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Other sounds, features, and drums. The XV-3080s main menu is primarily concerned with the units more than 700 non-GM patches, which ooze with professional subtlety and power. The riff-based audition feature is great for trying patches, and the screens ability to display MIDI note number data in real time is convenient. The SRX and SR-JV80 Expansion Boards expand the XV-3080s palette of sounds further, and custom program data can be saved on high-capacity SmartMedia cards. The user interface is, unfortunately, rather unintuitive, but the modules six separate audio outputs could be a positive consideration for pro users.
The XV-3080 doesnt offer a wide range of drums, and the supplied sounds dont seem up to the standard of an SC-8850. Still, theyre perfectly up to delivering MIDI grooves in high-fidelity style.
Effects and controls. The XV-3080 offers a good assortment of effects, though the GM sounds are limited to basic control over chorus and reverb. The full range of effects is broad and highly editable. The XV-3080 pays special attention to real-time effects control (LFO sync, delay-time matching, rotary speaker fast/slow, portamento on/off, and so forth). Roland deserves extra credit for offering such a creative application of effects.
MIDI CCs 71 through 74 control filter, resonance, envelope attack, and release. The four Tone levels can also be controlled using MIDI CCs 80 through 83. As outlined earlier, a significant level of external control is also offered for the effects.
Bottom line. Although its far more accessible than its predecessors in terms of external control and it boasts several improvements under the hood, the XV-3080 is still more evolutionary than revolutionary. The native sounds are tempting, and the controllable effects could be addictive, especially for the dance market. But the GM implementation is just adequate, which is difficult to get excited about, given how well Roland usually implements the standard on its instruments.
Roland ED SC-8850 Sound Canvas
GM sounds. The SC-8850 has some killer Clavis. Yes, everyone has loads of Clavis, but has anyone ever played a Clavinet? It can produce a wide range of variations in sound, and Roland ED deserves points for exploring many of them.
The same goes for organs. The SC-8850 includes more than 50 patches, covering all the major types and harmonic permutations from Hammonds to Farfisas to church organs, and from rock to jazz to cheese (and is it ever!).
Bass can be tricky to simulate on any synth, but the SC-8850 has many top-notch acoustic basses for applications ranging from rockabilly to modern jazz. The new range of synth basses is great; as the originator of the TB-303, the dance scenes most favored device, Roland does have an advantage here. The lead synth department is less impressive.
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, February, 2001
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved
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