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Is the new Roland Fantom really anything new?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Is the new Roland Fantom really anything new?

I got super excited watching Scott Tibbs demo the new Roland Fantom 7, so hurriedly downloaded and read the manuals to find out what this new beast is made of and... frankly... felt pretty disappointed by the end.

The "new Zen Core" architecture is practically indistinguishable from the Intega & FA08 synth architecture... 4x PWM oscillators into 1x MFX, routable into shared/dedicated Reverb & Chorus units. The most obvious new inclusion being the 2 insert fx and 2 analog filters, shared between the 16 tones. Instead of SuperNatural oscilators, there is now a Vpiano oscillator, and beyond editing basic envolopes and tweaking a part's MFX, there doesn't appear to be much in the engine room for sound designers and hobbiest to play with.

While I'm thrilled that Roland have brought out a workstation where the controls & interface belong in the 21st century, I can't help but see the Fantom as an attempt at repackaging the same old, tired, pool of presets using the same old, tired, synth engine at double the price of the FA08.

Please, chime in and tell me what I've failed to gleen about this "new" synth?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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The zen synth engine should be much better then the integra sns engine , offering true osc. sync ( not available on the sns ) , crossmodulation ( sns only had ring mod and a waveshape , which was basically a hidden square osc modulating the pitch , same as fxm in pcm mode )
Pulse width on non squarish waveforms , so the V.A. part of the zen engine outperforms the sns by a long shot .
Nothin new , just better I guess
And since there are rumours that the zen engine will be able to load new (filter .osc ) models , I think it's a pretty good deal
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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depulse's Avatar
Over time it could grow into something better than FA and Integra7. I've had my finger on the order button several times, but I think I'll cool off and wait (for a change ). Roland has made great promises in the past and then not always delivered. I think the new Fantom hardware is great, the DAW integration is innovative (not sure how much I would use it in reality in the studio though, I don't play live), but what I have heard until now is not that much better sounding than the Integra7 (which I have, as well as both a FA06 and a FA07), Roland big pads are part of their heritage but similar to previous models, the V-piano is a nice addition, but several other areas (analog modelling, acoustic sounds, multi-sampling) need to be expanded before I bite the bullet.

Last edited by depulse; 4 weeks ago at 02:55 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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flat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by maranite View Post
I got super excited watching Scott Tibbs demo the new Roland Fantom 7, so hurriedly downloaded and read the manuals to find out what this new beast is made of and... frankly... felt pretty disappointed by the end.

The "new Zen Core" architecture is practically indistinguishable from the Intega & FA08 synth architecture... 4x PWM oscillators into 1x MFX, routable into shared/dedicated Reverb & Chorus units. The most obvious new inclusion being the 2 insert fx and 2 analog filters, shared between the 16 tones. Instead of SuperNatural oscilators, there ais now a Vpiano oscillator, and beyond editing basic envolopes and tweaking a part's MFX, there doesn't appear to be much in the engine room for sound designers and hobbiest to play with.

While I'm thrilled that Roland have finally brought out a synth where the controls & interface belong in the 21st century, I can't help but see the Fantom as an attempt at repackaging the same old, tired, pool of presets using the same old, tired, synth engine at double the price of the FA08.

Please, chime in and tell me what I've failed to gleen about this "new" synth?
I'm not into workstations much, but I suspect Korg will have an answer to this. They aren't going to give up their market place as workstation position A easily.

This Fantom looks well laid out and easy to use, but it still seems quite spartan compared to Korg's more complex current Kronos.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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manalishi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gentleclockdivid View Post
The zen synth engine should be much better then the integra sns engine , offering true osc. sync ( not available on the sns ) , crossmodulation ( sns only had ring mod and a waveshape , which was basically a hidden square osc modulating the pitch , same as fxm in pcm mode )
Pulse width on non squarish waveforms , so the V.A. part of the zen engine outperforms the sns by a long shot .
Nothin new , just better I guess
And since there are rumours that the zen engine will be able to load new (filter .osc ) models , I think it's a pretty good deal
Meh. OK, bolting on the 16-step TR buttons from the lowly (sic) JD-Xi is ADFI (a damn fine idea) and the single mode is long overdue.

But it seems like an incremental change to me, and not worthy of YABSEN (yet another bl**dy synth engine name).

I've got an Integra and have had all of the recent Fantoms, so I was hoping to try the new Fantom at Session Musikladen's birthday bash last weekend. But all of Roland's new stuff was AWOL. (Somewhat ironically, the Waldorf STVC was present!)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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So when you look at substractive synths, which tend to have similar architectures, particularly if they come from the same manufacturer, do you conclude that they all sound exactly the same too?

