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User Review

Too good to let go - Reviews Roland A-80

Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Advanced Users
So, I have had an A-80, purchased new, since the 1990s and it never failed me. After buying a backup unit used in 2014, my original finally had its only failure to date -- a single key contact went "dead". My repair technician quickly had it fixed up, for only his base shop fee, and even returned to me, in a little ziploc bag, the piece of debris that had caused the fault.

So: ultra-reliable.

Also, packed with features. Last month an outdoor concert performance in 100 degree heat and direct sunlight caused my backup unit to apparently "burn out" on stage (fortunately, after the very last song of the set). Well, no, it did not burn out; it self-protected. There is, apparently, an undocumented thermal overload protection feature at least in the MIDI transmit-receive circuit. The next day, the factory reset key combination brought the A-80 fully back to life! Aside: don't ever play in direct sunlight; my stupidity; the surface of the A-80's console was so hot that I could not touch it without pain.

The button-press sequences take a few days to become "muscle memory"; but once you have them, they are very quick and provide nice general control of any MIDI-compliant device. The MIDI implementation is very complete.

I don't mind the four-slider restriction because you can assign the sliders to MIDI channels. I use a few of the keyboard's patches to cover 16 MIDI channels. Patch changes are fast and simple. By the way, the sliders are way nicer on stage than rotary controls; you can see where they are set, and tweak them by touch alone.

I originally used my A-80 with some Roland rack modules: P330 piano and U-220 sample player. Nowadays, this keyboard controls a Yamaha Rack Motif unit, a Nord Lead 4 Rack unit, and an INTEGRA-7. The beauty of a pure controller like this is that you get to update your sounds without losing your relationship (and muscle memory) with the keyboard itself.

This keyboard is way too good for me to bid it farewell any time soon.

It is on the heavy side, so you should consider getting a flight case to protect it; that extra weight of the case is worth it so that you don't have to be "careful" with a heavy object.

Rock on, A-80 players!

Gregory B.