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Life after the VA7

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Life after the VA7 #5533
After 15 years of constant use my VA7 is showing signs of wear and I need to consider its replacement. I’ve read up on the E-A7 and the BK series (currently selling) but can’t find how I would arrange a song and save it as a midi file. The closest I’ve come up with is the G70, but there is nothing available (in Melbourne, Australia) new, or second hand.

I create sound tracks for ballroom dancing, by firstly recording the ‘skeleton’ tracks (rhythm, bass and accompaniment) on midi in the VA7, then progressively add melody, counter melody and other embellishments, all within the keyboard. This then is recorded on my computer.

I can’t see any comparable feature on Roland’s latest models.

Do I now need to purchase additional software and create a midi file using the computer instead of the VA7.

I would be most grateful for any chat members to offer suggestions – both on the model keyboard to purchase and any software, if that is required. I use the Microsoft Surface computer.

P.S. This is my first post. Many thanks for the comprehensive and informative site.
3 months 1 week ago

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Life after the VA7 #5534
Cliff, the E-A7 does not have an onboard midi sequencer... so you cannot save your performance as a SMF. But you can record your performance as a wav recording, including the source into the E-A7 (input).

The BK9 , has a 16 track sequencer, and can capture your performance as MIDI and save as a SMF.
You can also select to record as a wav file.

The G70 records midi the best (easiest), and saves as SMF. It has a 16 track sequencer, but no audio record capabilities, without an external recorder.

The other BK's 3, 5, 7m will not record the midi internally. You would need to use an external sequencer.
3 months 1 week ago

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Life after the VA7 #5539
TBH, the lack of a sequencer is not the issue it used to be, IMHO, unless you are trying to record live performances or don't have access to a computer where your arranger is located. Inexpensive (even free!) DAW software is the norm, and a BK or EA7 will connect to a computer/laptop/tablet with no more than a standard USB cable for bidirectional communication (so no need for a MIDI interface, etc.). Driver installation is generally simple, setup pretty easy.

About the only real advantage to onboard sequencers is the initial 'capture' of the full arranger stream (I find the timing is more tick accurate with onboards, but it is next to impossible to actually hear), but once captured, I wouldn't touch any sequencer with a bargepole that you had to work with the data through a tiny LCD screen! Way too 80's for me!

A large laptop screen or computer monitor makes editing a snap, far more intuitive, and far more detailed and powerful. Not to mention that, once you have honed and perfected the sequence, you can record audio as well with all the tools for overdubbing and editing that a DAW gives you.

While most of the BK's and the EA7 don't have full sequencers, they DO have sequence players and the amazing Makeup Tools header editors. Unless you actually need to record new Parts, or correct notes, 90% of what most of us actually NEED is an easy way to change the sounds effects, balance or dynamics of an already recorded SMF. Makeup Tools does this in more detail and easier than any other system.

But if making SMF's from scratch using the arranger's style as a starting point, a computer or tablet DAW is by far the easiest way to go, nowadays.
3 months 1 week ago
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5545
Thank you, Fran, for the information. From your and Diki's comments I will give up the idea of an on-board midi sequencer and pursue the computer DAW option. Your comments are most appreciated.
3 months 1 week ago

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Life after the VA7 #5546
Thank you, Diki, for your contribution. Point well made! Consequently, I will purchase a new Roland Keyboard.

There's nothing to be gained by scouring the second hand market for a BK9 or G70 just to keep alive an outdated mode of operation!

You have been most helpful.
3 months 1 week ago

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Life after the VA7 #5549
I wouldn't recommend not bothering with a search for a used BK-9. This is by no means an 'outmoded' means of operation! If by that you mean a discontinued product, yes, it is discontinued. But it is still the most advanced Roland arranger currently available in many, many ways.

Coming from the VA7, I'd say that the BK-9 is the most practical successor to your TOTL VA7

However, if you mean that it has a full onboard sequencer makes it outmoded, that's a bit 50/50. Like I said, I don't really recommend using it for ALL your sequencing needs, when DAW's make it so much easier. But, as I alluded to, it's a LOT easier to do the initial 'capture' of the full arranger style output to the Recorder (you don't use the full 16 track sequencer to 'capture' the full style output, that's done by the 'Recorder' without any need to set up tracks, channels, etc. - in fact, in the main 16-Track sequencer, you can't record more than one track at a time), and because the MIDI data is all internal (no interface of any kind, either MIDI or USB) I find I get a tiny, tiny bit better tick accuracy. Things that are supposed to be recorded on 1.1.001 don't end up on 1.1.002, for instance (even though that's inaudible, it's sometimes a pain for doing copy/paste or region moving etc.). Plus you get better recording of sys-ex messages which control a lot of things like EQ, MFX etc..

Not to mention, should you get a great idea while noodling on the arranger, the onboard Recorder means you don't have to pull out your laptop or connect to your computer to quickly record it, and you can transfer to the computer later to fine polish it.

Currently, Roland do not make an arranger that looks like it is going to get an OS refresh (the E-A7's last one was about a year or so ago, which has generally meant that's about it for this model) so getting a BK-5 or E-A7 to somehow 'future-proof' yourself seems futile. I will be utterly astounded if Roland release any new OS upgrades to their current lineup.

So, at this point, take a look at ALL latest generation Roland arrangers (if determined to stay with Roland) whether new or used... Obviously, I'm a bit biased, but having gone through most Roland TOTL arrangers, I would think that someone coming from an earlier TOTL Roland like the VA7 would end up a bit disappointed in any of their current MOTL/BOTL offerings. The BK-9 offers TOTL performance, with a TOTL quality keybed (the BK-5 and E-A7 actions I find quite cheap feeling and spongy compared to Roland's earlier TOTL/MOTL offerings) at a price pretty comparable used to a new E-A7.

Not to mention stuff missing from the E-A7 like the Hammond sim, the SN sounds (they are amazing!), the Chord Sequencer, the Audio Loops, the greater number of MFX (2KBD, 3Song/Style) and the high quality Mic in...

But sequencer or no sequencer shouldn't really make your decision one way or the other. Lots of other considerations.
3 months 6 days ago Last edit: 3 months 6 days ago by Diki.
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5550
BTW, if you haven't taken a look at it, for the purpose you stated in the OP Band In a Box might work quite well for you, particularly with the audio loop thing it does. If you don't need realtime arranger stuff and can simply type in the chords and where you need fills and Variations, etc., it does an amazing job.

If you haven't paid BIAB much attention in the last decade or so, it is a very different sounding software since it added loops of real drums, real guitarists, real basslines etc., and has always been a good contender for doing ballrooms and jazz (its original main thing).

Create your tracks with that, save as audio, play in a BK arranger (so you can play something on top if that's what you do), best of all possible worlds!
3 months 6 days ago
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5553
Many thank to Fran and Diki.

To summarise, I’m hearing the natural progression from the VA7, would ideally be a BK9 (sourced second hand). Should one not be available, then opt for a EA7. In addition, I need to move into the world of the DAW to maximize the SMF editing capability, irrespective of which keyboard.
3 months 6 days ago

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Life after the VA7 #5554
Pretty much, unless that 100 song limit in the Perf. List will be an issue. Mind you, you had what, a 128 UPG limit in the VA7? So probably something you already had to work around...

But once you get used to 999 available at a time, a lot of possibilities open up... My List isn't much past 400 songs or so (I don't do ballroom or jazz standards much, more pop and rock, reggae and beach music etc.) but I tend to often use more than one Performance (UPG) per song, to allow me to do complete setup changes mid-song (changing the Performance doesn't change the SMF/MP3 playing, and will only change the style if you set it up that way), which would take multiple button presses to do old school style.

I still cannot fathom why Roland chose to limit the feature on the latest arranger when it worked PERFECTLY on the previous models (in fact, why not increase it..?!). Sometimes you just have to shake your head and facepalm :huh:
3 months 6 days ago
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5555
You have rightly guessed! I have been limited to 128 UPGs. It’s a bit of a squeeze. That said, most of the ballroom these days in Australia is New Vogue which doesn’t call for a lot of artistic interpretation on the musician’s part. Their biggest challenge is the rigid structure of the dance score: 4 bars intro, strict tempo, 16, 24 or 32 bars sequences with drum breaks and sending musical messages to the dances when you’re about to finish.
3 months 6 days ago

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Life after the VA7 #5556
Thanks for the comments regarding ‘Band in a Box’. No, I haven’t followed its evolution in recent years. I’ve pretty much only concentrated on the VA7 to make all my music happen.

However, you have just offered the perfect solution to a colleague of mine for whom I do backing tracks. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?

This has renewed my interest in collaborative problem solving. I usually avoid ‘chat’ sites because they are mostly dominated by ‘extremists’ flogging their narrow view points, sometimes in a vulgar way. (Example: There’s my narrow view point on chat sites!)

This site is so refreshingly different. All credit to the moderators.
3 months 6 days ago
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Life after the VA7 #5558
I think part of our success in keeping things tidy here is that it isn't an arranger site for multiple brands, so a lot of the 'My brand is best, your brand is crap!' stuff is simply moot.

Sadly, with Roland largely stepping away from the arranger field, very little new product, no real BOTL/MOTL/TOTL structure any more, the membership has dwindled to just a handful compared to our heyday at the launch of the G70 (in fact, the site was originally the G70 Users Forum before we expanded). In fact, with Roland not releasing a single arranger short of toy cheap ones that users rarely bother forums about since Sept 2015 (yes, the E-A7 was announced that long ago, and it is STILL Roland's latest!) there really isn't that much to talk about!

But for those of us that still prefer the Roland 'sound', I am glad we are still around. We very nearly closed shop about a year ago, and only a change of heart from Søren, our Admin and owner saved the day. But if you need Roland arranger help and advice, there isn't a better English language resource, AFAIK..!
3 months 5 days ago
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5562
Would the value of a second hand BK9 equate to the price of a new EA7.

I have soured a second hand BK9 in Perth - 3,500 kms the other side of the country. He will match the price of a new EA7, that's $1,435 Australian dollars. I'm deciding whether I should purchase it (sight unseen) and have it freighted to Melbourne.

www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/girrawheen/keybo...-keyboard/1209830057
3 months 5 days ago

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Life after the VA7 #5565
Over here in the States, used BK-9's seem to be going for about the price of a new E-A7. If you trust the seller as to condition, seems a fair deal. About the only wear issue I'm coming across is that the pitch lever system, if heavily used (like I do!) can often end up a bit 'jumpy' close to the zero point. But a brand new levers are still available for about $40 here in the US, so probably equivalent over there.

The good news about shipping across the continent is that the BK-9 only weighs 20lbs, so shipping shouldn't be exorbitant!

I have one caveat to the BK9 over the E-A7... If you are Asian, or expect to perform for a lot of ethnic audiences (Asian, Indian, SE Asia etc.) the E-A7 is set up far better for niche music markets, not only with a ton of ethnic styles and Tones, but easily accessible controls for non-Western tunings too. But other than that, sadly because of the lack of content for the multipads and sampler, I can't really recommend the newer Roland over the older one despite those new features...
3 months 3 days ago
BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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Life after the VA7 #5566
Once again, Diki, you have been most helpful.

No, I only play western music, and then not all genres. Other ethnic styles are a bit lost on me!

I have a brother-in-law who plays keyboard and lives only 40 minutes from the seller. I could lean on him to check it out.

So, I think we may be winning!

Thanks, again
3 months 1 day ago

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