Roland began its journey to re-define the electronic piano shortly after the company started in 1972. Although the company established its name with analog synth creations, it became obvious by the 1980s that the future was going digital. And to survive, Roland would have to follow suit.
The future would prove to be bright for Roland as their innovative and professional quality solutions led the way through the 1980s and ’90s. In the 1990s, every programmer’s rack was full of one or two Roland synth boxes. Long before all the soft-synths we have now, they were cutting edge with so many great new sounds to experiment with.
Alas, these days, all those rack-mountable units sit waiting for another chance to be heard in dusty storerooms. But Roland have not sat on their accomplishments. They have never stopped delivering the best digital pianos, and we doubt they ever will.
With that in mind, we are going to look at one of Roland’s newest marvels in our in-depth Roland FA-06 Review. Is it the best keyboard workstation on the market? Let’s find out…
Keyboard workstations have been around for as long as we can remember and have continued to evolve. The Roland FA-06 is a workstation made for use in the studio and on the live stage.
It comes with a built-in audio interface connected via high-speed firewire that integrates easily with your DAW. Therefore, making the transition from studio to live performance is incredibly easy.
Roland have put a great deal of thought into the FA-06 and addressed the need for musicians to be able to integrate keyboard and computer. As a result, the Roland FA-06 is very intuitive and easy to navigate.
A classy-looking keyboard, mainly plastic, that comes in a pleasing black finish with a large color LCD screen. It measures 108cm x 30cm x 11cm and weighs in at only 5.7 Kg. This means it could easily rank among the best portable keyboards on the market. But, it is so much more than that.
Navigating through menus and editing is made easy with the use of a shift key and soft keys. The keyboard is an unweighted 61-key synth and is velocity-sensitive with no aftertouch.
Sound intriguing? Let’s take a closer look.
The Roland FA-06 is a 128 note polyphonic synth engine. It is also a 16-channel multi-timbral keyboard. A sequencer is included, of course, that is super easy to use. You won’t be faffing around trying to get your ideas down.
Furthermore, it features a sampler and built-in audio interface. This allows you to transfer 16 audio tracks at one time from the FA-06 to your DAW.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into the features that make this one of the best synthesizer keyboards you can buy.
The sequencer is pretty good. But because the keyboard integrates so well with your DAW, the intention is for your computer to do all the heavy work. For a built-in sequencer, it’s very simple to use, and all your creations can be sent as audio files back to your computer sequencer.
Again, the sampler is built for ease of use. Tap the sampler button, and the pads will illuminate. Select one pad, press start, and sample what you want. Whatever you sample will playback on the selected pad. External sampling can be achieved by simply plugging into the back of the keyboard.
You can see how the sampling functions would be great for live work and DJ work. Especially with all the effects, you can add on top. However, being an unweighted keyboard without aftertouch, it may not be the best choice for live performances where a lot of piano will be played.
The FA-06 is fitted with high-quality mic inputs and stereo line inputs, making it easy to record. Likewise, the outputs, MIDI, and stereo inputs can be dealt with simultaneously via USB.
The FA-06 comes with 2000 sounds from its Integra 7 unit. It also has many patches from the XV5050. It is packed with a great selection of quality pianos, organs, strings, and all kinds of synths. Maybe it’s not quite got the edge for your production work, but it’s a powerful live tool.
Plenty of useful effects, including drums…
This workstation has a really good selection of kits. You can find everything from dance to rock to percussion, as well as the more unusual and eccentric items. It’s the sound quality that we really noticed, which is quite exceptional.
The FA-06 has a large selection of effects. There are 67 effects, containing all the usual items you would expect. The effects can be edited individually on all 16 parts of your multi-timbral setup.
There, if you are looking for one of the best keyboards for recording, the Roland FA-06 could be just what you need.
Roland FA-06 – Key Features
- Expression pedal connection.
- 61 unweighted keys.
- Polyphony: 128
- USB Audio Interface.
- Integrated FX processor.
- Storage on SD card.
Roland FA-06 Review – Pros and Cons
- Impressive sound library.
- Easy to navigate intuitive controls.
- Built-in audio interface.
- No aftertouch.
- The plastic build is not very solid.
If so, then find the perfect one for your needs by checking out our in-depth reviews of the Best 88-Key Keyboards, the Best Kawai Digital Piano, the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners, and the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys you can buy in 2021.
You may also like our comprehensive Casio SA76 Review, our Yamaha YDP 163B Digital Piano Review, our Joymusic Jk-63M Kit Review, our Roland F-140R Review, our Roland GO-61K Review, and our Alesis Melody Review for more information about superb options currently on the market.
Roland FA-06 Review – Final Thoughts
The Roland FA-06 is an extremely versatile keyboard that is very well laid-out, making it a pleasure to use. The large LCD screen makes everything very accessible and clear. The built-in audio interface, sampler, sequencer, and integration with your computer operate seamlessly and simply.
On the road…
With so many sounds onboard and only weighing 5.7 kg, the FA-06 is certainly an excellent choice for live performance work. Although, the lack of a weighted keyboard may make it unsuitable for live piano playing. But only piano playing. For everything else, it is fantastic in live settings.
The last word…
There was a time when studios were stacked wall-to-wall with heavy keyboards. For an assistant, it was a nightmare carrying and setting them up. These days, we only ever see one standard master keyboard setup used to trigger soft-synths. With so much in the box these days, the FA-06, in our opinion, is well-suited for the stage as much as the studio.
Until next time, may the music make you groove.