The Combo part
The great advantage of this instrument is that it’s so simple to use, especially when it comes to combining sounds. You get 4 separate buttons placed on the right side of the menu, right under the piano category. They are for piano, another one for electric piano, the third button for clavinet, and the last one for different other sounds.
You also have other different buttons under the Synthesizer section and these include brass, strings, bass synth lead, and choir effects. You also have a drum section there for increased versatility.
Tempo can be controlled using a large button as well, and near that button, you also have an option to choose a drum sound from a selection of 17 different kits. They are either acoustic or digitally mastered sounds. What’s interesting is that you can also record your own drum performances and use the looper function to layer them all.
The combo part comes with the functionality that allows this keyboard to function as an organ as well. You have a menu with 9 drawbars and a tenth bar used for the overall level. You can thus select the sound that you want your keyboard/organ to produce.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1994.5)
Although not a disadvantage per se, the drum and loop section is not something that helps this keyboard excel. The drum sounds are good and the TR-series sounds are well-received. Furthermore, the looper feature allows for 20 seconds of layering to create interesting grooves. However, these features don’t bring too much to the table and they feel basic.
Less capable keyboards are able to offer the same features, including the fact that you can save all the layered sounds on a USB stick. While pretty fun for the beginners, these functions won’t serve you many purposes in the long run.
Main features explained
When buying this keyboard the user should expect something that works great on the go. With keyboards like this, the player doesn’t want to fiddle around too much – he or she just wants to start playing as fast as possible. Fortunately, the VR-09 has been designed with that in mind. This model can be simply plugged in, around your other instruments, and in less than a minute it’s ready to show you the best it can do.
Starting this beast up takes a few seconds, and when you first start it, the keyboard will automatically be in the Grand Piano V mode, which is a good default option. If you want a different piano style you just have to turn the dial a bit. For EP sounds you simply need to press the button, and the same goes for the organ sound. It’s as simple as that.
This Roland also comes with overdrive, which is something you don’t always find in keyboards like this. It too works just by turning a knob. What’s interesting is that the keyboard also gives you visual cues on everything you are doing. Every time you change a certain parameter, the keyboard LCD screen will be there to let you know what your instrument should sound like.
Splitting the keyboard is also an option with this model, and that too can be done fairly easily. Just press the split button and the LCD display will show you where the keyboard is split and what are the sounds for the upper and lower keys.
You can use an app that is installed on an iPad to enable you to edit each sound. However, to be able to do that you will need to purchase another Roland product, which is a USB stick adaptor.
Usually, when you get a workstation, you expect it to deliver thousands of different sounds and ways to edit them. This keyboard doesn’t try to sell that image for you. Its library isn’t that expansive, but it makes up for that when it comes to the quality of it. It’s the kind of keyboard that is able to deliver an easily-manageable set of features that even beginners can understand.
You can use this keyboard with great success whether you want to have live performances with it or you need it for your studio. This model manages to deliver good acoustic piano sounds, even though the keyboard is not weighted as the keyboard of a full-sized piano. Roland usually does well in constructing keyboards like this one, although sometimes the tone transitions aren’t as smooth as you would wish.
When you change the way you are playing from a smooth one to a harder press on the keys, you will feel how the tonality changes drastically, and the keys almost sound like a bark. You can, however, change how the keyboard responds with the help of the synth options found under the keyboard menu.
Furthermore, you can use the iPad app to change the sound even more. Fortunately, all of the effects are easy to adjust, including the chorus, vibrato, and overdrive, and they are effects that Rhodes is known for.
Despite this keyboard only coming with a couple of hundreds of sounds, and not thousands as other models do, you still have a good selection of everything. Brass instruments are well represented, but you also get good strings and bass sounds. Lead sounds are also great, and with these, you can cover pretty much any need.
Strings are a particular highlight, especially taking into account that the brand has been doing them a good service recently.
This keyboard has been specially designed to offer one of the greatest organ sounds in its category. Having that in mind, it does an excellent job on that front. Of course, it won’t sound like the organ you can hear in a church, but for a keyboard, it does a great job. You can’t expect this keyboard to sound better than significantly expensive keyboards that can be found at $3,000 and offer organ sounds, but it does a great job.
This instrument is capable of getting you to let’s say 90% of the desired organ sound. However, organ capability is not the only selling point here. You also get the possibility to tweak that sound a bit. You can adjust drawback settings or play with different effects like chorus if you want to enhance your creative spirit.
These changes can make a big difference in certain situations and because you have the ability to change them at the simple turn of a knob, the keyboard is a reliable instrument. You can hear these changes as soon as you make them, and in a live performance, that is an excellent thing.
The keyboard comes with something called registrations. These are something like general presets that you can use and save. There are 100 total registrations, split into 4 groups, and they act like “places” where you can store certain settings and all of their parameters. There are many factory settings already in place in these registrations, but you can make your own if you wish.
You can go to the synth section and choose a string from there. You will have to scroll through many presets until you find the perfect one for you, but the work is worth it. Deciding which registration to keep as default and which to modify as you wish is your choice.
When you’re dealing with an instrument as complex as this one, you want to sometimes have something quick and easy to access. The great thing about this keyboard is the fact that it gives you a bit of both of these worlds. It offers the complexity you need to accomplish a varied array of musical tasks, but it also makes them pretty easy to achieve.
Having a dedicated button or knob for every feature you won’t have to dig deep until you find the setting that best suits your needs. The main button in the middle of the screen will give you access to everything you want.
The main modes of piano, organ, and synth can be accessed rather fast, and alongside them, you have the value dial, which will help you get too many of the other functions. There are dedicated buttons that can be used to move the octave up or down, buttons for cursor selector, and even a button to transpose the pitch how you wish.
There isn’t much digitalization when it comes to this device – most functions can be found on the many buttons placed on it. Of course, the sheer space that these buttons occupy can be daunting for some players, especially beginners, but once you get the hang of it, it’s all good. It could be argued that this keyboard is better for live performances, as adjustments can be made much quicker with analog buttons like these.
You can quickly change from an acoustic piano to an electric one and then to harpsichord. Two separate sections, one including synth and the other named generally “others” will give you every sound effect you would want or expect. Pre-programmed drums will be enough for your daily practice sessions, although not that comprehensive if you wish to use them in live performances.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1994.5)