Stage pianos are the superlatives of digital pianos. They usually have all the elements that a normal digital piano has, plus a bunch of features for the professional musicians out there. This article is our Roland RD-2000 review.
Roland has been one of the main players in the digital piano industry for many years. Their expertise has evolved over the years. With the last wave of digital pianos, Roland has positioned itself among the best manufacturers of not only digital pianos, but also of stage digital pianos, the more evolved and gifted relative of the first.
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Yes, stage pianos are not for everyone who want to practice piano at home. Their like a niche within the niche. Stage pianos are destined for professional musicians, who not only need an instrument capable of providing all the necessities of a live performance, but also enable them to use it inside a studio for music production. Roland RD-2000 is one of these instruments. In this review, we want to find out what the RD-2000 offers, and if it deserves to be part of the stage piano category. Let’s discover this musical instrument together.
The design of the Roland RD-2000 takes an untrained eye towards the image of a plane’s cockpit.
It has a very intuitive interface, that is for professional musicians. For everyone else it might seem like a bit too complicated to figure out. Anyway, because the RD-2000 is designed for the stage performer, it has all the buttons and sliders that serve the live performer well.
On the control panel you can find everything you need during a stage performance. Eight buttons and nine sliders provide all the instant control for sounds, effects and other parameters.
They are also LED lit, with exact visual feedback, so that you can adjust everything regardless of the light conditions and other external factors. This allows you to express yourself exactly as you intend too, without losing any of the complexity of your performance due to technical inconveniences.
There’s a minor downside from the point of view of design. There are no built-in speakers. Because the RD-2000 is designed with the professional musician in mind who would probably use external amplification or headphones any way, the speakers were left out of the equation. It would have been nice though, to have some kind of speakers.
As for dimensions and weight, I would classify this stage digital piano as portable with total dimensions of 55.6″ x 14.5″ x 5.56″ and a weight of 47.9 pounds. It compact and lightweight enough for the average adult to move it by himself.
Roland RD-2000 Specifications
- Two distinct sound engines: one for acoustic piano tones + SuperNATURAL sound engine for electric pianos and additional sounds;
- Eight knobs with LED status indicator and nine sliders for real time control of sounds and effect;
- Eight assignable zones for combining internal and external sounds;
- PHA-50 Fully weighted wood and plastic keyboard action;
- Over 1100 non-piano sounds;
- Two wave expansion slots for loading additional sounds from Roland’s Axial website;
- Power consumption: 23 W;
- Polyphony: acoustic piano sound engine full, SuperNATURAL sound engine 128-note;
- Dimensions: 55.6″ x 14.5″ x 5.56″; Weight: 47.9 pounds.
The Roland RD-2000, different from what we’re used from a normal digital piano has two distinct sound engines. But from the point of view of the sounds installed on the instrument, there are three classes of sounds.
The first set of sounds, ten acoustic piano sounds are rendered by Roland’s characteristic physical modeling engine, V-Piano. They can be found under the tag “MD” on the display located on the control panel.
The second set of sounds, are electric pianos, organs, clavs and a further set of acoustic piano voices. These are produced by Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine. You can find these sounds under the “SN” symbol on the control panel display.
You can find the rest of the sounds, and there are many, un-categorized. This doesn’t indicate a lesser quality than those that are part of the previous category. The difference is that the sounds under the “SN” symbol can be edited more thoroughly. This third category contains guitars, basses, brass, strings, drum kits and many more. In total there are 1100 in this group of additional sounds. These are more total sounds than most other digital or stage pianos offer.
If you like the sound of an acoustic piano, you will love the 10 variations that the RD-2000 offers. From rich and full to bright and warm, there is a perfect acoustic piano tone for any song that you want to play. With this palette of piano tones, playing anything from classical pieces to modern tunes is within your reach.
The big difference between the piano sounds on this piano an that of other manufacturers’ is the way the sounds are created. There are slight differences between modeled sounds, as is the case with the RD-2000 and sampled sounds. Whichever parameter you look at, modeled sounds, as those created by the sound engine of the RD-2000 are somehow more cohesive and offer slightly more room for expressiveness.
But, that’s not always the case, as good sampling methods can be most times of better quality than poor modeling.
The fact that the RD-2000 offers such a large choice and high quality on each of the piano sounds is quite impressive, because let’s not forget that this is a stage piano that’s made for music production and has a large scope of uses, not a home digital piano that people buy mainly to practice piano.
Above all of these great piano sounds, there is a feature that lets you customize every aspect of each sound. It’s called Tone Designer. With this control tool you can adjust everything from key off noise and different types of resonance to lid position and others. It offers you further capabilities to adjust each note separately, essentially enabling you to create a completely new piano tone, if you want.
You can also find this adjustment feature on other digital pianos from Roland that are destined for home use, like the FP-90 (if you want read our full Roland FP-90 review here). But in the case of the FP-90, the adjustment feature can be found through an iOS or Anddroid app, Piano Designer.
Electric pianos and organs
The second class of sounds are brought by the SuperNATURAL sound engine of the RD-2000. In this category, besides further variations of digital pianos, you can also find a set of electric pianos, organs and clavs. The sound engine is doing a wonderful job rendering theses sounds.
If you need your solo to come forward among other instruments in a mix, through the Tone Designer this is easily achievable. You don’t have to turn up the master volume to do that.
