Roland Fantom Synthesizer – The Return Of The Fantom

Roland Fantom Synthesizers

As a diehard Roland keyboard player, I have to say that I am so happy to be writing this article right now. I consider the Roland Fantom series to be one of my favorite series of all-time and I have to say, Roland has knocked it out of the park with this workstation.

You can view the Fantom at my favorite retailer, Sweetwater, below.

The Roland Fantom workstation is currently the most innovative keyboard workstation available. From DAW integration to the sound engine, it is simply out of this world.

I have to say, I am a big MIDI controller guy and I often use my Roland FA-08 as a controller. With this being said, MIDI lovers will absolutely fall in love with the Fantom’s capabilities.

If the Fantom is just a little bit too steep in its price, I recommend the following choices

If you’re looking to read a full review of the Kurzweil PC4 in comparison to the Fantom, you can do sat the link above.

The Fantom is available in the following sizes:

  • 88 keys – Includes PHA-50 key-bed
  • 76 keys
  • 61 keys

My first thoughts upon looking at the Fantom is that it looks sleek, dynamic, beautiful, and ready to be played. I owned the Fantom G8 for about 10 years and I got every penny out of that keyboard as possible, before getting the FA-08.

It is my opinion that the Roland Fantom is going to become the workstation giant in the next coming months to years as I feel like Roland has nailed some extremely important features, including its ability to work flawlessly with analog synths and as a MIDI controller.

The MIDI integration with Roland keyboards, in general, has always been spot-on. I used the G8 as a MIDI controller before MIDI keyboards really grew in popularity and it worked seamlessly, even 10 years ago.

Note: I have a complete guide on Roland keyboards that breaks down everything about the company and all of their products. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re enjoying this read on the Fantom.

With this being said, the DAW integration is easily the best available in any workstation. The touchscreen controls and parameters that you can tweak directly from your Fantom is out of this world.

I strongly suggest checking out these other guides that I’ve created to help you with your musical journey.

Note: The new Fantom does not have the famous D-beam controller function. I personally never really loved this feature, so it doesn’t really bother me. With that being said, some people actually love it and use it quite often.

Incredible Keyboard Workstation
Roland Fantom-8

The Fantom 08 is one of the most powerful workstations on the market. From incredible key-action to lush pads and amazing drum kits, the Fantom gives you everything you need in a keyboard.

View Price At Sweetwater View Price At Guitar Center
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  • Iconic TR-REC Sequencer
  • Best DAW Integration On A Workstation
  • MIDI Controller Functionality Is Top-Notch
  • Allows for fast and simple recording
  • Touch Screen Interface
  • Massive Sound Library
  • Comes With 16 RGB Lit Pads
  • Incredible Key-Bed
  • Durable For The Road
  • User-Friendly Layout
  • Step-Time Recording Allows For Input Quantization
  • Analog & Digital Filters
  • Everything Is Visual With The Controls
  • Arpeggiator


  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Roland Fantom Review

Roland Fantom Synths
Pictured above: Fantom 8, 7, & 6.

The Fantom is a professional workstation that is loaded with quality features including a sequencer, touch-screen interface, 16 pads, 14 endless encoders, incredible DAW integration, and more that we will get into shortly.

The touch-screen interface is one of the things that really sets this keyboard apart from its competitors. The seamless transitions and recording that you can do at the click of your fingers is ridiculously awesome.

Design Of The Fantom

Design Of Fantom

You will notice that the overall design of the Fantom has greatly changed. I personally think that Roland crushed it in this department. While it slightly resembles some of the heavy-hitters like the Montage, it also brings its own uniqueness to the table.

The one negative with the design of this keyboard is the overall weight. People will definitely comment on the weight of this keyboard as this is quite heavy. With this being said, I owned and did national tours with the Fantom G8 and I was always okay.

Roland laid this keyboard out in a very unique way. If you view the left side of the Fantom, you will be observing the MIDI controller side. This is an extremely unique design as Roland has laid the Fantom out to have a synthesizer side and a MIDI controller side.

Note: Everything is visual with the Fantom. I am going to mention this several times as I truly believe this is a huge selling point. If you want to do a filter sweep or tweak a parameter, you will see it on your interface of the Fantom.

If we go back to the left side you will see the following:

  • 16 zones for external and internal
  • 8 endless encoders(Double as Harmonic drawbars for Tone-wheel Organ)
  • 8 sliders

Looking at the right side you will see the following:

  • Filters
  • Pitch Filter
  • Amplifier
  • Envelopes

This is the creation or synthesizer side of the workstation. You can instantly tweak and create your own synths just like that.


The touch-screen is beastly on this keyboard. Roland set this up perfectly and I think this will help it grow in popularity.

The way the touchscreen works is actually quite simple. You can tweak your V-Piano sounds with it, as well as record and sample, all within minutes of each other.

I especially love the Step Time feature. You can directly record into your Fantom and I believe this is a huge win.

