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 just purchased a UA-1000 in the hope that I could make it work under Linux. There is some support for this box out there in the current alsa driver stack, but not a lot. At the moment I'm working on trying to make the UA-1000 not crash the system outright. :/
Would it be possible for Edirol to provide any detailed technical information/driver source code on the UA-1000 to me or to members of the linux usb development team?
Unfortunately, we do not release such data to the public.
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.
To: Edirol FAQ System
Subject: Re: FAQ Submittal: I just purchased a UA-1000 in
Sent: Sat, 25 Jun 2005 18:27:43 -0700
did not reach the following recipient(s):
FAQ@EDIROL.COM on Sat, 25 Jun 2005 18:27:59 -0700
The recipient name is not recognized
The MTS-ID of the original message is: c=us;a= ;p=edirol north
MSEXCH:IMS:Edirol North America:Bellingham:TERSVR 0 (000C05A6) Unknown
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:
The edirol ua-1000 I bought on my last order is not working out for me. It induces terrible hum throughout my system, and worse, doesn't seem to work at all.
I'd like to return it, and get either a refund or (if you sell RME) an RME based cardbus/multiface system.
I'm sorry to hear that you are having problems with your UA-1000. Problems with hum are usually something that can be easily fixed if you want to call Edirol's tech support team at (800) 369-6191.
If they determine that the unit that you have is defective, they will replace it with a new unit. [editorial note: the unit MAY be defective - but the core problem is that it doesn't WORK with any of my 3 computers and OSes]
If you would still prefer to return it, we usually do not accept returns. However, we can set up a special RA number for you, but we would need to charge a restocking fee of $97.30 to recover our costs of returning the UA-1000 to Edirol (they charge a restocking fee for all returns). You could then use the remaining credit to purchase another sound card. Although we don't have RME listed on our site, if you want to let us know which sound card you wanted, we can give you a price on it.
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)
I would prefer to return it, so please supply an RA number. It just isn't going to work for my system. I have no problem with the restocking fee, I understand how it is with your margins. I will ship out the box ASAP.
The RME product that looks like it is nicely electrically isolated from the system is the RME HDSP CARDBUS, with the
RME HDSP multiface
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.