Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

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Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

Postby MinorKey » 17:03, 14 November 2017

Hello guys.

I'll make it short for now.
I'm a blind person and I'm thinking of getting a new synth. I currently have two - a Korg M3 and a Motif XF. I like them both, but I'm contemplating on selling the M3, because I can't really use it without assistance (apart from switching presets). I would like to get something more blind-friendly instead, but the question is what my options are.

In your opinion, are there any Roland machines that could work for a blind user? I was looking at the DS and FA, they both look nice, but how deep can one navigate/edit them without sight?
I know that it all depends on personal abilities, but still some boards are more accessible than others. In an ideal world, the synth should come with an accessible computer editor that would allow visually impaired people to tweak every single parameter. I have been reading up on Roland gear and so I know that there barely are PC editors for the more recent stuff so I guess that deep editing is more or less out of the question. And of course, having a PC editor does not automatically mean that it will work for blind users. For instance, basically all Korg workstations have an accompanying editor, but unfortunately none of them seem accessible.

The least I'd like to be able to do without help is to make splits and layers. If I'm not mistaken, making a simple split or layer on the DS and maybe even FA is just a button press away, so that's definitely good. Compared to what I'm able to do on the M3, this alone is an improvement. On the other hand, in terms of build quality it would definitely be a downgrade. And of course, I'd like to go beyond basic splits and layers if possible.
From the older stuff I think that something from the XV range would work fine for me, but despite of the fact that I like that 'retro' sound, I'm not entirely sure I want to go down the path of getting an almost 20 year old synthesizer even if there's an enough accessible editor out there for it.

I have spoken to some blind guys through E-mail and I know that there are blind musicians who use Roland gear. Not sure that there are any on this forum tho.
I'm considering other brands as well, but to be honest there aren't all that many accessible synths out there at the moment (apart from the now discontinued Motif series). Besides, since I already have an XF, buying another Yamaha would not really give me anything new.

Any responses are greatly appreciated.
Many thanks and have fun!
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Re: Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

Postby Rodan » 02:55, 15 November 2017

Hi MinorKey,

You've asked such an interesting question. My first thought was, the Jupiter-80 is a great synth and has all the banks and buttons below the keys so it would be easy to get to various patches. But then when I actually sat down with it, I realized that just about everything is done from the touch screen, not what you are looking for.

But there is the JD-XA. It is also a great synth and it has a feature that most people complain about, but might be just what you need. That is, it has this really tiny old school display that I have to say I usually ignore. Really everything is done by using the knobs and sliders. The other complaint about it is that because of the way all the controls are illuminated, it is really hard to read the labels. But if your eyesight is very poor, this could be a feature, it could help you locate the knob and you are already used to having to memorize what each knob does. If you check out the JD-XA, let us know if it could help you out.

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Re: Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

Postby MinorKey » 16:28, 15 November 2017

Hello Rodan and thanks for your response.

I'm glad you found my question interesting. :-D
Thanks for letting me know about the JD XA. I must admit that I haven't heard of it before. I try to keep track with the offerings of at least the largest synth manufacturers, but there's just too much out there. :-)

The XA looks nice and although I'm more interested in 'rompler' style machines than analog synths at this point, I'm considering it as a possible alternative for the future. There are 2 reasons for this. First, if I get it correct, every single parameter is available directly on the front panel and can thus be adjusted without complicated menu diving. The second reason why it might just be the right thing for me is that it's an analog-style machine. I know that this seems like a contradiction of what I wrote before, and to a certain extent it probably is, but I find the Motif somewhat lacking in the synth department and maybe the XA could fill in this gap nicely. As a matter of fact, I have looked at some similar boards before (mainly the Nord Lead 4 and A1) and it's great that now I have one more board to consider. That being said, all these machines are well above of what I was originally intending to spend, but than again I'm not deciding on anything yet. At the end of the day the most important thing for me is to get something I'll be 100% satisfied with, something that I won't want to sell in the future.

I bought my M3, because I have always been a fan of the Korg sound, I thought I could live with the limitations my condition imposed on me, but overtime I grew more and more frustrated - after all I had so much synth power at home and yet couldn't use it. Now, I don't want to make the same mistake with my next purchase and that's why I'm trying to take it slow and careful - although it's fairly simple to act on impulse in the world of synths, because there are so many great things to choose from. :-)
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Re: Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

Postby geeman » 17:29, 16 November 2017

Hi there, MinorKey,

Don't own a Roland FA-06 these days but I recall there being some helpful stuff for blind players on this site regards the FA-06. Here's an example link of many from the FA-06 group:


cheers and good luck
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Re: Blind Guy Looking for a Synth

Postby MinorKey » 21:51, 16 November 2017

Thank you for chiming in, geeman. :-)

I took a look at that thread you linked to. Thanks a lot, now I know that there's at least one blind FA user here. So now I have one person I can try and contact for more info. But as with everything, the info I gathered so far is highly subjective and I could even say contradictory.

There was a similar question about the FA over at Korg Forums and according to one user (a sighted person BTW), the FA is not suited for blind people at all. He wrote something along the lines that the menu system is quite complicated and that there are in total some 500+ pages in the machine which makes it rather hard to remember anything (this last bit is more or less my interpretation). Either way, he arrived at this conclusion when trying to teach a blind friend of his to navigate the FA.

On a related note, there's a quite nice and accessible editor for the Fantom series out there, but the caveat is that it's no longer being developed (I checked that with its developer). Just in case someone bumps into this thread and finds the info useful, he told me that it worked reasonably well with a Fantom-XR, but that there were some issues with it e.g. when editing performances. Just my note: The developer mentioned the XR, because that's the model he had, but the editor should work with the other Fantoms as well, but as far as I understand, not all Fantoms have been tested with it.
In case someone wants to take a look, you can find the editor here:
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