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Now I own an FR-8X. My initial thoughts:

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DigitalSteve

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I've had this accordion for four days now and I really like it. I thought I made a mistake when I first played it. The bellows were extremely stiff and it was such an odd feeling having the sound come from a "different" place than my acoustic accordion. I changed the bellows to X-Light and really started playing with it.

I just love the acoustic bass. It reminds me of the Cordovox I played back in the 70s. It's just a really nice string bass sound and the onboard speakers put out an amazing sound.

Here are my impressions in bullet-form and again, I've only played this for four days and am still reading the manual so take it for what it's worth please:

1) The treble isn't loud enough. Neither is the bass really. I couldn't fill a room of 100 people with just this accordion and no amp while I could with my acoustic. I've increased the volume parameter on the voices and it helps a little. I had thought the internal speakers would be louder.

2) The instrument sounds glorious through headphones. Just crystal clear and lively.

3) I absolutely HATE playing with headphones because the cord is a nightmare. It's always getting caught in the bellows or the chest pad or my chin or the bottom of the accordion. I've moved it to the left, the right, under the accordion, through my shirt, with stress relief to the left, right, under, etc. At some point during each hour-long session it will get caught and pull my head down and it's just not fun. I know this is a silly little thing to note but it really bothers me!

4) The "Jazz" voices don't sound that great to me. I haven't started to edit them yet but there might be one or two that I kind of like. The rest just sound pretty bad in my estimation. My acoustic is a 5/5 Jazz instrument with Low E bass and double tone chamber and I just love the sound of the bassoon reeds. I know these can be edited so I'm not stressing too much about this fact but I would tell others that out of the box, they're not that great.

5) The unit is complex - but not overly so. There are a lot of menus but they make sense. User Program and Set Mode make sense to me. I've put the accordions I use the most into a User Program and it just works nicely. I wouldn't be scared of this accordion if you're not a "techie".

6) I really didn't like the straps that came with it. I switched immediately to the Mega Harness by Neotech and even without the backbrace they stay put. Problem solved.

7) I'm purchasing an amp this week and will comment on how it sounds through an amp. I'm anxious to hear some real output from this unit.

8) The organs are cool. With the acoustic bass and organ/accordion combo on the right hand you've got yourself a 1978 Cordovox! I don't know if that's a selling point to any of you youngsters but it's pretty cool to this 60 year old player!

9) The instrument is heavy. Very heavy. Specs say 28 pounds and my 5/5 monster is 32 pounds but they are equivalent to me. If you have a bad back or need to stand for three hours strolling I wouldn't purchase this accordion. To me it is purely a sitting-down instrument.

10) I read reviews about the awkward keyboard thickness and odd weight-distribution of this accordion and I see none of it. The keyboard is blindingly fast. Such a difference from my acoustic. I do notice that key-repetition (think Lady of Spain beginning with multiple strikes of a single note as fast as possible) is easier on the acoustic and that it is not uniform (for me) on the FR-8X. But glissandos and chromatic runs just fly on the FR-8X. It immediately made me a 20% faster accordionist. Seriously!

I've not played the FR-7X so I can't comment on the differences. Maybe it is much lighter, has better balance, has a thinner keyboard, etc. Since I didn't own one previously and then switch I have no frame of reference. I can only compare it to my 5/5 acoustic and they are in the same ballpark.

I personally don't like all the orchestral tones. Playing Sax, Trumpet, Piano, Banjo, and on and on just aren't my thing. I do really enjoy all the different accordions and this instrument has many of them. I especially like the drums with the bass notes. Pretty much eliminates the need for me to have a BK-7M as I prefer the accordion sounds with a light drum track that *I* control.

If you want to practice at night with headphones, want 50 accordion sounds that you have custom designed, have a bad back and don't want to push and pull the bellows a lot, then this is the accordion for you. I'm glad I purchased it. It has a lot of potential that I haven't even considered. I'm playing my first gig with it on Saturday. Two hours at a wedding and I'll have the amp by then.

Oh, battery life is EXCEPTIONAL! I've only charged it the first day and am still going strong four days later! The battery and charging are non-issues.

Best of luck to all of you and thank you for all your advice on this forum. It truly helped me make my decision.

Steve
 

Soulsaver

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Thanks Steve, useful info.

I have an FR3 which I bought for silent practice.... and I can't stand earphones wire either. Be good if someone will reply with how you can connect wirelessly to cans?
Now I use it with the volume turned way down... not really ideal for realistic expression.

Congratulations and good luck with your new buy. :ch
 

Glenn

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Hi Steve,

I haven't had my FR8X long either and I concur with most of your comments.
It is a heavy instrument that's for sure and the absolute "loudness" is not great for performance.
I also intend on getting Roland Cube amplifier. I have read a bit about these with the FR8X and apparently they fit well together and give not only more volume but also a sparkle to the accordion sounds.
As you say, playing with earphones can be a bit fiddly.
I pull the cable (with a bit o slack) up between the accordion and my chest. I haven't found that it snags.
Indeed, with phones you hear an amazing clarity from the instrument.

