After browsing different models of digital pianos, you probably ended up with an indecision between these two. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people asked me which of these two pianos is the better choice. That’s why I decided to test them and write this Roland FP-30 vs Yamaha YDP-144 comparison review.
There are many aspects that have to be taken into account when deciding on which digital piano to buy. This takes a lot of time. And like most people, time is not a resource that you have in abundance. This is why I decided to make this comparison and publish my findings here. I, so to say, dissected these two digital pianos to discover their similarities, their differences, their pros and cons. After reading my comparison review, you will have all the data you need to make an informed decision. This way you can make sure that your money is invested wisely.
Roland FP-30 vs Yamaha YDP-144 Comparison Chart
|Model||Roland FP-30||Yamaha YDP-144|
|Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
|Key Action||Weighted Individually PHA4||Graded Hammer Standard|
|Key Touch/Weight||Ivory Feel, 5 Levels||Matte Finish, 4 Levels|
There’s a big difference between the Roland FP-30 vs Yamaha YDP-144 in matters of design. Actually they couldn’t be any more different.
The Roland FP-30 is a portable digital piano, designed for home use but also for the gigging musician. Roland puts it in the “stage pianos” category as well, which means it has been designed to be easily portable.
Because it’s so compact, it’s the perfect choice for smaller places. It will fit even in the smallest apartment. Although you can buy a stand for it, you can easily place it on a desk, if needed.
Although the size is comparable to most other portable digital pianos in this price range; 51.2 inches wide, 11.2 in deep and 5.9 in high, it’s heavier than most of the alternatives, weighing 31 pounds.
One of the nice aspects about the FP-30 is that you can see the advancements compared to the previous model. The design is very clean and contemporary. The dashboard is clutter free, with a single row of 13 illuminated buttons. Apart from the attractive looks, these buttons give you easy access to some of the piano’s main features and sounds. You will have to use certain button and key combinations to access a big part of the piano’s functions, which I’m not the biggest fan of but a common characteristic in compact, portable digital pianos.
You can find the FP-30 in two color variations: black and white.
The Yamaha YDP-144, as I said above, is a pretty different animal. First and foremost, it’s not a portable digital piano. Its intended for home use, or anyway in a fixed location. It also comes with a cabinet and an integrated three pedal unit.
One disappointment for me was to see that it hasn’t evolved much from the previous model. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, because the YDP-143 was by all means a very good home digital piano, but it’s neither an advantage, because some of the shortcomings were carried over to the YDP-144. Anyway, it’s still a great choice for practice and home use especially, because it has a full 88 keyboard and a built in speaker system good enough to fill any room.
The differences between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Roland FP-30 that are visible at first glance are the dimensions and weight. The YDP-144 is 53.4 in. wide, 16.6 in. deep and 32 in. tall, weighing in at 83 pounds, which is definitely not light. These two pianos are different types of digital piano, the FP-30 being a portable piano, whereas the YDP-144, a cabinet style home piano. You could almost say that they’re two different animals.
If you plan on using your digital piano on stage as well, by now you know that they YDP-144 is not fit for that. It’s designed to be installed in a fixed place, the design making it obvious.
Yamaha has made a name for themselves in digital pianos as well. They are known to produce high quality digital pianos. The YDP-144 only confirms Yamaha’s reputation. In spite of being a cabinet style piano, its dimensions are relatively compact, fitting in most rooms. But if space is very scarce, then you can check out even more compact cabinet style digital pianos like the Roland F-140R and the Casio PX-870.
If you decide on this Yamaha digital piano, you must know that you will have to install it yourself. This is the usual drill with most cabinet style digital pianos. But, before you roll your eyes, you should know that the entire installation process is well explained in the user manual, and it’s truly not that complicated to do even without any other help.
Depending on the décor of your house and/or your personal preference, you can opt to buy the Yamaha YDP-144 in black, white or rosewood.
Although the cabinet is not made of hardwood, it feels sturdy enough. Yamaha opted for a matte finish on either of the color variations. Although I like how acoustic pianos shine, the matte finish is more convenient because you leave less fingerprints.
I also like the three pedal unit complete with soft, sostenuto and damper pedals. They feel like good quality. The pedal unit will be connected with the piano through the pedal jack located on the lower part of the piano. What’s great about these pedals is the realism, with the ability to use half pedaling on the damper pedal.
The control panel of the YDP-144 is parted in two sections, on the right and left hand side of the keyboard. I like the discreet setup, with just a volume knob and a few control buttons. But on the other hand, like with the FP-30, you’ll have to use button and key combinations to access some of the features. This is the obvious downside of a clean design. An inconvenience at this point would be the lack of a display. You will have to play the keys to know what voice you selected, for example.
But overall, I like the clean design in spite of the inconveniences represented by the button and key combination needs. As I mentioned before, it’s a common trait among digital pianos in this price range.
There’s a big difference between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Roland FP-30 in matters of sound. The two manufacturers use different technologies to produce their sound. Yamaha uses the sampling technique and Roland uses the modeling technique.
These are two very different ways to tackle the problem of producing sound. Basically, the sampling technique relies on recordings of every note in different dynamic ranges in order to render the appropriate sound when you press a key. The modeling technique, employed by Roland, works a bit differently. It takes full length samples of an acoustic piano and then, it smoothens out the transitions between velocities, notes and samples.
If Yamaha hadn’t updated the CF sound engine that the former model used, the comparison had been definitely in favor of the Roland FP-30. But, they did. They decided to introduce the exact same sound engine, the CFX, that they usually use on the Clavinova line, to the Arius line. This makes the entire new generation of Arius digital pianos from Yamaha very attractive. And I must say it sounds really nice. The sound also gets transmitted beautifully through the speakers. Yamaha made sure to offer technologies like the “Stereophonic Optimizer” and the “Intelligent Acoustic Control” in order to make sure that the sound that you hear is always at its best, whether through the speakers or headphones.
The Roland FP-30 has a very rich sound too, that is wonderfully bright and realistically tuned. In spite of some people complaining about the way the FP-30 is tuned, my opinion is that its within acceptable limits. I even find its stretch tuning to be quite realistic, because its a perfectly acceptable way of tuning an acoustic piano. Apart from the piano sounds there are further high quality sounds that the FP-30 has built-in. In total you can choose from 35 different sounds. The comparison between the FP-30 vs YDP-144 tilts towards the former in the number of built-in sounds, as the latter only has 10. Anyway, you would probably use the piano sounds most of the times, but extra sounds are great to have there to spark creativity and have fun with.
Neither of two has many customization capabilities. All the parameters are taken care of optimally, at least in the opinion of the manufacturer, so that you can concentrate on the important thing, and that is playing the piano. There’s a difference though in polyphony, the FP-30 having a 128-note one and the TDP-144 a 192-note polyphony. This number indicates the maximum number of notes that can be played at the same time. Considering the fact that both of these are beginner digital pianos, I don’t think you will max out these polyphony limits anyway. That being said, let’s go on and take a look at the speaker systems of these two digital pianos.
The differences persist in the speaker department. The Roland FP-30 has 2 x 11W speakers, the Yamaha YDP-144 has 2 x 8W speakers. As you can clearly see right from the start the FP-30 has more powerful speakers.
Both digital pianos have their speakers installed facing down. This has obvious effects on the way you perceive sound. It’s not necessarily a weakness but I am used to testing out higher priced digital pianos as well, and I cannot ignore the lack of upward facing speakers too. But all in all, both speakers systems are pretty nice quality. They’re way enough for home use, I would say even too loud when turned up, if you have your neighbors close by.
There is no distortion on either of the two when played with the volume turned up.
The speaker system of the Roland FP-30 is the most powerful in its price range. Most other alternatives have 2 x 8W speaker systems.
The differences continue as we progress towards analyzing the keyboards of the two pianos. The only similarities are the fact that both keyboards have 88 fully weighted keys with progressive hammer action, meaning they are heavier on the low end getting lighter towards the high end. This adds a lot of realism to the overall experience.
But this is where the differences already begin. The Yamaha YDP-144 feature the brand’s basic Graded Hammer Standard, which is the same one used on the former model, the YDP-143, and Yamahas entry level key action. It has 4 key sensitivity levels you can choose from, the medium one being probably the one that offers optimum sensitivity and feel.
The Roland FP-30 benefits from the PHA-4 Standard, which is Roland’s 4th generation ivory feel key action. Together with Casio’s tri-scaled hammer action II it’s the only ivory feel key action in this price range. The PHA-4 a nice step up from its predecessor. An interesting fact is that Roland installed the PHA-3 on the FP-30’s bigger brother. This makes this specific combination of characteristics found in the FP-30 even more attractive.
Another interesting fact is that the Roland FP-30 has 5 total sensitivity levels. This too is more than usually found on other alternatives in this price range. What you get extra with this setup is the super heavy and super light settings. The super heavy offers the most dynamic range. With this setting you will have to press the keys really hard, though, if you want to play a fortissimo.
The characteristics that make the keyboard of the FP-30 my favorite of the two are the ivory keytops, the 3 sensor technology and the high quality hammer mechanism.
As you have seen above, there were notable upgrades for the Yamaha YDP-144 compared to its predecessor, but function-wise, you get the same set you had on the YDP-143. This is not a weakness, it’s just an observation. You get similar functions on the Roland FP-30. Let’s see what these are.
In terms of modes, you can find the duet play and the layering mode on both keyboards.
The duet play or duo mode gives you the possibility to play the piano with a colleague at the same. The function splits the keyboard into two equal halves, each having a middle C. This mode also works great with a teacher.
The layer mode or dual mode lets you choose two different sounds and play the at the same time. There are many classic combinations of instruments that sound great together.
The Roland FP-30 has a third mode, the split mode. This mode gives you the ability to split the keyboard in two arts, determining the split point and attributing a sound for each part. The YDP-144 lacks this function.
In terms of recording capabilities, there is another difference between the two. The Yamaha YDP-144 has a two track MIDI recorder. The Roland FP-30 has only a 1-track MIDI recorder. What does this mean? It means that you will not be able to record each hand separately on the FP-30.
There’s a further difference in the number of built-in songs. The Yamaha has 50, the Roland only 30. Anyway you can play any song you want on either of the two pianos, so I don’t consider the exact number of built-in songs to be such a big deciding factor.
And then there are the functions that you would usually find on a modern digital piano like transpose, octave shift, master tuning, metronome, etc. There’s no difference between the two as far as this common batch of functions are concerned.
Let’s move on to connectivity.
This is probably the section of the review where I can say that there’s a pretty big difference between the YDP-144 vs FP-30.
The Yamaha YDP-144 has two 1/4 inch headphone jacks, the Roland FP-30 has one 1/4 in. and one 1/8 in. This pretty convenient as you can connect your headphones directly to the piano, no matter the size, without needing any adapters.
Further, both have USB to Host connectivity which allows you to connect your digital piano to supported devices. What the FP-30 has additionally is a USB to Device port which allows you to plug in a flash drive.
The Roland FP-30 also has Bluetooth MIDI, which allows you to connect your digital piano to your laptop or tablet (if the have Bluetooth) wirelessly. In my opinion, the less cords the better.
Both digital pianos have Apps that can be used to make the entire interaction between you and your piano much more intuitive and fun. With these apps you can avoid the complicated combinations when accessing the settings section of the piano. Yamaha uses the Smart Pianist App and Roland uses the Piano Partner 2. In fact there are several apps that can be used with Roland digital pianos, but only the Piano Partner 2 works with the FP-30.
So, we reached this part of my review. It’s time to draw a conclusion and make a recommendation as to which piano is a better option.
I will start by saying that if you plan on moving the piano around a lot in the foreseeable future, you should go straight for the Roland FP-30, because its the only portable design of the two. And portability is not the only thing going for it.
There are many aspects that make the FP-30 very attractive, like the hammer action and ivory keytops, to the powerful speaker system and high quality sound. Overall, I tend towards the FP-30, but I cannot say that I dislike the Yamaha YDP-144. For a beginner who is planning on using the piano for practice at home, the YDP-144 might be a great option. It will also integrate well into any home décor, with its beautiful cabinet style. But the Roland FP-30 is a bit better in almost every aspect, even with better designed connectivity capabilities. So, if I were to choose one today I would probably go for the Roland FP-30.