It has been a while since Roland released a new arranger keyboard. The E-09 dominated the entry level market for some time, with no high end models to compete with the likes of Yamaha & Korg products, a field where there is fierce competition. However, that is about to change with the arrival of Roland’s latest model: the BK-5 Backing Keyboard.
At first glance, the striking new black control panel captures the attention immediately. At last: something new and fresh from Roland! A modern design, it now holds its own in an ultra-competitive market. Not only is the new front panel very attractive, but the controls are also well laid out and arranged in logical order.
What a pleasant surprise! No more boring GM/GS/EXR sounds, but a very nice selection of studio quality sounds, once again arranged in easy to access groups. Sound selection is straight forward, using a data wheel and Enter button. Although almost every sound is of the highest quality, a few stand out above the rest, and they’ll distinguish this machine from the rest – check out: Natural Piano, ProStage EP, String Ens, Blow Alto Vib, FolkClar, Big Lead (+ delay!).
Astonishing! Roland managed to capture the true essence of realism combined with professionalism, and came up with backings so real – it feels as if you’re one of the band members yourself! It offers 300 amazingly realistic backings, with intros and endings to die for. With 4 intros, endings and One Touch Settings per style, this machine means business! Whether you want to sound like Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Britney Spears or Queen – they’re all there. This is a true One Man Band, so: select your style, press One Touch, plug in your mic – and perform!
This one has it all: one can edit the styles, sounds and songs, to suit your every need. Your own styles and songs can also be created, and then stored in USB format. To top it all: songs, wave files and MP3’s can be played back on this machine, while your own performances can be recorded as Audio Files. And if Karaoke is your scene, connect to an external monitor to display lyrics, if you play back a Lyrics File via USB, while using the Centre Cancel feature to lower the vocal level of the karaoke file. Your own sound setups (style, voice, volumes etc.) can also be saved in the Performance Memory, to be used at a later stage.
With more than 1100 stunning sounds, 12oo awesome backings, performance editing, comprehensive USB features and powerful speakers, this is a real powerhouse – the dream of any live performer who wants the ultimate in keyboard backings. Well done, Roland!
Read more about the BK-5 here.
Compiled by: Frikkie Marais
Keyboard Specialist at Musiekwereld (www.musiekwereld.co.za)