Since the 1970s, Roland Digital Pianos have been at the vanguard of electric and digital piano technology and innovation. Japan’s very first mass production synthesizer, the Roland SH-1000, was introduced in 1973 to great acclaim, and the rest is history. Dozens of new models followed in subsequent years, and the direct precursor to the current FA series, the Fantom, was introduced in 2000.
The Fantom was a highly innovative and influential workstation, dramatically raising the bar for the entire industry. The current FA series, released in 2014, was another huge step forward with its complete reimaging of the workstation once again.
Roland has streamlined the real-time power, and dramatically improved the work flow and ease of use from the standard workstation experience. While the series initially consisted of the 61-note Roland FA-06, and fully weighted, 88-note Roland FA-08, Roland more recently introduced the FA-07 as a middle-ground option for those seeking something larger than the 61-note FA-06, but don’t require the full 88-note weighted action of the FA-08.
The Roland FA-07 is loaded up with over 2000 tones from the INTEGRA-7, which is Roland’s top sound module originally released in 2012, which means that the FA-07 offers a large range of professional quality sounds for a variety of musical settings. The FA-07 also features Roland’s SuperNATURAL acoustic tones that include pianos, e pianos, organ, and strings among others.
The FA-07 digital piano has a 16 track sequencer for building lush arrangements, and with real-time capture, step recording is also an option. You have complete editing and mixing control and you can save your tracks as stereo audio files. Independent MFX engines are available for all 16 tracks, and with the TFX feature (total effects), the output can be processed with various effects such as DJ FX Looper, Isolator, and others. All the effects can be further edited with the Sound Modify knobs.
There’s also a sampler, master control functionality, and super easy DAW integration. Really, this thing is loaded up. If you’re in the market for a workstation, or just learning what a workstation is for the first time, make sure you check out the FA-07.
While the action certainly isn’t the focal point here, and if you’re looking for a workstation with an action that replicates the feel of an acoustic piano the FA-07 won’t be the right fit for you, this action is still semi-weighted and velocity-sensitive. This means it does feel a lot better than what you’ll get in a cheaper, non-weighted action, and the velocity sensitivity means that the FA-07 can serve as the master controller of a large rig set-up for performances.
The FA-07 music workstation features no less than 5 distinct sound engines: the SuperNATURAL Acoustic, SuperNATURAL Synth, SuperNATURAL Drum Kit, PCM Synth, and PCM Drum Kit engines. There are over 2000 total onboard sounds, many of which are of distinctly professional quality. There’s also a new Tone Remain function, which allows you to switch sounds seamlessly with no notes or effect tails being unnaturally cut off.
There are 128 notes of polyphony on most patches, and a ton of effects parameters, including various Chorus, Reverb, EQ’s, Master compressor among others, for 68 total possible effects.
The FA-07 is fully compatible with the large, growing collection of INTEGRA-7 synth patches available as free downloads from Roland’s sound library site. It’s also possible to expand the onboard sound set with free wave sound expansion collections, which you can also get at the sound library site.
Like any good workstation, the Roland FA-07 synth has extensive connectivity ports. There’s a 1/4” stereo headphone port, L/MONO, R output jacks, stereo ¼” sub output jack, stereo line in, ¼” mic input, 3 distinct foot pedal ports, MIDI connectors in and out, USB in and out, as well as a DC in jack.
With the exception of Bluetooth, pretty much everything is covered here.
What’s most notable about the FA-07 is probably how easy it is to navigate. Workstations are notorious for their high learning curve, and Roland’s really done a great job at addressing and improving on this common complaint.
- Maximum Polyphony: 128 voices (varies according to the sound generator load)
- SuperNATURAL Acoustic
- SuperNATURAL Synth
- SuperNATURAL Drum Kit
- PCM Synth
- PCM Drum Kit
- * GM2 compatible sounds are included.
- Wave Expansion Slots: 2 slots
- Reverb: 6 types
- Mic Input Reverb: 8 types
- MIDI Tracks: 16
- Rhythm Pattern
- Chord Memory
- D-BEAM Controller
- Pitch Bend/Modulation Lever
- Sample Pad
- 5-inch Graphic Color LCD
An awesome all in workstation, the FA-07 shows why Roland has been and will continue to be one of the most important names in music production.