As to the orchestral sounds, I have been mixing them at low levels with the acoustic accordion sounds. This way they can be made to enhance rather than replace the sounds.

The straps are a bit poor as you say. They are functional but not of the highest quality for an instrument of that value and weight.

I still think it needs bellows straps but I'll say no more about that.

It's funny but I have exactly the same reaction as you to keyboard action.
Repeated notes are somehow not as easy on the FR8X but runs and arpeggios flow nicely.
I get the feeling that an acoustic instrument helps with repeated notes if you keep up a good, constant bellows pressure. This does not happen with the Roland.
 
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BrandyD

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Congratulations on your FR-8X! I too have one, received mine in February. I am one happy woman, I absolutely love mine!!!! I too moved from acoustic to this beautiful instrument.

I have not had headset issues as I don't use them. My husband loves to hear me play so it's not a problem in my house. I always warn him ahead of time when I'm sight reading or learning a new song though - that way he knows it may not sound so good! No complaints from him so far.

I have had no issues with volume on mine, bass or treble. My neighbors can hear me play with the windows open and we live in the country and not on top of each other. I have been using the User Programs that my dealer loaded for me - there may be 1 or 2 that are quiet, but the rest will blast us out of the house without running through an amp. I haven't tried hooking it up to my Bose system yet to even listen to what that would sound like - it's more than loud enough for me and playing any indoor venues.

I also have had no issues with the bellows! I love they way they work for me and I'm a heavy bellows user.

I LOVE the Jazz voices!!!!! I use them on a few special songs, sounds like I have doo wop singers with me. I use the saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, flute and violin on many of my songs (not all together, individually) and absolutely love them! The piano I don't like so much but use it for "Music Box Dancer" and "The Entertainer". I also love the way I can bring in additional sounds during a song with movement of the bellows (that took me a while to get the hang of) - but I love it!!!! But I love playing pop from the 1940-70's, boogies, waltzes, polkas, and country music from the 1940-present. So our difference in the sounds we like could be due to the types of music we play.

The instrument is complex when it comes to programming. But I'm a computer user and don't seem to find it intimidating. I have yet to start programming my own User Programs as I'm very happy with the ones that came with the accordion.

I am not having an issue with the straps. Once I tightened them up as tight as they would go (I'm a little woman) and starting using the back strap (which I haven't used since I was a little girl) I am very happy with it.

I don't find the weight of the accordion to be an issue for me. My acoustic, like yours, was much heavier. But I'm not a stroller, I sit on a stool to play.

I absolutely love the feel and playability of the keyboard! you are right, glissandos and chromatic runs just fly on this instrument.

The battery is wonderful! I've charged mine twice. I play 3-9 hrs on Sat and Sun and have not had an issue. But . . . if it's low and you don't realize it, it will stop playing in the middle of your song and let you know it wants plugged in. You never want that to happen when playing in public!

I had bellows straps installed by my retailer, I'm not sure they are needed though. I use them, but when the accordion is not turned on the bellows do not move, they stay put.

I'll sit quietly in my corner now.

Congratulations on your FR-8X!!!!

Brandy
 
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rbs

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Thanks for the info.

I'm rather horrified by the 28lbs weight. My 'big' accordion (4-voice, 37 keys) weighs 15lbs (with the hard case included), and I consider that to be as heavy as I want to go! Fortunately it is equipped with MIDI so I can do electronic sounds if I want to, so I don't think I'll be tempted by an FR-8x - for now, at least.
 

Glenn

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I can't believe your 4 voice accordion weighs only 15 pounds, case and all .
 
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rbs

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Glenn - you're absolutely right - I was looking at the wrong scale - it's 15 Kilos! Which means that the Roland isn't particularly heavy, and I might be tempted...
 

JIM D.

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A FR-7x should be about 12.5 kg and a FR-8x should be about 12.7 kg.
 
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rbs

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My guess is that much of the weight comes from the loudspeakers and the batteries.
 

Glenn

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Indeed the batteries are pretty hefty.
You can play without them if you are happy to keep the instrument plugged in.
The speakers and amplifier are pretty good in the instrument and necessarily add to the weight.
In addition the case and general build is very solid.
Thus all in all not a light instrument.
 

jarvo

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Suggested Headphone fix. What I do with my diddy FRX 1 ( 8s....green I am) is put the head phones on from behind my head rather than the normal way of putting your face into them .....(does that make sense?) and let the lead run down my back and then loop up around the right or left at the waist and under the box to the headphone socket .. I suspect that these Digital Boxes are designed for performance amplification and the speakers ar for parlour performance and practice.
 

Glenn

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Good idea Jarvo, I've never considered pitting the cable first down my back. I'll give it a try this evening.
 
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