Destination - Roland Fantom

Please see the Roland S-7x description for a background on Roland sampler history, the Roland XV-5080 description for a good description on the "road to" the Fantom, and the Roland MV-8000 page for yet another spinoff of the Roland S-7x design..

The Fantom is a new keyboard line with lots of originality. The interface is like a TV show! You really have to see it to believe it, there's never been an interface quite like it. It's efficient once you get used to it, but who cares when it looks this good.

It has keys AND drum pads. They feel great. A new rack version called the Fantom-X just contains the engine.

Roland first introduced the Fantom with no sample playback involved. The Fantom-S (meaning "Sampler") added the sample playback. The newer Fantom-X series adds memory and faster storage.

Architecture Description
Roland added sample-playback to the XV-5080 by placing the S-7x engine right on top of the XV-5080's JV-series synth engine. Although you could mix onbaord sounds with sampled sounds, the architecture was not very integrated.

The Fantom attempts to integrate sample-playback further into the JV-series synth engine, albeit with some comprimises. In contrast to the XV-5080, it more has to do with the JV engine than the Partial-based approach of the S-7x.

A Patch is still the term for the Instrument Unit in the Fantom. You have 4 Tones accessible to you. A Tone can reference a Internal or EXP Board Wave, a single Sample (mapped in the Tone), or a Multisample. The Multisample is a user-defined keymap which references WAVE or AIFF files loaded into the Fantom's memory. A Sample includes looping parameters, Root Key, and loop modes. A Sample can be stereo or mono.

The Fantoms also carry over the Performance concept of the S-7x - a Performance simply allows layering multiple Patches. But even better is the Rhythm Kit, first provided on the XV-5080 (only four of them, though). There are 16 of them allowed at one time on the Fantom, and they greatly increase the programming and layout ability over Patches, albeit with a couple tradeoffs.

Each Tone supplies a set of parameters, including velocity range, tuning, panning, envelopes. The programming drawback, alluded to earlier, is that the tuning and velocity ranges are not in the Multisample information, they are in the Tones, so in a single Patch you can only have four Velocity Ranges and they are "keyboard wide," Same with tuning. The Roland S-7x and XV schemes enabled different tunings and envelopes/filters/etc. for each key (in the "Partials"), but the Fantom has done away with this concept, probably due to the desire for simplicity. The only real way to tune a sample is within the sample file (WAVE or AIFF) itself. The Patches and Performances provide tuning parameters, but with Multisamples they behave more like transposition functions.

A Patch, Performance, and Rhythm Kit can also reference individual samples within it's Tones, but of course that somewhat eliminates the ability to lay samples across the keyboard in individual ranges.

Roland supplies an editor that works with the USB port, and it's great, but like everything else on this planet, skips the sample and mapping editing.

File Format
The Fantom Series and -X has no SCSI interface, but uses SmartMedia cards (up to 128mb) to access and store information. The Fantom-X can use CompactFlash (the Ultra type too), which speeds up loading by 2-4x and provides greater capacity. Samples have to be loaded and disappear when you turn the power off. There is a feature called AutoLoad which loads in all the samples on the card when you turn the power on.

The Fantom uses a file on the card called fans.svd as the repository for the sounds you access in the CARD category. It behaves like memory, conveniently. When you select a Patch that exists on the card, it internally loads it when it is accessed, but it does it so fast that it is really memory as far as function is concerned. The fans.svd file can contain up to 64 Performances, 256 Patches, 16 Rhythm Kits, and 128 Multisamples.

Past that, there is no saving of your own sounds.

Samples can be edited onboard, and can be WAVE or AIFF. The Fantom can access 512mb of memory (wow!). Such is life when your memory is bigger than your storage capacity!

Creating and editing a Multisample is practically non-existent. (Translator can be helpful for this.)

Native Translation Comments
The Fantom can import AIFF and WAVE files. Chicken Systems also offers the free Fantom Convertor, which offers Akai and Roland conversions based on Translator technology.

Basic Translation Instructions
Perhaps the most convenient way to load patch-samples into the Fantom is by:

  1. Saving your sounds to a memory card
  2. Using the Load/Save Fantom button, and selecting Load All Samples
  3. Playing the Performances/Patches/Rhythm Kits

If Translator saved every Instrument to a seperate fans.svd file, it would be quite confusing. instead, Translator tries as much as possible to convert sources in a "bank" sort of way. For isntance, if you have 20 .exs files in a folder, Translator will create one fans.svd file structure and put all the .exs conversions and their samples in there.

Not only that, the Fantom folder structure, described above, is also quite redundant. So Translator displays the folders that contain the Fantom files as the fans.svd itself plus that samples as a Bank-type of unit. This makes locating them easy.

You can also convert INTO a "Fantom Bank" (the fans.svd file) by just dragging the source on top of it (the drag method), from the right to the left. This automatically adds to the fans.svd file and the samples.

The Fantom has wonderful features like the onboard drum pads, the appegiator that butters your toast, and the TV show interface make the Fantom a keyboard you want to take to your desert island.

Roland Fantom Translation Status

These translations are currently at Level Three, which means the tuning, loops, and mapping is all in place, and most additional parameters are implemented.
Currently supported source formats
Akai MPC Series
Akai S-5000/Z Series
Emu E4/EOS
Emu E3/ESi
Ensoniq EPS/ASR
MOTU MachFive
NI Battery
NI Kontakt
Propellerheads Reason
Propellerheads Recycle
Roland S-7x
Roland S-5x/330/W30
SampleCell I & II (PC/Mac)
Cakewalk SFZ
Steinberg HALion
Unity DS-1/Session
NI Reaktor
Steinberg LM-4
Source Formats in Development
Emu Emax
Yamaha A-Series
Ensoniq ASR-X
DLS (Downloadable Sounds)
Yamaha Motif
Yamaha EX-Series
Korg Triton
Roland MV-8000
Seer Systems Reality
Speedsoft VSampler
Peavey DP-Series
NED Synclavier