Roland Intros A-88/A-49 MIDI Keyboard Controllers

Roland has introduced the A-88 and A-49 MIDI Keyboard Controllers.

The piano-action A-88 and synth-action A-49 feature high-quality keyboards along with portable design. They also offer USB, MIDI, and Apple iPad compatibility, as well as onboard control of Roland’s SuperNATURAL-powered synths such as the INTEGRA-7, JUPITER-80, and JUPITER-50.

Here’s what they have to say about the new keyboard controllers:

There’s no shortage of keyboard controllers on the market, but most have playability that’s far below the quality found in high-end digital pianos and synthesizers. With the A-88 and A-49, Roland is pleased to offer keyboard controllers that play like pro-level instruments, giving musicians mobile convenience with no compromises. From the bedroom studio to the big stage, these controllers truly deliver inspiring playability and top-level performance.

The A-88 MIDI Keyboard Controller

The A-88 features 88 full-size weighted keys and Roland’s Ivory Feel-G Keyboard with Escapement.

This is the same Progressive Hammer Action keyboard found in many Roland stage and home pianos, and allows users to play software-based pianos, soft-synths, and sound modules with an authentic grand piano touch. In addition, the white keys are built with a moisture-absorbing material that replicates the feel of real ivory.


  • Premium 88-key Ivory Feel-G keyboard
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Easy to use
  • Two knobs, two switches, and D-BEAM controller
  • Dual and Split keyboard functions
  • USB bus powered (also supports AC power)
  • Bundled with Cakewalk SONAR LE software

The A-49 MIDI Keyboard Controller

The A-49 controller features a premium-grade, full-size keyboard in a highly portable package.


  • 49 full-size keys with velocity sensitivity
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Two knobs, two switches, and D-BEAM controller
  • USB bus powered; no AC adapter required
  • Bundled with Cakewalk SONAR LE software
  • Pearl white and black finishes

Pricing and availability are to come.

25 thoughts on “Roland Intros A-88/A-49 MIDI Keyboard Controllers

  1. I have been waiting for a manufacturer to make a quality 88-key controller for a long time, but … what is this? Roland says “pro” and “quality” but no aftertouch, no ribbon controller, no pads, no joystick or sliders … what’s “pro” then? Hey, the day someone makes a keyboard with 88 weighted keys, polyphonic aftertouch and a ribbon controller will be the day i’ll give my cash. Otherwise, it’s 61 sprung keys …

    1. The people that actually buy 88-key controllers are probably a lot more likely to be keyboardists wanting to do piano and traditional keyboard style playing, rather than more synth style playing.

      For those type of players, aftertouch, sliders, ribbon controllers, mod wheels, etc are a waste of space.

      1. Not at all, I use 88 note keyboards split over several zones to play several different instruments.
        You will also find use for an 88 note synth with anything that uses keyswitches ie east west stuff.
        The argument is flawed as hey put mod a d pitch bend, why put that on a piano? A USB controller keyboard will most likely be used for piano AND synth, it the fore needed aftertouch.

  2. Yay, I can certainly see how Roland’s wise choice of direction with totally uninspiring product line led them to making plastic midi controllers… Hot dogs next stop.

    1. Huh? I have a PC-200 49-key controller that I picked up about 20 years ago… plastic keyboards are nothing new for Roland.

  3. I disagree!

    What is important on an 88-key keyboard is an excellent piano-like feeling (ivory-feel ‘waterfall-style’ keys and a good hammer action). All the other nonsense (including the d-beam and a bender) belong on a controller keyboard with ‘synth-action’ keys.

    I am very excited about this, and the A-88 will most likely replace my A-33 as my new master controller.

  4. It seems like everyone is waiting for a good 88 note contoller keyboard for our 1000’s of VST’s

    This isnt it. Its a piano without sounds or a controller keyboard without controls. It will be slated for no aftertouch- what kind of idiods design these products. Roland need to get a new design team, everything have done since the V Synth kinda sucks…..

  5. Interesting design choices, and I think they will appeal to gigging musicians. And did we expect anything else from Roland? I love my Oxygen 88, including it’s array of controls, but I wouldn’t want to drag it around to gigs! The A88 would be a far better option for live playing if you needed all 88.

    1. i love my oxygen 49…was thinking about the oxygen 88 but i haven’t played it yet….wondering how the feel is compared to the roland keybeds…does it have a good feel? also does it have aftertouch?

  6. As a life-long guitarist who recently fell in love with synthesis, I have a strict policy of never paying more than $100 for a keyboard controller. Because no matter how many keys there are or how they’re weighted, Im a horrible keyboard player that even the PBS piano guy would give up on. Bukowski wrote a book called “Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit” and that accurately describes my key skills. Luckily a newish iPhone app called Midi Guitar has been working out for me, let’s me play soft synths with my Gibson and Ive been able to say goodbye to the piano roll editor! Just a heads up for any fellow guitarists, you too can now play Stairway to Heaven on Sylenth! Lol

  7. I’m still looking for the perfect VST controller.

    I just want something with semi-weighted keys, LED ring endless encoders that auto-map in Live and a display that shows what parameters I’m editing. I don’t need transport controls or drum pads.

