Received an email today from Roland Europe with a demo of their E-X50 61 note entertainment keyboard (that`s their description). Looks very basic but sounds ok,unable to upload the demo as I haven`t a clue how to.
Loc: North Texas, USA
I downloaded the manual and reviewed it. It seems to have very little in common with earlier Rolands. It even lacks Roland's excellent "Chord Intelligence" chord recognition. Instead they are using Yamaha's simplified "nearest black note to the left" system.
I found some inconsistencies in the manual. The specifications at the back mention a Style Creator feature. But a description of the style creation process, menu parameters, etc. for doing so are absent.
One unique thing about the E-X50 (and its smaller brother the E-X30) is a good selection of "Pianist" styles, which have not been on Roland's recent upmarket arrangers. I wonder what these sound like? Some Roland style pianos like the KR-375 from about 20 years ago also had Pianist styles, but I can't find those styles on the web, so I'm not sure that they're the same.
Bottom line: A "new" entry-level keyboard bearing the Roland brand, but IMO not a real Roland at heart. I'm used to Roland's chord recognition, so its absence is a deal-breaker for me. In this price range, I would rather have a Casio CT-S500 or especially the CT-X3000 because of better chord recognition and a more complete feature set.
Hi. I took a peek into the Roland site to see and read about it. There is Style Converter software for Windows (and macOS) downloadable. HERE
Quote: "E-X Style Converter can convert MIDI file to STY file which is the style file format of Roland E-X series. Tone parameters, Chord transition rules, One Touch Setting (O.T.S.) are assignable as useful function of this software."
Maybe other Roland arranger models will read the converted files as well? That would be cool ..... 😎
Cheers 🥂 GJ _______________________________________________ "Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many you brought with you." (Wil Rose)
Among frustrated comments to this video there's an explanation that since 2014 Roland doesn't really own the arranger department. So the label that we see on this keyboard is misleading. Well, the previous Roland E-X20 was in fact a copy of Medeli keyboard, so no surprise here.
It also seems that this keyboard is aimed for specific markets, where "scale" buttons are used, and, perhaps, where is shouldn't cost too much.
On paper what I like about this keyboard is 256 voices polyphony (doesn't really make sence) and separate transpose buttons. What I don't like is that there's no buttons to mute style's parts.
In the official demo it sounds like they really tried not to use styles at all, as if they knew it wouldn't sound good:
Loc: North Texas, USA
Thank you Jonny! Nice research there! I downloaded the style converter software and installed it. The parameters are suspiciously similar to Yamaha's Style File Format (SFF), except that this software gives you direct access to some elements of the CASM which are not accessible in Yamaha's hardware arranger menus, and were previously only editable by other third-party utilities. The resulting file is saved with a .STY extension (which is what Yamaha uses.) I tried it in my BK9, and even after renaming it with an .STL suffix, it would not play. My Tyros is put away so I couldn't try it on there, but I suspect that it's a Yamaha style file with a Roland-specific "header."
This copy-catting isn't a terrible thing. Yamaha's parameter set for transposing the stored pattern was WAY more complete and mature than Roland's. For example, I had lamented the lack of a "retrigger" option on Rolands for a long while. If it's true that earlier E-X series keyboards were made by Medeli, that would affirm the use of borrowed Yamaha logic. I observed a while ago that the top of the line Medeli's also seemed to use Yamaha's style format and chord fingering.
Unfortunately nothing about this new keyboard or its style converter program provide any benefit to veteran Roland players, who are used to the Roland chord fingering and hoping for a BK-9 successor. Heck, I can't even recommend it as a good beginner keyboard. After reviewing the videos and owners manual, it apparently lacks an option for Bass Inversion, i.e., there is no way to play "slash" chords! The Yamaha PSR-E473 also lacks any control of bass inversion. That leaves the Casio CT-S500 and CT-X3000 as undisputed king in this price range!