Roland is one of the big names in the industry. They have been making musical instruments for decades, amassing an experience like few other digital piano brands. They are not known for only producing digital pianos; their list of musical instruments and accessories is pretty impressive: speakers, synthesizers, drums among others. I’ve been reviewing Roland digital pianos during the last few years, and I always thought they were among the best digital pianos that I tested. This is my Roland FP-30X review.
The FP-30X is supposed to be an upgrade to the FP-30, a supercharged version of the initial model. But, did they achieve what they set out to, and are the upgrades worth choosing this new version over the other? This, and many more, are the things that I wanted to find out when I decided to test this model. In this review, I present my findings to you. Let’s start by taking a look at the specifications of this digital piano.
Roland FP-30X Specifications
|Sound Source||Super Natural Piano|
|Speakers||2 x 12cm|
|Connectors||USB Type B, USB type A, |
2 x Phones/Output jack: stereo miniature type,
1/4″ phone type
|Wireless Connection||Bluetooth MIDI & Audio|
|Dimensions||1300 x 184 x 151 mm|
|Included Apps||Piano Everyday/ Piano Designer|
The Roland FP-30X is designed to be a portable digital piano. Its relatively compact dimensions and reduced weight make it very easy to transport to piano lessons or wherever you need to. It only has 14 kg, that’s about 30 pounds. There are lighter alternatives, but this is definitely not a big issue because the differences are relatively small.
I like the fact that Roland offers both black and white as color choices. The all around appearance is one of a smooth, elegant but sturdy musical instrument. It’s a contemporary looking design that keeps the dashboard to a slim 13 buttons. The buttons also have a minimalist look. When you push a button, it lights up, so you know it’s activated.
The keyboard is a full 88 keyboard. Together with the minimalist design it contributes to the authentic feeling.
There’s no need to assemble it, because it doesn’t have a cabinet stand. You can use it right away after getting it out of the box and plugging it in. The way it’s designed, you can place it on any table and use it that way. But, you can buy a separate stand and then you can place it anywhere in the room without occupying space on a table. It will surely fit in any space, because it’s really compact.
The two most important parts of a digital piano are sound and keyboard. I’ll analyze the sound aspect first, and then I’ll talk about the keyboard of the Roland FP-30X.
Digital pianos nowadays use one of two different technologies to create and emit sound. There’s the sampling method and then there’s the modeling method.
The sampling method, is based on recordings, or samples, of every key of an acoustic piano at different velocities. Once these various recordings are captures, they are associated too the corresponding keys of a digital piano. The modeling method starts from samples and then uses computer technology to obtain a behavior similar to that of an acoustic piano. With digital pianos that use the modeling method to render sound, the sounds that you hear are practically recreated the moment you press a key, in accordance to the way you press that key. The fans of modeling technology say it’s superior, because it smoothens the variations in tones, thus sounding more like an acoustic pian.
The Roland FP-30X uses the modeling method, just like most of the digital pianos made by Roland. I can’t argue for or against the technology because I also like digital pianos that use the sampling method. But the SuperNatural sound engine, present on the FP-30X, which is the brain behind the sound of the piano, has a real appeal. The technology creates a wonderful sound, with many different tone. The grand piano sound is so very similar to the real thing. This is really a great advantage, considering the fact that the FP-30X is designed with beginners in mind.
According to my opinion, the most important tone of a digital piano is the grand piano, especially for beginners who will practice playing the piano with this tone a lot. But the FP-30X has in total 56 different sounds. So, whenever you feel like you had enough of practicing the piano, you can switch to one of the other 55 tones and have some fun and variation, while still using the keyboard.
I will not list all the different tones in this Roland FP-30X review, but I will exemplify some of the tone, so tat you can get a taste of the variety:
This is a tone that is fundamental, and is ne that will probably will be most used by the majority of those who decide to buy this digital piano. Because it’s a digital piano made with beginners in mind, the concert piano is a great tone to learn piano on. It’s very truthful, and helps you learn the skill in a way that is easily transferable to an acoustic piano. This is also a tone that sounds great when used during piano performances.
This is a classic tone. It’s commonly found in the soul and fun genres of the ’80s and ’90s. Despite it’s name there are many songs you can play using this tone, and many genres, not only church music. But yes, you can use this in a church environment, although I’d recommend a cabinet style digital piano in that case.
Probably the most specific characteristic for digital pianos, polyphony represents the number of notes that can be played simultaneously. You’d think that there’s no need for much polyphony, but you couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Although you will not need a high limit in the beginning, as you progress, the polyphony limit of your digital piano can limit your expressiveness.
But there’s no concern of the FP-30X limiting the expressiveness of your performance. It has a 256-note polyphony, which means you can play 256 notes at the same time, and most important, hear each one of them at the same time. It’s well above the polyphony limit of other alternatives in its category. You can basically play any song you like, however complex the musical piece is, and still not reach the limit. This, also, is a contributing factor to the realism of the piano playing experience.
