Frequently asked questions for Roland VR09 VR09B VR730


Q: I’m thinking of buying a VR-09 / VR-730, is it worth it?
A: Well – it depends 😀 Read VR INTRO , VR Rivals, VR Owners etc on this website …

Q: What is the difference between VR09 and VR09 B ?
A: VR0B received some cosmetic changes. Upgraded to the same firmware version, VR09 and VR09B are TECHNICALLY EXACTLY identically. (Cosmetic) differences are:
– VR09B has new (grayscale) graphics/imprints (probably cost reduction compared to multi-colour VR09)
– pot knobs: VR09 has VR700 style knobs, VR09B has VR760 style (knurled) knobs
– fader caps: 3 colours on VR09 (drawbar colours in Hammond style), VR09B dropped the brown caps (cost reduction?)
– VR09B ‘out-of-the-box’ comes with more recent firmware but VR09 can be upgraded – in each case both (!) should be upgraded to latest firmware v1.12

Q: What is the difference between VR09(B) and VR730?
A: VR730 is the 73 key version of the VR09B. Differences are:
– 73 key waterfall ‘Hammond style’ keybed (Fatar TP/8O)
– key velocity setting (VR09 have not)
– a couple of more (rather unimportant) sounds (some sounds are FROM RD2000 but NO RD2000 Acoustic Piano!)
– larger and heavier (10 kilos vs 5.5)
– nice wooden side panels

Q: What is the difference between VR09(B) and VR730 keybeds?
VR09 has the Roland ’rounded keys’ synth keybed as other Rolands (Juno DS, Di, FA, ‘A’-controllers …) but with but a high note trigger point in organ mode. The black keys are quite narrow and  ‘V-formed’ (easier for thick fingers to get in between for touching the white keys), and have (as the name says) a rounded top shape (Roland claims it would make glissandi easier….) and a glossy, slippery surface. This all makes the black keys very prone to ‘slip-offs’ (Note: the keys can be modded for less slip
VR730 has a 73 key waterfall keybed like on ‘real Hammonds’. It’s the Fatar TP/8O keybed used on most organ clones (Nord Electro/Stage compact, Hammond SK1, Dexibell, Mojo, Viscount, etc) but in a ‘Roland specification’: it feels identical to the Hammond SK1 ‘spec’ : a bit stiffer than the Nord ‘spec’

Q: Has the VR730 the same keybed as its predecessors VR760 and VR700?
A: No. VR730 has the 3rd party Fatar TP/8O Waterfall (see prev. Q). The Fatar-feel is ok but in no way comparable to the ‘magic’ of Roland’s own Waterfall keybed used on VR700 and VR760

Q: How can I use two sounds (in split/dual) from the same sound group (e.g. 2 acoustic pianos)?
A: See VR Bugs, Tips & Tricks

Q: Is there a way to get better acoustic pianos?
A: Short answer: no.


VR acoustic pianos are of very poor quality compared to todays standards for keyboards: they not only miss ‘sound components’ but also fail in sample quality and ‘sample tuning’. For detailed analysis of VR AP sound, see VR Acoustic Piano (AP)

There are only some tricks to make the pianos sound ‘less bad’ – see below

Q: Is there a way to make the onboard VR pianos better?
A: Only in nuances: see the list of tricks in Piano Settings

Q: Is there a way to get better piano samples?
A: No. The VR cannot load samples. But you can use the VR to play (via midi cable) high quality piano apps (e.g. Sampletank) on a tablet or computer. CTRLR EDITOR offers a ‘V-piano’ feature that slightly improves the VR piano sound by adding some ‘fake’ string resonance effect, damper noise etc.

Q: VR is supposed to have Roland “RD” grands, it this true?
A: No, this is a rumour. And the VR acoustic pianos are not ‘SuperNaturally’ modelled

Q: Is there any difference in acoustic pianos between VR09, VR09B, VR730?
A: No, the basic pianos/grands are identical. VR730 has been (misleadingly) announced with ‘sounds from Roland RD 2000’ but this does NOT include the RD 2000 Grands! The VR730 got 2 or 3 additional ‘RD 2000 effect pianos’ (e.g. the piano-string layered Y2K) but the basic pianos are identical to VR09. A minor improvement of acoustic pianos came with firmware 1.11 to the entire VR range  (e.g. stereo effect of bass notes sounding ‘left’ and high notes sounding ‘right’)

Q: Which stage piano do you recommend to complete my VR?
A: See Stage Pianos

Q: Any recommendations for dust covers?

Q: Any recommendations for gig bags?

Q:  Any recommendations for music rest for the VR09?

Q: What damper (sustain) pedal / foot switch (Leslie) is recommend for the VR?

Q: What expression pedal is recommend for the VR?

