Roland Intros BK-9 Backing Keyboard

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Musikmesse 2013: Roland has introduced the BK-9 Backing Keyboard, their new flagship in their BK-series lineup of live performance keyboards

Even with a 76-note keyboard, the BK-9 is designed to easy to transport, weighing under 21 pounds (9.4 kg). It offers over 1,700 sounds and 70 drum kits. There’s also a Virtual Tone Wheel organ with harmonic bars, plus a User Tone area dedicated for future sound expansion collections from Roland.

Here’s a video overview:

Here’s a performance demo:

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The Roland BK-9

For accompaniment, there are 540 built-in rhythms. Via optional USB memory, users can add unlimited additional rhythms and play MP3, WAV, and SMF files as well. A powerful enhancement for live playing is the Mixer function, which allows for instant adjustment of rhythm and real-time part levels, MFX parameters, and more using the harmonic bars on the front panel.

Five independent multi-effects engines (MFX) offer an large range of sound processing possibilities, with three MFX dedicated to rhythms and two MFX dedicated to real-time parts. Two Mastering Processors allow stage performers to optimize the sound of the rhythm and real-time sections separately to suit particular venues and add final polish for recordings.

The BK-9’s interface has been designed for maximum efficiency and ease of use while performing, with a dual LCD system and simple, intuitive controls. Players can store up to 10 Favorite tones for each real-time part, an extremely convenient feature for live playing. There are 1000 onboard Music Assistants, and users can save unlimited Performance Lists to USB memory.

A built-in 16-track sequencer provides a professional platform for composing and editing SMF data, while the Rhythm Composer allows users to create and customize their own rhythms with ease. The convenient Chord Loop feature instantly captures rhythm backings as WAV audio loops, and also lets players build chord sequences from rhythms to use as the basis for song composing in the sequencer.

With the Audio Key function, audio files stored on USB memory can be assigned to the top seven keyboard keys, allowing for quick-access playback while performing. Additionally, BK-9 performances can be easily recorded directly to USB memory as CD-ready WAV audio.

Vocalists will appreciate the convenient XLR microphone input, which features phantom power, a dedicated reverb effect, and easily accessible front-panel controls. A Video Out jack is provided for displaying embedded MP3/SMF lyrics and chord symbols on an external display.

The BK-9 is compatible with Roland Wireless Connect, which provides cable-free communication with Apple’s iOS devices via Roland’s optional WNA1100-RL Wireless USB Adapter. Alternately, an iPad can be connected to the BK-9 with a USB cable when using Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit. Many free apps are available to enhance the BK-9 experience, including Air Recorder for jamming and capturing performances (iPhone/iPad), BK Partner for selecting tones and rhythms (iPad), Lyrics Viewer for displaying SMF lyrics (iPad), and a number of others.

Pricing and availability: BK-9 MSRP is $2999 (Street $2499).


52 thoughts on “Roland Intros BK-9 Backing Keyboard

  1. They have lost a chance to launch it on April 1st. This would have made more sense…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 3

  2. I guess people who gig on cruise ships or play weddings need keyboards too?

    To me, and i suspect most of us, this is a joke. Roland has not been relevant for years and this shit is not helping.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 3

    • This is the BK7m and keyboard in one, maybe it’s not for you, if you just sit in your bedrooms and play with yourselves with one finger. This is for true musicians who ‘can’ play that don’t want backing tapes when they play live. I’ve been using the Roland KF90 for the last 20 years playing live regularly and have never been able to find anything better to replace it with. I’m hoping this will tick most of the boxes. The only disappointment for me is the short scale (76 keys) and not proper weighted keys. Think of this as a piano/organ with accompaniment for musicians not a synth. It will sell well because it does what it’s designed to do.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. yawn. Roland’s back… to the same old boring workstation bs that nobody here cares much about. The question becomes why does each new product launch get covered by Synthtopia so? It almost feels a little antagonistic over the years of the same old Roland junk hyped here and slammed in the comment’s section. This is a synth site for synth fans, be it analog, digital, ios, vsti, etc. Why bother to cover products that don’t apply? Or is it just me?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 8

    • I’m totally agree. It´s very sad to contemplate suicide of Roland… In fact, I haven´t watched the video. I don’t care arrangers.
      The good part is another companys like Korg, DSI, Elektron, Clavia,.. are making synthesizers. Roland just stopped long time ago…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

      • I’ve just received an email from Roland wanting me to complete a survey and say want I think about the company. This should be interesting ;-)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        • The answer is very easy in the case they are asking you about their synths. About the company…¿? What are you able to say? They supposed to be the experts in managing and marketing, aren’t they?

