Roland FR-4x Cable Management Video Tips

Roland FR-4x Cable Management

We put together this video is to give you come quick tips for your Roland V-Accordions. This clip gives some practical ideas for the safe use of the new FR-4x V-Accordion, with an emphasis on cable management in the music studio environment.

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Video Transcription

The purpose of this video is to give practical advice on how to safely manage cables when connecting your new FR-4x to external equipment. Of course, different people have different requirements in this regard. If you always play yourFR-4x on battery power, using it’s internal speaker system for sound generation, then you have no need for interconnecting cables and this video is not for you. Also, many people who wish to connect to external amplified speakers use a wireless system. That is a great solution for on-stage performances as well as for strolling in a restaurant and again, this video is not for you.

Still, many people working either on stage or in a home or professional music studio environment prefer having solid, hard-wired cable connection to AC power as well as to a variety of external devices. As electronic musical instruments evolve over the years they typically provide more and more features that require connection to external devices. Just look at what is provided on the fr4x!

In addition to the usual AC power adaptor, left and right audio output receptacles, and midi receptacles, you also have a USB to host receptacle for connection to a computer which you will need to do if you would like to customize your instrument’s sounds using Roland FR4x editing software. You also have something new on the 4x; a miniature stereo audio input receptacle for playing the audio from external devices through your FR4x. You might ask, “what good is that?”

One reason for plugging a cable into the new miniature stereo audio input receptacle is when playing with another musician like a keyboard player or electric guitarist and you want the two audio signal combined and then fed from the audio output of your FR-4x to external speakers or possibly to external recording equipment as well. This saves the need of the mixer. It’s a feature that has been common for years on high-quality keyboards and I’m happy to see Roland now including it on the fr4x.

You may also want to use this stereo miniature audio input connection feature if you want to play with a backing track, while at the same time recording your part of the performance using the FR-4x’s internal audio record to USB feature.

“What’s that”, you say? Why not just use the FR4x own internal audio player for that backing track?

Yes, of course, you can use the FR-4x’s own audio player feature to play a backing track during performances but you cannot do so, and at the same time, record your own playing using the FR-4x’s internal audio record to USB feature. This is made very clear on page 38 of the reference manual. You cannot start the recording while the player is playing back a song. It’s either one or the other.

In such a case, you need to feed your backing track into your instrument from a portable player, like this one. Roland’s reference manual mentions that. You do so by connecting the player to the miniature stereo audio input receptacle on your 4x. Note that when you do this, the FR4x’s record to USB feature records only your playing NOT the backing tracking being fed to the mini stereo receptacle. The FR4x was specifically designed to do that.

To construct your final recording, consisting of the combination of the 2 parts (backing track and your playing) you import both your backing track and your recorded performance audio files into separate tracks of multi-track audio editing software like Protools, Ableton, Cakewalk, or Garage Band. You can even use Audacity. This is standard studio practice. Of course, we all have different needs. Still, at Roxy’s, we foresee that on the FR-4x, many customers will want to make several hardwire cable connections to their instrument.

We want to encourage you to do it safely. An important consequence of hard wire connections is the need to stress relieve cables. By that I mean, protecting a cable from accidentally getting yanked out of its socket and in the process, damaging the receptacle inside the instrument. That can easily happen on an instrument like an accordion, which is attached your body. As you walk around in your music room, you might accidentally step on a cable. Or, you might get a cable caught on something. Roland is well aware of the danger of this happening which is why in their owner’s manual, and reference manual, they advise stress relieving all cables.

If you are using just the AC adapter cable like this, they recommend placing it under the bellow strap, like this. Now, the cable is better protected. If it accidentally gets yanked, the plug will not be so susceptible to getting yanked out of the receptacle. For higher numbers of cables, they recommend securing all cables to the bottom of the right shoulder strap using a velcro strip that they provide in the box with your instrument. But you will soon discover that such stress relief protection is a bit marginal. When I’m finished playing and I lock the bottom bellow strap, of course, I remove the AC adaptor cable from under the strap and now it’s loose. I could accidentally step on it as I get up from my chair. Besides, if I have 3 or more cables attached to my instrument, like perhaps this, they start getting tangled and difficult to manage. So, we at Roxy’s have proposed a better solution.

