Roland digital piano reviews

Roland digital piano reviews DEFAULT

Roland produces some of the finest, most well-crafted digital pianos on the market today. Because of this, Roland digital piano reviews praise the instruments for their sound, realism, and overall quality.

In this short guide, we will take a look at the top Roland pianos to help you find the best Roland pianos for sale today.

Our Top 3 Picks

BEST CHOICE

Roland RD-800

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PREMIUM PICK

Roland RD-64

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BEST VALUE

Roland F-120

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Benefits of Choosing a Roland Digital Piano

Buying a Roland electric piano is a great choice if you demand the best in sound, key action and quality. While there are great things about any piano brand, there are several key characteristics that Roland piano dealers are quick to point out. Here are the top benefits of choosing a Roland digital piano:

Benefits of Owning a Roland Digital PianoBenefits of Choosing a Roland Digital PianoQuality of Construction

Roland digital pianos are crafted in such a way that the instrument’s not only look excellent, they are built to last forever. Some of the upright, cabinet models that the company has designed look every bit as elegant as a quality acoustic piano and have a durable construction that will not break easily.

If you are wanting a digital piano that is crafted with all the care and precision that a good instrument deserves then purchasing a Roland digital piano or Roland piano keyboard is a great choice.

Benefits of Owning a Roland Digital Piano

Benefits of Choosing a Roland Digital PianoRealism

In both the sound and key action, Roland pianos are renowned for playing just like an acoustic piano. Roland digital piano reviews praise the instruments for having a highly realistic key action and a powerful sound engine that is able to produce rich and nuanced notes.

If you are looking for a digital piano that plays as close as possible to what you would get out of a quality acoustic piano there are many digital pianos from Roland’s catalogue that would be a great fit.

Benefits of Owning a Roland Digital Piano

Benefits of Choosing a Roland Digital Piano

Innovation

Roland is leading the charge in pushing towards newer and better innovations to put into their digital pianos. The company staffs a large amount of engineers and musical professionals who work in tandem to create technology to put inside of the company’s newest digital pianos.

Because of this each Roland electric piano in the company’s catalogue is equipped with a number of innovations that makes the piano play, sound, and function far better than the competition

Benefits of Owning a Roland Digital Piano

Benefits of Choosing a Roland Digital Piano

Value

Roland piano prices are not usually very low just by themselves, but they are low when you consider the value that you are getting.

Roland instruments retain their value very well and are priced at a point that makes them a bargain when you look at the instrument you are getting. Roland digital piano prices may not be as cheap as some companies, but they do provide a great bang for your buck.

Roland has been at the forefront of creating unique and innovative products since 1972. Roland digital pianos are famous for their excellent playing capabilities, reliability and sturdy built. Roland’s professional stage pianos cut across different budget ranges so you can get a good instrument that fits your budget and will adequately cater for your needs. Roland is expected to continue shaking the market in 2021 with its exciting range of products. Even as other products make a debut into the market, the following Roland digital pianos are expected to remain at the top in 2021.

Reading through a Roland piano review is a great way to learn more about the instrument. To help you find the best Roland piano keyboard for you, here are our Roland digital piano reviews:

Roland Digital Piano Reviews 2021

1. Roland RD-2000 Digital Piano

Roland RD-2000 digital piano is the latest product in the RD series of stage pianos. The RD-2000 is a game changer considering it incorporates both the popular V-Piano sound engines and Roland’s SuperNATURAL. If you love portability, this ultra-portable unit will impress you with charming real piano sounds you’ve never heard before. Not only does this digital piano have excellent sound, the play is superb. Roland RD is built with Roland’s PHA-50 Key Action that is responsible for the weighted feel of real piano keys. This piano is packed with sounds, features and rhythms that make it stand out from its peers not forgetting the charming looks.


2. Roland RD-64 Digital Piano

Roland RD-64 features an authentic piano touch and sound in a light and easy to carry keyboard. Just like the RD-2000, RD-64 has Roland’s SuperNATURAL piano sound engine for attaining realistic acoustic piano sounds as well as numerous SuperNATURAL based electric pianos. This instrument comes with a 64-key Ivory Feel G-Keyboard, superior quality stereo reverb as well as EFX1 and EFX2 processors. The processors enable enhancements which are designed to work with each tone category. In addition, Roland RD-64 has 12 versatile tones.


3. Roland RP-102 Digital Piano

Roland RP-102 is an excellent choice piano for learning as it comes Partner 2 Music Learning Android/iOS App. This keyboard is loved by learners and it features SuperNATURAL sound engine and Roland’s PHA-4 Keyboard Action that both ensure an exciting and realistic piano use.  The good news is the RP-102 happens to be Roland’s most affordable digital console piano which is a good thing for beginner players that want a good digital piano that isn’t too expensive. Other key features associated with Roland RP-102 include Ivory Feel Weighted Keys with Hammer Action ensuring comfort while playing, Bluetooth MIDI Connection to unlock and allow integration with a host of apps, Multi-layer sampling for rich piano sounds and a compact and lightweight design to enhance portability. There is no doubt, this piano is the ideal choice for both home and performance musicians.


4. Roland FP-80 Digital Piano

Roland FP-80 has a captivating design and is super portable. Just like other previously discussed Roland models, FP-80 also uses the popular and top rated SuperNATURAL technology that delivers natural sounds accompanied by an authentic key feel. There are a host of exciting and unique digital features that improve composition and practice. Rhythm accompaniments help you to building your timing and groove when using different music styles. The Roland FP-80 comes with an ivory feel S-keyboard with 88 keys and a Fixed Touch Hammer Response. It work with numerous MIDI formats and has a wide scope of digital and piano tones. Roland FP-80 is a versatile instrument that can be comfortably used not only in a classroom setting but at home or for stage performances.


5. Roland V-Piano Digital Stage Piano

Roland V-Piano

Are you looking to take your 2021 stage performances a notch higher? Roland V-Piano is a great choice to consider. This 88-key PHA-III Ivory feel keyboard comes with Roland’s escarpment mechanism and gives you the freedom to tweak the feel of the virtual hammer. Using this keyboard, you have an unmatched simulation of a real piano.

The V-Piano has 24 preset tones, 100 various set-ups and 100 user tones. You can also come up with your own collection or make your selection from nicely crafted vintage grand-piano presets. Roland V-Piano is simple to use thanks to its simple interface and well-designed control panel.


6. Roland Go

Roland Go is a 61-key digital piano that is ideal for learners and comes with a compact and lightweight design for easy usage. This piano has numerous transpose, metronome and recording features which are all key for beginners. Given its lightweight, you can conveniently move with it from one place to another. It also comes with expressive touch response and the standard full-sized keys borrow their inspiration from keyboards on acoustic grand pianos.

An ivory touch surface offers you a comfortable feel that helps to nurture your skills as you keep practicing.

This piano is designed to operate as a fully wireless unit with Bluetooth connectivity and battery power. It is possible to enjoy wireless smartphone connection and you can practice at your own speed and convenience thanks to Bluetooth MIDI support that allows you access to unlimited online lessons and songs.


7. Roland RD-800

Roland RD 800 review

If you are a serious musician in need of a powerful stage piano then the RD-800 is one of the top choices that you will find. The RD-800 comes with Roland’s acclaimed SuperNATURAL sound engine that is arguably the most powerful sound engine on the market today, able to produce a wide range of rich and expressive acoustic piano notes.

The PHA-4 Concert Keyboard of the RD-800 comes with synthetic ebony and ivory keys and has the perfect amount of resistance for those wanting an acoustic piano feel out of their stage piano.

Best of all, however, is all of the useful digital features that the Roland RD-800 offers, including 1100 different sounds, a virtual tone wheel, the ability to layer and split tones, and numerous other digital effects. If you are an advanced musician looking for a stage keyboard that will help you develop your own unique sound then the RD-800 is a powerful choice to consider.

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8 Roland RD-64

Roland RD-64 review

Another great digital piano in the RD line, the RD-64 is the cheaper alternative to the RD-800 that still has plenty of great advantages of its own. The RD-64 still comes with the powerful SuperNATURAL sound engine, meaning that it is capable of sounding impressively nuanced and realistic.

The Ivory-Feel G keyboard has a great responsiveness and feels very close to what you would get if you were playing an acoustic piano. The RD-64 doesn’t have quite as many digital effects as the RD-800 and isn’t specifically a stage piano, but for over half the price it is still an excellent choice for amateur and professional pianists wanting a great sounding, great playing digital piano that is still light enough to take with them on the go.

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9. Roland F-120

roland f120 review

The Roland F-120 is a great instrument for any level of musician and is one of the company’s more affordable upright digital pianos. This affordability makes the F-120 one of the company’s most popular choice for beginner pianists. Beyond its reasonable price tag, however, there is plenty more to like about the F-120.

The F-120 comes equipped with Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine and Ivory Feel-G keyboard, both of which give the piano a big edge in how realistic it sounds and feels. The F-120 has an attractive upright design and is available in either satin black or satin white finishes. The F-120 also has a built-in metronome, a recorder, a Twin Piano setting for side-by-side playing, and a headphone jack.

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10. Roland F-20

Roland F-20 review

Even more so than the F-120, the Roland F-20 is an extremely affordable piano and is described as the best entry-level digital piano in the company’s catalogue. While the F-20’s lower price may make it a good choice for beginners, there is nothing amateur about this digital piano.

Like all great Roland pianos, the F-20 comes with the company’s acclaimed SuperNATURAL sound engine as well as a highly realistic key action provided by the Ivory Feel-G keyboard. This level of realism is unparalleled among entry-level digital pianos and makes the F-20 a great choice for beginner to intermediate musicians.

To top it off, the F-20 also has a very attractive design and great digital features such as onboard rhythm accompaniment, a wide selection of voices, and the ability to link the piano with your iOS device for interactive applications.

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11. Roland RD-300NX

Roland RD-300NX Digital Piano Review

Another superb stage piano, the Roland RD-300NX is the middle-priced piano in the RD line and has most all of the features that make the RD-800 such a great instrument. The SuperNATURAL sound engine provides plenty of rich detail with each note you play and the Ivory Feel-G keyboard has a great level of responsiveness.

It is the digital features, though, that really makes the 300NX great. Having a great stage piano is all about how many different effects the piano lets you use, and the 300NX has plenty of them. With 200 onboard rhythm patterns, a wide selection of voices, and onboard effects, including reverb, EQ, chorus, and compression the RD-300NX puts plenty of power at your fingertips for your next performance.

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12. Roland HP-201

Roland HP-201 review

If you are looking for a gorgeous upright digital piano to be the centerpiece in your home then the HP-201 is one of best choices you will find. The newly designed cabinet on the Roland HP-201 has a mahogany finish and front legs for a truly appealing look.

The HP-201 isn’t all about aesthetics though. This digital piano has a multi-sampled piano sound that is rich and nuanced as well as PHA II keyboard that was precision-designed to feel just like the keyboard of a concert grand piano.

Other great features of the HP-201 include USB and MIDI connectivity, a headphone jack, 128 notes of maximum polyphony, and 20 different voices. The HP-201 is moderately priced and makes a great instrument for any level of musician looking for a furniture style digital piano.

Final Thoughts

Roland digital pianos are acclaimed throughout the musical world for being top-of-the line instruments in both how they play and sound. Roland digital piano prices are not always very low, but considering the quality of their instruments they are still a great value for your money.

Roland piano reviews are quick to point out how great these instruments feel and sound, and with a large catalogue of pianos to choose from it is easy to find a Roland piano to suite your needs whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced musician. If you ever get the chance to own one of these beautiful instruments do not pass it up.

Sours: https://pianoreport.com/which-is-the-best-roland-digital-piano/

Roland Keyboards: 10 Best Picks From A Gigging Musician

Roland has been making some of the best digital pianos & keyboards for the last 45 years. In this article we’re going to be taking a look at what makes Roland so good, as well as which ones are the best.

Roland makes some of the very best key-beds and they are also known for some of the most iconic synthesizers in the keyboard world.

We’re going to be looking at keyboards, synthesizers, digital pianos, and MIDI controllers in this article.

Table of Contents

Best Roland Keyboards – A Quick Glance

What Should You Look For?

Synthesizer, Keyboard Or Digital Piano? 

If you’re a beginner and you’re looking at keyboards it is important to know just what kind you would like to purchase. These keyboards can do many different things and it is going to depend on what the user is looking to get out of them.

A synthesizer is going to give the musician all sorts of different sounds and it is the route that many musicians who are looking to play in bands go because of this. If you’re looking for a keyboard that is portable and cheap, then you will also have some options.

A digital piano is going to be more pricey, but if you’re looking for an instrument for your kid to begin piano lessons on, Roland makes high-quality digital pianos.

Amount Of Keys:

The amount of keys on your keyboard is important because having fewer keys can limit pianists. Most synthesizers are going to come with fewer keys, but this is because you don’t typically need as many keys for synthesizers.

Musicians playing classical piano or jazz are going to want something that has 88 weighted keys.

Price: 

How much are you looking to spend? You can end up spending a lot of money and it’s important to know your price limit. This comes down to knowing who you’re buying for.

If you’re buying for your kid and it’s their first time, you can get a cheaper product or digital piano to test the waters. This company is going to give you more life than a cheaper brand like Williams.

MIDI Capable?

Do you want it to be MIDI capable? This means, do you want it to have the ability to plug into your laptop and access hundreds of new sounds?

Weighted Keys:

If you’re playing classical or jazz piano you will definitely at some point want weighted keys. I learned the first few years of being a pianist on a cheap Casio keyboard, and as soon as I upgraded to a digital piano my finger dexterity increased ten-fold.

Weight:

The weight of a keyboard can be important seeing how the workstations used to be very heavy. The new workstations are about 30 pounds less than what they used to be. I believe this is because touring musicians can’t stand touring with 75-pound products.