          On the other hand, Korg asked to users 1 or 2 years ago about what kind of products people wanted. Maybe roland should do the same… Obviously they are lost now.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Ouch !! they just remade the E20 hahahaha OMG .. Id luv to see a photo gallery of the people that actually buy this.. the guy demoing this looks like he’s got the norwalk virus on a cruise ship.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

    • I can mail you my picture as I’m going to buy one. Imagine, I’m going to replace my Yamaha MoX with its Motif XS sounds by this BK-9 because it will have the BETTER grand piano and lots of other sounds which will be better than Motif XS. Have you tested this instrument already to be able to state it’s an E20? What a nonsense… I have the direct comparison between BK-7m and MoX available both at home, some sounds are better on the MoX, some are better on the BK-7m. Your comment is pure nonsense.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. Wow. I’m finding it really difficult not to see all this as some kind of elaborate joke, I’m waiting for the BK9 to whip off it’s stupid mask and reveal the new AB-x0x, or for the ad to suddenly stop, then spin back in with some unbelievable bass that blows my mind and my freakin’ eardrums !! YEAH!! …
    or (the ad stops again) to a slow tracking shot through the Japanese countryside, up the path of an old house, where one of the Old Masters of Analog has been holed up for twenty years, and now, finally, he’s finished his great work, his Magnum Opus, the Next Step in analog synthesis! The World has not been ready.. Until Now!

    Buuut

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

    • Buuut… I’m pretty sure now that that really isn’t going to happen. Not for a very long time anyhoo.

      Goodbye Roland,

      I’ll always remember you as you were, not how you are..

      *sob*

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  6. wow, what a let down….Roland truly out done themselves this time….it’s an all time low point in product releases.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

    • yeah I agree, this is totally under whelming, but I’ll probably buy one next year used :) cause I like to play live and this thing suits the one man band thing….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Roland will probably release a real music workstation later this year. This BK-9 is for a niche market,. These arranger synths are a-lot of fun and if used properly by a pro, you can produce an entire CD with just one. I have just using the G-70, which is essentially the old flagship arranger back in 2004. The G-70 is an under rated synth, I love it. I think the G-70 is better than the BK-9 which is kinda sad! The G70 has more features and even a color touch screen, the BK-9 doesn’t even have that. The main important diff between the G70 and the BK-9 is that the BK-9 is 25 pounds lighter. The G-70 is better looking also and is much larger. Make no mistake, the G70 sounds rival a Fantom X and Fantom G – in the right hands you can do just about anything with the G70, and I’m sure the BK-9 can also do alot more than people think. There seems to be a large back lash against these arrangers as if they are not real synths therefore they are less of an instrument and alot of people on here and you tube complain about them, meanwhile you complainers cant even play, you just tweak some knobs and play a few notes and you think you’re good…?! alrighty then……

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 16

    • Re Alex..I could not agree w/ you more.. i’m a Korg PA-800 user as well as an owner of a Korg M3. . Midi-up these 2 beasts, and one can create a “wall of sound” in real time w/ out having to wind up doing time like Phil Spector’s doing.. Seriously, these arrangers have most def. come a long way. I only wish they were less Internationally flavoured and more specific to progressive genres.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

    • …you just tweak some knobs and play a few notes and you think you’re good…?!

