As an owner of EM2000, I was invited to attend a demo of the new VA-7. Of course I was curious to see (and hear) the differences. Compared with EM2000/G1000 most of the sounds were (again) more realistic, but honestly I must say for only that reason I do not feel the need to trade in my EM2000 (not yet!). However the VariPhrase option offers total new capabilities. It allows you to play sampled vocal phrases in any key and at any tempo, as single notes or harmonies. Very impressive! Also the human interface is definitively easier to use, due to the touch screen. But still it looks not as straightforward as e.g. the PSR9000. For any one who is interested I made an excerpt from the Roland brochure with some highlights of the new instrument.

Sampled audio phrases are synchronized automatically to the VA-7’s tempo and played back at any pitch in pristine audio quality. Dedicated Reverb and Chorus effects for the VariPhrase processor. You can use the factory VariPhrases, sample your own material, or import phrases created on Roland’s VP-9000 as well as WAV files (from 100MB Zip-disks). Automatic linking of 3 factory VariPhrases to each Music Style. Microphone input with separate Reverb and Chorus effects (shared with the VariPhrase function).

3,649 GM2/GS compatible Tones recorded in world-class studios to capture their natural ambience. 116 Drum Kits, including new stereo-sampled “V” drum sounds with natural ambience and sympathetic resonance of neighboring drum instruments (like on a real drum kit]. Chorus, Reverb, Delay, and multi-effects processor (M-FX with 89 algorithms) plus two-band EQ. (Separate Chorus and Reverb for the VariPhrase function/audio input). Super Tones function for instant access to the finest 5 x 8 Tones (Factory set) plus 5 additional memories for your own favorite Tones (User set). Automatic linking of 4 x 2 Tones to the internal Music Styles and the Disk Link Styles (“One Touch programs”). These factory assignments can be customized. Intuitive Tone selection via the display or the BANK/NUMBER section (or both). The “Preferred Tone” (the Tone that is actually recalled when you enter a given
address) is customizable for all 128 main Tone addresses.

Accompaniments (Music Styles)
128 internal Music Styles and over 580 additional Music Styles on the supplied Zip-disk. Further 64 Disk Link memories for instant recall of Styles on Zip. Guitar and drum parts of all internal Music Styles recorded by real guitarists and drummers for an even more natural feel. Style Morphing for on-the-fly creation of completely new accompaniments based on two existing Music Styles (internal and Zip). lntro, Ending, Fill-ln, Variation, Original patterns x 3 (major/minor/seventh). 4 possible Variation and Original patterns via the Orchestrator function. You can load EM2000/G1000 Music styles (backward compatibilty). Creation of own Music Styles using the Style Converter and User Style Composer functions, or by assigning other Tones to existing Styles and changing their volume balance.

Song composer
Standard MIDI File player/recorder with Minus-One function for using pre-recorded songs as accompaniments for live performances. 16-track sequencer with extensive editing functions. Song selection can be included in the User Program settings (with automatic Ioading if the required disk has been inserted). Song Chain function allows to program “playlďsts”. Lyrics data contained in Standard MIDI Files are displayed on-screen.

(Human) interfaces and others
61 note keyboard with velocity sensitivity and Channel Aftertouch (same keyboard as EM2000). Completely new front-panel design with sturdy, lit buttons. Buttons shared by various functions (Music Style/Tone/User Program section) light in different colors (green/red/orange) for easy identification. User-friendly interface: you are welcomed by the Virtual Band that helps you set up your instrument by answering a few simple questions. The language is selectable (one out of six) and is stored. Acclaimed Style Database functions with powerful search engine and Play & Search facility for locating SMF songs by playing the tune. Maximum expression: D-Beam Controller, Ribbon controller, Aftertouch, Pitch Bend, Modulation, velocity sensitivity (with velocity switching functions), assignable foot switch and foot pedal (switch/pedal optional), and on-screen sliders. 100MB Zip-drive plus 2HD floppy disk drive for data storage, near-realtime Music Style recall, and Standard MIDI File playback. Various keyboard modes with up to 2 split points (3 zones) and 2-Tone layers to the left and right of the main split point.