Let’s get into the reviews below.

Note: Roland just announced their latest workstation, the Fantom. Check out my review for it above.

Roland Keyboard Reviews


Roland keyboards usually tend to blend the traditional synthesizer with a workstation.  Some of them are going to be synthesizers exclusively.

Roland FA-08 – Best Overall Workstation

Fa 08

The FA-08 is a workstation that you will be able to use for the rest of your life. This has a key bed that feels like you’re playing a real piano. I own the FA 08 and pretty much play it every day.

You can read my full review on the FA 08 in this article I wrote here.

This keyboard only weighs 35 pounds, which is crazy because the Fantom G8 weighed 74 pounds and was a little more difficult to tour with because of the weight. If you are going to be touring, the Fantom FA-08 is the is a perfect choice.

What they do so well is they make their workstations be MIDI compatible. Being MIDI-compatible means that if you are looking to hook up to your laptop and record and explore more sounds, you can do so very easily and also do so with the luxury of an amazing keyboard bed.

The FA-08 is an extremely powerful, light-weight studio and MIDI controller all in one. The FA-08 is their answer to MIDI controllers and also is the upgrade to the Fantom G series.

Different Models Of The FA 08

Roland made this product line available in three different models. If the price for the FA-08 is a little too pricey or too big for what you’re looking for, the FA-07 and the FA-06 are alternative options and are the same product, just with different key beds and fewer keys. The Fantom FA-07 is 76 keys and the FA-06 is 61 keys.

They have done a very good job at making products that stand the test of time and the Fantom series is a tremendous example of this.

This is definitely an investment and the price tag also reflects that. However, when compared to others that you can find for around the price, this workstation gives you so much more for the price.

Some of the top end MIDI instruments now are upwards of $1,000 and they only work when plugged into a laptop.

Features

  • Ivory feel weighted key bed
  • A sampler that features 16 assignable pads
  • Six assignable sound modify modifying knobs that also work with MIDI
  • Microphone and guitar mic jacks built-in for performing or recording
  • USB ports that allow for MIDI use with a laptop
  • Comes with over 2,000 unique sounds that can be altered and shaped with the assignable sound knobs
  • Extremely lightweight allows for a great touring product
  • Home screen that is very user-friendly and lit up          

Juno DS-88

JUNO DS 88

The Juno DS-88 is for the touring musician, as well as for the classical piano player looking for an affordable, yet a quality product that you can use at all levels.

Its key bed is the same as the Fantom Series and this is something that makes this instrument special. It is a lightweight keyboard, making it extremely easy to tour with.

The Juno DS-88 will give you very realistic sounding pianos and organs and the ability to bend them to your liking. The Juno series began in the 1970s and they have given us a keyboard now that lives up to the hype that the original Juno’s did.

This comes equipped with over 1200 different patches, with each patch being unique.

The Juno DS-88 is also a MIDI controller, which makes it also very appealing to touring musicians who may want an affordable keyboard that has a really nice key-bed.

Pros

  • Easy to manipulate sounds
  • Sampler
  • 8 pads that can be used for triggers and for running MIDI
  • MIDI capability
  • Weighted keys
  • Over 1,200 preset patches

Roland Gaia SH-01- Best Affordable Synthesizer

Roland Gaia SH-01

The Gaia is a synthesizer that is good as an introduction to synthesizers. It comes with a built-in easy to use arpeggiator and it has the capability to produce very large and rich sounding pads and basses.

With only 37 full-size keys, this synthesizer is extremely portable and I think it gives you more bang for your buck than say a Micro Korg. This is one of those products that you hear a patch and instantly want to write a song based around that specific sound.

If you like keyboards with 37 keys, you can view some of my favorite 37 key MIDI controllers in this article.

This device only weighs 10 pounds so it makes for an easy to travel with a synthesizer. They made this product to compete with some of the portable synths out there on the market and I think this synthesizer outshines most of them around its price.

This synthesizer can also be used as a MIDI controller

You’re starting to see this more and more with newer products and this is something they are doing extremely well.  With three oscillators, resonant filters, and 9 envelope generators, it’s like owning three different synthesizers in one.

The price of this synthesizer is something that is extremely affordable, especially for a synth like this that will last you throughout your musical journey.

Comparing the Gaia to what other companies are putting out, the Gaia definitely gives you the most bang for the buck.  Let’s take a look at some of the specs and things that make the Gaia a great buy.

Features

  • 37 full-size keys
  • Three oscillators
  • MIDI-capable
  • $600 makes for an affordable synthesizer
  • 64-voice polyphony for a massive sound
  • Layer up to 5 simultaneous effects including flanger, delay, reverb, and low boost

Roland GO61K

Roland GO61K

The Go is a Roland keyboard that was designed to be a travel-friendly keyboard for musicians who are on the go. This is packed with over

500 sounds for maximum creativity.

A cool feature with the Go is that it’s Bluetooth ready so you can connect it to a speaker.

This is portable and it is going to be on the cheaper end and we recommend this for kids, beginners or a musician who is looking for a cheaper instrument to take with them while they travel.

In addition to the Roland GO61, there is also the Roland Go:88. Check out my review here.


Roland VR-09 V-Combo Organ

Roland VR-09 V-Combo Organ

The VR-09 is a powerful electric piano that comes loaded with very organic sounding patches including piano, organ, and basses. This is a very powerful instrument that comes with 9 sliders for tone and effect shaping.

I would recommend this to players who are experienced and love rich sounding pads and organs. You can’t really go wrong with something like this and it is very sought after.


Roland F-140R Digital Piano 

Roland F-140R Digital Piano

The F-140R is a digital piano that doesn’t come with a ton of features, but it comes with 305 different organic sounds, as well as a fantastic key bed.

One of thing we talk about with this company often is their ability to make a key bed that feels like a real piano and this is definitely a digital piano that feels real.

Overall

When it comes to high-quality, the FP-140R is a no-brainer to me. I think very highly of this digital piano and I think advanced players would love it.


Roland SYSTEM-8 Plug-Out Synthesizer

Roland SYSTEM-8 Plug-Out Synthesizer

The System-8 is an extremely unique synthesizer because it gives you access to all of the classic synthesizers.

It is an analog synthesizer that delivers some really lush sounding pads that they are known for, and it also comes with a built-in arpeggiator as well as a vocoder.

Overall

The Roland System-8 is definitely worth checking out. A lot of people who own this keyboard swear by it. Overall, I think it’s a solid product.


Roland JD-Xi

JDXI Roland

The JD-XI is a great synthesizer for hip-hop production.

This synthesizer is often compared to the Micro Korg and I think this synthesizer is a much more powerful instrument than the Micro Korg XL.

If you’re a fan of the Micro Korg, you will surely like this synthesizer as it gives you more freedom and sound tweaking ability.

The JD-XI is a digital crossover synthesizer that has an analog engine, but digital oscillators. It comes with a built-in vocoder that has some really in-depth effects.

The JD-XI comes with drum samples that are really good for hip-hop production and it has some crazy sounding 808 samples as well. This synthesizer is also very light compared to other synthesizers.

If you’re looking to record, the JD-XI comes with MIDI so you can plug directly into a laptop or computer to record or write. The sequencer in the synthesizer is very powerful and is also easy to use.

Overall

I believe the JDXI is a massively underrated synthesizer. If you dig the Micro Korg, you should give this a try as well.


Roland FP-30

Roland FP-30

My opinion is that the FP-30 is affordable and it is also quality. I’ve played on this digital piano before and when I did I was blown away.

The FP-30 has recently been upgraded to its successor, the FP-30X. You can read our review about it above.

The action and feel of the keys feel perfect to me.

The FP-30 is the rival to the ever-popular Yamaha P-115. I think that the FP-30 keyboard just feels and sounds much better and it is in a similar price range. I think this product is unique in the sense that it also has Bluetooth connection abilities in case you want to use it as MIDI.

This Roland keyboard is becoming popular and I think Bluetooth is going to be really popular in the next few years with digital pianos and in the keyboard world in general.

This digital piano comes with a headphone jack for players that need to keep the noise down at times. I personally have always liked digital pianos with headphone jacks just for times when I was practicing a piece over and over and didn’t want everyone to hear my mistakes.

Let’s look at some of the specs below.
  • Roland’s supernatural piano engine
  • Onboard stereo amp and speakers
  • Strings, organs, drum sounds
  • USB to the device memory slot
  • Record ideas using the USB slot
  • Dual and split modes
  • Headphone jack
  • Compact and very light
Roland FP-30 Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a high-level digital piano, I recommend the FP-30. I even think the FP-10 is a good choice, however, if you can afford it, you can’t go wrong with the upgrade.

Roland Ax-Edge

Roland Ax-Edge keyboards

This could be the best keytar on the market right now. It has a ton of features that its predecessors never had.

The internal sounds blow all other internal sounds out of the water in my opinion.

Its functionality is also just supreme in every single way. The Ax-Edge can do everything that you will want it to be able to do and it comes loaded with internal patches.

This instrument is loaded with great presets and it can also be used as a MIDI controller.

Check out our product review here for more on the Ax-Edge.

Overall

I believe that if you are a fan of keytars, you will really enjoy the Ax-Edge. Personally, I think it’s probably the best available as well.

How Important Is A Headphone Jack For My Keyboard?

This depends on your situation and what you’re looking to do. Some musicians initially hate using headphones with their keyboard, but then as soon as they try it, they love it.

If you’re looking to practice without people hearing you, get yourself a decent pair of headphones and plug into the jack on the back of your instrument. I really like the sound that my instrument produces through my headphones and I think more people would like it if they tried it.


Roland Vs Korg

Should you buy a Roland or a Korg? This is a tough question and it is going to be a preference in some regards. Roland is more well known than Korg I would say for synthesizers.

Yes, Korg has made some amazing synthesizers in the day, but going back into the ’80s, Roland’s synthesizers have been iconic and used all over popular music and film scores.

As far as digital pianos and workstations go, Korg does make some very high-end products, as well as Roland.

I have always liked both of these brands, but I have always been partial to the Fantom Ivory feel piano keys on their products. The key-bed on the Fantom series feels like real ivory piano keys and to me that can’t really be beaten.


For Kids And Beginners

I like the Go-61. This is cheap, yet it has a lot of features. Keep in mind, if you buy a keyboard for your kid, the key-bed will not be weighted keys.

Now, everyone is different, but if it’s your kids’ first instrument, this isn’t a bad thing. Digital pianos and acoustic pianos can cost a lot, so it is very wise to try and find a good in-between before going all out on a purchase.


What Kind Of Roland Keyboard Is Best For Me?

This depends on exactly what you’re looking to do with your keyboards. For musicians who are looking to learn classical and or jazz piano, we recommend a digital piano.

If you’re a musician who is just starting out, we recommend a cheaper keyboard to test the waters. For musicians who are looking to play in bands and play gigs, a synthesizer is going to be a great start.

The Go also has some crazy features since it was built for traveling musicians who are looking to use a MIDI controller and make music with.


Their Key-Beds

They have outstanding keyboard beds in general. I have found that their key beds don’t feel as plastic heavy as some of the other products out there. In terms of realism, their keys feel about as close to ivory as you can get.

The key-action is also going to be very important when playing a keyboard. The good thing is that a Roland keyboard has incredible action. It is almost like playing a grand piano with the way the keys spring back to your fingers.

Do I Need A Sustain Pedal?

Yes, in almost every way. Sustaining notes is very important when playing the piano and it will help you in the long run if you have one.

If you are buying a synthesizer you can get away with not using a sustain pedal though. For keyboards and digital pianos, I recommend a sustain pedal even if it’s on the cheaper end. A cheaper sustain pedal will last you a while as long as you’re not standing and going crazy on top of it.

You don’t need a sustain pedal as a lot of the sustain pedals today are universal. Roland does make a triple pedal that has sustain, the sostenuto, and the soft pedal.

This unit is much more expensive than a universal pedal, however, it is quality if you want your keyboard or digital piano to have the same pedals on an acoustic piano. Many people really enjoy this, but this is not something that you need by any means.

Holding Value

Roland keyboards really hold their value well. Some of the vintage synthesizers are still very expensive and they aren’t really coming down in price. I’ve had Roland products for 10 years and looked back to see that they weren’t too far of what the retail was when I originally purchased them.

Roland Synthesizers And Their Beautiful Pads

The sound of their pads and strings are second to none in my honest opinion.  I recently played on a Paraphonic from the 1980s in the studio and

I immediately wanted to purchase it. These keyboards sound extremely warm and wide. Pretty much every sound on the Paraphonic had me wanting to hear more and write more.

They have always been known for having warm sounding pads and this is mainly because they’re analog keyboards. Some pads by other brands can be a little harsh in the high end and their pads have always just had that warm sound to them.

Where Are Roland Keyboards Made?

Roland was founded in 1972 in Osaka by Ikutaro Kakehashi. The headquarters then moved in 2005 to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Currently, Roland has factories in Taiwan, Japan, and the United States.

Conclusion

We hope this list provided you with the information about Roland keyboards that you were looking for. There are some vintage synthesizers that we didn’t put on this list because they are no longer being manufactured.

Chris Senner

Chris Senner is a passionate keyboardist, songwriter & blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He's toured the country with Vinyl Theatre & now has developed a passion for writing about all things keyboards.

Sours: https://keyboardkraze.com/best-roland-keyboards/
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Review: Roland FP-10 Digital Piano

Roland FP-10 Digital Piano

The last few years have seen digital-piano makers strongly focusing on lower-cost keyboards whose sounds and features belie their low prices. At the fore of this trend have been Casio, Roland, and Yamaha, closely followed by Kawai and Korg, with some lesser-known brands such as Alesis and Williams (a Guitar Center house brand) also offering models. The qualities of piano sound and touch have improved each year—if you’re shopping for a lower-cost digital piano, you have some great options to choose from.