      And there my friend lies the difference between a synthesizer and an arranger LOL ;-)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Please first test the BK-9! My friend has changed G70 and buy a BK9 – it has not all the features like color DSP – but it SOUNDS BETTER! Regards and sorry for my English ;)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. I get it! They’re back…ing us with another backing keyboard. Clever Roland very clever, very suiting humour to your whole persona as of late!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  9. *Beams at the mighty JP-8 sitting in corner , glances over at the SH-2 then smirks a little at the JV1080 sitting quietly in the rack just in case it’s needed , turns back to the monitor showing the BK-9 , depression descends , starts sobbing *

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  10. That’s what I call a disastrous buzz… How do you call it?

    Oh yes :

    Epic fail!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  11. Yes, you can put this ugly thing far away in the background, very far away in the background.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  12. Does it have a d beam?

    I really wanted a cheap knocked down jupiter 50 called the jupiter 20, with all those lovely supernatural sounds + all editable, organ controls amd effects, in fact a bit like the new VR 09 but with more sounds, more features.

    They keep getting it wrong, all people call out for is contronable synth/keyboards, with knobs and sliders and they don’t respond….. Lets see what Nord have to offer….

    I want a prophet 12 which I’m hoping will be the digital.analog hybrid equivalent to the jupiter 6/8 but costing less!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  13. Well interestingly enough, Roland just announced the appointment of a new President. The PR is below. It seems rather strange, yet he clearly realises that people are not happy within the second line of the statement. I doubt that they will make a dramatic change yet we shall see.

    The Roland Corporation have announced the appointment of a brand new president – Jun-Ichi Miki takes over the reigns of this globe-spanning industry leader and laid out his vision for the company in the following statement:

    “The Roland group of international sales and manufacturing companies is firmly tied to a fundamental philosophy. The entire Roland family strives to listen to the voices from the market and to inspire the enjoyment of creativity through the development of exciting new products and applications. Our goal is to be evermore valuable and inspiring to customers, the industry and society while staying true to Roland’s fundamental slogan, ‘We design the future”

    Miki has been with Roland since 1977 and has seen the company push innovative technology and musical instruments to the next level. He was heavily involved in the development of the HP-2700 and FP-8 digital pianos, JV and XP series synthesisers, SRX series expansion boards, C-30 digital harpsichord and the VR-09 V-Combo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. The stupidity in some of the comments is astonishing. Why would you waste time commenting on something that is clearly not aimed for you. To the morons out there who try to compare this to analog or gear designed for synthesis, you do realize these probably sell more than all the niche-market synths put together. There is a reason Roland is probably one of the most successful MI companies in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my modulars and Analog 4, etc. but to complain about this shows you probably need to get out more. Maybe get a job playing a few gigs.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 15

  15. The part I don’t get is the two screens. That seems terribly wasteful since it involves two sets of wiring on the circuit board, 2 points of failure that can go wrong and so forth for no particular benefit, especially when there are many workstations with quality color screens. Indeed, quality color screens, with touch sensitivity even, are cheap right now because so many are being made for smartphones.

    I know there’s a market for this kind of keyboard and I’ll defend Roland’s reasons to keep making them, but this is a horrible design. Oh well, i guess it depends on whether they hit a decent price point or not. I’m guessing $1399 though. If it’s under $999 it’ll do well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • Not even close… I saw an European price of 2100€. So even without taxes or so, it would mean around $2000…

      Do you still think it’s gonna sell well?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      • yeah if its $2000 forget it… if its closer to $1000 it would probably do ok in sales. It will probably be over $1500 though.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. If you look more deeply, what you often find with arrangers is serious flagship guts inside auto-sheep’s clothing. I mean, an XLR input, a 16-track sequencer, generous effects, iPad connection, etc. Its really a pro workstation with a section of convenient backing material. The form isn’t right for me, but I can easily imagine not only hobbyists and casual-date players using it, but even a few serious composers who want the huge set of great voices and just basic programmability. (I had a pal using Cubase whom I had to thrash until he stopped using an old Casio for his controller! I finally got him to see the need for velocity sensing and a little on-board routing means.)

