Roland’s flagship synthesizer gets a boost via the new FANTOM EX upgrade which adds ACB modelling, a new V-Piano and ZEN-Core model expansions.
It must be the season for updating flagship synthesizers. Hot on the heels of the Yamaha Montage M, Hamamatsu-neighbour Roland has unleashed an upgrade for the FANTOM. Rather than opt for a completely new machine, Roland’s ever-evolving powerhouse gets its boost from a simple firmware upgrade. What does it offer and is it worth the $199 price?
The headline feature in this update has to be the addition of ACB Modelling. This is the same modelling engine used in the SYSTEM-8, some of the Boutique units and Roland’s Legendary synth plugins in the Roland Cloud. ACB has many fans, myself included. When Roland brought out ABM Modelling, it was often considered sonically inferior to ACB. So to now have ACB in the FANTOM is going to please a lot of people. The EX upgrade ships with two ACB Expansions in the shape of the Jupiter-8 and SH-101.
Whilst the Jupiter-8 is an obvious choice, I would have preferred either a JUNO or Jupiter 4 expansion. But that’s just me. Roland doesn’t say if more models can be stored over and above the two supplied here. Maybe you pick two and swap them in and out as necessary? Time will tell.
Concert-class Acoustic Pianos
In addition to FANTOM’s existing V-Piano, there are two additional ‘Joanna’s’ provided in the EX upgrade. Flying in from the flagship RD-2000 is the German Concert V-Piano. This ZEN-Core-powered piano is said to be rich, powerful and detailed. The SuperNATURAL Acoustic Piano 3 Expansion provides 15 distinctive sounds covering a wide range of styles.
JD-800 and n/zyme Model Expansions
The FANTOM’s ZEN-Core engine gets even more love from two new expansion titles. Roland’s classic JD-800 comes with all the original’s waveforms so you can recreate that digital behemoth in a modern environment. Previously available as a separate purchase, n/zyme is designed specifically for FANTOM and is included in the EX Upgrade package. It’s a highly interactive synth that uses wavetable oscillator layers with phase and shape modulation and resonant filters.
Effects and Workflow
FANTOM users will experience an enhanced workflow as well as getting two new reverb algorithms; Shimmer and Modulation. The Master FX gets new templates and Mastering Comp and EQ sections get a user interface polish. The DAW control feature has been expanded to include profiles for Cubase and Studio One.
Roland’s FANTOM EX Upgrade is available to buy from Roland Cloud and will cost $199 USD.
- Roland Fantom EX RCM: Roland
- Roland Fantom EX Jupiter-8: Roland
- Roland Fantom EX SH-101: Roland
- Roland Fantom EX JD800: Roland