The 2019 Winter NAMM trade show saw the release of Roland’s FP-10, an 88-key digital piano with a low street price of $499. The FP-10 is clearly a scaled-down version of Roland’s FP-30 ($699 street price), which Piano Buyerreviewed in spring 2016. (See also, at the end of this article, an explanation of the differences between the two models.)

Case, Controls, Connections

Roland FP-10 with optional stand and damper pedal

The FP-10 comes in a clean, somewhat boxy case finished in matte black. The boxiness seems due to the designers’ decision to place the onboard speakers at the bottom of the instrument, firing downward, which slightly increases the case’s height. The instrument weighs a wonderful 27 lb. — light enough to transport anywhere you need to go. The front panel is very sparse, with a few LEDs to show the current output volume and, on the left side, just four buttons: Power on/off, output Volume up and down, and Function, the last used in conjunction with keyboard keys to make all setting choices. This sort of design is now common in lower-priced instruments, and it works fine, even if it’s not always the most desirable interface. The FP-10 comes with a music rest. There’s also Roland’s optional matching KSCFP10 instrument stand ($90), to use at home for a more traditional console-piano look. (When sold with the stand, the FP-10 becomes the FP-10C, street price $589.)

Roland FP-10 controls

The FP-10 includes 15 sound choices, labeled on the front panel above the bass keys used to select them. The keys two octaves higher are labeled for working with the onboard metronome: Tempo up and down within a range of 10–500 bpm, in increments of 1 or 10 bpm; 14 different beats/time signatures; and metronome volume. Many other functions can be accessed using the keys, but they’re not labeled on the case; to learn about them, you’ll need to consult the manual.

On the FP-10’s rear panel are jacks for the lump-in-the-middle power adapter (I prefer this design, which doesn’t take up extra space on an outlet strip) and the sustain pedal. The FP-10 comes with Roland’s flat DP-2 pedal switch, but also supports their DP-10 true damper pedal ($50), which supports half-pedaling. A single, stereo, ⅛” headphone jack is the only audio output — you’ll need an adapter cable to connect the FP-10 to your mixer or speaker system. Roland has thankfully given us the choice of having the onboard speakers shut off when this jack is used, for silent practice with headphones, or of keeping the speakers active when using the outputs. When playing at any sort of performance venue, it’s useful to get some “monitor” sound from the keyboard even when playing through other amplification, and many players enjoy the sensation of the keyboard vibrating a bit as if it were an acoustic instrument. My only criticism is that it can be hard to hear direct sound from the FP-10’s downfiring speakers — they’re fine in a quiet room, not very good when trying to play with other musicians. And with the FP-10 sitting on the desk in my studio, the speakers obviously didn’t work well, though a bit of sound did leak from the bottom of the piano.

Roland FP-10 rear panel

The last two connectors on the rear panel are a USB Type B jack (the squarish one) for direct connection to a computer via USB MIDI, and a USB Type A jack (the flat, rectangular one), the type normally used to connect storage devices such as memory sticks. Interestingly, however, no data can be saved from the FP-10 via this jack, which Roland describes as being provided for future updates. It’s unclear just what Roland means by “future updates” for such a low-priced instrument, and I wouldn’t expect any. Rather, I suspect that, because the FP-10 shares much in common with the FP-30, in which this jack was used for connecting external storage devices, for manufacturing efficiency, the same configuration was used on the FP-10 and the jack was simply left effectively nonfunctional. Last point: The labels for the rear-panel connectors are recessed and consist only of raised black text on a black case, which makes them hard to read when you lean over the front of the keyboard. I wish they were printed on the case — in light gray, as on the front panel.

Acoustic Piano Touch and Sound

I was very impressed by the FP-10’s PHA-4 action, also used on a number of other Roland models. It’s nicely weighted, with decent push-back on key return. I could easily feel the escapement in the action, which adds to the realism of the touch. It felt crisp and responsive, and I absolutely enjoyed playing it. It’s a graded action, meaning that, as on an acoustic piano, the touch is a little heaver on the low end, gradually getting lighter toward the treble. I’m not sure I buy into Roland’s marketing claims about the key surfaces absorbing sweat like real ivory does, but they did feel very much like the real thing. All in all, it’s surprising to find an action with so excellent a touch in an instrument costing only $499. There are five preset touchweight curves; I easily found one to match my taste.

To create their sounds, Roland uses a combination of sampling and physical modeling that they call SuperNATURAL technology. After sampling each of the 88 keys of a source acoustic piano, Roland uses advanced techniques to provide the player very natural control over dynamics, with no sound levels of specific notes jumping out, or standing out from the others, as can often happen when using samples recorded at different key velocities. The sound engine reproduces damper resonance, the sound effect when the damper pedal is depressed and all the open strings ring a bit. This adds a very pleasing ambience to the sound. The sound engine also reproduces string resonance, the subtle but noticeable sympathetic resonance of currently held notes with a newly struck note, which also adds to the realism of the piano-playing experience.

The FP-10 includes four acoustic-piano sounds. Roland offers no descriptions of these sounds in the FP-10’s documentation, which is a shame — buyers of this instrument would probably benefit from them. I asked Roland about the sounds, and they provided these descriptions:

Piano 1: Concert Piano — “The sound of a splendid concert grand piano. This piano sound has our highest recommendation, and can be used for any style of music.” This is the main piano sound on instrument wake-up, a bold sound that’s very expressive if a bit bright.

Piano 2: Ballade Piano — “A natural grand piano sound. Recommended for classic pieces such as Chopin, and more.” This sound is slightly mellower than Concert Piano; I preferred it for my jazz playing.

Piano 3: Mellow Piano — “A soft and rounded grand piano sound, recommended for quiet songs.” This was the warmest, least bright of the sounds, and was best for intimate solo playing.

Piano 4: Bright Piano — “A brilliant grand piano sound, recommended when you want the piano to stand out in an ensemble.” This certainly was the FP-10’s brightest, most pop/rock sound.

I enjoyed all four piano sounds, and felt comfortable playing all genres of music with them, in both solo and group settings. The FP-10 offers a piano-playing experience far above what its price suggests.

Other Onboard Sounds

E. Piano 1 is a tine electric piano (think Rhodes). I’m not a fan of the FP-10’s version of this sound — it’s a basic, two-velocity sampled sound, with a very obvious break between velocity levels when playing hard. It has a very strong, clicky attack, and very little body in sustain. The sample is looped very close to the attack, and sounds like a very compressed, small-memory sound. The absence of a chorus or phaser effect also limits its usefulness. E. Piano 2 is clearly from the FM/DX school of sound, and it’s fine, though it, too, would benefit from some other effect treatments. I enjoyed both harpsichord offerings: a single manual, and two manuals coupled. Both had crisp sounds, nice ambience, and an accurate key-off noise that was maybe a bit loud.

Organ 1 is a tonewheel organ (think Hammond B3), and it’s a decent sound with the percussion on. I only wish it weren’t sampled with the Rotary Speaker spinning fast — that’s a less common way to play, and if you’re going to offer only one sound of this type, this wouldn’t be my first choice. But let’s be realistic: Few want to play jazz organ from a fully weighted piano action anyway; this offering is of the type “nice to have, but unlikely to use much.” Organ 2, a pipe organ, reproduces what’s known as a Principal Chorus registration: a good, general-purpose, mixed pipe-organ sound.

The Vibraphone is wonderful, as are the Strings. Strings 1 has a slow attack and release for sustained lines/parts, Strings 2 a stronger attack and cleaner release. A Pad sound — a warm, slightly detuned, sawtooth synth sound — is perfect for layering two sounds together, which the FP-10 can easily do. Just hold the Function button and select two keys to pick the sounds.

No Roland keyboard would be complete without their classic Jazz Scat sound. Played softly, it’s a wonderful and sustained doooo sound, nice for sustained chordal playing or a soft line. Play harder and you get a short dot sound, a little harder and you get bop. Hit it hardest to get a dowww . . . that drops off slightly in pitch. I recommend that you change the touch setting to Light when you want to play Jazz Scat, as it can be hard to get to that last sound, especially on a chord. This is a fun sound to play.

Piano Partner 2

Roland FP-10 Piano Partner 2

Those are the FP-10’s 15 onboard sounds, but more sounds are available if you’re willing to engage in a little technology. Roland offers a free iOS/Android app, Piano Partner 2, that’s compatible with many Roland keyboards. You pair the portable devices to the piano via Bluetooth MIDI and the app works like a charm, giving you access to more sounds and to educational features. You get Ragtime Piano, a tastefully detuned, saloon-type piano. A third electric piano is a reed type (think Wurlitzer), and while very basic, it has a nice tone and attitude. (Sorry, no tremolo!) The Clav sound is also basic, but thick and meaty. Celeste and Synth Bell can work well in orchestral and worship settings, and layer nicely with the Strings and Pad. Piano Partner 2 makes it easy to select and adjust the levels of both sounds in the layer — and, for more variety, you can shift the octave for one of the sounds.

A stellar Harp tone is included, along with nylon- and steel-string guitars. A second Jazz Organ is a softer, nonpercussive setting called a squabble, great for block chordal playing. A second Pipe Organ contains a very full registration, for bolder and more dramatic sections and pieces. A wonderful Accordion is provided, as are three Choirs (mixed, female, male), plus a group of sounds dubbed Decay (Strings, Choir, Choir Pad) that do decay but take a long time getting there. (I’m not sure of the intended use of such long-sustaining tones.) Rounding out the extras are three great-sounding basses (Acoustic, Acoustic+Ride Cymbal, and electric Fingered Bass), and a cool vocal sample called Thum Voice that sounds like a scatted bass sound. As you might expect from the inclusion of all these bass sounds, the app can be used to split the FP-10’s keyboard, with control over the split point, the sound levels of the two halves, and the octave setting of the left-hand sound.

The FP-10 has 17 internal songs, all from the classical piano literature, and another 15 Tone Demos that feature examples of each available sound being played. When you use the Piano Partner 2 app, the internal songs can be viewed in music notation on your connected device. You can mute one hand and listen to the other hand by itself, or even try playing the muted part.

Continuing in the educational vein, the app’s Flashcard mode can help with ear training or simple music reading, offering exercises presented as games, with points awarded. The app can record and play back your own playing, and you can name those files, but there seems to be no way to export them — they’re recorded only as MIDI data that must be played back through the FP-10. To get audio recording, you’d need to step up to the FP-30 or higher. Piano Partner 2 can also keep track of all your activity on the piano, remembering everything you play and giving you statistics on how long you played each day, the velocity of every note played, and the notes you played most often. If you create an account within the app, this information can even be stored in the cloud.

Other Features

Roland FP-10 keyboard

The FP-10 includes only two effects: Ambience, a type of reverb setting; and Brilliance, a kind of equalizer or enhancer algorithm. You can adjust their levels from the instrument or via the Piano Partner 2 app. Likewise, you can tune the keyboard, transpose it, and adjust the key touch from either control interface.

I used the FP-10 connected to my computer to play various virtual instruments, and was satisfied with the resolution of its velocity response. I was especially pleased to see that it sends MIDI Release Velocity values rather than the simpler MIDI note-off message, so when controlling instruments with more advanced key-off elements, the instruments play very well.

I was impressed that the FP-10’s metronome supports some odd time signatures (5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 9/8), and has such a wide range of tempos. I also liked what Roland calls Twin Pianos, a mode that splits the keyboard into two sections of equal range so that a teacher and student can sit side by side, or friends can play duets. You can even set how the Twin Piano sounds are panned on a stereo soundstage: Pair pans each player’s sounds slightly to each side but still with a continuous stereo soundfield; Individual moves each player’s sounds hard left or hard right, for total separation.

Conclusions

I find the Roland FP-10 to be an excellent value for $499, with a wonderful touch and main acoustic-piano sound. In those areas I think it holds its own, and likely outperforms other lower-end keyboards, such as the Yamaha P45B ($450) and the Casio PX-160 ($499). For $100 more the choice gets a bit harder, with the new Casio PX-S1000 ($599) having an even smaller footprint and more polyphony (192 vs. 96), a bit more adjustability in the modeling of its main piano sound, and Chorus built into some of its sounds. But the Casio’s keyboard can’t be split as flexibly, and it has fewer sounds. The feel of each of the above keyboards is excellent; try them yourself to judge which is best for you. The Yamaha P125 ($600) has excellent sounds and features for the money, but its action isn’t as refined as the FP-10’s PHA-4 action.

My own preference in a digital piano is one that fills three main bread-and-butter needs: acoustic piano, tine and reed electric pianos, and a split for playing left-hand bass. While it comes up just a bit short in the tine-electric department, the FP-10 is a clear winner for its main purpose: to deliver acoustic-piano sound and feel. It’s absolutely worth your checking out.

 

Roland FP-10 Specs at a Glance

Keyboard
  • PHA-4 88-key, weighted, graded action with escapement simulation and simulated ivory feel
  • Triple-velocity-sensor keys with five preset velocity curves
Sounds
  • Roland SuperNATURAL sound engine, a combination of sampling and modeling
  • 15 internal sounds: four acoustic piano, two electric piano, two organ, two harpsichord, vibraphone, two strings, pad, Jazz Scat
  • Free Piano Partner 2 app adds 21 more sounds
  • 96-note polyphony
  • Ambience and Brilliance effects
Amplification
  • 6 watts per channel, two speakers
Connections
  • USB to Computer and Bluetooth MIDI
  • ⅛” stereo headphone/audio output
  • ¼” damper-pedal jack (single DP-2 pedal included; half-pedal support when used with optional DP-10 pedal)
Features
  • Layering capability (Split Keyboard possible using app)
  • 17 internal songs, 15 Tone Demos
  • Metronome
  • Twin Piano function for side-by-side playing
  • Educational features with Piano Partner 2 app
Other
  • Dimensions: approximately 51″ W x 6″ H x 10″ D
  • Weight: 27 lb.
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • Street Price: $499; MSRP: $649
  • Optional stand available
  • Roland FP-10 Product Page

 

Comparison of FP-10 and FP-30

For readers curious about how the Roland FP-10 differs from the FP-30, reviewed earlier, here is a comparison, showing only the differences:

FEATUREFP-30FP-10
Sounds35, all selectable from front panel15 selectable from front panel;
21 additional with app
Accompaniments8 rhythms/stylesNone
Polyphony128 notes96 notes
Front-panel control buttons134
Pedal SupportFor three-pedal unit (optional)For single-pedal unit
Headphone output1 x ⅛” and 1 x ¼”, on front of case1 x ⅛” on rear of case
Amplification11 watts per channel6 watts per channel
MIDI Record/PlaybackInternalWith app
Digital Audio Record/PlaybackYes, to/from USB memory deviceNo
USB External StorageYesNo
Finishes AvailableBlack Matte, White MatteBlack Matte
Weight (lb.)3127
Price (US$)MSRP: $899
Street: $699
MSRP: $649
Street: $499

 

Jerry Kovarsky is a jazz and popular-music pianist/keyboardist with a BA in Jazz Studies. He worked for 30+ years with various electronic-keyboard companies as a Brand/Product Manager, Marketing Director, and Product Developer. The author of Keyboard for Dummies, he now plays professionally throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Sours: https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/review-roland-fp-10-digital-piano/

Top 5 Best Digital Piano Brands Reviews 2019

When starting out in the world of digital pianos the task of choosing one can seem daunting to some. There are a number of features to look out for and some to avoid.

Even seasoned piano players may find themselves lost among the many competing brands recommended by friends and colleagues. Finding out more about most popular digital piano brands and the qualities that make each of them unique could be helpful.

Contents

Top 5 digital piano brands

Yamaha

Yamaha is one of the most popular digital piano manufacturers known today. They offer pianos for the home, for beginners and for stage performance.

Their commitment to product development shows in the way they dedicate their brand toward making their digital pianos feel and sound as similar to real pianos as possible.

They are famous for retrieving sound samples for their digital pianos from their acclaimed CFIIIS 9-foot acoustic concert grand piano.

Because of this, their digital pianos have come to be some of the most highly sought after on the market. Yamaha’s digital pianos are sturdy, reliable and constantly leave customers satisfied.

The company dedicates itself to creating technology for each component of the piano including graded hammer action keys, tone and voice selection, wave sampling technology and other features.

The brand is so advanced in the technology market engineers from other brands study the effects found in their products. Along with their features Yamaha digital pianos have a variety of price values, giving them a greater affordability and thus a higher value on the market overall.

This makes them easier to sell again once the user is ready to change instruments.

3 Best Yamaha Digital Piano Reviews

Casio

Casio has been a leading brand in musical instruments for years. While once shunned with a reputation for low-quality products, along with the company’s notoriety for producing other electronics such as calculators, watches and cameras, Casio has now grown into a respected brand in digital piano production.

The brand has combined musical innovation, leading design and class to provide consumers with some of the best digital pianos on the market.

Each model is influenced by the expertise of diligent engineers aiming to put the players’ experiences first.In fighting to overcome their early reputation, Casio has produced quality lines of digital pianos including the Privia and Celviano ranges.

The brand offers a variety of instruments with graded hammer action technology in addition to top-of-the-line wave generation and sound technology. These features can be found throughout the brand from beginner to advanced-level pianos.

Even better, many of the brand’s instruments are affordable as well, with seven models of quality pianos with weighted keys coming in under $1000. Owning a Casio digital piano will prove to be a wise and long-term investment.

Many agree that the brand produces some of the best of the best in the digital piano world.Roland digital pianos are known for being made with a high level of dedication and professionalism.

Any digital piano from the Roland brand can be counted on for reliability, expert construction, efficiency and productivity.

This is due to the extreme effort put forth by the company’s engineers and developers that work to find innovations in sound sampling, connectivity, tone selection and more.

Roland digital pianos can serve a variety of purposes from instruction to recording to performance.

A benefit of this brand is the selection available for every player’s needs. No matter the expertise, budget or personal preferences there is guaranteed to be a model that meets expectations.

3 Best Roland Digital Piano Reviews

Kawai

As a brand Kawai is known for having a vast range of digital piano models to choose from. The variety is seen in the styles and colors available. In addition, many of the brand’s models are less expensive than similar pianos from brands like Roland and Yamaha.

Kawai produces high-quality digital pianos that have set the standard for many others in the industry.

The brand has managed to take the components of tone and sound from their grand and upright pianos and transfer them to the digital variety with precision and dedication. Furthermore, the touch and key weight found in the brand’s acoustic pianos have provided the blueprint through which the company creates the digital models.

Buying a digital piano from Kawai guarantees a successful duplication of the sound and expression available in the standard piano. The brand puts the playing and listening experiences as a top priority during the production process.

Kawai digital pianos offer the best of both worlds through classic sound along with the convenience of modern features and looks.

3 Best Kawai Digital Piano Reviews

Korg

Korg is also known for making stage pianos and high-end keyboards but their digital pianos are made by fellow musicians. This gives them a creative edge over other brands that may create digital pianos from a more technical standpoint.

The Korg brand is also popular amongst touring professional musicians. This is partly due to the fact that they are durable and rugged and can handle the shuffling that comes along with that lifestyle.

Korg digital pianos are also reliable with a quality that rivals that of many of the top brands. They offer a versatile selection to appeal to all types of pianists.

In addition to the versatility and reliability Korg offers, the brand boasts a number of affordable digital pianos as well. Their lower cost models still stand tall against more expensive varieties from other digital piano manufacturers.

3 Best Korg Digital Piano Reviews

There will always be specific characteristics that distinguish digital piano brands from one another. When comparing them making the final choice may simply depend upon previous experience or good advice from a respected fellow digital piano user.

Sours: https://digitalpianojudge.com/digital-piano-brands/

Piano reviews digital roland

What is the Best Roland Digital Piano with Weighted Keys?

The Japanese electronics company known as Roland was officially started in the 1970s by Ikutaro Kakehashi. The company gained its international success through its synthesizers, electronic drums, amplifiers, and other various electronic music products.

Roland RD 300 NX

To this day, Roland is still the company that professional musicians go to for their various electronic music needs.  But, when it comes to finding the best digital piano with weighted keys, that becomes a bit of a challenge.  Not because there are no good options, but because there are more than a few good options.

So in this article, we’re going to present you with some of our favorite Roland digital pianos that also have weighted keys.  And, in an effort to better help you make the right choice, you can use our interactive table below to compare various Roland pianos against one another.

Roland RP 102

The RP 102 has a lot of great classic Roland features at a very reasonable price of $999.

Like most Roland digital pianos, the RP 102 utilizes the SuperNATURAL Piano technology for its main piano engine.  This is the main contributing factor to the RP 102’s impressively realistic piano tones.  Fifteen instrument sounds, ranging from classic grand pianos to electric pianos to organs, come with this digital piano. 

Roland gives players even more control over its tones by offering several adjustable effects and parameters: ambiance, brilliance, damper resonance, string resonance, and key off resonance.

Although the RP 102 uses Roland’s most basic hammer action, the PHA-4 Standard Keyboard, players still get to experience a graded keyboard with lighter keys in the higher registers, and heavier keys toward the bottom.

The Roland RP 102 is packed with tons of new technology to keep even the most tech savvy piano students occupied.  This piano is fully compatible with Bluetooth, allowing you to wirelessly play along and interact with various music apps. You can download Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app, which allows users to easily access and adjust the keyboard’s settings and parameters.

Below, please take a look at some of the best-selling digital pianos currently on sale at Amazon (and see how well these pianos stack up to the Roland pianos we will discuss throughout today’s article):

Roland DP90

Priced a good deal higher than the other keyboards ($2,599), the Roland DP 90 doesn’t disappoint. 

The feel of the keys on this digital piano is highly realistic.  Roland uses their PHA-4 Premium keyboard, which includes escapement and a simulated ivory feel on the white keys that helps combat fingers slipping off during play. 

The escapement on the keyboard is a mechanical feature found on acoustic grand pianos that allows for rapid, repeated keystrokes. It gives keys a distinct “clicking” feel as you press to the bottom. On the DP 90, it adds to the realism of the action. This keyboard still has the weight and mass that is needed to feel like a real piano, but Roland has managed to make the keys quieter. 

All digital pianos and keyboards have some level of mechanical noise when the keys are pressed, but the DP 90 has gotten rid of the worst of it. The quieter PHA-4 Premium keyboard creates a more enjoyable environment, especially when headphones are being used.

The Roland DP 90 has a feature called Individual Note Voicing.  It allows players to adjust the pitch, volume, and tone of not just the piano as a whole, but of individual notes, independent of each other.  Although not many people other than a niche market would get a lot of use out of this feature, it’s a unique way to customize your playing and allows users to create their own tuning or instrument.

A big draw of this keyboard is the amount of tones that come with it.  Most upright style digital pianos tend to have only ten or so basic sounds. The DP 90 has over 300. With fourteen different grand piano tones and five upright piano sounds, you can tell how varied and specific the instrument list is on this keyboard. 

Roland RP 401R

Just like many of the other digital pianos in the Roland family, the RP 401R utilizes Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine for its large array of piano sounds and many other tones.  In fact, the RP 401R has 305 sounds in addition to its pianos.  That’s a huge arsenal of tones for only around $1,050.

This digital piano comes with 72 different rhythm styles with an intelligent accompaniment features.  Six varied pianist styles allow you to essentially play along with a backing band. The RP 401R actually makes decisions for its accompaniment based on the chords that you play.

There are a lot of things about the RP 401R that make it very kid friendly. It’s possible to set a volume limit on this digital piano.  This is a really useful but often overlooked function of the piano, especially if young kids are learning to play. 

Roland offers a couple apps that make playing the piano even more fun. The Air Performer App lets you wirelessly play along with songs, and the Piano Partner App has musical flashcard games to keep young pianists engaged and learning.

Roland HP 603

Equipped with Roland’s most advanced key action to date, the HP 603 features the PHA-50 keyboard. In a blind test, it would be difficult to differentiate the PHA-50 from the keyboard of a grand piano. The secret to Roland’s success lies inside the keys: real wood. 

Although the outside of the keyboard is coated with a molded material that simulates both ebony and ivory finishes, the core of the key is made from real wood. This creates an astonishingly authentic feel and weight when playing. You certainly get what you pay for, and although the HP 603 is priced along the $2399 mark, the quality of this piano is definitely worth the cost.

The HP 603 includes three pedals, just like on an acoustic piano, but takes them a step further.  The soft and sostenuto pedals both function as expected, but have the ability to be reprogrammed and assigned to numerous functions. Most damper pedals only have the ability to be “off” or “on”. 

More advanced pedals have something called half damper detection, which gives slightly more nuance and control to your pedaling. The damper pedal used with the HP 603 uses continuous detection, meaning that it registers the exact location of the pedal at any given moment.  That allows players to get the most detail and expressive precision from the pedals.

It’s amazing how much control Roland gives its players in terms of adjusting and shaping the sounds.  Roland’s famous Piano Designer is a highlight of the HP 603.  Pianists can use the Bluetooth feature to wirelessly connect to the Piano Designer app for a more user friendly interface.

The Piano Designer allows players to tweak these parameters:

  • Lid
  • Key off noise
  • Hammer Noise
  • Duplex scale
  • Full scale string resonance
  • Damper resonance
  • Key off resonance
  • Cabinet resonance
  • Soundboard type
  • Damper noise
  • Single note tuning
  • Single note volume
  • Single note character

The HP 603 also impresses with its “Limitless Polyphony”.  Of course, nothing is actually limitless, but with a working polyphony of 384, it would be a difficult challenge to begin to near the limits of the HP 603’s polyphony.  Roland gives users 319 tones: a far cry from the usual 10-15 found on many standard digital pianos.

Roland RD 300NX

The Roland RD 300NX is the most unlike the other digital pianos mentioned.  Priced at $1,299, it is capable of handling any stage, studio, or living room. More suited for the advanced player who needs a lot of bells and whistles, the RD-300NX gives pianists a lot of control from its front panel. It has three sliders, EQ knobs, a pitch bend and modulation lever, and two assignable buttons.

This digital piano has an impressive 939 tones and 200 rhythm patterns.  Its nearly 80 types of multi effects (reverbs, choruses, compressors, and EQ’s) make almost all aspects of the RD 300NX customizable.

A feature that would be most useful in live environments, “Sound Focus” gives the RD 300NX’s sound help cutting through a mix of other sounds.  Phase correction is used to solve this common problem, so it works even when playing at low volumes.

The ability to see what parameters are being changed is also important to many players, and the RD 300NX’s graphic LCD screen allows pianists to do just that.

You can read our review of the Roland RD-300 NX here.

The Verdict

All of Roland’s products are well crafted and contain great features. Depending on your price range and needs, there can be several great options for you.

Someone shopping for a young pianist or child just starting his or her lessons might find the Roland RP 401R the best option.  Its pricing is middle of the road, but it still maintains a lot of kid friendly features to keep younger musicians occupied.

Players may find that they get the most bang for their buck, however, with the RD 300NX. It’s hard to compete with over 900 different sounds. To top that off, all of the tones are adjustable, thanks to the 80 some multi-effects. The physical knobs and faders conveniently located on the keyboard make it one of the most versatile digital pianos of the five.

