USB keys and the FR-8X

August 17, 2019

A common question with V-accordion users is which USB thumbnail drives work on our Roland V-Accordions?  These are also known as USB sticks, a USB key, thumb drive, flash drive, pen drive, or memory stick.  It is a type of memory stick that is usually small enough to put into your pocket, making data highly portable and fits in to the USB connector on the front of your 8X.

V-accordion owners use these devices to store many things like:

  •  Expansion Sounds
  •  User sets
  •  User Programs
  •  WAV recordings, loops, backing tracks
  •  Firmware updates

So why do some people say that their USB keys work and others say that theirs don’t?  The answer to that is fairly simple, because there really is only one limitation that Roland defined, and that is that the V-Accordion will not recognize any USB device that has a formatted file system on it other than FAT32.  Per Roland, to be used on a Roland V-Accordion, it must be FAT32 to work. So keep the maximum size of your flash drive at 32GB or less.

The next factor is operating system.  I am a Windows 10 user and Microsoft, to protect and hedge bets for their NTFS file system, places a partition size limitation of 32GB.  I don’t use Linux or MacOS, so if I want to read a USB drive on my PC **and** use it with my 8X, it cannot be  larger than 32GB.  

I’ve tried dozens of USB keys in my 8X and had no issues placing or accessing the data, so unlike what Roland suggests, you can use a USB key other than the ones that Roland suggests that you must use, pretty much all brands will work.  I’ve even used a 128GB SanDisk drive, BUT… the first partition was formatted FAT32 and no bigger than 32GB!

I’ve used USB sticks from Best Buy, Staples, Costco and yes, even Walmart quite successfully.  The ones from are particularly attractive as they are very low cost.  As an example… five 16gb drives for just under $23.  You could have 1 main one and 4 backups to keep things super safe!:

So why use a larger key?  Well, a 4GB is already overkill for most tasks, however, USB key sizes are increasing and prices are dropping.  So though one can use anything up to a 32GB drive, a 4-8GB is ideal (and cheap!) but they are getting harder to find, and in terms of bang for the buck a 16GB size seems the best deal to size ratio and they are still very easy to find and are cheap.  So though the first 1/2-GB may be all the expansion files and backups, the rest could be space used to record your music on, and a 16gb USB stick will let you record for many hours worry free. 

Don’t bother paying for USB 3.0 USB key drives, the Roland accordions do not use or support this standard, so save your money for the old standard USB v.2.0 keys.

BTW, speaking of back-ups, always make at least 2 or more copies and place them on different media.  For example, I use the USB keys, for sure, but I also keep a copy on my laptop, copies on my NAS (network area storage) and a copy on a small 512GB external drive that I save just for my FR-8X related files.  This is a smart thing we all need to do!

That’s it for now… enjoy!

5:32 PM 4/10/2016