The electric pianos offered by the Roland RD-2000 are really nice sounding. The entire group of electric pianos have that vintage vibe to them, and compare to the electric piano sounds of from other manufacturers which have a high reputation in this matter.
There’s also a modern electric piano bank, which showcases the RD-1000. In 1986, the Roland RD-1000 came with a primal form of sound modeling, called structured adaptive synthesis.
Essentially, it offered the first acoustic and electric piano sounds that were created from scratch as opposed to the sampling technique. It seems as a distant ancestor of the sound modelling engines that Roland uses today on their digital pianos. At that time, though, they were revolutionary. They sound well even today, if you look for something out of the ordinary.
The set of organ sounds are sounding truly authentic and are completely adjustable. By using the functions in the Tone Designer feature, a world of possibilities opens up itself. You can adjust such aspects as transitions, fast or slow speed, stereo spread, rotor balance, overdrive and others.
The sounds are very rich, but because of the absence of the scanner chorus/vibrato they are not entirely comparable to those rendered by the VR and VK series of keyboards from Roland.
In addition, a number of pipe organs complete the RD-2000’s offer of organ sounds. Regardless of the type of organ music you intend to play, there surely is a suitable sound.
There are so many sound on the Roland RD-2000 that it could use more buttons to navigate all of them.
Under the Bass button you can find electric and acoustic guitars as well as mandolin and other instruments of the kind. Of course you can find different types of bass under this category too, like synth, electric and upright basses. I’m very pleased with the quality of the guitars and basses on this keyboard.
Then there are a list of strings, that have an incredible tone range.
There is also an extended range of synth textures that enrich the sound palette of this stage piano. They are organized in sub-categories: synth bass, leads and many more.
A nice offer of beats ans grooves awaits you to discover them. They contain various retro drum loops. In the “Other” category you can find acoustic brass and woodwinds.
Two sound expansion slots are part of the RD-2000. Instead of filling them with ROM cards, you will use downloads from the Axial website.
Effects are organized in 3 categories.
First there are zone effects. They are applicable to the internal Tone of a certain zone. They include amp sims, tremolo and modulation. Because this stage piano model has been equipped with a high amount of processing power, it can move 4 zones into one program, maintaining their determined effects.
The RD-2000 offers a type of synth-like control that is completely unexpected from a stage piano. Through the Tone Designer feature you can edit all of the sounds, even those that are not part of the first two categories, V-piano and supernatural. By the use of the rotary encoders, you can edit elements as the attack, resonance, release and others.
The 9 faders, 8 encoder knobs and mod wheels enable you to customize sounds of the RD-2000, obtaining even more sounds. The faders are linked to each customizable zone so that you can make seamless transitions between them.
Because there are so many different functions on the piano, each button is responsible for multiple functions. Depending on the selected function, each one of the 8 knobs controls 5 parameters. These are: rate, type, depth, feedback, tone color, drive, delay send, reverb send, pan, attack, release, cutoff, resonance and others.
You can imagine the large number of possibilities that are emanating from these customization functions. With the help of the LED dials, determining the positions of the knobs.
You can save up to 100 customization variants. This way you can quickly recall a certain variant whenever you need it. Because of features like this, the RD-2000 is an amazing instrument for live performances.
Another interesting feature fr live performers is a button that takes you back to one of the piano sounds instantly. It’s called One Touch Piano and you can find it on the right side of the silver selection dial.
The Roland RD-2000 has a fully weighted hammer action keyboard that mimics the feeling of playing an acoustic piano very well. This hammer action technology from Roland that is present on this mode is called PHA-50. It’s been developed by the technicians at Roland to perfection. I would dare to say it’s among the top hammer actions in this price range. Other keyboards seem pretty artificial compared to the RD-2000.
The hammer action also mimics the escapement feature. This means that musical passages where quick repetitions are required can be easily performed. You don’t have to let the keys bounce back all the way in order to repeat a note.
From the point of view of materials that are used, the keys are a combination of wood and plastic. The surface is made not to appear as being of plastic. The artificial ivory top is capable of offering that necessary grip exactly when you need it.
It’s perfectly possible to play other instruments with ease on this keyboard, although it’s made to mimic the feeling and workings of that of an acoustic piano. You can still play electric piano, organ, or any one of the over 1000 sounds wonderfully.
Nearing the end of our Roland RD-2000 review, I would like to conclude the good and the not so good parts of this stage piano. What’s clear is that if you’re a performing artist or are involved in music creation, this stage piano will prove itself to be a very useful tool. But even if these instances are not matching your situation, this still could be a great choice for an instrument to practice on because it’s a lot of fun with all the bells and whistles. But, the intended user for this instrument is clearly the more advanced musician.
So, what are the aspects that make a strong impression?
Probably the most impressive part of the instrument is the V-Piano sound engine that is present on more advanced (and expensive) musical instruments from Roland. Being able to buy it at this price is really a good deal. Another impressive aspect is the sound library, and its quality. From electric pianos to organs, strings and others, all the sounds are world class I could say.
The control capabilities during performance make it look extremely similar to synthesizers. It enables you to mix and create new sounds, while using external sources as well. The MIDI capabilities are really impressive for a stage piano in this price range.
There are some weaknesses, though, that must be mentioned. For example the incapacity of the keys to recognize aftertouch. And there’s also a lack of sync to external MIDI clock. But all in all, the tremendous advantages that come with this stage piano, make it a great value for money choice. I dearly recommend it to anyone looking for a professional keyboard without having to spend many thousands of dollars.