Roland FA 08 Review – Owners Thoughts

Roland FA 08 Workstation

The Roland FA 08 is the newest version of the Fantom series. I previously owned the Fantom G 88 workstation before I upgraded to the FA 08.

Overall, my review is that the Roland FA 08 is an underrated keyboard workstation. I think that this is a keyboard that works for touring extremely well and also works as a studio keyboard.

Most workstations are expensive and I like that this is affordable, yet still competes with the best ones on the market. This is a really great keyboard for serious musicians who want something that gives them endless creativity with sound design and recording.

Roland FA 08 Review

Roland FA 08


The key-beds on the Fantom series keyboards are fantastic. Honestly, this is one of the reasons why I am a little biased towards Roland keyboards. To me, one of the most important things on a keyboard is the key-bed.

There’s nothing more frustrating than playing a keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys or just has terrible action.

You can read all of my reviews on Roland keyboards by clicking on this link.

The FA 08 has the classic Roland staple Ivory feel key-bed. To me, this feels almost identical to a real ivory key piano key-bed. I prefer the feel of ivory over any of the synthetically blended key-beds as I feel like the action just can’t be beaten.

Using The FA 08 As A MIDI Controller

I used the G8 as a MIDI controller with Ableton Live and it worked really well for the most part. However, it took a while to program it and get it working the way I needed it to.

The MIDI technology was a little dated with the G8 so I was hoping the FA 08 would be better. When I plugged my FA 08 into my laptop, it worked immediately and it worked superbly.

The reason I love using this keyboard as a MIDI controller is because I can use Ableton and access unlimited sounds. Roland also put 16 different trigger pads on the keyboard. You can use all of these buttons to switch your synths on your computer without even leaving your keyboard.

To set the pad mode up and use it as a MIDI controller you simply:

  • go to menu
  • click pad-mode
  • go to sample pad
  • use the buttons in sequence with your DAW


Overall, the sound quality is fantastic. I love being able to tweak the sounds right on the interface. There are 6 control knobs that feel nice and haven’t worn out on me yet. I like how the reverb sounds on the effects. It comes with over 2,000 pre-sets that you can easily tweak to your liking.

If you’re someone who loves using your keyboard to bring in the full band, you may want to read about keyboard arrangers.

I think the sounds are much cooler on the FA 08 than on the G8. Some of the pads remind me of the old school Roland synthesizer pads. I personally think Roland does an amazing job with pad sounds as well as warm bass tones.

The FA 08 is nearly half the price as it’s biggest competitors and I honestly think it sounds just as good as them. The pre-set brass patches sound a little bit thin initially, but you can tweak these to your own liking and beef them up a little bit.

I really like the sound of the pianos and electric pianos. I think the acoustic sounds are not as good as the Yamaha Motif, however, I think that the pads and organs sound infinitely better on the Roland.

FA 08 VS The Fantom G8

When comparing the two, the first thing that comes to my mind is the huge difference in weight. The G8 is nearly 80 pounds and when it came to touring with it, it was difficult. I spent three years lugging the G8 in and out of music venues and it got to be too much

The FA 08 is only 35 pounds. To me, this was a huge upgrade because I didn’t have to worry about carrying it on my own. The exterior of the keyboards is also very different.

The G8 would constantly get too cold or get too warm because it was constructed with metals. When it would get too cold it wouldn’t turn on so I would have to wait for it to warm up to turn it on. When it would get too hot at outside venues, it would just turn off on me.

The FA 08 doesn’t overheat and it also doesn’t have a problem getting too cold. For me, these were two huge wins for Roland.

This keyboard is streamlined for a much easier time when creating music on it. The G8 supported computer mouses and the FA 08 does not.

To me, this isn’t really a big problem since I don’t record music into my keyboard. If you are planning on doing all your recording into your workstation, then you might like having the mouse feature.

*Note this workstation does not have speakers. You will need to connect to external speakers such as your monitors or a keyboard amp. This is very common in workstation keyboards as you can use headphones with them.

Favorite Things About This Workstation

  • The key-bed
  • Has over 2,000 high-quality pre-sets
  • Relatively inexpensive for a workstation
  • The sound of the pads and basses
  • Extremely light-weight
  • High-quality MIDI pads
  • MIDI functionality
  • Great LCD screen
  • Can download free tones from the Axial website

Things I Don’t Love About This Keyboard

  • It decreased from 24 audio tracks to 16. I get why they did this though. Roland did this so that they could cut costs. Cutting costs here was smart because so many people use DAW’s nowadays. If you are using your keyboard with a DAW you won’t find this to be a problem, but if you do all of your work on your workstation, you might miss the extra tracks.
  • Lack of SDXC support for SD cards that are 128GBs or larger.
  • It has only 2 expansion slots instead of 4. This isn’t a huge deal since the sounds are great already, however, I always crave new sounds
  • Surprised it doesn’t have a touch-screen. Some of their competitors have this feature and it makes sense to have it.
  • I wish it had a common power supply. Most keyboards do and I hate that I can’t use a standard power cord as its own special power

Wrapping Up

The FA 08 is provides you with a great experience whether it be for touring or for studio use.

  1. Hi Chris,
    I enjoyed reading your feedback on ROLAND FA 08. I am a classical trained pianist and a songwriter. I have the choice to buy a second hand Yamaha MO8 or a Roland FA08. I am not tech savvy. I could learn. I want to record my songs without going to a studio, using a producer, as it was too expensive.
    So far, I like the pianos and sounds on the Roland more than on the Yamaha, but the price a could get is much better (half) on the Yamaha than on Roland. I have the feeling that it will take a longer learning curve to become comfortable with the Yamaha. Am I right? Do you think the difference in price should be the deciding fact?

    1. Hi,

      I believe that the FA 08 is easier to use from my experience. I also believe the sounds are a bit better and the key-bed is definitely better.

      You would be fine with the Yamaha MO8,however, I would recommend the FA08. While it is more expensive, this is the type of keyboard that you wouldn’t really outgrow, so you would definitely get your moneys worth!

  2. Nice and very detailed review. As a Fa08 owner, I must admit that this workstation is a beauty and works brilliantly both in the studio and on the stage. The action is pretty good and clearly better than its direct competitors, holding its ground against the more expensive models in the current market. Got both the FA08 and the Kronos in my studio and they complement each other beautifully. Extremely underrated keyboard. Got mine for 1200euros…a no brainer decision…exceeded my expectations. Btw awesome sounds in the Roland website duly organized by available libraries free of charge. Hands down one of the best workstations in the market.

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for the kinds words.

      Yeah, this keyboard has been with me for three roads on tour and I couldn’t be happier with it!!

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