Roland A-800 Pro Midi Keyboard Controller [Review]

Don’t Get The Wrong Impression, Ever!

Roland A-800 Pro Midi Keyboard ImageRoland has its own DAW brand called Cakewalk which most of us audio engineers are familiar with.

Cakewalk is quite a cakewalk when used properly, to be honest.

However, making a keyboard for the use of just one DAW (Sonar) is a bit selfish.

But hey, it’s Roland’s flaghship, the A-800 Pro.

Besides, have you ever tried it with another DAW? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time you did.

Read more about: Great Midi Keyboard Controllers


A Well Built Design

One thing’s for sure when you look at the Roland A-800 Pro; it’s well-built. It’s got lots of options not just for Cakewalk but also for plenty of DAWs of your choice out there. Or so it claims.

It was actually a revival of the “Cakewalk by Roland” controller, which also has Sonar as its DAW as mentioned earlier since Roland became major shareholders in Cakewalk.

You’ll understand that after seeing the Roland A-800 you could be a bit “dizzy” simply because of the generous number of controls available to you.

Despite the ton of controls available to you, the keyboard could still use USB bus power to give you the controls you need to make this controller effective with some good velocity and aftertouch control.

Roland A-800 Pro From AsideBut Roland wanted the keyboard to be more than just a performer. In fact, Roland has the intent to show that it is a studio controller. It has:

  • nine sliders,
  • nine dials,
  • eight ‘Dynamic Pads’ and…
  • a full complement of transport controls.

It leaves one to question.

Why would Roland design or use a previous design of a keyboard for a certain DAW when it has multiple transport controls?

Yet, I was able to use it on my DAW Reaper. In fact, it is quite useful on ALL kinds of DAW available today, to be honest (a friend tried it on GarageBand and it works like a charm).

Along with transport controls we have octave switches, keyboard split editors and preset or user setups, all accessible through the controller.

Roland A-800 Pro From Above


Software Integration

Again, it wasn’t just designed for Sonar even though plenty of people say that it’s just for Sonar since it’s Cakewalk and Roland (grow up guys).

Although it has a bundle of Sonar 8.5 LE and three different virtual instruments including:

  1. Rapture LE
  2. Cakewalk Sound Center and…
  3. Studio Instruments Drums,

It allows you to get a major feel of how things will work out between you and the A-800.

To be honest, it’s useful with most DAWs. But it takes some time to set up.

Then again, have we ever found a MIDI keyboard controller that was not easy to set up? Of course we didn’t.

Compliments to its hardware design team. When I was using it, I didn’t have to move from the controller to my computer keyboard and mouse. In fact, I could select everything from the interface.


So What Are My Thought About This Piece Of Craft

I was integrating the entire keyboard to Propellerhead’s Reason and it still worked like a charm. While it may say it was very much compatible to Sonar in many ways, if you tinker with it a little bit you’ll find that it sits well with most DAWs in the industry.

It’s actually safe to say that this keyboard is something that can give Roland that extra push it needs to again be on top of the keyboard game.


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