Stage pianos seem to be making a bit of a comeback lately. There’s something about having everything you need in a single keyboard when you’re on stage, rather than having to carry controllers, modules, synths and a laptop. But a full-on piano can be a bit over the top for many of us without the luxury of roadies. So Roland suggest we try the new V-Combo VR-730 and VR-09-B that probably has most of the sounds you’d need while being lightweight, portable and actually look a little bit cool.
V-Combo VR-730 and VR-09-B
The VR-730 comes with a 73 note “waterfall” keyboard (you’d probably call it “semi-weighted” in normal language). The VR-09-B has a more synth feel with its 61 notes. They are designed to be easy to carry, weighing in at under 10kgs for the VR-730 and 5.5kgs for the VR-09. Both can run on batteries. The wooden cheeks of the VR-730 do set it apart from the VR-09 and gives it the edge in attractiveness. But check out those knobs and buttons, this is a keyboard that’s screaming with vintage style. The only thing which ruins the effect slightly is the screen – I like the image of the guy carrying the VR-09 precisely because his arm is masking it.
Both feature a wide selection of sounds from Roland’s library of organ, piano and synthesizer instruments. Their latest tone wheel organ engine emulates the nature of real tone wheel organs and you have a bunch of sliders to act as harmonic bars right at your finger tips. It’s stuffed full of classic electric piano sounds as well as acoustic grands derived from the RD-2000 stage piano. The synthesizer side is achieved with Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine and features a wide range of vintage and modern synth sounds. It’s all finished off with a bunch of effects with hands-on control that can run up to 7 at once.
You can then spill the guts out into an iPad app where you can tweak the sound engines and edit on a nice big screen. It has the added advantage of letting you download additional sounds from Roland’s Axial website.
After initially not paying them a whole lot of attention I must say that these are perfectly judged keyboards. I know a ton of people who would immediately benefit from such well put together and portable performance keyboard. I think it looks great, the sounds will do the job and it’s ideal for the gigging keyboard player.