I own a Korg R3 and a Roland GAIA SH-01. I like both because they allow easy creation of new sounds. But they each have their strengths.
The Korg R3's strengths are:
- Multi-timbral mode. You can make two timbres per patch, each one assignable to a midi track. If you are composing on your DAW, this makes the R3 twice as useful as the GAIA.
- Line input as a waveform!
- Many more waveforms to choose from than the GAIA.
- Software editor is included and free.
- There are 2 Osc and 2 LFO per timber on the R3, which might seem like less than the GAIA's 3 Osc and 3 LFO, but considering you can layer your timbre's for one massive sound, R3 is better.
Basically, I find I can make a wider variety of sounds with the R3, and use it for more things in my compositions due to the multi-timbral mode.
There are a few things the GAIA does better though:
- You can make sounds faster due to the intuitive front-panel and no menu diving.
- The build quality is a little better
- Better Polyphony (64 voice instead of 8 shared between two timbers on the R3)
- I've had better luck getting midi clock to sync properly with my DAW using the GAIA
I find myself quickly making very interesting sounds on the GAIA. There is something to be said for seeing every parameter layed out at once in front of you.
Really you should get both. I feel they complement each other. R3 for bass and leads, GAIA for pads and crazy evolving sounds. They are both powerful easy-to-use synths. Both hook up with USB for midi. Each allows backing up settings and user patches to your computer.