Why would the presence of old sounds stop you from making new ones?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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manalishi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToyBox View Post
So when you look at substractive synths, which tend to have similar architectures, particularly if they come from the same manufacturer, do you conclude that they all sound exactly the same too?

Why would the presence of old sounds stop you from making new ones?
Well, first, that wasn't my conclusion. I said "incremental". "Zen", my arse!

I'm just worn down by these manufacturers' ability to conjure up a new synth engine name every year or two, when the sound engine is 99% the same, and the actual changes are incremental.

I forgot to say above, that it appears Roland definitely IS upping the quality and variety of the FX to add extra ready-made-production value. After the disappointing reverb on the Integra, that's a good thing. But it's not $3000 for a new synth good.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Well that's Roland marketing fo you
If it doesn't contain at least a few new buzzwords , it's not real ..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manalishi View Post
Well, first, that wasn't my conclusion. I said "incremental". "Zen", my arse!

I'm just worn down by these manufacturers' ability to conjure up a new synth engine name every year or two, when the sound engine is 99% the same, and the actual changes are incremental.

I forgot to say above, that it appears Roland definitely IS upping the quality and variety of the FX to add extra ready-made-production value. After the disappointing reverb on the Integra, that's a good thing. But it's not $3000 for a new synth good.
My post wasn't addressed at you...unless you're also maranite?

Anyway, we don't have the full details on "ZEN-Core" yet but I think you're underestimating how big a change it is. Higher resolution all around, significantly improved VA capabilities, polished up modulation, etc. It's way more than SNS, and quite a step up from the XV line, so I find a new name warranted. Calling it Previous Engine Version X.0 wouldn't work here.

I find the names a bit annoying too but when you have multiple engines with significant differences between them available at the same time they become needed. Korg for example, has at least four different VA engines available right now with pretty different features and sounds. How do you communicate that?

I also don't like how the names hide away what's going on technically, but then those technical details are meaningless to non-experts, and even knowing them doesn't tell how good the results are, have to listen to the synth for that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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seamonkey's Avatar
Just curious why this thread couldn't have been asked in the Roland Fantom thread...
but hey, "thread away"..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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manalishi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToyBox View Post
My post wasn't addressed at you...unless you're also maranite?

Anyway, we don't have the full details on "ZEN-Core" yet but I think you're underestimating how big a change it is. Higher resolution all around, significantly improved VA capabilities, polished up modulation, etc. It's way more than SNS, and quite a step up from the XV line, so I find a new name warranted. Calling it Previous Engine Version X.0 wouldn't work here.
Well, part of my reasoning behind 'Zen' being a pure marketing ploy (and not an actual synth engine) is that Roland is rolling out sticking the Zen branding on mobile apps, too: https://www.roland.com/us/products/zenbeats/
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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I'm not a Roland basher but I am perplexed by the new Fantom.

I had the Integra 7, and liked it a lot, except who wants to edit a synth from a VST app that has more in common with an Excel spread sheet than a knobby front panel?

I hoped that this Fantom would have ALL of the Integra 7, plus the next generation of Supernatural sounds, plus the front panel controls to get at the SN synth and acoustic tones, plus audio recording, plus tight integration w the DAW.

Then we have something to compete with the Kronos, which, for some reason, I've never been able to pull the trigger on.

When I got to play it in the store, it surprised me with the scarcity of what's in there now. I'd say it's got about 1/3rd of what's in the Integra...

The acoustic sounds are few and far between and they don't have the Supernatural "scripting" that's found in the Integra, at least as far as I could hear. (Example, on the I7, an electric bass program will glide between two neighboring notes, on the Fantom, you just hear 2 muddy notes playing at once.)

I also wasn't crazy about the action (on the 61...) it bottoms out sort of rudely, imo, I was hoping for something more like what is on the Virus TI, where it's got a nice throw and then you give it a squeeze for after touch.

Also, the thing is gigantic. I'd really like this to be an all in one box but as it is right now, it looks like it's loaded up to about 1/4 capacity.... I'll watch and see what comes of it but for right now it seems like a work in progress.

Weird.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flat View Post
I'm not into workstations much, but I suspect Korg will have an answer to this. They aren't going to give up their market place as workstation position A easily.

This Fantom looks well laid out and easy to use, but it still seems quite spartan compared to Korg's more complex current Kronos.
Not so sure about this.

I'm actually surprised Roland did another workstation.

Yamaha quit (and replaced Motif w Montage) and if there's another workstation from Korg, I imagine it will be Kronos 3.