If a budget isn’t necessarily a concern, serious pianists should consider the Roland HP 603.  The partially wooden PHA-50 keyboard might be worth the higher cost alone.  When you combine the exquisitely real weighted action with its professional tones, its “Limitless” polyphony, and its depth of customization with the Piano Designer, professionals and beginners alike would have a hard time finding any fault with the HP 603.

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Filed Under: Roland Pianos

Sours: https://www.digitalpianoreviewguide.com/what-is-the-best-roland-digital-piano-with-weighted-keys/
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Are Yamaha or Roland Digital Pianos Better?

This article will explore the Yamaha and Roland brands when it comes to the world of digital pianos, and we will explore what each manufacturer does specifically for their pianos that makes their instruments standout.  

Yamaha vs Roland Digital Pianos

We’ll also explore the many things you should most be seeking in a great piano–from models aimed at beginners to those more suited for intermediate players–and how both Yamaha or Roland approach giving users everything they need for one’s required skill level and overall budget.

Piano Comparisons

Use the table below to quickly compare some of the Yamaha and Roland digital pianos we’ll be discussing throughout this article today:

Many parents of beginner or intermediate musicians struggle with where to begin their journey of purchasing an instrument. Unless their child plays the kazoo, chances are that a fairly major purchase is ahead for most parents of children who aspire to become serious musicians. It’s a tough market out there, and it is easy for shoppers to feel overwhelmed as they browse the internet and visit music stores in search of the best digital piano. There are simply so many options. Parents of my students have often inquired of me, “What should I consider as I prepare to buy a digital piano?” My answer is always more complicated than they expect.

There is a great deal more to this purchase than most people realize. In this article, I will explain the differences between two of the most popular brands of digital pianos; Roland and Yamaha, and will highlight some important factors, which should be considered in selecting the best digital piano between these two brands.

Some questions I will seek to answer in this article are as follows. Why is an upright a better option than a portable piano for some pianists? What part do key sensitivity, weight, and hammer action have to play in this deliberation? Which specific models meet the criteria for the best digital piano? What aspects of a digital piano are important to know about in relation to the pianist’s skill level, and which models are best for beginners, intermediates, and borderline advanced players? How much money will be spent when the time comes to buy a digital piano? These questions will all be answered by the end of this article.

Portable vs Upright vs Grand

A digital piano can be a beautiful addition to a home. As a pianist with over 20 years of musicianship under my belt, I have played a few pianos. Now, when I walk into a concert hall, and I see that I will be accompanying a vocalist on a Steinway, my heart skips a few beats. The power and exquisite tone of a Steinway & Sons grand piano are absolutely breathtaking. It is also easy to play delicately on a Steinway; the instrument makes it possible to create unforgettable juxtapositions of sound.

However, I am speaking as an advanced pianist. Playing a Steinway was not always enjoyable for me. I can remember having sweaty palms at piano recitals simply because I was not used to the piano on which I was about to perform. I can remember sharing with my teacher that I did not particularly care for the Steinway because I found the weight of the keys too difficult to manage. I can also remember her looking back at me as if I had two heads.

My parents had inherited a very nice piano from a relative who had passed away around the time I began lessons. It was nice, but let’s just say it wasn’t a Steinway Grand! In my first few years of lessons, I was still trying to remember which fingers to use when. I wasn’t experienced with the heavily weighted keys of a Steinway, and I was just barely strong enough to make any sound on it at all.

The Roland F-120 in white

When beginners are still getting used to playing the piano, they are forming many, many new connections in their brains each time they play a new piece. Not only are they learning to read music and to poise themselves as musicians, but beginners and early intermediates are still learning how to coordinate both their left and right hands with the piano. This goes on for a very long time for most learners, and research suggests that pianists use both sides of their brain more frequently than the average person, as a result.

What does all this have to do with digital pianos? Especially if the search is being conducted for the best digital piano for a beginner or early intermediate, the buyer should think about two things. First, a potential buyer should consider how the structure and build of the digital piano will facilitate learning, and second, how the digital piano will eventually make it easy for a pianist to transition to an acoustic piano, since these are almost always used in performances.

Although the entire point of a digital piano is to make an electronic version of an acoustic piano, at this point, technology can only come so close to the feel and sound of the real thing. However, when making the choice among the portable, upright, or grand version of the digital piano, my experience has been that this choice actually depends mostly on space and aesthetics and a little bit on sturdiness. If that beautiful, sleek grand piano look is desired for the home, but the buyer does not want to be bothered with the tuning and upkeep that the acoustic piano demands, the digital grand piano is a great alternative.

When space is an issue, and the buyer would like to have the ability to store the piano when it is not in use, a portable or flat piano is a great option. A few drawbacks to this option are that if a stand is used, the piano can be knocked over (especially by young children) and wobbles easily when played vigorously. A foot pedal must also be attached, and depending upon the type, it can slide around, making pedal use frustrating and cumbersome.

The upright version, however, is fairly compact, wobbles minimally, and has a stationary pedal. Since the grand digital piano usually does not differ much from the upright version in terms of closeness to an acoustic piano’s accuracy and magnitude of sound, the upright version is best because of its space efficiency and lower price point. For more information, check out Alden Skinner’s Introduction to Buying a Digital Piano.

One of my favorite upright digital piano is the Roland HP-201. I’ll go into more detail about this particular model later on in the article.

Technical Attributes

It is best to bring a pair of headphones along when one goes to buy a digital piano from a store. This helps a fair comparison to be made as sometimes the sound systems are quite different between models. However, if the buying will be done online, this would not be possible, and many parents of students do not feel they know what they are looking for.

I will now detail some technical attributes which should be considered for beginner or early intermediate players, and suggest some specific models which can be depended upon to embody the best of these characteristics. The technical attributes which I will highlight are as follows:

Perhaps the most important element in choosing a digital piano that is close in nature to an acoustic piano is touch. The sensitivity of the keys to produce a sound as well as the weight that must be used to produce different volumes is a very important factor to consider.

Perhaps the best way to explain why this is so crucial an element is to describe how some poorly-made digital pianos perform. When the keys are not weighted correctly, the instrument will produce a sound that is much too loud for the average pianist’s touch – or much too soft.

If a child practices all week on a poorly weighted keyboard, then plays for his teacher at his lesson, his teacher may give an inaccurate evaluation of the student’s skill level, simply because she has an acoustic piano in her home where the student receives lessons, and the student is used to a much different feel while he plays.

The most realistic digital pianos have a key weight of about 53, although this information is often difficult to locate on websites. Key weight is the resistance the key gives when pressed, and is the result of the key only being pressed down about half an inch, when it really lifts the hammer inside the piano about two inches to hit the string. 50, 55, 60 or other weight measurement is actually measured in grams.

Denser materials create more weight, which is why some older pianos from 100 years ago have higher key weights than newer ones. This refers to “static touchweight,” which is simply the weight that causes the key to go down. “Dynamic touchweight” is the term used for how much pressure must be used to express sound from the hammers and strings. I’m only going to get as technical as I need to here, as the piano is a complex instrument, and not everyone needs to know its intricacies. Knowing about weight, however, will help parents to make a good decision about which piano may be best for their child.

Here’s why: when any student learns any new instrument, they learn to subconsciously judge things like how much pressure to use to achieve desired levels of “noise,” or dynamics; how to play the instrument loudly or softly.

For example, if a young musician is learning to play the flute, along with learning the correct the embouchure (or the correct way to form their lips around the mouthpiece, the flutist will learn exactly how much pressure to use 1) to produce sound from the flute, and 2) to achieve a certain dynamic level. If the flutist uses too much pressure as he or she blows into the flute, the flute will not produce much sound at all, and the same will happen if the flutist uses too little pressure.

Yamaha P105

The same is, essentially, true for the pianist. He or she learns, over the course of several years, exactly which pressure to use for the desired effect. It’s actually pretty amazing that our brains learn to tell our fingers to do something with so much precision so that we can produce the same results every time. With that to say, there are certain pianos that have keys that are simply weighted to suit little fingers better.

I’ve seen so many children sit down at a piano, try to play softly, and not receive sound because they’re not using enough pressure. A digital piano with a lighter key weight may streamline the learning process for some students. However, it seems to be popular for many students to start out on pianos with un-weighted keys. Personally, I do not recommend this, and believe that there should always be some weight to the keys. Every student will have to eventually acclimate to this, and starting out at the beginning with weighted keys will make the transition to a more “adult” instrument easier later.

After the student has played for a few years, and perhaps becomes more serious about the instrument, a digital piano with a heavier key weight may be a good option to help the student transition to some of those very heavy grand pianos, which he or she may eventually perform upon (nothing is worse than playing a piano for a concert, audition or other important performance, while being unfamiliar with the feel of its’ key-weight – it can cause some very embarrassing mistakes!) To some parents, these may seem like far off problems. However, it is good to remember that the beginning years of a pianist’s journey are formative and lay a foundation for the rest of that musician’s career.

Hammer action is also an important point to consider. This basically refers to how much force should be applied for the hammer to create a sound. Yamaha’s scale of hammer action is categorized by the acronymns GHS, or GH. GHS is the standard degree of hammer action Yamaha offers on some of their more elementary models. The quality of this hammer action is entry level, and appears on lower-cost models such as the P70; a model which flirts with feeling and sounding realistic, but doesn’t quite do the job like the P255, which features GH – Graded Hammer Action – for a much more realistic experience.

Rolands feature the name “progressive hammer action” which emphasizes that the hammer action progresses on up the keyboard, as would be true on an acoustic; finer strings at the top of an acoustic piano call for lighter hammer action, as thicker strings on the bottom of the piano need more force to bring forth sound. Graded or progressive; two names for, essentially, the same thing. However, overall, I have always found the hammer action on Yamaha models to feel more like what I would expect from an acoustic piano.

Height also happens to be something that has pushed me towards upright models, also. I have found that portable digital pianos are almost never set up at the correct height. Either the stool I have is too low, or the stand is set too high. Couple this with the wobbling that can take place with a stand, and you have an uncomfortable situation on your hands – literally.

If the keyboard is not properly positioned, the pianist will have difficulty maintaining proper form, and the wrists can become strained. Certain medical complications can even develop from this. Upright digital pianos are manufactured at a standard height, and this can help to prevent this problem. Purchasing an actual piano bench is important, as well, instead of simply any old chair, which may not provide the proper positioning for the pianist.

One more (slightly less significant) aspect of the decision-making process is the level of polyphony the piano is capable of producing. Polyphony is a word that, essentially, means many (poly) sounds (phony). On an acoustic piano, each and every key could be played simultaneously, each hammer would hit the strings inside the piano, and sound would come forth from each one, and would sustain as long as the string vibrated.

However, with digital pianos, this becomes more complicated. Basically, it has to do with how many sounds can be created at one time, and sustained, without losing any of them. I used to have a kids’ keyboard which played one note at a time. If you pressed the C key down, and held it, and then pressed D, only D would play; C’s sound would cut out. This is an example of a seriously low polyphony score.

Lower-grade digital pianos will sometimes let go of some sounds, even if a pedal is sustaining them. For example, a pianist may play a run up the keys, hitting 100 keys, but only 65 of them would be sustained by the pedal creating an incomplete result. My favorite high polyphony level digital piano is the Yamaha P255. It sustains more than twice what many other models can do.

Best Yamaha and Roland Digital Pianos

And now, let’s start discussing specific piano models based on skill level.  Let’s begin with, well, beginners–those jumping into the world of playing piano for the very first time.

Yamaha P-125

In our Yamaha P-125 vs Kawai ES110 comparison review, we help you figure out which piano is best and why

The Yamaha P-125 is very much worth mentioning here.  We covered it quite in depth in our review (which is linked below), but it’s worth noting that this piano is quite affordable (about $600), and comes with a pretty robust built-in feature set that’s impressive given its relatively cheap price point.

The Yamaha P-125 succeeds the very popular Yamaha P-115 (and, for that matter, the Yamaha P-105 before that).  One of the best-selling affordable digital pianos on the market, this is an 88-key digital piano that features a Graded Hammer Standard keyboard.  While not a top tier key action (remember, the piano is only $600), you’ll likely be quite impressed with its graded keys that are heavier in the lower end and lighter in the higher end.

The piano features only 24 voices (which, to be fair, is more than much more expensive pianos–which I’ll cover a little later), but it does possess 192 note of polyphony, so once you become more comfortable playing piano and are ready to begin trying out more complex pieces, you won’t have to worry that the notes will decay too quickly with the P-125.

Yamaha P-125 vs Yamaha P-121 vs Yamaha P-71

I also wanted to mention one quick thing.  There are different variations of this digital piano, and I wanted to discuss this a bit in an effort to make things a bit more clear.

First, the Yamaha P-125 has 88 keys.  If you wanted to save a little bit of money, and are fine with losing a handful of keys in the process, I’d recommend you consider purchasing the Yamaha P-121.  This is essentially the same instrument as the Yamaha P-125–the big difference being that the P-121 features just 73 keys.

Now the Yamaha P-45 is a little bit different.  The P-45 features 88 keys, but is cheaper than the P-125 and even the P-121.  The P-45 still has GHS key action, as the P-121 and P-125 do.  But it only comes with 10 voices, a far cry from the 24 that come with the P-125.  But you do end up saving quite a lot of money, as the P-45 costs about $150 less than the P-125.

And lastly, there’s the Yamaha P-71.  For many people, this one is puzzling, but in truth, its existence is easily answered.  The Yamaha P-71 is an Amazon exclusive digital piano–you won’t find it anywhere else outside of Amazon.  But the P-71 is truly just the Yamaha P-45 with a different name.  So whether you acquire the P-45 or the P-71, rest assured that you’re getting the same instrument.

