Fantom-Derived Synth Sounds + Expressive FX = One Amazing Keytar!
Let's face it: it's tough to connect with your audience when you're stuck behind a wall of workstations. That's why the keytar was invented: to make playing keyboards look as good as it sounds. With the Roland AX-Synth Shoulder Synthesizer, the keytar is back in a big, bad way -- with a stellar internal sound engine derived from the Roland Fantom G, and a host of expression controls built right into the neck. And with six hours of battery power, you can now rock the stage unencumbered by MIDI cables or
See the AX-Synth kick out the jams with this video from Roland:
High-Quality Internal Sound Source
Roland's famous AX-1 and AX-7 keytars were MIDI controllers that produced no sound on their own. Keyboardists were required to bring racks of sound modules to make those now-discontinued instruments sing. But the AX-Synth is called a "shoulder synthesizer" for a reason: the 128-note polyphonic internal sound engine means you don't have to connect to external MIDI modules. The AX-Synth comes loaded with 264 high-quality tones designed to cut through the mix on your keyboard solos: analog-style leads, basses, polysynths, pads, synth guitars, squawking saxophones, and more. Organs, pianos, and clavs round out the selection, while Roland's four SuperNATURAL tones (Violin, Cello, Shakuhachi, Trombone) and four SPECIAL tones (Trumpet, Sax, Strings and Jazz Scat) make the most of the AX-Synth's expression controls.
Express Yourself: D-Beam, Ribbon Strip, and More
Expression controls make the AX-Synth's 264 tones come alive. Play solos with your right hand while you use your left to manipulate the touch-sensitive modulation bar on the AX-Synth's neck. Slide your finger left or right on the ribbon strip to bend pitch, or press the bar to add vibrato. Activate Bender Mode to bend a single note while leaving others unaffected. Press the portamento button to glide from pitch to pitch without clearly defined steps. Press the hold button to simulate a sustain pedal (or even plug in an optional footswitch). Wave your hand over the invisible D-Beam controller to change pitch or filter a sound's cutoff frequency to control brightness. Playing a bass part? You can shift the keyboard up to three octaves up or down in Octave Switch mode, or hold the octave + or - buttons to quickly play a few notes in a higher or lower octave before returning to the keyboard's normal pitch. And of course, you can transpose the AX-Synth to any key.
Since the whole point of a wearable keyboard is to sound good and
look good, you certainly don't want an instrument that feels awkward. If you've never played a keyboard tipped vertically, you'll find it's very comfortable. Keyboardists report that the well-balanced AX-Synth is natural and easy to play, and that it takes only a few minutes to adapt to the keytarist point of view. The AX-Synth's 49-note, 4-octave, velocity-sensitive C to E keyboard is playable at many angles, like a guitar. Roland has even made traditional two-handed playing a genuine option, with four different places to attach the included strap. If you're a keyboardist with a horizontal board or two already, the Roland AX-Synth is a welcome addition to your rig. Try playing leads with your right hand on the AX-Synth while filling in a left-hand part on your usual board. When it's time to rock out on your keyboard solo, leave the rig behind and take your rightful place on center stage.
Advanced Tone Programming
The AX-Synth Shoulder Synthesizer is clearly a blast to play live, but what about in the studio? After all, if you're investing in a sweet keyboard, you expect some production capabilities. This is where the AX-Synth shines as a fully-fledged synthesizer -- off the shoulder
. Plug in the included AC adapter, connect your AX-Synth's USB port to your Mac or PC, and run Roland's free editing software to modify and save all aspects of the internal tones to your liking. You can store your new settings in the AX-Synth for use on stage, and of course, you can use the board as a MIDI controller with your sequencer software or any other MIDI gear.
Get an overview of the AX-Synth in this video demo:
- Built-in sound engine with 256 tones plus 8 SuperNATURAL/SPECIAL tones
- Ribbon controller, modulation bar, and D-Beam bring your tones to life
- Power adapter included
- Runs on 8 rechargeable AA Ni-MH batteries for up to 6 hours
- Easy-to-read display
- USB MIDI as well as standard MIDI I/O
- Dedicated V-LINK button for video/visual control
- Free AX-Synth Editor software available on Roland's website
- 128-note polyphony
- Two 1/4" output jacks (L/Mono, R)
- 1/4" stereo headphone output jack
- Foot pedal connector
- Shoulder strap included
The Next Big Thing?
With the Roland AX-Synth's onboard sounds, expression controls, and eye-popping design, it's a small wonder that artists like Imogen Heap, the Black Eyed Peas, and even Lady Gaga are now strapping on keytars. It just may be time to give your old keyboard rig the cold shoulder. But watch out: this is one keyboard so stylish, your guitarist might want to switch instruments.
zZounds is an authorized dealer of Roland products.