Roland E-70 Intelligent Synthesizer

A while ago I bought a Roland E-70. Why would you want a 25 year old keyboard? Because when I was alot younger I had a E-30 and the E-70 was the top of the line keyboard back then. Thats why 🙂

They aren’t very valuable anymore these days and you should be able to find a nice one for 100 euro’s. The price back in the nineties was I believe 5000 Dutch guilders (around 2200 euro’s). So it was insanely expensive back then and used by semi-professional players who would use it to sing along in their one-man-band (wedding)party operation. Or just people who had one in their living room.

I picked this one up for 50 euro’s. I has 2 or 3 broken keys, a few keys that aren’t velocity sensitive anymore and is a bit dusty. I came with eleven music style cards to add extra  music styles (including a Beatles card and a card containing the Lambada. (wheeeeeeeeeeee :-))

I also bought a messed up E-86 with a entire octave of smashed keys. I looked it up in the service manuals and everything from the E-56 and up (except the way never models E-60 and E-80) share the same keys.

So i’m in the market for some replacement keys. I kept an eye on my favorite used stuff  website (marktplaats.nl) for the Netherlands and shortly a E-56 with one broken key and no power adapter popped up for cheap 5km’s from where I live. It was a sign 😀

So I got that E-56 and took everything apart.

The E-70 had a few broken keys that where glued back together. Functional but not very pretty.

Removing the old keys is a matter of removing the spring at the back (after you take the keyboard apart that is) and stick a flat screwdriver in the hole on top of the key and gently bend a small plastic lip keeping the key in place. For some reason this works fine on the white keys but I broke a few black one’s.. they seem more fragile so be very careful!

dav

I noticed something funny when looking at the mainboard of the E-70. Apparently it is also used in the E-36, the E-56 and the RA-90 (which is the small module version of the E-70) I had a look at the E-56 mainboard and it’s identical. Well except of a few missing chips and a different program / cpu chip.

I put everything back together and played the E-70 for a while. Old keyboard but still sounds great. I enjoyed it very much. Would you buy this for your 12-year old if he want’s to learn how to play keyboard? Not really. Although 25 years ago very few 12-year old’s (or their parents) could afford one it’s a bit dated nowadays. I see a lot of these old E-series on marktplaats.nl and here is what you should buy if you don’t want to spend to much money.

The older arranger keyboards from Roland are the E-series and G-series. The E-series are the home keyboards. They have 61 (non-weighted) keys and built in speakers. The G-series have 76 semi-weighted keys (with the exception of the G-600 which has 61 keys) and no built in speakers.

The problem with the numbering of the E- and G-series is that it is kind of erratic 🙂

The first E-series keyboards where in order of coolness: E-5, E-10, E-12, E-14, E-15, E-16, E-20, E-28, E-30, E-35, E-38, E-40, E-56, E-66, E-68, E-70, E-86 and E-96.

Ten years later they released the E-50, E-60 and E-80.. So the E-50 is way newer and cooler than for example the E-70… still with me?

Somewhere between the E-96 and the E-50 the E-100, E-200, E-300, E-500 and E-600 came out. There where all loosely based on other E-series models. Number wise it’s a huge mess. Luckily they all sort of look the same and work the same So if you figure out how an E-70 works you can play all E- and G-series keyboards 🙂

The keyboards came out in this order:

  • First Generation (1988-1991)
E-5, E-10, E-20, E-30
RA-50 (module version of the E-30), Pro-E Arranger (half an E-20, clueless why anyone would buy this)
  • Second Generation (1991-1993)
E-15, E-35, E-40, E-70
RA-90 (module version of the E-70)
  • Third Generation (1993-1996)
E-16, E-36, E-56, E-66, E-86
RA-95 (module version of the E-86)
  • Fourth Generation (1995 – 1998)
E-12, E-14, E-28, E-38, E-68, E-96, G-600, G-800
RA-30 (E-14 module??? no idea :-)), RA-800 (module version of the G-800)
  • Fifth Generation (1998 – 2001)
G-1000, E-300, E-500, E-600
  • Sixth Generation (2001 – 2005)
E-100, E-200
  • Seventh Generation (2005 – 2009)
G-70, E-50, E-60, E-80

I have had the E-50 (and many other E- and G-series) and it’s a very nice keyboard. It has a ton of good sounds and the option to expand the built in styles using a diskdrive or better: a CF memory card. This allows you to store thousands of new styles in the E-50 (and E-60, E-80) which makes it usable these days. It also has a style finder so when you setup the keyboard for a specific song you can make a snapshot of all settings and store them under the songs name. This makes it very easy to recall those specific settings.

You can get a E-50 for around 150/200 euro’s. The E-60 is exactly the same as the E-50 but has 76 keys instead of 61.

Of the old (first) E-series only the E-96 is somewhat nice. It has a built in diskdrive that allows you to load additional styles and it has user programs to store setups for songs. Price: approx. 150 euro’s. You can also buy the G-800 or G-1000 for around the same price. One octave extra and weighted keys but no built in speakers. The G-800 is the professional version of the E-96, technically identical but looks completely different and has more keys.

The E-80 is the flagship and has a very nice color touchscreen display and draw-bars for organ sounds. Very cool and you should be able to pick one up for 300-400 euro’s.

The E-80 equivalent is the G-70.

So.. bottomline: E-96, G-800/1000, E-50, E-80 or G-70 are still worth looking at. If you want something newer look at the BK-series.

Soon I will write a blogpost about my E-86 which I’m trying to rejuvenate by replacing the diskdrive for a usb stick reader thingy.

