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Sound Quality

9--I've read the earely reviews on HC for the Fantom S-88 and I honestly have no idea why these people are saying such bad things about the sounds. Almost all of them sound great to me. Sure, some samples here or there could have been better to compete with the Triton or Motif, but then some of the samples on the Fantom-S outdo some of the corresponding ones on the Triton or Motif. The orchestral samples and drums are all especially awesome, and it has a great ability to sound analog as well. I do agree, though, that it should have more ROM. The Fantom-S should have leap-frogged the Motif or Triton and offered over 100 MB of ROM. But the ROM that is there is great. I think maybe some people judged it based on it's presets. Presets of most keyboards suck; the presets on the Fantom-S are just mediocre by-and-large, with some great and some bad ones just like on most synths. The programmers didn't add correct release, or correct effects, or whatever. For example, the preset pianos won't knock your socks off, but I've programmed a patch by selecting the right waveforms, envelopes, filters, effects, and velocity switching, that easily outshines any of the presets. You need to edit this before you judge its sounds, which is true of any keyboard. But the downside is only 256 user patch memory locations for the sounds you've created. Again, this is inexcusable compared to Triton or Motif, despite that you can add more user patches via memory card.

Reliability/Durability

N/A Too soon to tell, but I've never had a problem with any Roland gear I've owned, and I've owned several pieces over the years, so I expect this piece to be reliable. Time will tell.

General Comments

I give it an 8 overall, but I'm a tough grader, and have high expectations from equipment I pay $2,000 for. Add more polyphony, more waveform ROM, more on-board user patches and performances, better presets and upgrade some of the editing options via a new OS, and it would be a 9 (never a 10 because nothing is ever perfect). If you let me plug in the SH-32 sound engine akin to the Triton/MOSS combo and you might actually convince me to give it a 10. I would buy it again if it were lost or stolen. I owned the original Fantom and sold it for lack of features (great sound and ease-of-use though). I heavily compared the Triton and Motif and hadn't made up my mind yet when the Fantom-S was announced. It's *almost* everything the original Fantom should have been (mostly it still should have more included waveform ROM and much more included user memory). And I like the ease-of-use and sound better (for the most part) than the Triton or Motif. Now, if Korg or Yamaha comes out with a newer, more improved Triton or Motif, I might consider replacing the Fantom-S with one of those instead, depending on their sound and features. But for the time being, I think the Fantom-S is the best all-around workstation on the market for its price, based on sound, features, and ease-of-use.




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