And remember, when you’re searching for a new digital piano, I recommend you make the following five features your top priorities:

Roland FP-60X

Roland is putting out some fantastic digital pianos right now. You may already be aware of their fairly recent line of portable pianos–the Roland FP-30X, Roland FP-60X, and Roland FP-90X. These are all the latest versions of the FP-30, FP-60, and FP-90.

All three pianos in these newer generation of pianos are great, and they maintain a lot of what we love about Roland digital pianos. They have a sleek, modern design with wonderful sound and touch response–all of which we appreciate from a great digital piano.

But I wanted to talk a little bit about the Roland FP-60X here, because it’s more of less the middle ground when it comes to this line. This piano features a ton of sounds at your disposal–sixteen piano and eighteen electric piano tones aline On top of that, you’ll be able to enjoy 18 organ tones, 27 string tones and almost 280 other great tones too.

You also get 256 notes of polyphony here, so as you advance on the keyboard, you’ll be able to play more complex pieces of music without notes dropping out. And as for connectivity, the FP-60X also includes great connectivity with audio and MIDI via Bluetooth and USB.

You won’t go wrong with any of these pianos, but it’s possible the Roland FP-60X provides the biggest bang for your buck.

Yamaha DGX-670

For a long time, the Yamaha DGX-660 was one of the handful of portable digital pianos that was at the top of its game. And I think it’s safe to say that the DGX-670 will continue this trend, thanks to this relatively recent update.

The first thing I appreciate about a piano like the DGX-670 is that it has an LCD screen. We’re so used to looking at our cell phones and tablets, it’s nice to see a screen implemented into an affordable digital piano that allows us to see our confirmed selections and settings we make on the instrument.

But really, that’s small potatoes compared to everything else you get here. This piano comes with a Graded Hammer Standard keyboard and more than a whopping 630 voices to choose from. On top of that you get 256 notes of polyphony, a handy microphone input that allows you to sing and play (and yes, you’re able to record your voice and play back your entire performance), and you can even plug in a thumb drive (to the USB to device port) and record your beautifully crafted masterpieces of music.

Roland RD-88

What I love about the Roland RD-88 is that it’s a digital stage piano that can hold its own in a very crowded field. Sure, you could go for something a little bit more advanced, like the Roland RD-2000–which is a magnificent piano in its own right.

But for those that are a bit more budget conscious–for those that can live with a few less bells and whistles, the Roland RD-88 is a wonderful stage piano that stands out in a crowded field that includes instruments from Kurzweil, Nord, Yamaha and more.

So, what’s to like about the Roland RD-88? A better question is what’s not to like? The first thing you’re going to notice is the incredible replication an acoustic grand piano. I often say that you never are really going to make someone forget about the unique sound of an acoustic piano when you’re playing on a stage piano, but instruments like the Roland RD-88 (and no doubt the Roland RD-2000) definitely test those assumptions.

With over a whopping 3,000 present tones, and the piano’a support of USB/MIDI Audio, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more impressive digital piano within this price range.

Yamaha YDP-144

Read our Yamaha YDP-144 review to find out if this digital piano surpasses its predecessor: the Yamaha YDP-143!

The Yamaha YDP-144 is a beautiful looking digital piano that really offers some unique features for anyone that’s ready to truly commit to playing the piano consistently.

The YDP-144 features three amazing piano sounds, most notably the Yamaha CFX Grand Piano Sound.  This is actually an upgrade over the YDP-143, as the 143 featured just the CF Grand Piano Sound.

Along with that, you get two additional piano sounds–the Pop Grand Piano (whenever you’re in a nice, jazzy mood) and a Mellow Grand Piano sound (the exact fit for when you either want to play a classical piece or you just are looking to convey a certain emotion through a sweet piano sound).

The Yamaha YDP-144 also features a Graded Hammer Standard key action and two speakers which total 16 watts of power.

Yamaha YDP-164

Enjoy our Yamaha YDP-164 review in order to find out if this piano is worth your money

Then there’s the Yamaha YDP-164, a digital piano that takes over the mantle of the YDP-163.  This piano comes with the exact same piano sounds as the YDP-144 discussed above, but it does improve in the key action department.

In fact, the Yamaha YDP-164 features a Graded Hammer 3 action, which not only means it comes with graded keys, but also features a three sensor setup in each key, helping to better provide you with an experience that feels more real in terms of its attempt to mimic the feeling of playing on an acoustic piano.

The sound gets a boost on the YDP-164 as well, as you get 40 watts of power here via the piano’s two speakers.  So, comparing it to the Yamaha YDP-144, the YDP-164 is going to be stronger and fill your room with sound far easier.

One last thing that’s definitely worth mentioning here is that both pianos can work with the Smart Pianist app, which means you’ll be able to control all of the piano’s settings–from voices to recordings to split and layer–via an iPhone or iPad (directly connected via USB cable via the camera connector kit).

Yamaha P-515

The Yamaha P515

What can really be said here…the Yamaha P-515 is an absolute beast of a digital piano.

Taking over for the Yamaha P255, which was quite popular in its own right, this digital piano will make you want to devote all of your weekend time to taking piano lessons.

The P-515 ain’t cheap, as it costs about $1,500.  But when you see what it’s packing under the hood, you’ll understand why.

First, the P-515 features Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial piano samples.  If you thought the CFX sound sample on the YDP-144 and YDP-164 were impressive, you’ll really enjoy what the Bösendorfer Imperial piano sound offers.

On top of that, the P-515 features an NWX or Natural Wood X keyboard.  This is something you’d expect to find on a Yamaha Clavinova piano–not a portable piano that’s part of the “P” series.

Wooden keys are present here–well the white keys, anyway–which means you’ll truly get the feeling that you’re playing on an acoustic piano.  You also get synthetic ivory and ebony keytops with escapement.

And with 256 notes of polyphony, and 500 voices (yes, you heard that right, you get 500 voices here when you factor in things such as drum and SFX kits, as well as XG voices), you’ll be amazed at how Yamaha fit so much into portable instrument.

Roland HP-201

The Roland HP-201 also has a 128 tone polyphony, weighted keys with four levels of sensitivity; light, medium, heavy, and fixed, three pedals, upright, seven levels of damper resonance, seven levels of key off resonance, three types of dynamics, and twin piano mode. It is on the heavy side, weighing 119 pounds, and the quality of the speakers is not the best. It costs about $1,600.

For intermediate players, I strongly recommend the Yamaha P255. This model offers a significantly greater polyphony; it can play almost double the notes at one time as the Roland HP-201. This is important as intermediate players are more likely to play runs of many more notes than beginners, sustaining them with the pedal which makes this enhanced polyphony feature more noticeable. It’s got a great sound system, while the Roland has mediocre sound quality in my personal opinion.

Also, the ivory keytops blend well with the weighted keys to create an ultra-realistic experience. It is also less expensive than the Roland HP-201 by $300.

One very desirable feature that the Roland does have over the Yamaha in this case, however, is the upright build. However, overall, the Yamaha is a better option as this piano is a ideal for intermediate or advanced pianists, and can go with the student from his or her intermediate period into the advanced stage.

Summary

There is a lot for parents to consider as they prepare to buy a digital piano. Picking out a top digital piano requires knowledge and careful deliberation.

Whether to choose a portable, upright or grand digital piano, which technical attributes are most important and helpful to the student, making comparisons or recommendations, and considering the student’s individual skill level are all important aspects in this potentially major purchase.

It’s always a challenge when you’re tasked with buying a Yamaha or Roland digital piano. These two companies are at the top of their game, and offer endless options to consumers. But hopefully, this article has provided you with some helpful insight, so you can be well on your way to finding the right piano that fits your needs.

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Filed Under: Yamaha Pianos

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Best Roland Digital Pianos & Keyboards: The Definitive Guide

Roland Digital Pianos & Keyboards

Roland is easily one of the most recognizable names in the music business.

Their name alone is enough to inspire confidence in the sound and build quality of a keyboard, which is no small feat considering their expansive product range.

Since Roland has products geared towards users at every price point, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of options you have.

What’s the difference between a synthesizer and a workstation? What’s the difference between the many key actions? What’s SuperNATURAL?

Have no fear. This article will give you an overview of the best Roland digital pianos while also giving some insight into the workings of Roland’s many keyboard-based instruments, including: digital pianos, arranger keyboards, stage keyboards, synthesizers, and workstations.

Note that we’ll be skipping over Roland’s products in the pro-audio category and their guitar/bass products under their BOSS brand.

While these products are also well received throughout the industry, this article will focus on keyboards and digital pianos.

About Roland

  • Founded: 1972
  • Headquarters: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
  • Number of Employees: 3,060
  • Products: Digital Pianos, Synthesizers, Electronic Drums, Organs, Pro Recording & Production Equipment, Guitar/Bass Equipment

Roland, founded in 1972, might seem young compared to other industry giants like Yamaha, but they’ve definitely had their fair share of successes, which have catapulted them to stardom.

Roland’s timeless nature stems from their huge legion of iconic instruments, most of which are easily recognizable in hit songs through the years, even today.

Roland Jupiter 8

Roland Jupiter 8

While Yamaha’s DX7 controlled the realm of digital synthesis in pop music, Roland’s Jupiter 8 and Juno-60 were go-to synthesizers for lush pads and leads.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a masterpiece, and the producer, Quincy Jones, used the Jupiter 8 for the rolling bassline and synth brass sounds.

While the Linn Drum has become the de facto standard for drum machines with its acoustic-like drum sounds, Roland’s TR-808 and TR-909 remain relevant to this day.

Iconic moments include Marvin Gaye (in 1982’s Sexual Healing), Kayne West (in his 2008’s 808s and Heartbreak album), and Taylor Swift (using Max Martin’s original TR-808 in 2014’s chart topper Blank Space).

Roland TR-808

Roland TR-808

Finally, Roland’s been at the forefront of digital piano technology since the early 80s.

Beginning with their RD-series, they have attempted to charge into the digital piano market, relying on innovation and experience to gain a foothold. After nearly 30 years of dominance, I’d say they’ve succeeded.

Many features we take for granted today, such as pressure sensitivity, MIDI, and modeling, were pioneered by Roland in their early years.

The secret to Roland’s success is their focus on innovation, polish, and playability.

Roland’s CEO, Jun-ichi Miki, states, “Our mission at Roland is to bring the thrill and excitement of creative experiences to imaginative people all over the world.” It’s hard to argue with their results.

The 3D video tour below (drag your mouse to get a 360° view) will walk you through all the ranges of musical instruments that Roland have been creating and improving over the years.

As someone who loves following the world of music technology, I can’t help but appreciate what Roland has done.

With SuperNATURAL, Roland didn’t just make a modeling engine to tick a checkbox.

It’s one of the rare piano modeling technologies that trusts you as the user with the cockpit controls. With their JD-Xi synthesizer, Roland brought polyphonic analog synthesis back to the mainstream.

With their FA-series workstation keyboards, Roland made workstations less intimidating to the player who just wanted good sounds without the scariness of having to design them.

In 2021, Roland partnered with Pianote, a popular online piano platform, which uses technology and video lessons to teach you how to play this marvelous instrument. So if you live in the US or Canada and own a Roland piano, you can get 3 months of Pianote lessons for free!

I could go on and on about how Roland shaped the industry, but that’s not why we’re here. Instead, let’s jump to the important details of Roland’s technologies and products.

Roland Product Line-up

Roland makes a huge variety of products, so covering them individually would take way too long.

We’ve separated the different keyboards into specific categories based on their feature set and intended use. We’ll then give our quick takes on the corresponding series and products, providing links to detailed reviews whenever available. That said, let’s jump in.

Portable Keyboards

Portable keyboards are aimed at piano-playing novices. These keyboards, as the name implies, feature key-beds with less than 88-keys and use the basic synth-action keys without many bells and whistles.

Don’t expect too much in terms of build quality either, as you’ll be dealing with pure lightweight plastic (which could be a blessing in disguise if you’re constantly on the move).

While these keyboards are a little lacking in terms of design, they make up for it in features.

These keyboards usually come with a huge amount of sounds, though they are passable at best. Also, it’s hard to argue with the low price tag, often going for around $100-$300.

If you know someone who’s unsure if music will be a long-term passion, they’re probably in the market for a portable keyboard.


GO:Series

Instrument Type: Portable Keyboard

User Level: Beginner

Price Range: $300-$400

Models:

  • Roland GO:PIANO88
  • Roland GO:PIANO
  • Roland GO:KEYS

The GO:Series is a relatively new addition to Roland’s product lineup, focusing on packing playability and as many features as possible into a compact package.

The GO:Piano is basic in terms of bells and whistles, but it includes an impressive sound engine for the price.

It is arguably the best low-cost beginner keyboard out there if you’re looking for piano sounds. An 88-key variant is also available for a slight bit more cost.

The GO:Keys, on the other hand, feels like a unique instrument.

The GO:Keys is all about performances and allows you to build up a song from scratch using the loop functionality, adding elements in one at a time to create lush, studio-ready arrangements.

It also does this in a beginner-friendly fashion, so even non-musicians can enjoy it.

This is very different to how Yamaha and Casio do their portable arranger keyboards, and it’s welcome to see Roland’s innovative spirit at this price point.


E-X Series

Instrument Type: Portable Arranger Keyboard

User Level: Beginner

Price Range: $250-$300

Models:

  • Roland E-X20
  • Roland E-X30

The E-X Series keyboards are arranger models, but this market has always been dominated by Yamaha (with their affordable PSR range) and Casio (with their CTK-series).

Roland’s E-X20 didn’t exactly turn heads when it was released, doing little to separate itself from the pack.

However, the recent release of the E-X30 might just be the break-out hit Roland was looking for.

While we’ve yet to get our hands on the newcomer, many publications are giving it glowing reviews, citing an improved sound engine as a massive plus over the competition.

Standard arranger features aside, the deal maker here is the piano sounds, which sound quite realistic considering the price point.


