I agree in certain with CBS_TBL on the advances of software. Hardware romplers must push further, because nowadays, lots of sofsynths, can do what romplers can. Just get a MIDI controller.
But also, they will always have a place on bands of mainstream music or churches, despite the advances of software tools, the "keyboardist" is almost indispensable with his brassy lead.
Some of them can actually be an infinite source of patches from scratch....
After 6-7 years, I still in love with the command stations. IMO they are the best romplers ever along with the JD800. I have abandoned them for some time, mostly because I had to dedicate time to my other gear, but after a time, forgetting them, and using other synths, I start again on them to create sounds from scratch, and I can be less than satisfied with their sound. They are truly understimated machines.
In my opinion, a rompler like a command station, have nothing to envy from most of the VAs of the market. It depends a lot of the sounds you have installed on it, but the EMU romplers, with their 4 to 12 waves architecture per patch and its complex patchcord section and tons of filters, (you can link any parameter to almost any destination like on modular synths) are truly powerful devices.
In fact, the last synth that I would sell from my gear, is the command station. And I'm being objetive. No obssession with it. It is the only synth from my setup, that always provides me with a satisfactory answer. Other synths (like the Waldorf or the JP8080) can create better sounds, but the command station always offers something else to that sound. It is just a very genuine invention from EMU that can't be missed.
For example, I can layer twelve instruments inside a patch. Then I can create crossfading between them. I don't know, I can crossfade AMP, filter, wave loop, wave re-start, pitch, wathever. Also, link the crossfading, with the key velo, the key range, or the CAT, or other elements Also, I can modulate the speed of the LFO2, with the curve of the LFO1, and make them interact on hundreds of forms. And they do not have onle square, and saw and sine and S&H an random LFOs. They have an arsenal of around 20 different LFOS to choose from.
And I can assign 12 or more different functions, to any of the 16 knobs. So a single knob tweak, can modify each one of its 12 waves on a different way. And I can modulate what knob A does, with the knob B movement or viceversa. A total of 192 different tweaks, can be assigned to 16 knobs.
multiple parameters can be linked to multiple destinations. Lag processors, quarterclock shifters, pink noises, different types of randomizing effects, can go and affect filters, amps, pitch, and other bunch of properties.
I mean, EMU's last cool product, is in my opinion, ,is a glorification to the imagination and creativity when manipuling sampling instruments.
I love them to death, but still wanting my JD800!.
just a list of the romplers I have owned
Ensoniq TS 10
2 command stations
Roland MC 505, 307, D2 and MC 909
11 in total and the EMU shines over all the rest.... Still having on my sight the JD800
I believe more, on having a bunch of sounds that can be morphed and tweaked on multiple and creative ways, than having a rompler with a terabyte of sampled sounds, than can be tweaked or edited on the traditional way.
PD: AG, you should lay your hands over a Kurzweil K2600....
that's where the violins go when they die....
G&S: Never be so stupid as me and sell your Ts10. In fact, it was my second synth after the Ensoniq SQ1 plus (truly limited synth) . I was too young and understimated it. Now that's the synth I regret the most from selling. I remember it could not sample, but it could load samples, and put one per key, something very innovative for early middle nineties.