What's weird about this Fantom is it seems to me, on the showroom floor, to have more in common w the Montage than a traditional workstation.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Coorec's Avatar
The sound engine is able do everything the Jupiter X can do. This should include the modal banks and special filter models like in the system-8 engine. User multisampling will come just like it came in upgrades for the FA and Juno series.

Then there is a cool clip based sequencer and the revered JD-XI drumsection.

Also new AT keyboards and a complete set of connections ready for midi 2.0 and many other modern things.

I really dont see how anyone would consider this a not so good package.

Prices are a little over the top, but not excessivly so.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maranite View Post
Is the new Roland Fantom really anything new?

New words.

Except for the name.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soultrane View Post
[...]

Also, the thing is gigantic. I'd really like this to be an all in one box but as it is right now, it looks like it's loaded up to about 1/4 capacity.... I'll watch and see what comes of it but for right now it seems like a work in progress.

Weird.
It's definitely a WIP, quite a few significant updates are hinted to come, like more keyboards sounds, Supernatural sounds, multisampling, etc.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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soultrane's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToyBox View Post
It's definitely a WIP, quite a few significant updates are hinted to come, like more keyboards sounds, Supernatural sounds, multisampling, etc.
Then it literally makes no sense to me not to stuff this thing to the brim before putting it on showroom floors.

I've seen so many ppl saying "I'll wait and see." I think there would have been a mad rush of impulse buys if it had AT LEAST what the I7 had on it, plus the V-Piano...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manalishi View Post
Well, part of my reasoning behind 'Zen' being a pure marketing ploy (and not an actual synth engine) is that Roland is rolling out sticking the Zen branding on mobile apps, too: https://www.roland.com/us/products/zenbeats/
Zen's engine is the culmination of 30 years of ss technology aka pcm + some v.a.tech we don't heave all the details of yet ( new osc and filter models models etc..)
They could call it 'pcm2+some V.A'' :0 , just like yamaha calls their ss engine awm2 , but I gues zen just mouths better
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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I always thought zen was about insight into the nature of things.

Roland's zen seems to do the opposite!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soultrane View Post
Yamaha quit (and replaced Motif w Montage)
The Montage is a MOTIF with some bells and whistles (more/better sample ROM, DACs, filters, and effects, FM, modulation sequencer, redesigned UI) without the full blown sequencer. I'm not gonna rationalize or defend their approach, but I definitely wouldn't call that quitting. They're just playing the game the way they see fit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soultrane View Post
Then it literally makes no sense to me not to stuff this thing to the brim before putting it on showroom floors.

I've seen so many ppl saying "I'll wait and see." I think there would have been a mad rush of impulse buys if it had AT LEAST what the I7 had on it, plus the V-Piano...
I agree wholeheartedly. I'm waiting and seeing myself. I can't justify buying it with it's current soundset. I mean its still leaning on a 20-25 year old sample set for a good chunk of its acoustic/electromechanical sounds, and those are important for me. Which... there's nothing inherently wrong with that... but I'm not buying that for three thousand dollars... I mean... if I wanted their old ROMples, I'd buy their old ROMpler.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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What none of you understand is that Roland has invented a device that turns the laments of GearSlutzers into electrical energy, which they then sell to the Japanese energy department. The key to maximizing energy output is to get really close to something we’ll like but then fall short.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coorec View Post
The sound engine is able do everything the Jupiter X can do. This should include the modal banks and special filter models like in the system-8 engine. User multisampling will come just like it came in upgrades for the FA and Juno series.

Then there is a cool clip based sequencer and the revered JD-XI drumsection.

Also new AT keyboards and a complete set of connections ready for midi 2.0 and many other modern things.

I really dont see how anyone would consider this a not so good package.

Prices are a little over the top, but not excessivly so.
Potentially its able to do all the Jupiter X/Xm can do, but at the moment it doesn't have the dedicated VA engines (ie Juno, Jx, Jp, SH,) based on A-Core like the X and Xm. Thats a different thing, like ACB but less processor heavy and not modelled in as deep detail- and the Fantom doesn't have that yet.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
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depulse's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by soultrane View Post
I'm not a Roland basher but I am perplexed by the new Fantom.

I had the Integra 7, and liked it a lot, except who wants to edit a synth from a VST app that has more in common with an Excel spread sheet than a knobby front panel?

I hoped that this Fantom would have ALL of the Integra 7, plus the next generation of Supernatural sounds, plus the front panel controls to get at the SN synth and acoustic tones, plus audio recording, plus tight integration w the DAW.