Portable Digital Pianos

If you’re serious about learning to play the piano, you NEED to have some semblance of realism. This means you’re looking for good keys and sound quality.

If you’re budget-conscious, this means you’ll be looking into portable digital pianos. These are sometimes referred to as slab digital pianos due to the way they look.

They don’t feature the furniture-style cabinets you’d find on full-fledged digital pianos, but they do include fully weighted hammer action keys, an upgrade from keyboards and more preferable for serious practice.

FP-Series

Instrument type: Portable Digital Piano

User Level: Beginner to Advanced

Price Range: $500-$2,000

Models:

  • Roland FP-10
  • Roland FP-30X
  • Roland FP-60X
  • Roland FP-90X

The FP-series is one of Roland’s best-selling product lines, and it’s not hard to see why.

All FP-series digital pianos (except the flagship FP-90X) feature the PHA-4 Standard key action and the SuperNATURAL sound engine, essentially making them the complete package when it comes to piano playing.

It is important to note that you’re getting a no-frills experience here, as well as a limited selection of sounds, though they are of a significantly higher quality than those on the GO:series above.

Fun fact! The FP-90 (predecessor of the FP-90X) received the 2017 Red Dot Design award for an excellent control scheme, which is futuristic and intuitive.

This beat out 5,500 entries in its category, which was no small feat. The same design was recreated with the FP-60X, with slight differences to achieve a lower price point.


Console Digital Pianos

While portable digital pianos focus on delivering a compact yet complete experience, console digital pianos feature large furniture-style cabinets that look similar to real acoustic uprights and grands.

The larger cabinets on high-end models aren’t just for show either, for they incorporate multi-speaker sound systems that deliver a more accurate soundscape during play.

Naturally, this comes at the cost of portability, but I’d say the trade-off is more than acceptable since you’re getting better sound quality, even on the cheaper models.

If you know for certain that you’ll be practicing in the comfort of your own home, a console digital piano might be right for you.

RP- and F-Series

Instrument Type: Console/Home Digital Piano

User Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Price Range: $1,000-$1,600

Models:

  • Roland RP102
  • Roland RP701
  • Roland F701

The RP- and F-Series console digital pianos are very similar, differing only in design. While the RP-Series features a traditional cabinet, the F-series uses a modern slim design popularized by Casio.

Feature-wise, these digital pianos are similar to the FP-series discussed earlier, featuring the PHA-4 Standard key action and the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound engine.

A personal upside I like about these over their FP-counterparts is the sliding cover, a godsend if you play in a dusty environment.

Obviously, you also get a 3-pedal setup with these digital pianos. With the FP-series, that would be a separate purchase.


HP- and DP-Series

Instrument Type: Console/Home Digital Piano

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $1,800-$2,500

Models:

  • Roland HP-601
  • Roland HP-603/HP-603A
  • Roland DP-603 (same as the HP-603 but with a different cabinet design)
  • Roland HP-605
  • Roland HP-702
  • Roland HP-704

If realism is what you’re after, then the HP- and DP-series’ high-end design and speakers will be for you.

These cabinet-style digital pianos are significant upgrades over the RP- and F-Series discussed above, featuring the more advanced version of the SuperNATURAL sound engine (Piano Modeling) and the PHA-50 premium keyboard action (except for the HP-702).

The biggest upgrade here is the design. These look entirely premium with their wood-style chassis and stand, and the speaker system takes full advantage of this extra density to provide a richer low-end to your playing.

Higher-end models like the HP-704 even feature a quad-speaker setup.


LX-series

Instrument Type: Console/Home Digital Piano (Premium)

User Level: Advanced

Price Range: $2,500-$5,000

Models:

  • Roland LX-7
  • Roland LX-17
  • Roland LX-705
  • Roland LX-706
  • Roland LX-708

This is currently the best console digital piano Roland offers, featuring the PureAcoustic Piano Modeling technology that seeks to recreate the magical sound of a Steinway without relying on samples.

This involves purely modeled sounds, as opposed to SuperNATURAL’s hybrid approach.

The LX-series also features the Hybrid Grand Keyboard, a variation of the PHA-50 keyboard that increases the key and pivot length.

Add an 8-speaker set up and Roland’s Acoustic Projection System to the mix and you’ve got something that sounds impressively authentic.

Just like the FP-90, the LX700 series was even awarded the 2019 Red Dot Product Design Award and the 2019 iF Design Award, a testament to their success in merging a beautiful chassis with great sound replication.

This was even more impressive than the 2017 victory, as there were 12000 other competitors in the same category!


Kiyola Series

Instrument Type: Designer Console/Home Digital Piano

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $4,000-5,000

Models:


Roland’s Kiyola series adopts the furniture-style design ethos of console digital pianos and takes it to the limit. These pianos are luxury products made in Japan in partnership with Japanese furniture designer Karimoku.

They are designed to look good in just about any room, rocking a handcrafted wood cabinet that looks stylish yet modern.

Even the chairs and pedals are designed to be as ergonomic as possible, the mark of a great furniture designer at work.

The looks aren’t the only great aspect of the Kiyola series. This series uses the excellent PHA-50 key action and SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling, giving you a great experience in terms of both visual and auditory stimulation.


GP-Grand Series

Instrument Type: Digital Grand Piano

User Level: Advanced

Price Range: $5,000 – $12,000

Models:

  • Roland GP-607 (Mini-size)
  • Roland GP-609 (Full-size)

While the LX-series is the peak of Roland’s sound engineering technology at the time of writing.

Roland’s GP-series covers their uncompromising side, recreating the classic grand piano style chassis in its entirety, but replacing the strings with specially designed speaker cabinets that utilize the chassis to deliver a powerful soundscape.

Pianos are reproduced using SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling and allow for infinite polyphony, thanks to the purely modeled sounds.

The PHA-50 keyboard also gives you the premium quality keys Roland is known for.


Stage Pianos

While portable digital pianos seem fine for stage performance, you can do so much more. For the gigging musician, stage pianos are the answer.

They cut out onboard speakers but add a ton of extra features and controls to the mix, giving the stage performer the ability to prep sounds both before performances and on the fly, mid-performance.

Stage pianos also come with robust preset management and a collection of onboard effects, allowing performers to switch sounds as necessary without much hassle.

Know that stage pianos aren’t the same as workstation keyboards, which we’ll cover in a second. These are far simpler and often opt for ease-of-use over detailed editing functions.

RD-series

Instrument Type: Stage Piano

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $2000-$3000

Models:

Roland’s RD-series was where they first experimented with modeling technology, and the same brand still exists today in the form of the RD-2000.

The RD-2000 is a great digital piano in general, featuring the PHA-50 key action as well as two sound generation engines, the V-Piano and SuperNATURAL hybrid tech.

So the RD-2000 sounds and feels good, but what truly sets the RD-2000 apart is its controls.

There are knobs, buttons, and faders spread across the front panel, allowing quick modifications and sound mixing without menu diving.

This is a huge draw for performers, letting them take advantage of 1,000+ onboard sounds.


V-Combo Series

Instrument Type: Performance Keyboard

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $1,000 – $1,500

Models:

  • Roland VR-09
  • Roland VR-700 (discontinued)
  • Roland VR-730

While most of us are content with the included organ and synth sounds available on most digital pianos, organists will always lament the lack of the iconic tone bar controls found on the classic Vox Continental and Farfisa organs, with their distinctive rotary speaker sound.

Roland’s VR-series, more commonly known as the V-Combo series, is Roland’s portable performance stage keyboard that comes with waterfall-style keys and aftertouch, making it a very expressive instrument that excels at non-piano sounds.

The hands-on control scheme means you have knobs and buttons, and even tone bars galore, giving you direct access to on-the-fly parameter changes.


Synthesizers & Synthesizer Workstations

Synthesizers were what propelled Roland to greatness back in the 1980s, and they’ve returned to form since the mixed bag that was the Roland Gaia-SH.

Synthesizers are a special kind of instrument that relies on electronics like oscillators and filters to produce otherworldly sounds you’d never hear from an acoustic instrument.

For electronic music producers and sound designers, a good synth is an immensely useful tool that can’t be replaced easily.

Synthesizers don’t come with weighted keys. Instead, they use the synth action keys we’ve discussed earlier, focusing on playability rather than realism.

While the learning curve takes some getting used to, knowing how to synthesize sounds is a useful skill that many performers can’t live without.

JD-series

Instrument type: Portable Digital Piano

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $500-$2,000

Models:

  • Roland JD-Xi
  • Roland JD-XA

The Roland Gaia-SH was poorly received for its lackluster digital synth engine, and Roland felt like it was losing its touch with what synth enthusiasts wanted. Thankfully they returned to form with the JD-series.

The JD-series incorporates Roland’s innovative spirit into the stagnant synth industry.

Companies like Korg and Dave Smith Instruments were looking to bring back pure analog synths (with the Minilogue and the Prophet), whereas companies like Yamaha and Elektron embraced the power and flexibility of digital simulation.

Roland’s idea with the JD-Xi and the following JD-XA was to mix their tried-and-true digital sounds with an analog part.

The end result is a versatile instrument that nails analog and artificial warmth, and the addition of a built-in vocoder unit makes the JD-series extremely fun regardless of how you’re using it.


Juno-DS

Instrument Type: Synthesizer

User Level: Beginner to Advanced

Price Range: $700-$1,000

Models:

  • Roland JUNO-DS61
  • Roland JUNO-DS76
  • Roland JUNO-DS88

The Juno synthesizers were some of Roland’s best work back in the day, with the classic Juno-60 being coveted to this day for its rich saw wave and dual-mode chorus.

The modern-day Juno-DS series takes a more hybridized approach to synthesis, having more in common with the Fantom FA-series workstations (discussed later) than the analog synthesizer of days past.

The Juno-DS works great as a performance keyboard though and is a popular stage keyboard among gigging musicians due to its flexibility.

The synthesizer features here are entirely digital (as this was released before the synth rebirth around 2015), but the modulation features are reminiscent of the way classic synthesizers work.

Like the JD-series, the Juno-DS keyboards include an onboard vocoder as well and come with a lot more sounds and instruments, giving them a ton of sonic variety.


Arranger and Music Workstations

Workstations have slowly become the weapon of choice for stage performers in recent years.

While workstations were designed specifically for studio use, having huge bulky bodies that aren’t easy to transport, their power and sonic capabilities meant stage performers could do just about everything from a single board.

If you really want to make full-fledged arrangements, a workstation can help (though computer-based digital audio workstations are now the norm).

These powerful instruments contain everything you need, from sequencers, mixing tools, creative FX, audio recording, to even manipulation tools.

The same flexibility is a huge deal when performing, as you can tailor sounds to your exact specifications as per the needs of the band or song.

Roland, along with Korg and Yamaha, are arguably the top 3 manufacturers when it comes to modern-day workstations.

FA-series

Instrument Type: Music Workstation

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $1,300-$1,800

Models:

  • Roland FA-06
  • Roland FA-07
  • Roland FA-08

The FA-series is Roland’s mid-range workstation line.

Straight out of the box, you get 2,000+ sounds to shape to your whim, powered by the SuperNATURAL sound engine and ripped straight from the rack-mount INTEGRA-7 sound module.

The control-scheme is what makes the FA-series a top choice among performers, thanks to its hands-on nature.

The color screen is also high-resolution and informative, a rarity at this price point. Roland aimed to take the ‘work’ out of ‘workstation’ without sacrificing much in terms of power. I’d say this strikes the right balance.

For music production purposes, you’ve got a 16-track sequencer and a 16-tone studio set feature, making this good for both stage and studio use.


Fantom Series (2019)

Instrument Type: Music Workstation

User Level: Advanced

Price Range: $3,000-$4,000

Models:

  • Fantom-6
  • Fantom-7
  • Fantom-8

The Fantom series has been dormant for the past decade, but it used to be a solid contender with the other flagship, no-compromise workstations.

The same field has been dominated by Korg’s Kronos and Yamaha’s Montage (previously Motif) series for the longest time, and Roland has seemingly diverted their resources towards more performance focused keyboards (to great effect!).

It was quite surprising that Roland announced 3 new models in the range, and they’re clearly aimed at dethroning the current kings.

We haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, but it seems to be focused on delivering a streamlined yet in-depth experience, with an emphasis on workflow.

That’s actually great. I find myself preferring smooth, usable experiences over compromising power, and that’s why I tend to prefer the Korg Krome over the Kronos, the MODX over the Montage, and so on.

Expandability also seems to be a focus, as Roland promises expandable sound palettes via downloadable content, and you can even utilize your own sound library with the sample pad matrix.

Something that I’m definitely looking forward to is the true analog filter, something practically unheard of in workstation keyboards.

The ability to merge analogue warmth with detailed sample libraries will definitely get the creative juices rolling.


BK-series

Instrument Type: Arranger Keyboard

User Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Price Range: $700-$1,350

Models:


While the FA-series competes directly with the industry standard Korg Krome EX and Yamaha MODX, the BK-series takes a different approach, aiming squarely at the one-man-band market.

This might feel out of place in the same category as the FA-series, but a 16-track sequencer with all the essential effects and mixing tools makes this a far cry from the more limited E-X-Series keyboards discussed in the early portable keyboard section.

The BK-Series strength lies in its sound quality. While the sounds aren’t terrific, they’re miles better than the functional-only sounds you find on arranger keyboards, making this BK-series worthy of consideration for people wanting to perform solo.


E-A-series

Instrument Type: Arranger Keyboard

User Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Price Range: $1,000-$1,500

Models:


While the E-X series focuses on the beginners, the E-A7 takes the arranger formula and mixes it with workstation and sampler features, making an arranger/workstation hybrid with a unique niche.

Coming with 1,500 tones and a huge variety of backing styles, the E-A7 allows you to perform full-sounding tracks without the need for bandmates.

The dual screen setup also means a lot more info can be shown, giving you full control over your sounds and the backing tracks individually.

The unique part of the E-A7 is the expandability factor, hence the ‘E’ in the name. You can add in your own samples through software or download further sounds from Roland’s Axial online repository.

Roland Sound Generation

Musicians have always been trying to emulate real sounds with digital equipment, and pianos were always the holy grail of sound generation.

Digital pianos require a ton of space allocated to sample memory to achieve realism, which wasn’t possible back in the days when 12MB of memory was considered precious.

Roland Sound Generation

While other companies struggled to find the magical balance between compression and quality, Roland took another approach.

That’s how modeling came into play. Instead of capturing audio snapshots of different playing intensities for each key, Roland added a hybrid synthesized element into the mix.

While the end results were anything but realistic, the mindset would eventually achieve greatness after a few iterations.


V-Piano Pure Modeling Piano Engine

In 2009, Roland released a digital piano dubbed the V-Piano, which was the first physically-modeled digital piano ever released.

Depending on whom you ask, this was either a revolution or a ‘why bother’ moment. Regardless of your stance on modeled pianos, I think it’s hard to deny how good these sound, especially considering the engine’s age.

Roland V-Piano Stage

Roland V-Piano

We won’t go into too much detail regarding the V-Piano engine in this article, since it’s only available on the RD-2000 stage piano.

No samples are used at all in the generation of the piano sound. Everything is synthesized instead. This does have a special perk though – an unlimited polyphony count.

Sadly, the negative perception meant that the V-Piano engine was never adopted wholesale.

Thankfully, the underappreciated innovations of the V-Piano model were incorporated into the next entry in this list.


SuperNATURAL Sound Engine

SuperNATURAL made its first appearance in 2008, appearing in the Fantom-G workstations of the time.

A more prominent appearance was in 2011’s Jupiter-80, a performance multi-instrument that focused on synth sounds.

Roland SuperNATURAL technology

SuperNATURAL takes a hybrid approach to sound generation, using a partially-synthesized sound layered with samples to capture both the flexibility of artificial tones with the natural feel of recorded sounds.

The benefits were twofold. On one hand, you get the nuanced detail you’d expect from typical studio-sampled keyboards (that many argue can’t be recreated using pure modeling).

On the other hand, people who complain about unrealistic modeling get placated!

In all seriousness, the SuperNATURAL sound engine is great. The fact that samples are incorporated means it isn’t limited to just piano sounds. It covers everything from electric pianos, to synthesizers, to drums!

The true magic comes from the modeling side of things.

V-Piano gave you a ton of variables to tweak to your liking. Want to close the lid 3/4s of the way down? Want to reduce the string tension while retaining the pitch? Practically everything was possible.

SuperNATURAL gives you a nearly identical amount of customization when it comes to the pianos and electric pianos via the Piano Designer.

Musical Intruments

It also gives you options tailored to other sounds, such as the filter frequency on synthesizers, glide on flute sounds, and so on.

The most notable aspect of SuperNATURAL modeling is how it’s implemented. Instead of trying to model every single aspect of the instrument, SuperNATURAL focuses on your playing.

For example, while playing a brass ensemble part, SuperNATURAL tracks your playing dynamics via keyboard sensors. It switches between velocity layers, EQ curves, and sample types (staccato or legato etc.) on the fly.

If you’re intimidated by all the technical jargon, you don’t need to worry. All this tracking and modulation happens behind the scenes and simply helps to bridge the gap between the static nature of samples and the natural dynamics of an acoustic instrument.

Roland advertises SuperNATURAL as being ‘transparent,’ and that’s an apt description.

There’s a lot of engineering that goes into both the software and hardware, resulting in a sound engine that feels natural to play.

That’s basically what the SuperNATURAL sound engine entails. Depending on the keyboard or digital piano you’re getting, there might be differences in terms of how much you’re getting.

One thing is for certain – Roland’s SuperNATURAL engine is good and is still in use today (after several iterations), 11 years after its release.

While we will focus on the SuperNATURAL piano variants, it’s worth noting that SuperNATURAL comes in a few other varieties, such as SuperNATURAL E. Piano, SuperNATURAL Synth, SuperNATURAL Drums, and so on.

These are sometimes included in higher-end workstations and synthesizers, like the RD-2000 and the FA-08, and you can identify them via the many editable parameters.

SuperNATURAL Piano Sound (Entry-Level Variant)

A variant of the SuperNATURAL sound engine discussed above is featured on Roland’s entry-level digital pianos, such as the FP-30X, RP-102, F701, RP701, etc.

This also uses the hybrid approach, though it definitely isn’t as detailed in terms of tracking.

This version of the SuperNATURAL engine is more basic and relies more on the classic multi-sample playback system to reproduce piano sounds.

Roland SuperNATURAL Piano Sound

The main downgrade from the higher-end SuperNATURAL implementations are the reliance on PCM-sample playback for non-piano sounds, resulting in a less natural sound.

However, you’re buying an entry-level digital piano for practice, so it’s not that big of a deal.

It should also be noted that more recent versions of the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound are upgraded from the older models.

The model in the RD-2000 is much improved over the first models on the early HP3xx series (HP-302, HP-305, HP-307).

SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling (High-End Variant)

Roland gave piano modeling its second wind with SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling, a variation of the sound engine dedicated to piano tones that cuts out the sample aspect entirely..

It’s worth remembering that SuperNATURAL wasn’t dedicated to pianos when it was introduced. It was made for synth sounds.

This version of SuperNATURAL takes V-Piano inspiration a step further and attempts to recreate piano sounds with digital signal processing (DSP) technology.

This variation on the SuperNATURAL formula makes an appearance on Roland’s higher-end instruments, like their HP-series, LX- and GP-series.

Roland SuperNATURAL seamless tone transition

Roland doesn’t advertise the modeling variant of SuperNATURAL too much, but as a rule of thumb, if you see the words SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling, it’s probably entirely synthesized.

In terms of sound authenticity, these are a clear step up from the lower-end hybrid SuperNATURAL engine, providing more detail and organic elements in the sound.

That said, SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling is neither better nor worse than the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound. It’s just different. One uses modeling while the other is based upon samples.

I’ve talked to people who actually preferred the sample-based engine, claiming that SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling sounds synthetic and unnatural. So, it’s a matter of taste really.

At the same time, there’s no denying that the fully-modeled engine gives you more options for tweaking the sound as well as greater expressiveness, which is hard to achieve using only samples.

While modeling technology hasn’t enjoyed the best reputation, this paved the way for the latest pure modeling technology found in one of Roland’s latest pianos.


PureAcoustic Piano Modeling

Featured exclusively on Roland’s LX 700 series, PureAcoustic Piano Modeling is Roland’s latest attempt at pure modeling without any samples.

This comes nearly 10 years after the V-Piano model, released in 2009, and incorporates advancements made in technology throughout the years.

Roland Pure Acoustic Modeling

What makes PureAcoustic Piano Modeling so special? Unlike V-Piano and SuperNATURAL, PureAcoustic uses two processors, one for an American piano and the other for a European one.

One can hear the Steinway influence from sound demos and it’s a surprisingly good emulation of the real thing.

While I’ve always liked the V-Piano for what it does well, I can’t deny how good PureAcoustic Piano Modeling sounds.

If I had a single complaint about V-Piano, it would be the note decay. Real pianos have a resonant decay that is hard to replicate without samples (and some piano modeling engines supplement their synthesized sounds with sampled decays just to sidestep the issue).

Imagine my surprise that the LX-708 nails this perfectly!

The LX700-series also simulates the room aspect of samples. Since real sounds are recorded in a real space, there will be a bit of natural reverb embedded into the sample.

Roland LX708 speakers

8-speaker setup on the LX708

With V-Piano, the reverb was mainly done through typical reverb algorithms, so nothing too special.

Here the embedded reverb is also sampled, which is mind-boggling when you consider the complexities that come with simulating reverb on a per-key basis.

The beautiful sounds also take inspiration from SuperNATURAL, tracking your keypresses with many sensors to ensure that the digital strings react as a real piano would.

The end results are very realistic, and I can’t wait for these models to go into the more affordable digital pianos from Roland.


Piano Designer

Roland is definitely one of the kings when it comes to piano modeling, but what sets them apart is their willingness to give you the controls to change things as you please.

In this section, we’ll focus on the SuperNATURAL Piano Designer, as it is the most prolific.

Roland Piano Designer

In general, Piano Designer allows you to modify these following parameters of your piano:

  • Lid
  • Key-Off Noise
  • Hammer Noise
  • Duplex Scale
  • Full Scale String Resonance
  • Damper Resonance
  • Key Off Resonance
  • Cabinet Resonance
  • Soundboard Type
  • Damper Noise
  • Single Note Tuning
  • Single Note Volume
  • Single Note Character

However, you won’t find these exact options on all Roland’s instruments. Depending on the model, you can get fewer or more tweakable parameters (usually more expensive digital pianos will give you more options).

Also, you can find similar software solutions from other digital piano manufacturers as well. Yamaha has Piano Room and Kawai has Virtual Technician, Casio has Acoustic Simulator.

Personally, I don’t find myself diving deep into the Piano Designer often. Unless I’m playing a dark rock song, I rarely change anything at all (and even then, I’m just lowering the Lid parameter to get a ‘far-back’ sound).

However, if you’re interested in fine-tuning your sound to perfection, the Piano Designer is amazingly detailed and is generally not too hard to use.

Roland Keyboard Actions

Apart from the sound engines, a digital piano is only as good as the included key action. It doesn’t matter how good a piano sounds if the keys feel bad. Normally, the best key actions feel similar to those found on actual pianos.

It might be important to note that Roland doesn’t focus heavily on delivering a realistic piano playing experience. Instead, the focus is on playability.

After all, digital pianos come with more than just acoustic piano tones, and the hefty keys found on actual pianos would be quite difficult to use for organ and synth playing.


Synth Action/Semi-Weighted

These keys are featured on Roland’s instruments that don’t focus on realistic feel, like the E- and BK-series.

This key action doesn’t even have a specific name, but it’s similar enough that we can cover them all in a single category.

Synth Action

Synth-action keys completely forgo weight and feel springy and fast. Synthesizer players favor these keys, especially for lead parts.

Semi-weighted keys are also considered synth-action, but there’s a bit of resistance on the action that tries to emulate the feel of a real piano (though not very well).

These keys are favored by organ players and electric piano players alike due to added expressivity.


Ivory Feel-G

A somewhat outdated, fully-weighted key action, now succeeded by the PHA-4 Standard action, these keys are still featured on the 88-key JUNO-DS variants, but it’s nothing too special.

These keys feel good enough on the workstation keyboard, featuring accurate velocity detection and return speed. Even so, they lack the graded effect and modern triple sensors.

Roland Keyboard Actions


PHA-4 Standard

This is the key action featured on Roland’s entry-level and intermediate-level digital pianos, such as the instruments in the FP-series (aside from the FP-90X), RP-series, etc.

The PHA in the name stands for Progressive Hammer Action, which attempts to emulate the graded feel of real pianos.

Roland PHA-4 Standard key action

On an actual piano, the lower notes are heavier and harder to press, whereas the upper keys are lighter. The PHA key actions simulate this feel by using variable weights and tends to do a good job in general.

Despite being on the lower-end of Roland’s key action selection, the PHA-4 Standard action feels surprisingly good and is arguably the best entry-level hammer action on the market.

The keytops feature synthetic ivory and a matte finish to prevent slippage, and triple sensors ensure that keypresses are detected accurately, even on rapid repetitions.


PHA-50

The PHA-50 action has succeeded the previous PHA-4 Premium and PHA-4 Concert key actions used in high-end Roland instruments.

This is a significant upgrade over the PHA-4 Standard action and incorporates a hybrid material construction featuring real wood to make it feel even more realistic.

Roland PHA-50 key action

PHA-50 Hybrid Wood/Plastic Keyboard

The PHA-50 action also uses triple sensors and they are tuned to be even more reactive to velocity, making the overall playing experience a lot more enjoyable.

Many keyboardists love the PHA-50 action and I’m also a fan. While it leans towards being lighter than I prefer, it still feels great and versatile, covering just about any kind of sound you can imagine.


Hybrid Grand Keyboard

This is a variation on the previously discussed PHA-50, featured exclusively on the LX700 series digital pianos.

The main differences are longer keys and, as a result, longer key pivot lengths. This reduces fatigue and makes playing the keys a lot more enjoyable across extended periods of time.

Roland PHA-50 vs Hybrid Grand keyboard

The Hybrid Grand action also incorporates a stabilizing pin, making vertical key movement smoother and quieter.

In terms of actual feel, I’d say the Hybrid Grand action feels close to the real deal, having the heft and depth you’d expect from a real grand piano (which is what the LX700 series is trying to recreate).

Conclusion

Roland’s huge product line means there’s something for everyone.

I’ve worked with session keyboardists who love their FA workstations to death, and I’ve also seen many musicians in training who love the FP-series for its price to value ratio.

That’s not even mentioning how many drummers utilize Roland’s V-Drums modules and how a ton of guitarists (myself included) use Roland’s BOSS pedals all the time.

Roland really knows how to make instruments that sound and feel good to use, and there’s no doubt they’ve got a lot more in the works.

The recent Fantom (2019) release shows that Roland isn’t sitting on their laurels. They are actively looking to expand their product line with even more great instruments.

If you’ve ever owned or used Roland digital pianos or keyboards in the past, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

We’d love to hear about your likes and dislikes of Roland’s products, as there’s only so much my own opinions can contribute. Discussions benefit everyone, so we look forward to hearing from you!


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Sours: https://www.pianodreamers.com/roland-digital-pianos/


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