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#663404 - 06/06/03 07:32 PM Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
SoCoPiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/31/02
Posts: 5
Loc: Sonoma County, California
I bought a Roland RD-700 and the manual is useless. I particularly feel sorry for someone who buys ANY of these digital pianos/synthesizers who don't have a musical background.

Does anyone know of a publishing company -- or specific books -- where I could learn more about my piano and how to learn all the various parts of it? I'm slowly making my way through the manual, and I'm enjoying the process...

"enjoying" isn't quite the right word...

but anyhow, it would be such a pleasure to find a book that explained, in plain language, the various functions, how best to use them, etc etc etc. I *thought* that such books would exist but haven't been able to locate any.

Any ideas/help would be deeply appreciated!

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#663405 - 06/06/03 09:19 PM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Sonoma County? I'm jealous!!!

It's a little difficult to know how to help you. If your questions are specifically related to the RD700, then the manual and the Roland web site should be of help. You can search under the RD-700 at the Roland Help Desk. There are a few documents that may be of interest to you:
http://support.rolandus.com/helpdesk/

But it's possible that your questions have more to do with electronic music technology in general. If that's the case, you have to realize that the RD-700 is a professional musical instrument and as a result, its manual is not written to be an educational tool. If this scenario fits you, then you might want to consider reading up on synthesizers and MIDI technology.

Of course, this is a good place to ask questions as well. If you have specific questions, by all means, let us know.

I think a nice Cakebread Merlot sounds good about now...
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#663406 - 06/07/03 06:36 PM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
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.
_________________________
Humbly Yours

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#663407 - 06/07/03 07:12 PM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Hi PianoHumbled. I empathize with your situation. These instruments are not as easy as they need to be. I do a fair amount of work within the industry as a consultant/clinician. I've also just finished a book on electronic music technology. I can't speak for Roland and I certainly don't know everything, but maybe I can shed some light on the issue:

First of all, there are some good support documents (free downloads) for the XV88 on the Roland web site:
http://www.rolandus.com/support/support_docs/index.asp?CatID=8&SubCatID=36&ProdID=XV-88

Also, I have an XV88 and would be happy to help you as I'm able should you post a question.

It's important to realize that keyboards like the RD700 or XV88 (or similar from Korg, Yamaha, etc.) are professional keyboards. Therefore, the designers have an assumption that the user has a fairly decent working knowledge of common synth terminology (patch, performance, tone, multitimbral, etc.). It's true that a lot of the terms are confusing. My parents are learning about computers for the first time in their 60's. They want to know why a floopy disk isn't "floppy"? It's the same way with synthesizers. The term "patch" for example, comes from the large, antiquated synthesizers in the 60's and 70's that used switchboard-like "patch cables" to create sounds. But a new user wouldn't know that of course -- so it just ends up being confusing. You'll find that consumer keyboards are a bit easier to use as they use slightly different terminology and automate a lot of the functions that pro's want to control manually.

Another factor is cost. A large touch screen with user-friendly software is something that the pro's say they want, but they also need the keyboard to be rugged and cheap (as most pro's need multiple keyboards). Building a keyboard like this adds cost and unfortunately doesn't generate more sales. This might infuriate you, but keyboards made today are WAY easier to use than those made ten years ago!!!

Another factor is that most of the best keyboard technology is coming from Japanese companies (Roland, Korg, Yamaha, etc.). Although the US market leads sales worldwide, ultimately the terms and navigation menus are decided by Japanese engineers (who may not think like we do).

So, bottom line: I agree with you. But I also understand the reasons behind it. I guess I resigned myself long ago to the fact that I just had to learn this stuff whether I liked it or not. The good news is that once you learn the terminology, there is little difference between keyboards or manufacturers. It doesn't take me long to get up to speed on a new keyboard.

If you haven't done so, you really should check out the Roland web site. There are a great deal of support options for you including bulletin boards.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#663408 - 06/07/03 08:50 PM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
Great post Steve and very accurate as to the current nature of the synth. I think through all of the frustration of getting to know the XV-88 it has helped me understand what a great synth it really is. And as you mentioned learning the terms has allowed me to understand other synths a whole lot better. It seems the effort IS worth it but I will remain aghast at the lack of initiative on the part of the manufacturers to simplify their manuals and operating systems. It would sell so many more instruments if they could create a genuine perception of simplicity masking the inherent complexities.

I bet as this is written someone, somewhere, is writing the 'Mac' of synth operating systems and the entire electronic music world will breath a huge sigh of relief. With the mandatory, "Why didn't I think of that?" and "It's about time." Whoa like an operating piece of software you could hook up to your computer and run ALL the functions of your keyboard from there. I bet (would hope) someone's working on it right now.

And Steve please don't take this the wrong way but the link you provided is EXACTLY the problem, as illustrated by Roland. There are a total of four documents on the download page. After the XV-88 has been out for how many years?

Two are just reprinted lists of the patches and performances, the third is a quick, 2 page, start, power switch over here, waste of internet space and the fourth actually addresses a difficult and confusing issue with synths in gneral and the XV-88 in particular. So their entire download section has ONE document that I would deem useful or supplementary to their manual and quick start guide.

An attitude comes through in their manual and their web-site and I think that is what bugs me when I pick up the manual - not the lack of organization and informaton but the 'feeling' that no one really gives a sh#t about helping out the user, just selling the items. The same 'feeling' when operating the synths. And as I illustrated with Kawai (did you read THOSE instructions) Roland is not alone.

Again VERY informative and accurate post and appreciate the effort. If I have a question concerning the XV-88 I know where to post. Thanks very much.
_________________________
Humbly Yours

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#663409 - 06/07/03 09:52 PM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
I bet as this is written someone, somewhere, is writing the 'Mac' of synth operating systems and the entire electronic music world will breath a huge sigh of relief.
That's a very interesting point. Currently the trend is moving toward soft synths (also called virtual instruments). I have three that I play frequently from my Mac. And yes, it's much more user friendly!!!

Also, I forgot to mention that Roland also has "video owners manuals" available for some of their products. I don't think the RD700 has one, but I'm pretty sure there is one for the XV88.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#663410 - 06/10/03 12:36 AM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
SteveY,

As usual I am behind the times and found this little nugget on the web. It appears there already is the software controller I was thinking about.

http://www.soundtower.com/xvedit/

Do you know anything about it?
_________________________
Humbly Yours

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#663411 - 06/10/03 08:43 AM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I haven't used it personally. I'll do some checking with some buddies to see what they know.

Are you sure you're looking for a patch editor?
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#663412 - 06/10/03 09:30 AM Re: Help! Where to find useful manuals?!
PianoHumbled Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 22
Loc: San Diego, CA
Steve,

Not looking for a patch editor per se, just a simpler interface to do things the XV is capable of without resorting to the manual for every change. Thought it would be really cool to go to an entire page with all the options for creating performances and zones etc. without having to navigate the button-land maze of the keyboard.

When I get busy I have to take a week off from playing and when I get back to the keyboard its back to the manual because there is no way I can remember some of even the simpler things and the steps to do them.

I find I also like to mess with things and it takes too much time (for me) to navigate the on-board system.

Just thought it looked cool though the biggest problem is I moved my keyboard computer so it makes its use a future endeavor.

I checked a few message boards (Harmony Central) and couldn't find any threads. Still curious.
_________________________
Humbly Yours

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