The interface overall on the Fantom is a huge step forward and a major achievement for them. This actually feels great when using your fingers to use the touch-screen.

I’ve always been paranoid of touch-screens, however, this one seems to be a major exception.

As mentioned above, the interface is a touch-screen that allows you to control your DAW and synth sounds.

This interface will benefit both beginners and advanced players as it allows for simple recording and sample editing. One of the major problems with workstations is that beginners often-times can’t find the right information in order to begin producing or writing.

The screen is measured in at 7 inches and it is also LCD Backlit. I personally do not believe that the interface is too small. I’ve seen a few people claim this, however, I think it’s a great size.

Note: The touchscreen on the Fantom allows keyboardists to switch between 16 different synths seamlessly. For example, you could have an electric Rhodes piano and instantly change to a ripping lead at the click of your finger. Because you have the ability to switch your synths right on the interface, the pads have been moved further to the right than on previous models.


The sound engine is next-level on the Fantom. Coming in with V-piano technology, over 3,500 presets and 90 drum kits, all designed uniquely. It’s an expandable 16-part multitimbral sound engine that allows you to transform and tweak your sounds directly on its interface.

As far as the piano sounds: I truly believe that the piano presets are the best available presets on a workstation. This is all subject to personal opinion. However, I’ve played the Kronos, the Motif, and the Montage and I just love the piano sounds on this Fantom.

With this being said, the ability to tweak the pianos is what really sets this keyboard apart from the rest of the herd. You can tweak even the way the piano is tuned and you can it as everything is visual. Roland laid the Fantom out in a way that makes sense for beginners and advanced players and this goes far.

Electric Pianos

The electric piano presets are honestly some of my favorites on a workstation. They just sound real to me. The problem with a lot of electric pianos is that they usually just sound cheap or thin to me. If not done right, they can sound ultra-cheesy.

Analog Filter

For the old-school synth lovers, the Fantom features an analog filter that provides a lush sound. I still remember playing on the Roland Polyphonic about 3 years ago. The pads are the warmest sounding pads I’ve ever played. The Fantom does a great job at bringing this feeling back with the Fantom as best as it can.

DAW Integration

The DAW integration is easily the most advanced in a workstation. You are able to control your DAW in every single way that you would want to. With this being said, when I compare it to the FA-08, I love what they did differently with the Fantom.

I’ve noticed that I have to run my FA-08 externally in order to run it as a MIDI controller. When I do this, I no longer have access to the internal sounds. So if I’m playing a show, I need to either be external or internal sounds if I want to be able to switch easily.

With the Fantom, you can seamlessly record an internal sound and then record a VST directly after. The connectivity on the Fantom is also special. The Fantom brings you the following:

  • 1/4 headphone jack (stereo)
  • Main OUT Jacks (L/Mono,R)
  • Main Out Jacks (L,R) (XLR Type)
  • Sub Out1 Jacks (L,R)
  • Subout2 Jacks (L,R)
  • Analog Output Jacks
  • Mic/Line Input Jacks
  • Foot pedal jacks including hold, CTRL1, CTRL2, CTRL3
  • MIDI connectors (I/O1, O2/Thru)
  • USB Memory
  • 3 external device ports

One thing to note is that, if you’re an organ lover, the faders turn into harmonic drawbars for tone-wheel organs. These are extremely expressive and the faders themselves feel durable.

My personal favorite part of the DAW integration is that the interface literally turns into your computer. You can do basically everything directly from the touchscreen interface that you would typically have to use your computer for.

Ex. If you’re using Mainstage or an alternative, you will notice that you can actually browse your VST library directly from the Fantom. This is pretty fricken cool.


I personally think that this is the workstation that the keyboard world needed. With so many people going the MIDI controller route, this is a breath of fresh air for the community.

If you’re looking for some similar keyboards, I recommend checking out my guide on the best keyboard arrangers. These are some really great options that I really enjoy playing.

Let me know your thoughts below in the comments!

  1. Are you a roland fanboy, first sounds are integra 7, aliasing to hell pcm samples, second sampler is a beginner sampler third rgb pads are cheap third the screen is small.

    1. Ever tried disagreeing with someone without sounding antagonistic? You don’t like it? Ok. The writer of the article does? Great! He buys one, you don’t. Everyone’s happy.

  2. ACB modeling is fantastic. Use it. Don’t all samples alias? The sampler will be updated, but it’s not even important to most users because they use a DAW for sampling. The screen is fine, but for the persnickity, connect your DAW.

    1. No thanks at $3500, it’s a no brainer and a no go, workstation, all in one no computer needed. Duh.

    2. I tried the Fantom out while visiting the US. I want one. I have a Kronos 88 and my subjective opinion leads me to prefer the Kronos for authentic piano sounds. However!! The V-piano engine is superb and sweet sounding and when combined with pads I do not have an easy match with the Kronos alone. The Fantom synth engine sounds like what it presently takes my making a multi timbral or multi synth layer cake to do. As I have an Access Virus Ti and other superb VA kit, it is possible to do what the Fantom does but the Fantom puts all that power in one place. Very musical sounding instrument. I am extremely impressed!