Cables can be better attached to the instrument by using a clip like this also called a carabiner, available at most outdoor sports stores, and a couple of tie wraps, or zip ties, as they are often called. Watch how I do it in the case of just a single AC power cable. First, I attach a medium sized zip tie to my instrument to the bottom bracket, like this. Next, I attach the AC adapter cable to the carabiner clip like this and I secure it with a small tie wrap like this. I’ve chosen bright colors for my tie wraps so that you can more clearly see them in the video. Now, all I need to do is attach the carabiner to the instrument like this. And, my AC adaptor cable is perfectly stress relieved. I can pull all I want on the AC adaptor cable and the plug is fully protected from being pulled out of its receptacle. Plus, I can still conveniently remove the cable whenever I wish to operate portable, using battery power.

The benefit of this carabiner clip solution becomes much more clear when you want to make more connections. If you work often in a studio environment, it’s not unrealistic to want hardwire cable connection to all of your instrument’s features: ac power, usb to computer, stereo miniature audio input, a midi cable. And maybe, you want to use some high-quality audio output cables like these Mogamis. They’re very popular in professional studios.

Just look at all these wires. How can I manage this? I can use the same carabiner clip solution that I used last time. But in this case, it is better to join the cables together into a harness. You can use sleeving material like this which you can purchase online. It comes in various sizes. Choose a size that is appropriate for the number of cables that you wish to have attached to your instrument.

Well, here I am with my home studio cable harness for use with the FR-4x. The sleeving wraps all the cables together making them much easier to manage. And at the same time, all plugs in the instrument are properly stress relieved. You see, I can pull all I want and not risk any damage to the various receptacles on the instrument.

I’m now hard wired into my mixer which feeds my audio amplifier-speaker system, as well as external professional recording equipment which I happen to be using right now to record my voice.

I have my midi connection plugged into my Roland BK-7m. Whenever I want to work with the fr4x editor software, I simply plug this USB connector into my computer. Similarly, if I want to patch into the FR4x a portable audio player, I do so using this miniature stereo connector. By the way, did you notice that the FR-4x does not have its own internal metronome? No problem. I just plug into a portable one, using the same mini-stereo connector. I can conveniently enjoy all these features and I don’t have to worry about tangled wires. Everything is neatly wrapped and easy to handle and I have no fear of damaging the receptacles on the instrument.

I’m now prepared in my home music studio for any kind of musical project on the FR-4x. And of course, the real advantage of this strategy for connecting cables to the FR-4x is that any time I want, I can simply remove it. All cables removed and I can use the instrument for portable operation on battery power. I can at any time conveniently reconnect all of these cables.

Now, of course, everyone’s needs are different. Not everyone needs to have hardwire connection to all of the features that you see me doing here. The reason I do it is because I do a lot of studio work. I do a lot of music recording, so I need to prepare myself for any kind of recording situation. Your requirements may require slightly less numbers of cables, that’s fine too. But this is what works for me.

I have one last tip to give on the safe use of your FR4x. As you know, it has a USB receptacle to accept a flash drive. If you wish to make heavy use of backing tracks, make audio recordings, or save and load user programs and user sets from a flash drive, you may find yourself inserting different flash drives into this receptacle often. Over the lifespan of your instrument, you may end up doing this thousands of times. The receptacle is of high quality, however, some inexpensive flash drives are poorly constructed and they can cause damage to the receptacle.

You wouldn’t want to damage your $4000 FR-4x just because you are using a cheap $1 flash drive that you bought at a discount store, would you? The way to protect yourself against this problem is to use a short USB extension cable called a port-protector cable.

Now, I insert the flash drive into the port protector cable. If the receptacle on the cable gets damaged by a cheap flash drive, I simply replace the cable with a new one. I can insert flash drives thousands of times without worrying that I will damage the receptacle in my instrument.

Actually, I find it easier to insert the flash drive up here than in the original receptacle location down here. If you don’t like the placement of the flash drive using this short 6″ port-protector cable, buy a longer one. They come in various lengths. Whenever I want to put my instrument in a gig bag, I remove the cable. Notice how I use a small transparent adhesive clip to keep the cable in place. I use port-protectors on all of my instruments.

I’m using one on my BK-7m. In this case, I’m using a longer one so that I can mount the USB flash drive on the side of the instrument like this.

I hope in this video I’ve given you some good practical ideas for safe use of your fr4x both on stage and in the home music studio. At Roxy’s, we are dedicated to helping you get the best use of your musical instruments. Everyone at Roxy’s wishes you success using your FR-4x.