Q:Can the VR organ be improved using a rotary/overdrive pedal?
A: yes and no: it depends on your personal taste … generally VR Leslie sim is quite good, but the Overdrive can be improved. For more details see GEAR

Q: My expression pedal reacts like an ON-OFF switch – what’s wrong?
A: The VR has an ‘expression pedal bug’: it reaches maximum volume  at  50% of pedal lift – this is a VR-bug and happens with ALL standard expression pedals. There is a workaround by adding (soldering) 2 resistors into the pedal (or into the cable-plug): see Expression Pedal Fix

Q: Where can I find actual user manuals?
A: Roland

Q: Where can I find the latest firmware update – shall I install it?
A: Yes, you should install it (bug fixes, new features): Roland website  (one installer for 09/09B/730)

Q: Are there software editors for the VR09/09B/730?
A: Yes:
Roland IOS EDITOR    (IOS/iPad)
CTRLR EDITOR  (MS Windows, OSX, Linux)

Q: Are there software editors for Android?
A: No …. well, if you you are familiar with midi SysEx you can use midi commander (Bodero, playstore)

Q: Is there a CTLR editor for IOS (ipad, iphone)?
A: No. Simply because there’s no CTRLR framework for IOS – and there will never be (even if you offer to pay …)

Q: Does the VR have ‘hidden’ sounds or ‘hidden feature ?
A: Yes, a LOT of them (~1000 sounds, multiple zones and voices, etc). Use CTRLR EDITOR to exploit them

Q: Why, oh why, didn’t Roland make all the ‘hidden things’ available for direct access ?
A: Maybe because:

  • the VR would have cost the double – then people would moan about price
  • the VR design concept is ‘easy going’ – with all features available people would moan about ‘complicated as hell’, ‘menu diving’…
  • the VR has the same software as Atelier organs. Mapping all Atelier concepts to a single-manual keyboard is not possible at company level  (example: CTRLR editor uses ‘dirty workarounds’ to make the ‘2-manual+solo+basspedal’ concept of Ateliers look like ‘multi-zones’ of a single-manual key)

Advice: regard the ‘hidden features’ as gift you did not have to pay for 🙂

Q: How can I use my midi keyboard as ‘VR lower manual’ ?
A: See VR and Midi Devices,

Q: I have a midi keyboard: how can I use for controlling the VR?
A: Any midi keyboard is able to play sounds on the VR (e.g. as a lower manual / keyboard). But as most of the VR controllers (parameters) only react to midi SysEx, only very few controller models are suited for changing VR controls (see GEAR and MIDI)

Q: Can VR registrations be switched externally (by software, controllers etc)?
A: NO. See next Q&As (registration program change)

Q: Can I use program change messages to switch VR registrations?
A: The VR
– CANNOT RECEIVE registration program changes (no, no… and no!)
– CAN SEND registration program changes: see p. 50+51 of VR reference manual (Roland VR manuals)
NOTE: The VR sends registration program change messages both on 5-pin and usb-midi outs!

Q: Can I use program change messages to switch VR patches (sounds)?
A: Yes: you can send bank-select (msb-lsb) + program change (PC) message to the ‘keyboard sound engine’.
You can find program change numbers for standard keyboard sounds in the MIDI implementation manual (Roland VR manuals). PCs for all additional sounds can be listed using CTRLR EDITOR
IMPORTANT1: you need bank select (msb-lsb) + program change.
IMPORTANT2: in dual or ‘multi-voice’ (ctrlr editor setup) configuration, sending a sound (patch) program change loading a factory sound will MUTE ALL OTHER VOICES of this manual (part). This will turn a ‘dual’ (or multi-timbral) setup into ‘single sound’ (mono-timbral)

– using classical bank-select/program change loads the factory sound with all factory FX (e.g. tremolo in ‘Tremolo EP’).
– using sysex to load a factory sound, a ‘pure’ sound will be loaded and the FX (tremolo, phaser, hall etc) must be loaded explicitly by corresponding sysex messages

Q:Can I control a virtual Organ App with VR drawbars?
A: Not in an easy way: allmost all Apps communicate with classical Midi Control Changes (CC) – but te drawbars of the VR cannot send CC but only ‘SysEx’ messages. So you must use a ‘midi mapper software/app’ to map SysEx to CC (see MIDI):

Q:Can I control VR drawbars with an external midi controller or master keyboard?
A: Difficult: the drawbars of the VR don’t react to classical Midi Control Changes (CC) but only to midi SysEx messages.
Only very few controllers/master keyboards can handle Roland SysEx messages (+ Roland SysEx checksum): see GEAR
and MIDI

Q: What are these ‘GM2 sounds’ and how can I access/play them on the VR?

Q: I lost some caps of the VR draw-faders. Where can I buy them?
A:Aailable from Roland parts stockist, e.g.:
Europe (Spain): AT Audio Test
Europe (UK): Andertons
US: fullcompass
US: Syntaur
Japan: Roland Shop

Part numbers:
5100031539 Maroon
5100031540 Brown
5100031541 Black
5100031542 Ivory