“No previous experience required”: Roland puts its ZEN-Core synth engine into the beginner-friendly GO:KEYS 3 and 5 “music creation” keyboards

Roland certainly isn’t precious about putting its ZEN-Core synth engine into ‘non-synth’ hardware. We’ve seen it in digital pianos, and now it’s found its way into the new GO:KEYS 3 and 5, so-called ‘music creation’ keyboards that are designed to be played by anyone, “no previous experience required”.

It’s been almost seven years since the release of the original GO:KEYS - and also its sister product, the GO:PIANO - so you might say that these successors are long overdue. They can be played like any other keyboards, if you wish - each model contains more than 1,000 sounds - but there are also a variety of features that provide varying levels of musical assistance.

These include ready-made chord progressions in a variety of styles so that you can play over the top of them, plus the option to create your own. These backing parts can also be ‘remixed’, and you can apply effects.

There are also ‘dynamic’ accompaniment options that can be controlled with one or two fingers in the left hand as you play chords, melodies and solos with your right; a contemporary twist on the auto-accompaniment features that were found in home keyboards of yesteryear, it seems. 

Roland GO:KEYS 3 and 5

(Image credit: Roland)

The GO:KEYS 3 and 5 have velocity-sensitive, 61-note keyboards and built-in speaker systems. They share the same core functionality, but the ‘passive radiator’ speaker system on the 5 promises extended bass response, and this model also comes with a mic input, vocal effects and additional audio connectivity.

Both models have Bluetooth support, though - for audio and MIDI - and both are compatible with the Roland Cloud subscription service, which serves as a portal to more sounds and accompaniment styles (the exact nature of these is still to be confirmed). There’s support for Roland Cloud Connect, too, a wireless adapter that enables you to browse, audition and download your content via a smartphone or tablet.

The Roland GO:KEYS 3 is available now in turquoise, dark red and midnight blue colour options, and costs $350. The GO:KEYS 5 is offered in graphite and white and costs $500.

Find out more on the Roland website. The GO:KEYS 3 and 5 are available now from Sweetwater (US) and Thomann (UK/Europe)

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

All-access artist interviews, in-depth gear reviews, essential production tutorials and much more. image
All-access artist interviews, in-depth gear reviews, essential production tutorials and much more.
Get the latest issue now!