The keyboard workstation is the modern musician's sonic Swiss Army knife: you can play it at a gig, then take it home and produce a pop song, dance track, symphony, metal anthem or TV soundtrack. Though the first workstations (spearheaded by the great Korg M1) now appear to be little more than souped‑up synths with a built‑in sequencer, these machines have evolved over the last 20 years into something much more sophisticated: they can now be regarded not just as pro‑grade keyboards, but also as fully‑fledged mini‑studios offering multitrack audio recording, MIDI sequencing, rhythm programming, user multisampling, studio‑quality effects and mixdown facilities.
Roland's Fantom G represents the fourth generation of Fantom workstations. The company introduced the original Fantom FA76 in 2001 and have improved the specs with each new model. As a good deal of the Fantom G's functionality has been inherited from its predecessors and there simply isn't space to revisit all of that here, it's certainly worth checking the 'Return Of The Fantom' box for an overview and links to past SOS reviews. The new range comes in three sizes: G6 (61 keys), G7 (76 keys) and G8 (88 keys with a weighted piano‑style action). The three have the same sound engine, specs and controls and differ only in their keyboard action and sizes. Indulging my more grandiose instincts, I used a G8 for this review.