REVIEW 1( as posted on the Sonic State website on Sunday-Dec-16-01 at 20:31)
I bought the XP 80 after years of working in studio’s where the JV’s 1080 and 2080 ruled the mix. I basically bought it to have access to all the same sounds you hear on commercial records, neatly packed into one keyboard. As such, it works fine for the keyboardists playing in Top40 orchestras, since you’re likely to find whatever sound you need to emulate most of the hit records in the last 20 years or so.
If your looking for your typical rockguitar-and-drums-defeating artillery it may not suit your style/taste, as the XP’s overall character is more one of detailed clarity rather than power-by-the-pound. But mind you, in patch mode those distorded leadguitars and wahwahs sound simply awesome.
The XP really is all the JV 1080 sounds with the 2080 display, and a lot of very handily positioned performance controllers. I love the fact that the transpose keys are defaulted to octave-shift, a well though out function when you are using the keyboard in split mode, got it? There are two assignable sliders ride above the pitch/mod stick, which I haven’t used much but might be convenient if you need that type of control.
Must say though that their position next to the volume slider is a bit of a bummer. But brilliant in its simplicity is the effects on/off buttons. There are three, multiFX, Chorus and Reverb, and they can be switched on or off individually. Try switching the delay on and off while you are soloing, sweet.
I don’t really use the sequencer that much, since I mostly work with Cubase. But it’s handy when you come in the rehearsal room with the sequence of your new song in the XP’s diskdrive, just load it and play the darn thing. I do use the drive also to store performance settings. Saves me having to sys-ex all data into Cubase for every song. Nifty features like taptempo control with a pedal really turn this one into a very smart live sequencer, though -again- I haven’t really used that.
Operating all this wonderful stuff is easy for anyone who has at least had two hours on any other digital Roland synth. Although I prefer the sound of for example Ensoniq’s late MR 61, Korg’s Trinity/Triton or the new Kurzweil PC 2, in terms of value for money I think the XP is still a great offer even now, which is like four years after its introduction?
Potential Fantom or XV 88 customers, forget those and get a XP 60 or 80 instead. Use the rest of the money to buy either expansion boards (some of those really sound much better than the ROM-sounds), or another module or so. If the XP had had the pianosounds of the Session board, with Rhodes and Wurlys from ’60s and 70’s board and some more bass and drums I would rate this a hands-down-5-outta-5. As it is, 4-outta-5 is not bad for a synth that is four years old.
P.S.: if you want an XV 88 because of the hammer action, better buy Roland’s new RD 700 with an extra expansion board. Saves you money on a shitty D- Beam controller I’ve never seen anybody use, and thei figure you want good pianosound if you are going to buy a hammer-action keyboard. compare the XV88’s pianosound with that of the RD 700, it really isn’t fair.
REVIEW 2 (as posted on the Sonic State website onThursday-Oct-06-05 at 03:00)
I recently bought a Fantom X7 and I would now like to praise the XP80 even more. It’s one of those RARE keyboards where they accidentally get almost everything right. Because of the neutral sound it will probably never attain “classic” status, but it really is the best all-round keyboard ever made (and I have compared it to your Tritons, Motifs and Kurzweils).
As a workstation, the Fantom X7 is phenomenal (lots of RAM, audio-recording, sampling etc.), but as an instrument it doesn’t even come close. Fortunately, I still own the XP80 (though it’s on another continent) and I’m gonna buy a second one just in case… Let’s hope Roland will figure it out, and release an XP90 with the XV5080 sound engine, USB2.0 connectivity (and please make the implementation better than on the Fantom), plenty of user memory etc.