Although, especially in the beginning, you will not be able to play more than a few notes at the same time, as you progress, and want to use different effects and sustain pedals, the number of notes that you play at the same time rises. This is why a high polyphony limit is an important factor of any digital piano.
The speaker system of a digital piano is also important, because without it, you couldn’t hear your performances, except for using headphones or external speakers. The Roland FP-30X has a built-in speaker system made up of two 11W speakers. The two speakers are located beneath the keyboard on the right and left hand side. You can also adjust the speakers according to the setup you use for the digital piano.
The sound coming from the two speakers is clear and crisp even at higher volumes. It’s definitely enough for any living room. It’s even powerful enough for small performances. If you need more power, though, for larger performances, you can always connect external amplifiers.
The keyboard, besides the sound, is the most important part of a digital piano. This is because of multiple reasons, but maybe the most important of them all is that it contributes to the realism of the all around experience.
The key action is one of the most important parts of the keyboard. It’s fundamental in giving you the ability to play complex, fast passages of musical pieces without limiting your expressivity. And besides not limiting your expressivity, the proper key action will also give you the feeling of playing an acoustic piano.
The FP-30X has Roland’s PHA-4 Standard 88-key weighted hammer action. This is the 4th generation of Roland’s popular PHA piano hammer action. This hammer action is the same that Roland installed on their higher end digital pianos. It’s a step forward in matters of internal mechanism and noise reduction. These developments combine to offer an even closer experience to an acoustic piano.
The weight distribution is also similar to that of the keyboard of an acoustic piano. You have less weight on the high end, and progressively more as you progress towards the low end. The sensors each key is fitted with provide a sensitive response, which mimic closely the way acoustic piano keys respond. You can also adjust the touch sensitivity level to suit your preference. For instance, when you play classical piano, you would want a heavier touch response than if you use electric piano or other voices. A heavier touch response is also good in helping you develop the proper finger technique.
A factor that can enhance your playing experience is the surface of the keys. Especially during long practice sessions, your fingers can sweat and thus slip. The Roland FP-30X has simulated ebony and ivory keytops, that are capable to absorb some of the moist, preventing your fingers from slipping.
One of the things that differentiate digital pianos from acoustic pianos is a variating number of functions. Digital pianos, due to their electronic nature, have some features that can be useful, in some cases, or at least fun, in most of them.
This function gives you the ability to choose two different musical instrument sounds, from that list of 57 I mentioned earlier, and play them at the same time to create a new sound. There are some classic combinations, that sound well together, like piano and strings, but you can choose any two and possibly find new and interesting sounds.
The split mode is also about playing two voices at the same time, but this time you can choose a splitting point on the keyboard, and choose an instrument sound for each part. This way, you could play piano with your right hand, and strings with your left hand, for example.
Apart from the above mentioned features there are a few more that are worth mentioning as well. The built-in metronome can also be helpful for beginners or for those struggling to keep the right rhythm.
Especially piano teachers might find the twin piano mode useful. When you activate this mode, the keyboard splits into two equal halves, each half with a middle C. This way both teacher and student can exercise at the same time, making the learning process smoother and more interactive.
The Roland FP-30X also has recording capabilities. Using the MIDI recording feature, you can record your performance and then play it back later, or store it onto a USB flashdrive if you’d like to edit it further. By taking multiple recordings you can layer them in a music app like Garageband and create songs.
The recording feature is very helpful for beginners as well. If you are a beginner, hearing your performance can help you identify the parts where you need to work more on. This can speed up your learning curve and help you in perfecting your skill as you progress.
Another big advantage over acoustic pianos, digital pianos have a series of connectivity options which enhance its capabilities, offering a more complex user experience. I’m listing the connectivity options below, so that you can know exactly what to expect.
|Input / Output||2 x 1/4″ Line Output|
1 x 1/4″ TRS Headphone Output
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Headphone Output
|Pedal Support||1 x 1/4″ TS Damper|
1 x 8-Pin DIN Multi-Pedal
|Data Port||1 x USB Type-B (Computer Transfer)|
1 x USB Type-A (External Memory)
|Bluetooth||Yes, Bluetooth 4.0 (MIDI)|
Yes, Bluetooth 3.0 (Audio)
Now that we’ve reached the end of my Roland FP-30X review, it’s time to reach a verdict. It’s time to decide whether this is a good option for you or not.
The FP-30X is a new and improved version of the very popular Roland FP-30. It basically has everything that the base model has and then some technical improvements as well as lower power consumption. I think that if you’re a beginner, there aren’t many better options than the FP-30X. I’d risk saying that it will probably meet your needs even if you are a more advanced musician. The main reasons why you’d buy this digital piano are the great sound, fully weighted hammer action keyboard, the diverse musical instrument voices and not least, the Bluetooth capabilities. It doesn’t come with a stand or music rest, which are shortcomings.