Long Long Post - I'm new to the board SoCo but one of the reasons I joined was to ask a very similar question about my 2 year old Roland XV-88. The manual is SO bad at explaining things in an understandable way that I have thrown it down in disgust more than once.
For instance they suggest ways to create what they term 'performances'. The concept was easy enough to understand but whenever I would perform the steps and create my masterpiece performance it would revert to its original form whenever I chose another performance and switched back to the modified one.
I did this about 15 times wondering what was up. Well it turns out the answer to the dilemma was buried in much later chapters under 'how to save sounds'. So instead of describing the steps required to 'change' the sounds and then including the final step of actually SAVING the sound so it could be used, they chose to include that tid-bit 50 pages and 5 chapters deeper in the manual. This is just one of MANY examples as I am sure you have discovered.
So I am making two points, well actually one with an agreement upon the post about learning the terminology. If you don't know what a 'performance' or a 'patch' or a 'tone' is, you're done. You do need to understand what Roland considers those terms to mean or you CANNOT understand the manual that uses those terms no matter how clearly they (and trust me, I know they don't) organize the information.
The other point is that the information you are looking for MIGHT be in the manual. You just have to look very hard and don't expect it to be where you would expect it to be or in the order where it can be used intuitively.
After two years I am FINALLY able to begin to use some of the amazing features of this board and I think if you don't give up and dedicate some serious time to learning ROLAND’S system you will be rewarded with some really cool sounds and effects you thought were only possible by someone else's hand. BUT... I can hear you screaming, "Why can't they just make it simpler?" (Oh wait, that was me screaming - sorry).
I don’t know - but they can’t. They cannot and never will be able to make the complex systems within today’s synthesizers easy to operate. My suspicion is it has to do with the engineers who design the internal workings of the systems (apologies to ALL engineers) being allowed to also design the interface that is used to operate those systems but I could be wrong.
Others will know more than me on this issue but I also believe that EVERY manufacturer faces the same dilemma though some will find Yamaha super simple and some will even wonder what you could possibly find difficult about Roland’s system. They all seem to be based in the very arcane world of computer programming and system analysis. All you have to do is see an ‘exit’ button or ‘shift’ button to know those things have leaked over from computers.
And they ALL do it. I was on the Kawai web-site the other day exploring some new models and they had a Tech Talk page and I checked out a couple of common questions. I began to read and it was an amazing adventure into the mysteries of modern technologies.
(This is NOT made up)
Go to their web-site http://www.kawaius.com/
and click ‘tech talk’
Then click on this question
“How do I create a multi patch or sequence using my K-4 synth?”
The dissertation begins
“SEQUENCING with the K-4 series”
Before you can begin to do any sequencing with the K-4 series instruments, you must first create a Multi patch configured for multi-timbral operation. A Multi patch is nothing more than a collection of up to 8 Single sounds, and what you do with them is up to you. You can layer them all on top of one another, or split them eight ways across the keyboard, but that is not what you want to do for sequencing. You want to set each of the eight Sections on a separate MIDI channel so that they can respond independently to the incoming MIDI messages from your sequencer. Here's how it's done.
Preliminary SYSTEM settings:
1. Push "WRITE" 5 times
2. Push "- NO" to set "INT PROTECT = OFF".
3. Push "SYSTEM"
4. Use "- NO" or "+ YES" to set "SYSTEM/MIDI = RCV"
5. Push "SYSTEM" again, then set "RCV CH = 1" using the "- NO" button.
6. Push "SYSTEM" again, then set "OMNI = OFF" using the "- NO" button.
7. Push "SYSTEM" again, then set "RCV PRG = SECT" using the "+ YES" button.
8. Push "MULTI" to exit the SYSTEM mode and begin editing.
.......and it goes on and on and on and on - for no less than three screens worth of information. At the end of what looks like the details for programming Windows XP they have the nerve to say, “That’s it!!! Now you have a working Multi patch that can be used for any sequencing task you can dream up, so go ahead and dream.”
No one can seem to have a button that says, “Do you want to play more then one sound?” OK which ones? Done. Again Roland might be the worst but I think they are all guilty of the same thing. And after reading this FAQ I will not even consider a Kawai digital after the pain of learning Roland’s system.
Anyway I am pretty passionate about this and didn’t mean to write this much but if you DO come across ‘Roland for Dummies’ or some other such book that can make this stuff simpler please let us all know. And as mentioned above, if you have a specific question that I/we can answer don’t hesitate to ask it. Whew.