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17 thoughts on “Roland E-70 Intelligent Synthesizer

  1. Hi there…
    I also have an E-70 I was repairing to give to a friend.
    I dismantled it quit a bit. And saw this chip that says “S-10 Roland” and has 3 sections of digits from 0-9 (first doesnt have a 0 though), so it’s likely a software version… It is located on the big PCB about at the middle of the keybed and about where the key springs are.

    I was wondering if it is a chip used in their S-10 sampler as well…

    I have a photo but I cant upload it here.

    Any ideas/input?

    Like

    1. Ahh. Forget about my previous post. I just realized this photo of the S-10 chip is actually from a Roland S-10 sampler I opened up to try and take parts from, to repair the E-70.
      It was in the same directory as the E70 pics so I thought it was from the E70
      Sorry!

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    2. Hi, I doubt the chip is used in a S-10 as there is really nothing the 2 machines have in common except the brand name..

      Regards, Jorick

      Like

  2. Hi Jorick,

    I have a second hand E-70 again, after having been without one for ten years.

    There’s a thing that’s been bothering me: when I store a user program while having the “lower” and “manual bass” key on, it doesn’t store the fact that these buttons where switched on.

    It DOES store all the selected patches, and the “hold” buttons. Just not if the grey “upper”, “lower” and “manual bass” buttons were switched on or off.

    I can’t remember if this a defect, or it was always like this on the E-70. Do you remember? Or even better, do you still have an E-70 and can you test this for me?

    Like

    1. Hi Michel,

      I don’t have my E-70 anymore so I can’t test it. But is sound more like ‘it’s designed that way’ than a defect.. why would it remember every setting except those two? I read in the manual that you can choose which parameters to load. There are buttons for ‘Cancel Arranger’ and ‘Cancel Tones’. If you press ‘Cancel Tones’ only the arranger data for that user program will be loaded. It will not load the Tones but it will also not load the M BASS and LOWER settings.. Maybe you pressed that button?

      Regards, Jorick

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  3. I wanna know how to use my e-70 on fl studio 20 or just please tell me how to use it with your computer through midi and soundcard thx

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    1. Hi Ben,

      I don’t know Fl Studio 20 but there are 2 options to connect your E-70 to your computer. The modern way is to use a MIDI USB cable like the Roland UM-ONE. This has 2 midi plugs (midi in and out) on one end and a USB connector on the other end. The other way is using a MIDI cable that has 2 midi plugs and a game port connector that connects to your old Sound Blaster ISA sound card. This only works on old computers and I haven’t used this setup in a very long time.. If you choose to buy a USB MIDI cable don’t buy the cheap Chinese one with the white/silver cables and the little black box in the middle with a white music note on it (see link). This cable has a design flaw and will not work correctly.

      shitty MIDI USB cable

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  4. for Jorick – if you haven’t worked it out yet, it actually connects as two midi devices – sends as a keyboard and receives as a sound module

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  5. The E-70 has a nice feature that is kind of hidden. Besides de 128 GS sounds, you can select 128 MT-32 sounds via midi cc commands (the procedure is described on page 70 in the Dutch manual). The E-86 has a dedicated button for this function (variation).

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  6. Hi there, I lost my power adapter of the E-70 and I’m looking for a new one. I only know that it’s an “AC” adapter, but when I google AC adapters, I get a wide range of AC adapters with different types of connectors. Can you maybe tell me what the specific type is called? Is it something like this:
    https://www.oostendorp-muziek.nl/accessoires/adapters/roland-power-cable-01903356-ac-stroomsnoer-snoeren-kopen
    I hope you can help! Thanks!

    Like

  7. And there I thought I was the only geek when it came to those early 90s Roland E series. I had always seen them being used by professional wedding and event performers and I used to be crazy about the styles as a kid.

    I was wondering if the Lambada style you mention was this one (which is inbuilt into the E-66): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ECx8LCGSJJs&feature=youtu.be%20&t=23m12s

    And on a similar note, is the Lambada style card you mention it came with, the Dance 2 card (TN-SC1-12)? https://www.picclickimg.com/d/l400/pict/333855297269_/ROLAND-MUSIC-STYLE-CARD-TN-SC1-12-CARD-4-New.jpg – Roland had a couple of Lambada beats in those days but the one that really stuck is the one in the YouTube video so I was wondering if it’s the same one that came in that card?

    Appreciate your response!

    Thanks 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Claudio,

      Yes I think it’s the same style 🙂 Only on the fancier E- or G- series you can switch between 4 drum variations on most styles. This also works with the Lambada style when I load it into my G-1000 for example. Drum variation 1 is very basic and when you move up more drum sounds are added. Same goes for the arranger variations. On the E-66 you only have ‘original’ and ‘variation’. On the nicer E- and G-series you have 4 variations which add or remove some subtle accordion sounds 🙂

      grtz, Jorick

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  8. Hi, my name is Alberto from Italy. I have a old Roland E-16 that I use with a Korg concert piano. I love Depeche Mode but my Roland does not satisfy me. Roland E-70 sould do for me? I found one on offer at 50 euros. Thank you and good evening..

    Like

    1. Hi Dave,

      The E-70 was one of the better home keyboards of the 90’s. It still sounds good but it’s a bit dated now. The number of sounds is quite limited. 50 euro’s is a good price because I think it was 2000 euro’s when is was new. If you want lots of sounds that are also tweakable get a Roland FA-06 for instance. A lot more expensive but the possibilities are endless 🙂

      grtz, Jorick

      Like

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