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Back to the future with Roland

909 Day sees Roland paying homage to some classic synth tech

The new Roland Fantom 8, the 88-key model of the latest Fantom workstation family.The new Roland Fantom 8, the 88-key model of the latest Fantom workstation family.

Just ahead of the worldwide 909 Day (ie. September 9th, or 9/09...), Roland have dropped a ton of new synth kit, paying homage to some of their classic 1980s designs:

• two new MCs, the MC101 and MC707 hark back to the 1980s' MC202 MicroComposer (and also subsequent Grooveboxes from the 90s);

• the compact JU06A is a modern take on the Juno 6, 60 and 106;

• the Jupiter X and smaller Jupiter Xm are the successors to the early 80s Jupiter 4 and 8;

• and there's also a new range of 61-, 76 and 88-note Fantom synth workstations.

We're still processing it all here at SOS HQ, so we'll add more info later today about all the new gear, but for now, here's a little more about the new Fantoms, which were the first to be announced. Fantom, of course, is a name that has been associated with Roland synth workstations since late 2001, when the original FA76 Fantom was released, and the concept was subsequently updated with Fantoms S (2003), X (2004), Xa (2005), G (2009), and FA06/08 (2014). Designed for studio or live use, the new Fantom range is available in 61-note, 76-note and 88-note hammer‑action models (all with aftertouch), known respectively as the Fantom 6, 7, and 8. (The Fantom 8 is the synth shown at the very top of this news item.)

Detailed specifications were still sketchy in the run-up to 909 day, but it seems the new Fantoms are 16-part multitimbral and offer a variety of on‑board synthesis types, a built-in pattern-based and real‑time sequencer and a real analogue filter, plus built-in effects powerful enough to remain assigned to all 16 possible parts simultaneously if required. Everything is controlled via a combination of the colour touchscreen and the variety of assignable top-panel real-time faders and controls, including dedicated oscillator, filter, amplifier and envelope knobs and a 4x4 grid of assignable light-up RGB playback pads for triggering clips. According to Roland, the Fantom’s user interface can also control computer-based DAWs and other performance software directly, including Apple’s Logic Pro and MainStage, as well as virtual instruments in Roland Cloud. Older tech can also be driven via the new workstations’ twin CV and gate outputs.

Fantoms 6, 7 and 8 should be released in early Autumn, costing £3069$3999.99, £3249$3599.99, and £3519$3299.99 respectively.

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