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Microphone Month 5

Roland XV-5050 Review

Just buy it for the sounds.

I took this piece home and initially hooked it up via MIDI to my Yamaha AN1X just to get a feel for the sounds. I literally spent hours just auditioning them and eventually found that there’s an easier way to audition in the plain sense: push, don’t turn, the headphone volume knob and the unit will play the sounds either with a factory set phrase or chord appropriate for the patch. The vox, pad, string, and orchestra patches where specifically what I was looking for and not only are they usable, they sound great! Who cares if you can edit them?! Now I usually like to create my own synth leads and sub bass sounds, but these had some claws and were scratching my itches. Even the guitar sounds were good. Eventually I found the drums, good sounds with a nice variety. I especially liked the jazz kits and “Rust” just because they responded well to crazy filter sweeps.

Hours later I still hadn’t listened to all the sounds but decided I wanted to edit some of them. Now I’m menuphobic so I pulled out the manual and low and behold: included discs for drivers and sound editors. One USB cable and five minutes later I am editing the patches in a software environment with virtual sliders and knobs. I had done some research on this product before I took it home and this feature was merely a footnote in everything I read. Do not underestimate the power of the sound editor! Not only can you edit the sounds, but patches are categorized in a couple of different ways that facilitate a much quicker way of getting to sounds. It also acts as a librarian which is all I was really expecting from this underrated benefit.

Leaving my AN1X hooked to the 5050 MIDI In and the USB hooked to the computer, the 5050 acted like a MIDI interface. It showed up in Reason, Cubase and Sonar as a MIDI interface which was good because there’s only one USB port on my laptop.

Just buy it for the sounds. Years from now when you start to get too familiar with it, add some SRX expansion boards (it can take two) and it’s like getting a new machine. It has all the sounds of the XV5080, some from the Fantom, plus some extras and at half the price? No brainer, all ears.

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