… talk of VR
… which may help you with your buying decision
Mark (UK): plays a VR730 as part of a 6 piece rock band, mostly in small local venues covering quite varied bands such as Snow Patrol, Killers, Dandy Warhols, Stereophonics, Counting Crows and Panic! At The Disco:
For me the VR-730 is a great all-round keyboard for gigging musicians, especially those of us who play a lot of small pub gigs.
Most of us don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and usually we don’t have a lot of space to play in either. The VR-730 scores on both counts. It’s a lot less than half the price of a Nord Stage Compact which has similar features.
I got my 730 to replace my earlier set up, an Electro 2 for organ & EP and a Juno Di for synth, strings, everything else; plus a large pedalboard for effects that kept on growing. The single board does everything I need across a very varied range of musical styles.
I was concerned that the Hammond sound would be weak (awful on the Juno!) but it’s meaty, realistic and really usable in a band context.
EPs are pretty good. APs are not the best but they do well enough if you’re just a part of the band & not a soloist.
The synth is actually awesome – there are some really good presets already inc leads, pads, strings, bells, percussion, choirs etc but the engine is a full blown Gaia 3 oscillator beast that can be fully programmed from scratch using Frank’s CTRLR Editor. It’s the Editor which really makes it sing, you can assign up to 4 zones across the keybed & layer three or four sounds in most.
There are 100 slots for user registrations all manageable using the Editor, so I have a registration for each song we play and configure them in running order for each gig, that’s REALLY easy.
I find the effects just about good enough – they’re not very customisable but with some imagination you can make them work. There can also be some volume issues between registrations but nothing that can’t be lived with.
It’s got to be one of the best value gigging keyboards about. If you’re a jazz organ virtuoso or concert pianist it’s not for you; if you’re in a rock band on a sensible budget it’s hard to beat in my opinion.
Franky (Germany): organ fanatic, plays a VR09 in a R&B garage band
VR09 owner since 2014. Been looking for a handy combo organ under 10 kilos that can be thrown in the car for a ‘jam’ session with friends or for traveling. VR09 shot it out with Hammond SK1 and Nord Electro: VR09 lost on ‘authentic Hammond sound’ but won in other areas (weight, variety of sounds and controls) and price (in Europe 1/3 of an Electro)
What I like about the VR:
– its fabulous weight and ‘handyness’: NE/SK1 are smaller but feel bulkier. The VR can be carried anywhere, by train, camping car, sports car etc
– versatile: covers every kind of sound of most genres of rock, pop, vintage, electro, etc. Sounds are not all of best quality but ‘it has them’
– built-in midi player: using it a lot with (customized) midi song files from internet for practicing
– tons of ‘hidden features’ transformed the VR into a SOUND MONSTER
What I don’t like (hate) about the VR:
– Organ sound: one of the most ‘disputed’ points of the VR: for most people it’s ok but Hammond freaks run away. The organ is rather ‘cheesy’-‘churchy’ – it cannot be smokey (Jazz) and cannot really ‘cry’ (Rock). Many typical Hammond sounds cannot be recreated and the ‘organ re-trigger bug’ is a nogo for virtuose playing
But never forget: no one in the audience will recognise that the organ does not sound like an A or B Hammond.
– Acoustic Pianos: the Grand sound is badly designed, reducing it to background accompaniment
– keybed: even for a synth keybed, it’s not good. The mods of VR09 keys made it better
– no registration program change receive: makes it impossible to recall VR registrations via setlist apps or my keytar
The VR is still the most handy multi-purpose-keyboard, ideal for cover bands with some synth stuff (from U2 to Floyd). I would not recommend it to pure Blues or Rock bands.
The inexcusable ‘organ re-trigger bug’ and the horrible piano sound finally killed it for me as ‘main stage organ’ (this job went to Hammond SK1). Today the VR serves bread-butter-synth-sounds in ‘pop orientated’ songs and as travel keyboard.