    Roland didn’t FAIL to build a super-duper new synth; they updated a quality arranger that blurs a few more lines between itself and a Fantom-class workstation. Personally, I see nothing at all wrong with having a certain crowd take this over a home organ. Its more synthy and therefore, BETTER. :D

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  17. I’ve liked my Roland gear over many years, so all the hair-pulling amuses me. I’ve been really impressed with the Gaia, the VR-09 and the 64-note piano with added voices. Those things are savvy and practical. After this new BK, I wouldn’t be surprised to see words eaten when they release a new workstation that ups the ante. These are the people who designed the V-Synth, so they know how to zag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. Worst videos ever…………..
    I have no issues whatsoever with backing keyboards, but they were shockingly bad. It’s really hard to tell if the keyboard is actually any good on this evidence. It was like some weird Little Britain sketch meant to take the piss out of wedding players lol.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  19. Thank You Roland!!! This is an awesome little keyboard. It is just what I need…. as something to put under my desk to stop it wobbling ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  20. I have several Roland synths, for example, Jupiter 6, Jx 10, Jx 8, Jx 3, Juno 6, JD800, D-50, D-70, S770, TR 505, 606, Fantom X etc.. I could go on. I also have an arranger, the Roland G-70 Music Workstation from 2004. Why? Because it is a great song writing tool, it gives me ideas. Also I’m a one man band and I don’t want to bring 7 vintage synths with me, so the G-70 fits the bill . Arrangers are alot of fun, you can try many different styles and program your own complex arrangements to suite your style. There are things these arrangers can do that the Fantom G can’t. If you love playing a wide variety of styles then these arrangers are perfect for that. The BK series are an updated version of Roland’s line of arranger keyboards, which in the past were pretty crap but with the G-70 they broke the mold, it still is Roland’s best arranger, rivals anything from Korg or Yamaha. If you want a Roland Synth go get a V-synth, its amazing, this BK-9 is not a synth, its an arranger, if you guys knew how to play you wouldn’t be complaining – if you want analog go buy a Jupiter 6 or something on ebay. I’ve had about 50 synths in the past 30 years and I started on a huge Lowrey organ back in the late 70′s – those Lowreys were essentially arrangers with a massive price tag – that home organ market is pretty much gone now but these lighter cheaper arrangers are in style now and they are sounding much better all the time. (Roland always had a “home/semi pro” line along with their pro line, if you guys knew the history of Roland you would know this.) The G-70 had a professional sound chip in it – same as the Fantom hence the great sounds, the older Roland arrangers from the 80′s and 90′s suffered from shitty sound chips, the BK line has a more pro sound chip in it. I’m still waiting for a new Roland work station, like the rest of us are… the BK-9 is ok but it’s not what we are looking for, but if the price is reasonable I’d buy it to play live, as the G-70 is too heavy, it weighs allmost 50 pounds, and I’m a one man band.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  21. I am a newby player and came to this site hoping for guidance. You are dissing the new Roland, but what else can do the job at the same price point, with quality sounds (decent sax, piano, B3 etc)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  22. I’ve just received an email from Roland wanting me to complete a survey and say want I think about the company. This should be interesting ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  23. Well, Roland Channel enabled the comments again on their Youtube channel. I wonder how long it will take for them to disable it again due to negative feedback from the community. I suggest that you all give your feedback to them while you can, so that they can listen up and hear what you have to say. This isn’t a step forward for Roland. They will go down hill if they continue like they do. Look at Korg, Clavia. They are doing the right thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Priced below the Tyros 4. Would make a good candidate to replace my aging PSR-S900. Always missed the extra keys after I replaced the Casio WK-3500 with the PSR. For me it is perfect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. One more good or bad Rompler. So what? Where is the Surprise? There are back from where timeline? 1970 or 1990? To be back or not to be back?