Historical background

Because General MIDI, a norm developped in the 1980s, is lacking a lot of instruments and drums, as well as some effects, Roland developed in the 1990s their own Roland GS instruments sets that extended greatly General MIDI, popularized with the Roland Sound Canvas instruments. Similarly, Yamaha developped the concurent Yamaha XG extensions.

The 1990s, decade of GM-extensions modules

The last Roland Sound Canavas models, the SC8820 and SC8850, were released approximately in 2000, but Roland continues to produce and improve full-featured MIDI keyboards instruments to this day.

Modern day (as for 2018) situation

I'm unfortunately not knownledgeable, but I assume that due to technological improvements and cheap memory, keyboards released recently (as 2018) should be able to recreate much more realistic/better sounding than keyboards or Sound Canvases released in 2000.

It seems however that for all practical purposes modern synth music produced past 2000 gradually abandonned General MIDI extentions such as Roland GS and Yamaha XG, towards other features I'm not familiar with. Modern Yamaha synths seems to have dropped full-featured XG support, only supporting so-called "XG lite", that is a subset of XG which is here just for backwards compatibility.

According to Roland's website, some of the latest generation arrangers such as the E-A7 and E-09 do not show Roland GS compatibility, only General MIDI. However the BK-3, BK-5 and BK-7 still shows compatibility with Roland GS and the GS logo is there on the keyboard.

So my question is : Is this compatibility in the recent keyboards just a "backward compatibility" feature similar to Yamaha's, or can I fully profit of the 18 years of technical progress and still benefit of Roland GS standard ?

Because the BK-3 is significantly more expensive than the SC8820 or SC8850 or other old keyboards released ca. 2000, I should make sure I'm not wasting my money if it will not sound significantly better.

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