Bit of a newbie question but..

Forum for Roland FA-06/08

Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Mike_F » 18:39, 5 September 2017

I haven't owned a Synth for about 30 years but now I'm retired I plan to treat myself to a Roland FA 06.
Before I buy I'd like to understand a little more about recording songs I play. I won't be gigging at my time of life and will just have my own little home studio. When it comes to recording songs I play on the FA 06 I'd like to upload them to my FB page but I'm unsure of how I record the song to a DAW on my laptop. Can I just play the song direct through a USB cable connection from FA 06 to DAW on laptop. Sorry if this sounds like a basic question but when I last had a Synth home computers weren't common place.
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby stevel » 21:22, 5 September 2017

Hello Mike, welcome to the forum.

First I'd like to say, if you can, and money is not a huge issue (nor space) you should check out the 76 (FA-07) and 88 (FA-08) key versions of the FA as well.

The 06 is a great instrument, but there are a lot of complaints about the keyboard action.

Roland has made the surface area of the keys a bit smaller (cutting corners...) on the 06 and they're a bit shorter and the black keys are a bit narrower and rounded on top (easier to slip off of!).

If you're not a "real" pianist, it's probably not going to bother you but if you've played other keyboards it might be a little bit of an adjustment. The 76 key version is supposed to be much better.

The only other thing about the action that's odd is, no matter what velocity setting you set it to (including the default) you don't have to really hard to get the highest velocity - meaning it's really easy to play it all loud all the time and harder to do more subtle dynamics.

This is especially the case on what theoretically should be the flagship patch in the instrument - the Supernatural Grand Piano 1.

Other sounds are nowhere near as sensitive so it's not a horrible thing (and I prefer the #2 piano patch which doesn't get as "clangy" on full velocity) but again this is something the 76 key (and 88 key) model "fixes".

Recording songs is super easy!

You can use any DAW really - Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, Garageband, Audacity (free!) or Reaper ($60) and they work great.

You install the driver into your computer, plug up the FA, and when you open your DAW the FA should show up as one of the inputs.

Then you basically hit record on your DAW and play away! It's like the olden days when we had a keyboard with an AUDIO cable that went into a Tape Recorder. The audio cable has been replaced with a USB cable and the tape recorder with your DAW. Easy peasy!!!

It's so super easy you're going to kick yourself for not having gotten into this sooner! (honestly though, Audio Over USB is relatively new, and some of the keyboards coming out right now are still some manufacturers' first leap into that market).

There are a number of other ways you can record - the built in Sequencer in the FAs is very good and pretty intuitive. I prefer working in the DAW where you can see things on screen but for just recording quick ideas without bothering to turn on the computer, it's great.

You can also record something internally in the Sequencer and dump it to a .wav file right inside the FA - it makes a file on your memory card (or USB stick, I forget which but it uses both) and you can just then pop that into your computer and upload it into your DAW to further enhance or post, or whatever.

Obviously you can get more complex than this - multi-tracking as MIDI in the Sequencer, or in your DAW, or recording as Audio in your DAW, or recording as MIDI and dropping that as Audio into your DAW (either as a stereo file or multi-track file, etc.) so there's a lot of versatility here.

My last synth purchase was a Roland Sound Canvas SC 88 ST about 20 odd years ago, and all I had to play it was my much older Roland D-5.

I'm not wealthy or anything, so buying a keyboard like the FA is a big big investment for me, and a decades-long one. Though I would have liked to have gotten the 88 (too big and heavy for me though) and now that it's out, the 76, I have to say that the 06 was a super investment for me (knock wood) and the latest system upgrade made it that much better. I'm hoping it will improve further still with future updates.

So I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. And yes, it's that easy to record directly into your DAW (assuming your computer OS is current enough to run the driver).

PS - not too long ago you would have needed an Audio/MIDI interface between your keyboard and computer to record the signal out from the keyboard either from the Audio or MIDI jacks. Now, the USB takes care of it all, so the keyboard IS the interface!
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Mike_F » 22:39, 5 September 2017

Hi Stevel,

Thanks for the welcome and all the advice. I had no idea it was so easy.
I started out with a SC Pro One and Juno 60 back in the 80's, the Juno is long gone but I still have the Pro One that's been unused for years.
I'll go to the not so local music store and try out the 06/07 and 08 versions to get the feel of them.
I have a laptop with Windows 10 and have looked at Reaper which seems a good deal for the price after the trial version is over.
I think you're right, I probably will kick myself for not having gotten into this sooner as I now have plenty of free time on my hands the be creative and it all sounds so simple.

Thanks again for all the great advice.
Mike.
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Paul99 » 23:30, 5 September 2017

Hi Mike and welcome to the forum. The advice from Steve is as usual very good and helpful.
About Reaper: I bought it and never ever regretted it one moment. I watched a lot of video's from Kenny Gioia which you can find on the site of Cockos Reaper. This guy is great and has made a video of almost any topic you could imagine. Just watch the beginners video's and you will be up and running in no time!
And always remember to have fun with music!
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Mike_F » 08:17, 6 September 2017

Hi Paul,
Thanks for the welcome and advice.
I'll download Reaper and watch the videos too. It certainly seems like a bargain and will do everything I'll need.
Cheers.
Mike.
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Skijumptoes » 08:50, 6 September 2017

One more thing, if money is a big consideration, then don't try the 07 and 08 and you won't know what you're missing! I say that as if you go from the 06 to the 08 in store the 06 feels ridiculously cheap and plasticky, the 08 is a real weighty keyboard and it also has a metal support on the bottom making it seem a tank in comparison.

However, once you have the 06 home it's not as bad as the comparison may seem in store, plus the 06 is much quicker to play if that's your thing. 08 really is primarily a piano players preference.

