As I mentioned in my initial review, my GO:KEYS had a defective key right out of the box. The key was in a particularly bad spot: A below middle C. While practicing music for Sunday, the key was nearly dead and I just couldn’t live with it. So, I returned the GO:KEYS to Guitar Center. The folks at Guitar Center offered to get a replacement from Roland, but I didn’t want to take another chance on the first production run. I chose a refund.
Happy to say, the salespeople at Guitar Center (Nashua, NH) were very helpful and understanding. This is the first time that I received a keyboard with an obviously non-working key. Guitar Center handled the situation quite well and efficiently. It pays to be courteous and kind to the staff of your local musical instrument store!
I think Roland have a good concept with the GO:KEYS. But, even the best of ideas are thwarted by bad components, poor manufacturing, or ineffective quality control. Overall, this is a shame. The GO:KEYS clearly is a little brother to the JUNO-DS workstation. The basic sound of the GO:KEYS is quite good, especially its electric pianos.
After writing my review, I spent a few hours producing a demo track. (Here is the MP3 file.) The GO:KEYS is MIDI class compliant and I had Ableton Live Intro communicating with it in seconds. I pulled in a few ambient loops from Equinox Sounds Total MIDI: Funk and assigned MIDI channels according to the GO:KEYS’ convention:
Ch# Part Allocation --- --------- ---------- 1 PIANO User/Panel 2 ORGAN User/Panel 3 STRINGS User/Panel 4 BRASS User/Panel 5 BASS User/Panel 6 SYNTH User/Panel 7 FX/GUITAR User/Panel 8 Bass Loop Mix 9 Part A Loop Mix 10 DRUM User/Panel 11 Part B Loop Mix 12 Part X Loop Mix 13 Part X Loop Mix 14 Part X Loop Mix 15 Part X Loop Mix 16 Drum Loop Mix
Each of the GO:KEYS panel categories (PIANO, ORGAN, etc.) has its own MIDI channel. Each of the Loop Mix parts has its own MIDI channel. When sequencing in Live, I assigned tracks to the “User/Panel” channels.
The GO:KEYS tones follow the Roland JUNO-DS patch map. This is further proof that the GO:KEYS is directly derived from the JUNO-DS. I recommend downloading the JUNO-DS Parameter Guide which contains the JUNO-DS patch list. Finding the bank select and program change for a GO:KEYS tone is simply a matter of scanning the JUNO-DS patch list for the equivalent voice. A few of the patches have been renamed. See my partial tone list for examples. (I won’t be finishing the list now that I’ve returned the GO:KEYS.)
For example, here is a partial list of drum kits and patch select values:
Hex Dec ----------- ----------- MSB LSB PC# MSB LSB PC# 56 40 03 86 64 3 HipHop Kit 56 40 04 86 64 4 R&B Kit 56 40 00 86 64 0 Pop Kit 1 56 40 08 86 64 8 Pop Kit 2 56 40 01 86 64 1 Rock Kit 56 40 05 86 64 5 Dance Kit 1 56 40 06 86 64 6 Dance Kit 2 56 40 07 86 64 7 Dance Kit 3 56 40 09 86 64 9 Dance Kit 4 56 40 02 86 64 2 Brush Jz Kit 78 00 00 120 0 0 GM2 Standard Kit 78 00 08 120 0 8 GM2 Room Kit 78 00 10 120 0 16 GM2 Power Kit 78 00 18 120 0 24 GM2 Electric Kit ...
Mind the index of the program change values (zero vs. one). Remember, in Live, all indices start at one, including bank select values.
Additional experiments with MIDI OX show that the touch strip sends both modulation (MIDI continuous controller 1) and pitch bend messages. Like the JUNO-DS, the GO:KEYS “includes a GM2 compatible sound set.” Neither the JUNO-DS or GO:KEYS implement all of the CCs, NRPN, etc. required by the General MIDI 2 standard. The GO:KEYS does respond to the same CC messages as the JUNO-DS. Nice.
Once I had things grooving in Live, I went through the tedious process of exporting each MIDI track to a Standard MIDI File (SMF), and then importing each SMF into SONAR to form a merged SMF. Come on, Ableton, people have been begging for proper full MIDI export for years. Please implement this feature! It’s ridiculous that it hasn’t been done already.
Once I had a complete SMF, I used the GO:KEYS restore function to transfer the SMF to the GO:KEYS. Just to be safe, I named the file to “SONG02.MID” to keep the GO:KEYS happy. The GO:KEYS successfully played the (loaded) SMF and I recorded the audio output of the GO:KEYS on a Roland Micro-BR. (A handy little recorder, that.)
In the end, I’m left with considerable respect for the JUNO-DS sound. I wish that the JUNO-DS had built-in speakers as well as battery power, given its more robust build. The Roland GO:KEYS has potential to be a successful, portable, little brother to the JUNO-DS once Roland resolves its quality issues.
Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski