK-5? Now that I'm getting older I am grateful for the lighter touch and the smaller keys, the arthritis is lurking!

I am not familiar with the Pianist 2 or 3 yet. I did not like that the keyboard follows only a three note chord and Roland support has indicated (as well as Bill Tracy) that this can be modified. Unfortunately my manual is different than the original manual so I'm going to have to print out the online version.

The main reason that I purchased this keyboard is because it is so light weight. I can't believe it! I was ill for 6 years and did not gig, just getting my chops in shape as well as the physicality it takes to sing and play for 3 or 4 hours. Now I'll have to rid myself of 2 full PA systems that are also heavy! I am astonished at the power of the newer systems (I am looking at a Beringer) and that the speakers are now mounted on mic stands! Wow!

Thanks for the link to the styles. Thanks for all your help, everyone! Lookout, Wisconsin, I'm back!
: ) Kate

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4 weeks 6 hours ago
Diki
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1109
Now that your BK does MP3/WAV backing as well as SMF, if you like to layer your own vocals and do backing voices or whatever, it is a piece of cake to record the backing (either in the BK, or to a computer or pocket digital recorder, whichever you prefer) and dub your harmonies, and export to a new MP3/WAV.

So your BK will happily do the job the VS1680 used to..!

500 tunes is a fair amount of work, but trust me, you will get faster at it. For starters, you will quickly get used to the typical edits...Whatever you do to one kit to make a VA style sound good will likely be the same you do to all that use the same kit, and most of the time the same applies for most of the rhythm section, guitars, pianos etc..

Once you find a basic edit template you like, write it down so you can quickly apply the same edits to other styles/SMF's. For instance, I tend to find the hihats a little hot on BK styles compared to when they are played on my G70, so I know to go in and turn them down about 15 in the individual drum sound volumes. I know that 9/10 times, I'll replace whatever electric bass the old styles have with the Finger Bs, etc., etc..

You will quickly find yourself doing the same things over and over, so why not write them down and get a flow going?!

There are, however a few things you can do that transcend the VA's capabilities... There are 2 MFX (3 in the BK-9) that can be applied to Style/SMF Parts. This allows some pretty powerful things to happen! Imagine a Rhodes part with a nice stereo panner, or a Chorus/Tremolo. Imagine a clavinet with a wah on it. But even better, imagine a guitar with an amplifier connected to it!

I do quite a bit of replacing sampled distortion guitar parts (for rock, etc.) with clean guitars, then running them through the 66. GT AmpSim MFX. This is basically a full guitar processor/amp simulator, with tons of different amp types (clean Fender's, Marshall stacks, Matchless's, Soldano's, even a good Roland JC-120!) to select the appropriate kind of crunch or clean sound you need. It is quite amazing to hear how different and realistic a guitar part can be when pushed the right way through an amp! I hate sampled distortion, it is just too static, nothing like a real guitarist. But use the amp sim and a clean guitar sound, and suddenly, the distortion changes from chord to chord, from Variation to Variation...

And, if you have a BK-9, there's a feature that alters the velocity of the style Parts depending on how hard YOU are playing! This can make that guitarist go from a mild crunch to flat out rock even in the same Variation!

Please spend some time with your sequences/styles experimenting with what the MFX can do to spice up an older sound!

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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4 weeks 6 hours ago 4 weeks 6 hours ago by Diki.
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1110
BTW, I realize that BK-9's are getting harder and harder to find, but if you find one, snap it up!

It weighs a mere 20lbs, the action is as crisp and as nice to play as anything out there costing way more (albeit it doesn't have aftertouch). No, it's not the action from the VA76/G1000/G70, (IMHO the finest plastic action 76 ever made!) but it's easily the equal of the Korg or Yamaha TOTL 76 actions (but remember, no aftertouch!). Compared to the BK-5 action, it feels simply more 'professional'. Light enough for organ work, but crisp enough for piano.

I have played several BK-5's, had them in my studio alongside my BK-9, and I can tell you, there is a VERY noticeable improvement in the overall sound. Not just in the SuperNatural sounds (the guitars are amazing!) and the B3 Hammond sim (probably the best one in any arranger), but even in the normal sounds there is a richness and more detail to many of the sounds they ostensibly have in common. Maybe its the D/A converters or larger samples, but it just sounds better!

As to 'glitches', not really sure what you are talking about. Mine has worked pretty flawlessly since I got it. There are a couple of niggles, but nothing show-stopping, nothing that can't be worked around.

Oh, and, as an arranger player, you would surely love the return of the Chord Sequencer (gone from Roland after the G1000) which allows you to lay down the chords for the head while recording, then hit Play and it repeats the chords for you while you still control Variation and Fills, allowing you to solo two handed, play another instrument, whatever. Personally, I feel an arranger without a CS is crippled!

Keep your eyes peeled for used BK-9's. There aren't many out there, but for us Roland fans, I honestly think it is the best arranger Roland ever made!

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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4 weeks 6 hours ago 4 weeks 5 hours ago by Diki.
Diki
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1111
Last tip for the night...

