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Roland announced the affordable EM-55 Interactive Keyboard. This 61-note velocity-sensitive keyboard offers thousands of Roland sounds and a wealth of musical styles in a compact, 5-octave keyboard with its own built-in stereo sound system. The EM-55 was designed with fun in mind, with its Session Partner Pads that trigger live phrases, and its D-Beam controller with 50 ready-to-use templates.

The EM-55 has a 64-voice, 32-part multitimbral sound engine and is packed with 3,559 of Roland's best sounds--including everything from piano, strings and bass sounds to synths and sound effects--and 116 drum kits. The EM-55's EZ Search feature tames this massive collection of sounds, making them easy to find. Users can get started in a heartbeat with the EM-55's 64 exciting onboard musical styles (expandable to 128 music styles via floppy disk). With the Session Partner Pads, arranging music on the EM-55 is truly interactive experience. Users can trigger any of 96 pre-recorded phrases that automatically follow the left-hand chords as a style is playing, or they can mute the style's instruments--its drum kit, bass or piano, for example. The pads can also serve as "DJ Pads" that trigger scratching sounds and other DJ effects.

The EM-55's D-Beam controller is lots of fun, and easy to set up. Users simply select one of the 50 preset D-Beam templates and start waving a hand through the D-Beam's infrared beam of light to play melodies, mute parts, change filter cutoffs and more.

An onboard Music Assistant takes the work out of selecting the right instruments with setup templates for 100 popular songs, allowing users to focus on music. Three games--Guess the Tone, Guess the Chord and Chord Finder--help children and students at all levels learn about music. The EM-55 also contains a 16-track song recorder for capturing performances or for playing Standard MIDI Files loaded from the EM-55's internal 3.5-inch floppy drive.

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