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Most post are pure nonsense bashing here. I agree Roland’s marketing and way of presentation is quite a desaster, but what about the sounds the instrument has to offer? First of all, the demos don’t reveal many of the sounds yet, so one cannot condemn the instrument at this time. But I own a BK-7m and also a Yamaha MoX, and I know that e.g. the BK-7m pianos are more realistic than those of the MoX (which has the same sounds as the Motif XS). It’s perfectly clear that BK-9 will be even better – from the pictures I can see that it will have 3 supernatural pianos, most probably the same as in the Jupiter and some renowned Roland stage pianos. I am probably going to buy the BK-9 and replace the imprint “Roland BK-9″ with “Yamaha” in view of the anti-Roland mood…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  27. S’funny, but all the guys who have a G-70 like myself, seem to talk a lot of sense. the rest….well. The G-70 is too darned heavy, the technology is outdated, and the coloured flashy lights are not to everybodys taste and you can’t record vocals. So what have Roland done. it’s light, it’s got a pen drive, the black makes it just about acceptable in a band environment, and the quality recording of vocals and synth is something I’m desperate to try out. Anybody who’s been in the band game for a LONG time will know it’s how a synth ‘drives’ that’s the all important thing .It’s got to be instantaneous for changes,so the addition of the top eight or nine keys for your most used sounds is a brilliant idea. Like most guys who have one I love my G-70 to bits and when i played with James Burton (name drop time) he seemed to think it was pretty good too. So fingers crossed this thing will be just what i’m after. Shame about the no touch screen though!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  28. I think it’s great that Roland have released this, especially now that I’ve seen the price online – it’s much cheeper than the other keyboard I’d love – Yamaha’s Tyros 4.
    This should help drive prices for professional arranger keyboards down, hopefully to levels normal musicians can afford.
    The Korgs are good too, but (like the Tyros) very expensive.
    Korgs’ tendancy to complicate things that should not be complicated can be irritating, so an affordable, programmable professional arranger keyboard from Roland is most welcome!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. As mentioned by some of you, this is an arranger, build for one man bands or other live musicians who most of the time play weddings or other parties. I don’t own the BK-9 but I’m a long time Korg PA user. I still use the PA1X today because the money for the current pa3 isn’t worth it. The majority of the sounds and features are still the same. Options for the pa1 have been implemented as standard for the pa3, so what’s the real difference that could justify the price tag?I’m about to hate the digital sounding e-piano’s on the Korg (which I loved for years) Same goes to say about the Tyros and PSR series I believe. Every arranger has it’s flaws. I like the korgs double sequencer that can play midi’s and mp3′s. But I would love to have a few guitar sounds from the Tyros range. I can hear on some well produced demo’s that the BK-9 has very good organ sounds, synths and the supernatural piano and jazz guitar sound quite nice too. Don’t you think it’s a little stupid to have a bad opion on this arranger based on a few demo’s that other people play on the internet? I’m sure a good performer can make a 250euro keyboard sound better than a bad player performing on a Tyros/PA/BK-9. So go out and just try one out yourself. Opinions and taste differ.
    Anyway, I’m glad Roland is still trying to make good arrangers and I’m sure this one will sell. Probaby to people who are a little tired of the Korg PA sounds (like me) and don’t want to spent a lot of money for a 61 keys Tyros with no mp3 playback (sorry I sometimes use backing tracks which I create at home) or want a decent 76 keys arranger with good sounds, lot’s a styles, a professional sequencer, audio loop and lot’s of modern input options (even an iPad app for those who need touch-screens).
    So yes, the BK-9 is no revolutionary arranger with gigabytes of supernatural samples and styles, 10 inch touchscreen, SSD hard drive, dj app for midi, audio, video and karaoke, tc helicon voice processor, analog synth, virtual analog synth or synthesiser. But I think it will give you plenty of fun playing. and isn’t this more valuable than having all the other stuff?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Hello! i have a bk9 and bought a wireless contection by usb….Where do i put user styles , mp3,midi files , audio keys in USB if i use the wireless conection? i bought one today and i do not see the way to work with both things. wireless controler by i pad and keep my programs , songs … etc… what is wrong? can you help me? thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. This reminds me – I have an old G-800 lying in the basement that does not power on. Opened up the hood and it seems like the pin in one of the white connector things is bent. If I pop out the connector and gently put it back it – (it kind of sparks) then the machine turns on. Any suggestions? The local guy wants $200 just to take a look at it – so I ain’t going there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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