Try turning off ALL the Mastering Tools. For starters, I don't think your VA76 had a final 3 band compressor and 3 band EQ (I know the G1000 didn't and the G70 did, so unsure about this!), but I honestly think that, unless you are playing through pretty bad tiny speakers, all the Mastering Tools stuff does is make it sound 'tubby' and boomy, and squashes the dynamics of something that doesn't have a lot of dynamics in the first place!

Add to that, compared to the BK-9 (which has two Mastering Tools sections, one for Style/SMF's and one for Keyboard Parts) a loud sound in either the backing or on the keyboard can squash the other side. You don't want this!

All in all, I find that, if you have a decent sound system and set it decently flat, the BK series sounds very natural with all that compression and EQ turned off. This helps in a couple of ways. For starters, when balancing Styles/SMF's/Performances, you are hearing the natural sound uncompressed. This always makes balancing sounds easier, as one louder sound doesn't affect other quieter sounds.

But also, once you have the music well balanced without the compressor, if you find yourself in a VERY quiet joint and really want to be background music only, turning the compressor on at that point can tame the BK a bit and help even you out a bit. Can't do that if it's already on!

The comp/EQ does help somewhat if you have a very small sound system with little bass, or running through the built-in speakers, but I advise to set up for a good system first, then adjust afterwards. Compression is easier added than taken away!

And, unless absolutely necessary, I don't recommend editing styles and SMF's using the built-in speakers if you are going to play through a PA of any kind on the gig. They simply aren't flat enough, and you will probably find it sounds very different once you use the PA. If you get a nice small PA, it is probably best to set it up at home and work through that. Then you'll be SURE the audience hears it the way you want them to!

I'm not sure what Behringer you are looking at, but the small array systems (JBL Eon One, Bose Compacts, etc.) are very light and easy to set up (but mono). Another thing to take a look at (depending on how loud you want to be) might be an HK Lucas Nano system, which can be stereo. For small gigs, the Nano 300 is all many people need, the 600 for larger jobs. I use a pair of QSC K10's these days, they are amazing, especially for 10" speakers, but at 32lbs each, maybe more than you want to tote!

Hope you can use these tips to further enjoy your BK...

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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3 weeks 6 days ago
Thekatester
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1115
Thanks again for all of your helpful ideas!

I will have to work with MIDI in a way that I've previously not known. It never occurred to place a vocal track into a midi file for playback. Possible? I haven't had to work on midi files except for swapping tracks out and modifying or eliminating some of the worst tracks in the file. More to learn!

I've always found styles to be much too wet with effects and really muddy mid-range. I will try your approach to starting dry and adding them tastefully.

I haven't work at instrumentation replacement too much, probably because the VA series orchestrater allowed switching the rhythm and/or accompaniment with other style files, so this eliminated a large portion of individual tweaks.

Now I'm on the hunt for a BK-9. I had a VA-7 but sold it because I really need at least 76 keys for the wide performance range I work with. The two model constructs are consistent BK-7 = VA-7, BK-9 = VA-76. I still have both 76's and will gig with them for now.

I really dislike mono in live settings. It just cheats the sound. I am looking at the Behringer Europort PPA500W BT package. Only 44 total pounds, as much as one of my Peavey speakers and just as much as the VA-76. I thank you for your suggestions and will look into them.

I was able to snag quite a few CDs/DVDs in the 90's and 2000's when the internet was in its infancy and people loved to share their work. I have many styles, midi files that are quality with lyrics. Let me know if and how you would like to me to share these.

Thanks again to all of you, and especially you, Mr. Moderator. Your kindness is of ENORMOUS value to me.
Best,
Kate

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3 weeks 6 days ago
Diki
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BK 5 in the house, general questions #1116
You can't do audio and MIDI at the same time with the BK5 (you can to a certain extent in the BK-9, but the alternative is easier).

But what you CAN do is record the SMF to an audio file. You can then overdub backing vocals, real guitars, whatever you feel like.

You can even do this quite simply in the BK-9 itself. Tweak the SMF until you think it is perfect, then play it while you sing, and record the whole thing!

Personally, though, I think using a computer to record the audio is far better, as it will allow you to overdub, edit, and apply compression and effects to the voice.

It is a shame the VA Orchestrator was dropped. I always felt it was a great idea! But that seems to be Roland's modus operandi... invent something great like the Chord Sequencer, then drop it for years because they seem to have no idea what is actually good..!

As to sharing audio and SMF, unfortunately, we need to be really sure that no copyright issues exist with the original creators, or we can get into serious legal trouble! A whole lot of stuff 'traded' around in the 90's and 2000's was unfortunately basically pirated from legal vendors, and often it is hard to know where stuff came from in the beginning. We like to keep a very clean nose here at R-A.com!

BTW, the whole Lucas Nano 300 system weighs only 28lbs! Full disclosure, I've not played through one, but I've heard many glowing reports. In fairness, the Behringer's 8" speakers, mounted on poles, are not going to give you a great bass response. These new systems that use mini-subs on the floor and smaller speakers high up definitely pack a lot more depth into a small package, IMO.

A lot will depend on you volume level and size of room, of course, but you may struggle to get a big full sound with those Behringers up in the air...

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.
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