Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, June 25, 2005

  Goodbye, Edirol and Roland - Part 1

My first ever electric piano was a Roland FP-8 - simply the best feeling, best sounding epiano I've ever had. I know I'm biased - it was my first baby - but I'm not alone in loving that particular e-piano - the mighty miss honey has 3 of them that she rotates between the shop and gigs...

I sold it once, and bought it back - Over the course of 17 years I had it rebuilt twice - and by the time it was down to one channel functioning and a couple worn out keys I had it on near permanent loan to a band named /dev/noise -

Po lil' FP-8 was getting on. When the right channel started emitting noise I couldn't find a new sound board for it... so I kept limping on on one channel, and every gig, something new would break. So, after one last last minute repair I ended up getting a Roland XV-88, and selling the FP-8 to someone that was willing to take care of it.

I've been trying to convince myself ever since that that was a good idea, without success... and it's now been three years of playing this XV-88 that I don't like! It's feel is nowhere near as good, and most of its piano sounds don't have the same kind of presence that the FP-8 seemed to have had - the '8 had just two classic sounds, where the XV-88 in contrast has thousands - this is a case of quantity overcoming quality. Sure, some of the sounds are fun to play, but I love a good piano sound more than anything else. I have 25+ piano sounds I don't like on the XV-88, rather than 2 I liked on the FP-8.

I've thought of getting an add-on sound card in the hope that somebody had put the time required into it to get a good sound, but I've mostly been thinking I'd go the sampling route on the main workstation, so as to completely eliminate the analog stage. Or: The latest breed of electronic pianos have usb (rather than midi) out as well as spdif digital outputs - so I could upgrade pianos...

...Or... better... get a real honest to god piano - ditch all this computer crap and revel in the analog world! I swore once that I'd get a grand before I was 40 - I spent a lovely lunch last week playing real pianos, everything from yamahas to chin youngs.

I stomped out of the store with new resolve - before I'm 50 I'll have a 6' 10" piano - even if I have to live in a trailer to afford one... I almost resolved to rent a stand up upright, just because that day I had loved the physical aspect of pounding those keys and hearing harmonics that only a real piano can deliver... but I digress.

Because of my early infatuation with Roland, I ended up going whole-hog on everything they make - a pair of 500 w roland amps; an edirol midi box....

Based on my "brand-damaged" instincts, and definately not enough market research, and in a weak moment last payday - I saw a google ad and I bought a UA-1000 - a 10 channel audio/midi box - to replace my long ago stolen digital mini-studio and my long malfunctioning motu 24 track - in the hope that maybe I could finish my long delayed record....

Because - Because! Linux's audio software has almost got to the point where it's usable. Rosegarden actually has a better sound bank control for the XV-88 than Sonar did. And (unlike sonar) - it hasn't crashed once during ordinary operation, particularly not during the most important part - the live recording. Sonar would crash regularly and always at the worst time.

Not that Rosegarden's easy to get running in the first place - you have to compile kernels, apply patches for realtime support, get alsa and jack and your drivers all playing together - and then, bang - everything works, well - until the day your yum installs a new kernel and all the rigamarole has to start again.

Now: the UA-1000 just plain doesn't work. It doesn't work under Linux, XP64, or the (admittedly in need of a complete reinstall) XPSP2 box. The worst part, is that even when not running it introduces a hum into the entire system. The manuals suck (not as bad as the XV-88's manuals did), but not only that I just got a message from edirol that said "no, we're not listening", and "yes, we don't care".



I sent off a scathing reply... saying that I wasn't a member of the public, that I was a linux developer, that I worked for a shop that developed linux software, that I was a blogger - a member of long standing in the community, that I had loved roland and editrol gear even though it didn't love me back...

Naturally, my email bounced.

I said fuck it, I put in for an RMA. I'm writing off Roland and Edirol.

I plan to order a RME multiface board instead. They are well supported, under XP/Mac and Linux. They cost a bit more... but they sound worth it - with a well documented interface and good reliability.

IF I can get an RMA from the vendor I got the UA-1000 from - seems they don't take returns.... there has gotta be a law about this...
To lightly paraphrase "golden slumbers" -

"all the music I had meant to make/has turned to hate."


On June 24th I wrote:



From MusicSoftwareSuperStore.com:

That was June 26th. June 27th I wrote (and incidentally I included the two urls of the "competitor" kelly's music for a reason, more on that in a sec)

As to why I did those two urls? - well, as best as I can tell, either the Music Software Superstore IS Kelly's music or is geographically nearby... (stupid ecommerce reminder - always do a whois before I buy from some ad on google - and stop drinking and driving the internet with my credit card hanging out) But the telling thing was that the hardware arrived drop shipped from Kellys Music - and the two companies share a post office...

Anyway, I'd hoped to spend July 4th recording some friends, instead I'll just keep being a bastard about bad hardware.
 
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