Then we have something to compete with the Kronos, which, for some reason, I've never been able to pull the trigger on.

When I got to play it in the store, it surprised me with the scarcity of what's in there now. I'd say it's got about 1/3rd of what's in the Integra...

The acoustic sounds are few and far between and they don't have the Supernatural "scripting" that's found in the Integra, at least as far as I could hear. (Example, on the I7, an electric bass program will glide between two neighboring notes, on the Fantom, you just hear 2 muddy notes playing at once.)

I also wasn't crazy about the action (on the 61...) it bottoms out sort of rudely, imo, I was hoping for something more like what is on the Virus TI, where it's got a nice throw and then you give it a squeeze for after touch.

Also, the thing is gigantic. I'd really like this to be an all in one box but as it is right now, it looks like it's loaded up to about 1/4 capacity.... I'll watch and see what comes of it but for right now it seems like a work in progress.

Weird.
This is my current feeling also. A lot of potential, but not fully exploited at the moment. I brought my FA07 out of retirement yesterday evening and spent some time with it and my Integra7. Apart from the better Vpiano on the Fantom, I don’t really have GAS for the Fantom in it’s current form, I have similar or better sounds with my current tools. And measuring the size of the Fantom, I would not be able to fit it in my studio, I’d have to go for a 6 instead of the 7 and even that will be tough since it’s very deep.

I was about to order the Fantom, but I think I’ll wait for a while.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
What none of you understand is that Roland has invented a device that turns the laments of GearSlutzers into electrical energy, which they then sell to the Japanese energy department. The key to maximizing energy output is to get really close to something we’ll like but then fall short.
With Fukushima reactor out of commission (and still spewing radiation into the Pacific), we'd better get to work producing more energy for them.

More threads everyone!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
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lol.. the montage is for sure a Motif with bells and whistles, but it does lose the engine, trasnmission and tires of the Motif along the way. lol

So, the Montage, is a performance synth and its great to be sure.. but its not a workstation.

I am totally wait and see on the Fantom..

But unless it is better across the board than the Fantom G + Integra 7 then to me it was a waste of time developing it.. and so far, it seems like the sequencer is weak/rudimentary at best, its external control is suspect, and (as you correctly point out) its spectrum of sounds is a bit limited..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mp3 View Post
The Montage is a MOTIF with some bells and whistles (more/better sample ROM, DACs, filters, and effects, FM, modulation sequencer, redesigned UI) without the full blown sequencer. I'm not gonna rationalize or defend their approach, but I definitely wouldn't call that quitting. They're just playing the game the way they see fit.



I agree wholeheartedly. I'm waiting and seeing myself. I can't justify buying it with it's current soundset. I mean its still leaning on a 20-25 year old sample set for a good chunk of its acoustic/electromechanical sounds, and those are important for me. Which... there's nothing inherently wrong with that... but I'm not buying that for three thousand dollars... I mean... if I wanted their old ROMples, I'd buy their old ROMpler.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldphinga View Post
Potentially its able to do all the Jupiter X/Xm can do, but at the moment it doesn't have the dedicated VA engines (ie Juno, Jx, Jp, SH,) based on A-Core like the X and Xm. Thats a different thing, like ACB but less processor heavy and not modelled in as deep detail- and the Fantom doesn't have that yet.
Do we have any info on the A-core , I only heard it in the sonic state video with dave 'Roland ' ahlund , yet no other info is to be found
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
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For programming, I think 1 effect block per part of simply not enough.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coorec View Post
The sound engine is able do everything the Jupiter X can do. This should include the modal banks and special filter models ...
you keep saying this... it's "model banks", not "modal".
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Head


The amount of threads of people bashing the Fantom mainly because they want to talk themselves out of buying one is gettting pretty ridiculous... yes its expensive, and yes it extremely well made, yes it weighs more than cheaply made workstation/synths.... and yes is sounds extremely good in person.... and we all are aware is not fully developed yet.

If you don't want one or cannot afford it really no point bashing it so you don't feel you need it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theshinenz View Post


The amount of threads of people bashing the Fantom mainly because they want to talk themselves out of buying one is gettting pretty ridiculous... yes its expensive, and yes it extremely well made, yes it weighs more than cheaply made workstation/synths.... and yes is sounds extremely good in person.... and we all are aware is not fully developed yet.

If you don't want one or cannot afford it really no point bashing it so you don't feel you need it.
Who's trying to talk themselves out of buying a $4k piece of gear that's "not fully developed yet."

I don't need any convincing NOT to stick out my credit card.... especially when there's a lot of stuff that's totally developed for that kind of money.
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