Where tradition and technology combine
During the past decade, accordion players have embraced the benefits of digital technology with Roland’s V-Accordion range, proving that tradition and technology can, and do, work together. In one sense, a Roland V-Accordion is just an accordion; familiar construction and feel, and available in piano or button-type formats. And yet, the V-Accordion’s digital heart allows you to do things that are impossible with an acoustic accordion, such as selecting completely new accordion sounds or musical scales, or playing along with pre-recorded music stored on a USB key.
With the announcement of the Roland FR-8x, the latest flagship V-Accordion, the player now has the best of both worlds: a digital accordion that plays (and sounds) like your favourite acoustic accordions. Here are seven ways that the Roland FR-8x redefines this much-loved instrument:
1. It’s a digital accordion that plays like an acoustic accordion
An accordion is an incredibly tactile instrument, full of subtlety and nuance, and the player must feel connected to the instrument at all times. Because of this, Roland’s new Dynamic Bellows Behaviour technology sets out to recreate the authentic feel of acoustic accordion bellows.
Before that though, think about how an acoustic accordion works; the sounds are produced by reeds that vibrate with airflow generated by the movement of the bellows, and the resistance of the bellows constantly varies depending on how many reeds are selected and how many notes are played at once.
The Dynamic Bellows Behaviour technology in the FR-8x automatically adjusts the air transfer in the bellows in real time, based on the selected register and the number of notes played. This accurately replicates the feel of an acoustic accordion, for a comfortable and familiar response that will please traditional players. If you prefer the bellows feel of previous V-Accordions, Dynamic Bellows Behaviour can be easily disabled.
2. It’s intuitive to use (and easy too)
It may be powerful, but the FR-8x is also reassuringly simple to use, with a large colour screen and fast, intuitive operation via the many dedicated buttons. Three programmable chin switches allow control of a variety of functions like changing registers or user programs without lifting your hands off the keyboard, while 1,400 user memories allow you to save custom settings for every type of gig or performance.
3. You can play indoors or out – battery and speakers are included
There’s no point having all these great sounds if you’re tied to a power point. The FR-8x is a totally self-contained instrument, complete with a rechargeable onboard battery and built-in stereo amplification system. You can charge the battery by connecting the included AC adapter directly to the FR-8x, and then play without interruption as it charges. In addition, all device connections are now located right on the instrument, including MIDI, USB, and audio jacks for connecting to an external amplification or recording system.
4. All your favourite accordions in one, plus 180 orchestral sounds
Although the sound of an accordion is undoubtedly beautiful, it’s great to have a choice of several accordion sounds to suit your mood. The FR-8x goes even further than that too, so as well as a range of authentic accordion sounds from around the world, you also have over 180 orchestra and percussion sounds, so you can explore new and exciting musical directions. Included are traditional instruments such as strings and brass, plus electric and acoustic guitars, choir, church organ, harp, ethnic sounds, synthesizers, and a wide range of drum kits. With the Virtual Tone Wheel sound engine, you can play amazing organ sounds using Treble (upper), Chord (lower) and Bass (pedal) sections, with harmonic bar controls to personalise your organ sounds for any musical style. If that’s not enough, four internal memory areas (8 MB each) are provided for loading new sounds from the Roland sound library so you’ll never get bored of the sounds on-board.
5. The keyboard adapts to you – not the other way round
With the FR-8x, more layering and zone setup options are possible in the right-hand keyboard modes than ever before. Whole, Zone, High, and Low modes are provided, giving you the ability to play up to four different tones at once. Left-hand keyboard modes now include layering options as well. The programmable Drum function lets you play percussion sounds manually with the Bass & Chord buttons – something that the crowd will never have seen before.
6. It does things that an acoustic accordion cannot
Although the FR-8x is a traditional instrument at heart, there’s always room for some exciting performance-enhancing additions.
The on-board looper lets you build up your musical performance one instrument at a time; you could start with bass, add strings, then brass or guitar – before improvising over the top with your favourite accordion sounds.
You can also apply the four independent multi-effects engines (MFX), which provide dedicated processing for the Accordion, Orchestra 1, Orchestra 2, and Orchestra Chord sections. Each engine has 84 different effects types, offering a wide range of enhancements from subtle to dramatic.
7. You can play back pre-recorded backing audio, or record yourself playing
The USB memory port lets you play along with pre-recorded MP3/WAV audio for practice or live backing; just connect your USB stick, select your song with the easy-to-reach controls and start playing. Your accordion performances can be recorded directly to USB memory as well, perfect for archiving, evaluation, and education – or even just a permanent memento of your best gigs. The USB port can even connect your FR-8x to a computer for data storage, editing of V-Accordion sound sets, and easy installation of software updates.
It takes a lot of technology to sound so convincingly simple but with the FR-8x, the technology never bothers the musician. Instead, the technology works invisibly to create an instrument that never feels compromised and always connects with the player. Soul and tradition balanced with power and tremendous versatility: the latest flagship V-Accordion is a glimpse into the future of this timeless instrument.
FR-8x in brief
- Flagship piano-type V-Accordion, filled with many enhancements requested by pro accordionists
- Newly developed Dynamic Bellows Behaviour technology emulates the true bellows response of an acoustic accordion in every register
- Simple and convenient onboard battery charging with an AC adapter
- A large selection of accordion sounds from around the world, plus 180 orchestra and percussion sounds and world-class Virtual Tone Wheel organs
- Four powerful multi-effects engines (MFX), with dedicated MFX for Accordion, Orchestra 1, Orchestra 2, and Orchestra Chord sections
- All-new user interface, featuring a large, easy-to-read colour display, intuitive panel layout, and three programmable chin switches for hands-free control of a variety of functions
- 1,400 user program memories allow players to save custom setups for every performing situation
- Onboard looper for creating instant backing accompaniment
- Recording and audio playback via convenient USB memory; USB host port for connecting to computers
- Available in red and black