Difference between the 06/07 is not so great, but the 07 would be my number 1 choice if buying an FA - the keys are what you would expect from a Roland Synth, but really, the step up in price is quite steep in my mind (In the UK - 899 vs 1189) - however, you don't get the shiny 'scratch-easy' surface on the 07 which is a true bonus, as well as the better/more keys.

The FA is a great choice though, there's a lot of fun and creativity to be had, and the sounds contained within really span across decades of history.

Plus any issue you get with recording or general setup, we have your back covered on here - Just don't feed us after midnight, and particularly don't get Stevel wet! :)
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Mike_F » 14:43, 6 September 2017

Thanks Skijumptoes,

I'm going to look at music store in the morning and I'll get back on my choice. Money isn't a big consideration and I'd like a Synth that will not only last a while but also I'll be comfortable with.
I've listened to some of the sounds on YouTube and they are indeed amazing, took me right back to the 80's.
I did take a look at a friends JD-Xi today and I now know what you mean about the shiny 'scratch-easy' surface. It looked good for the price but the mini keys I could never get used too. FA it is for me with those gorgeous sounds.

Cheers.
Mike.
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Paul99 » 15:08, 6 September 2017

If money is not a problem and you are not going to gig, you should take the FA07. I have problems with both my shoulders, so I was very glad with the super low weight of the FA06 to carry to my band, but I would definitely have gone for the FA07 because I play usually two instruments at the same time and sometimes 5 octaves is a problem when both sounds need 3 octaves to be played. It's always nice to have those extra keys just in case. Also when accompanying yourself with your left hand playing the two base notes left with the chord right hand, you have to go from C1-C2 left and C chord right to a G chord, by moving to G2-G3 which takes the power out of the base. It's not a big deal, but when you have 76 keus, you can go down with G chord base notes as well!
Hope this helps!
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby diego » 21:05, 6 September 2017

I recommend using StudioOne3 - which is a complete free DAW. I use it sometimes as a golified midi editor. I record the MIDI from StudioOne, and again let the FA06 do the sound (it is defined as a MIDI out device on StudioOne).

Another option - is to use the internal sequencer to record the music, and then internally convert it to WAV. See this tutorial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-qHFM1H_WE (I can't find the Ed Diaz tutorial....).
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby stevel » 22:10, 6 September 2017

Mike_F wrote:Hi Stevel,

Thanks for the welcome and all the advice. I had no idea it was so easy.
I started out with a SC Pro One and Juno 60 back in the 80's, the Juno is long gone but I still have the Pro One that's been unused for years.

I have a laptop with Windows 10 and have looked at Reaper which seems a good deal for the price after the trial version is over.


Mike, Reaper is hard to beat for the price, and as Paul mentioned, Kenny Gioia's videos are excellent and really a must for any new user - in fact, you could watch them before you even download the trial to get a feel for it.

I'm going to say one negative thing about Reaper:

Like many modern DAWs, there is a move to "in the box" thinking and external hardware synthesizers are not well-supported.

If you are simply going to record audio into the DAW, and don't plan on doing any MIDI sequencing, then Reaper is still an excellent choice (and at the price, it's even a great tool to have even if you don't use it all the time!).

However, I prefer Cubase for one major reason: In Cubase, one can select the patches for your synth in the "inspector" window. So you can create a MIDI track in Cubase, then select the sound on your FA.

This is so much easier then scrolling through sounds on the keyboard and you can even filter results like type in "flute" and any patch with "flute" in the name is going to show up. it makes finding things really quick and easy.

Reaper has its own plug-in that can make this happen too but it has two issues - first it's an extra window on the track so you have an extra step to get to the place you select your sounds, and 2nd, there's no filter/search function.

The full version of Cubase is much more expensive though, so there's that.

I'm not sure if Studio One has this "select patches from external hardware synths" feature, but if it did, it would be a great option as well.

FWIW, with either Reaper or Cubase, if a patch script is available (and it's possible to make them yourself) for your old SC Pro One, you can actually incorporate that into your system!

It'd be a bit tricky without a MIDI interface but it would be possible to do something like have MIDI go through the FA on to the SC to select sounds (on certain channels) and have its audio feed into the FA so you can hear and record it.

Alternatively, you could use the controls on the FA to select sounds on the SC and still do the same thing.

The FA will probably do everything you ever want, but I don't like gear to feel like it's been sent to the island of lost toys.

Reaper will definitely work though - and if you've not used other DAWs recently, you won't notice how annoyingly non-conformist it is :-)
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby stevel » 22:14, 6 September 2017

I just checked Studio One 3 and unfortunately it doesn't support any patch script/instrument definitions for external devices :-(

Again, this is not a big deal if you don't need or plan on using that feature, but I find it extremely useful to call up sounds from external hardware right from the track, just like you do with software instruments!
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby Skijumptoes » 08:35, 7 September 2017

As good as it is, Studio One also lacks the ability to process System Exclusive, so a large amount of automation that the FA is possible of cannot be done within it. i.e. Organ drawbar changes while playing.
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Re: Bit of a newbie question but..

Postby scramble » 12:37, 7 September 2017

stevel wrote:Recording songs is super easy!

You can use any DAW really - Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, Garageband, Audacity (free!) or Reaper ($60) and they work great.

You install the driver into your computer, plug up the FA, and when you open your DAW the FA should show up as one of the inputs.

Then you basically hit record on your DAW and play away!


Well, this is how it works in theory! It's sometimes how it works in practise. Not always though, there are sometimes obscure settings and driver installation problems and other things that can fox a newbie (or even an experienced tech guy) for a while. Although you can usually get most problems sorted via forums.
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