  3. As long as I can play an awesome Beverly Hills 90210 theme, I’m happy! Well, not really. Personally, I didn’t like the weird stuck program glitch and inability to turn the damn thing off 1st time playing! Had to literally unplug it. Might be my flaky single bedroom apartment wall power, though. I also don’t like that the initial pad triggered rhythms and the arpeggio tempo aren’t synced! And starting the arp is a multi-step process. What’s that about? Also, I can’t stand when on-board reverb instantly pitches up/down with the sounds! Sounds fake and unnatural. Guess I’ll be playing through external effects🙄. And finally, I hate it when I add some release… and it just extends the lower frequency instead of the entire sound. The Motif does better with the reverb and release issues. But… I just fired it up, so maybe in time, I’ll figure these things out. The pianos and vintage synths all sound excellent! Love the little pics of the past synths. However, the clean electric guitar sound makes you wanna smash the synth on your sidewalk. And, yes, this thing is solid! Looks lighter than it is, but it’s OK on the 61 key. No more bigger synths for me. Oh, and the key action feels excellent!

  4. I owned the Fantom X8 for a few years now and thinking of going for the Fantom.

    From a SoundOnSound review:
    • Well-built with a clear, snappy touchscreen
    • Powerful step LFOs, multimode analogue filter/drive and great sequencing, sampling and effects
    • Streams multiple audio channels over USB, CV/gate outs

    • Expensive
    • No dedicated tonewheel organ/EP engines
    • Not enough ‘bread and butter’ scenes.
    • No full ‘linear’ audio track recording
    • No user multisampling (currently).
    • Piano-roll editing is quite basic (currently)
    • No rack version; bulky at 27kg

  5. I own XP-80 and Fantom X8 (+ VS 2480) and was really looking forward to all the Fantom 8 promised to be. Well, unfortunately it remains at the level of unfulfilled promises. I will not repeat what everyone said about its shortcomings, just add my other 2 cents:

    The keyboard action is superb, sounds are ok, colored display, fonts are seen easily with good resolution, looks good, feels good, plenty of connecting power and features, it is really lovely to play and work with.

    – The display is flat on the surface (unlike Fantom X8), the keyboard is quite hefty and I found myself bending closer to see it from a better angle.
    – Sequencer heavily limited and limiting!
    – Only two time signatures
    – It says it supports live recording but it does so only for segments of max. 32 measures. Not cool.
    – NO LINEAR SEQUENCER RECORDING!! Greatest disappointment ever.
    – Roland Co. did not answer if they plan to do a software upgrade that would add the linear recording option to the sequencer. As a 30+years user of Roland products I expected an answer so I can make a decision if I should still keep it while waiting for an upgrade.

    Well, for everything else offered on Fantom 8 I have a DAW with synths and plugins, no need for spending all that money if I cannot record in a linear fashion and get away from the DAW. That for me is the deal breaker. I must have the possibility to record for as long as I want in a linear fashion, change as many time signatures as I want, and so on. Unfortunately will have to take it back and look for an alternative.

    1. The details about the sequencer is very concerning to me. I have always recorded in real time without having to worry about anything on every Roland workstation I’ve ever had (XP50, Fantom S and Fantom X6) and I’ve made many hours of music this way. If this is true than gosh, what a real bummer. It defeats the purpose of being able to create a song from scratch using only the keyboard – or at the very least takes the most important aspect of why I’ve relied on Roland workstations for their very deliberate and liberal means of making everything from scratch resulting in many hours of pure in-keyboard-made compositions. Seriously reconsidering my goal to purchase this.

  6. I really need a linear sequencer,,,,thinking of selling my Roland for a Korg Kronos,, 16 midi,,16 audio,, all linear,,,Roland,,,,come get this board,,,now,,,,,

  7. Chris,
    I just purchased a Roland Fantom 8 w/ the PHA-50 weighted key bed. I am looking for a professional digital keyboard with roughly 61 keys that are velocity sensitive semi weighted w/ after touch, to mount above my Fantom. This keyboard will be used to play zones on my Fantom that are configured for EP, Organ, Synth based, guitar, etc.
    My question is, what keyboard would you recommend that has the ability to easily connect to the Fantom, easy to configure, and provide the professional feel of the keys mentioned above?
    Thanks for any help.
    Carl T.

  8. Fantom-8 successor?

    Does someone now, when typically the succesor will be launched from Roland?

    I saw, that G-Series was launched in 2008 and Fantom-x in 2019.

    I‘m keen to buy the Fantom-8, but don‘t want to see a successor then in the next years

    1. I have not heard much news regarding when the successor will come out for the Fantom-8. I will leave a reply here when I see any news, but my guess would be around 2025.

      Kind regards,


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