Late 2019 saw Roland resurrect one of their most famous product lines; the Roland Fantom. With a fresh new design, a completely re-imagined user experience and packing an awful lot of DSP power under its shell, the new Fantom firmly set its sights on bringing the workstation concept up to date based on the needs of modern professional live and studio musicians.
Roland has said from the outset that the new Fantom is a musical platform that they are developing for; with the plan to release regular updates with new features and sounds. A few months down the line from its release and this has certainly proved to be the case; we’re now seeing our third update with the latest V1.60 release, and have been given several extra banks of high-quality SuperNatural sounds, plus access to Roland Classic SRX Expansion packs via Roland Cloud.
Here we thought we’d take a quick tour through some of the new features from the last few updates to see what’s been added.
But first, to those of you who are new to the Fantom, take a look at our exclusive walkthrough from release day last year.
The Fantom brings a new approach of to the idea of a workstation; doing away with confusing modes (single sound mode, layer mode, split mode, sequencer mode etc) and bringing everything into one mode of operation; the Scene. A scene can contain anything from 1 single sound all the way up to 16 layered or split sounds, and holds an entire sequence within it, keeping everything together in one easily organised location.
Thanks to the extensive processing power, scenes can also be changed without patch drop out for seamless transitions, and for live performers, the scene chain function allows you to place up to 512 scenes in performance order for incredibly simple navigation during a performance.
So, what can Fantom users now take advantage of with the firmware updates?
Hi-res SuperNatural Sounds
The Fantom comes shipped with Roland’s powerful new Zen-Core sound engine, as well a stunning V-Piano engine for beautiful acoustic piano tones created with physical modelling. Recently the V.50 and V1.60 Fantom updates have also introduced new High-resolution SuperNatural sound banks too, which combine samples tones with instrument behavioural modelling to create incredibly realistic instrument sounds.
SuperNatural sounds have appeared in Roland products before, but thanks to the Fantom’s extensive DSP processing power they are now available in full 24bit/48KHz resolution, and when heard through the Fantom’s crystal clear digital to analogue converter chips they are truly fantastic.
Have a listen for yourself with this sound example video:
To take advantage of the SuperNatural Acoustic and Electric pianos, strings, brass and woodwind sounds, make sure you update your Fantom to V1.60 then head over to Roland Cloud to download the sound packs.
Fantom and Roland Cloud
As well as the SuperNatural expansions, there are a number of excellent expansion packs for the Fantom which are available from Roland Cloud. Based on the classic SRX cards, there are 16 banks of EXZ sound expansions covering everything from pianos to orchestral sounds, electronic sounds and drums. The Fantom has space for 16 virtual expansions, keep your eye on Roland Cloud for future releases of more sounds.
Tone and Scene Export/Import
Fantom users are now able to export and share tones and scenes with other users around the world, there is even a dedicated Facebook page called ‘Patchland’ where users are sharing their content.
Connect a microphone to your Fantom and take advantage of this excellent 32-band Vocoder, a must for any gigging musician!
Pattern play via performance pads
One of the biggest changes on the Fantom from previous models was the introduction of a pattern-based sequencer. Users can create loops across all the instruments in scenes, the group, trigger and sequence them in order to create a song. After updating you can now trigger these patterns using the Fantom’s performance pads, for quick access while playing and freeing up the screen for other content.
These are just some of the great new features added to the Fantom, and we’re sure many more will come in the future!