    I wish somebody would make this!

  8. is there anything out there with 88 notes, great feel, aftertouch, knobs and sliders? The Roland keybeds feel awesome for piano, but no aftertouch sucks…..I was thinking this mixed with a pair of the korg micro knobs (or whatever they are called) would be a solution, but the lack of aftertouch and modwheel doesn’t seem right…

  9. this would be perfect for stage if you are using a laptop or musebox with ivory, and some ep plug ins…not for synths…a lot of players only use a piano sound, and this would do the trick – still lame ….why include the d-beam and not the regular important stuff…

  10. I did take special note to what they said about the keys not wiggling horizontally, and that it can be subjected to repetitious behaviors. That was pretty cool.

    1. i have the a-88.

      these are full-fledged midi controllers with the ability to transmit msb and lsb for changing banks and patches, switching channels on the fly, adjusting key range and layering parts, as well as transmitting continuous controller messages. but rather than rely on tons of knobs and faders to accomplish this, roland focused on making the boards compact.

      there is a function key system, similar to how many laptops use a “fn” key to provide dual functionality for some of the keyboard keys, and when you press this the keyboard keys stop making notes, and allow you to press them in various combinations to trigger sequences of commands. the aftertouch button you see in the picture can be used in a number of possible command sequences, such as simply transmitting an aftertouch value, assigning the d-beam to aftertouch (which is what i do if i need it), making aftertouch only apply to a certain range of keys or particular midi channels, assigning a different physical controller such as the knobs or buttons to transmit aftertouch, or re-assigning aftertouch to be affected by another cc#.

      it’s pretty cool, how it works. i’m digging the current generation of roland design. some folks really don’t like it but they are providing tremendous quality and innovative design. i chose the a-88 because it is extremely lightweight and extremely easy to transport, yet retains full midi controller capabilities.

      in practice, when you have spent some time getting to know the board, you can very quickly switch and control your sounds with the function key system. you sort of build memorized “chords” in your head for certain repeated tasks and you can even make fairly sophisticated bank and control changes mid-performance with this method. you can also set up the patches you need old school, just lay em down in the order you’ll be cycling through them, and use the board’s dedicated program change keys to go up and down through your patch list.

      as well, many internal settings can be adjusted such as the board’s velocity curve, auto-off time, many of the initial default power-on parameters, and the midi control assignments of some of the physical knobs and buttons.

      also, the keyboard allows you to essentially store three different control schemes on top of one another and quickly switch between them, by allowing you to separate settings and control configurations between an “upper” solo part (basically disabling the lower split and extending the upper part across the entire keyboard), a “lower” solo part (ditto except it disables the upper split), and the “dual/split” combination of the upper and lower parts which can either be a layer or a custom split, as you require. depending on how you set these three parts up, you can have three very different control schemes going on in each of them, and then by pressing the ‘upper,’ ‘lower,’ or ‘dual/split’ buttons, switch between them on the go. this allows for some really interesting midi manipulation, depending on what sound modules or plugins you’re using and your aptitude for screwing around with midi cc’s and synth programming and what not.

      the one downside to this keyboard is that it is so thin, the brain has to be kept in a box which extends off the left side of the board. this makes the a-88 particularly long (it is not unwieldy though due to its light weight), and you’ll pay extra for a gigging case that’s long enough to comfortably accommodate it.

      it’s really the only thing out there like it.

      1. oh yeah. i totally forgot. the action on this thing is phenomenal. friggin’ amazing. the best i’ve ever played in twenty-two years of owning keyboards. and i have owned or spent at least several years with a yamaha s80 (long my favorite all-time keybed, recently supplanted by the a-88), a yamaha motif xs, a korg triton extreme, the akai mpk88 (also a midi controller, no onboard sounds but excellent action almost identical to a kawai concert grand) and a roland fantom g. so i’ve played some pretty nice boards.

        also, i’m a classically trained pianist who’s been playing for 25 years and has laid fingers on a number of multi-million-dollar instruments. i also have an appreciation for semi-weighted and synth action keys, too. but if you want something that takes your breath away with its sheer sensitivity and the tangible magic of playing a piano, i doubt you can spend this sort of money for more realistic action.

        the slight ivory texturing on the keys feels delicious under the fingers, it’s really pretty startling! go play one. the double escapement is so realistic, try playing the recapitulation at the end of the first movement of schubert’s trout quintet on most other keybeds, those machine-gun 32nd and 64th notes are not gonna be playable on most keybeds, they’re just too clunky in however it is they implement their action, too heavy to pull off realistic piano repetitions.

        eastwest’s piano lib shines with this board, because when playing those types of repetitions on the a-88, the piano samples trigger real repetitions and it is a very rich and lively bit of programming.

        the a-88 is currently serving as the gigging bottom board for a roland fa-06. it’s an excellent combination. i didn’t plan on owning two roland boards, i’ve actually never owned or really experienced their gear until this year and these two keyboards, but more than anything i’m a fan of the a-88’s ease of use and deep, yet compact control system.

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