Roland is a brand name that has become synonymous with quality music products; from amplifiers to pianos, Roland have solidified their presence in the music industry over the years.
In this review, we take an in-depth look at the Roland FP-30 digital piano check out what this impressive instrument brings to the table.
Hailing from the well known FP Series, the Roland FP-30 is specifically created to be a portable instrument that allows for easy transportation. Weighing in at just 31 lbs, the Roland FP-30 is pretty light-weight and should be easy to move around without much of a hassle.
Though it is slightly heavier than other digital pianos within this price range, such as the Yamaha P-115, the Roland FP-30 still remains an incredibly compact instrument and some users have commented that the little bit of extra weight brings a more ‘stable’ feel.
Thanks to its compact nature, the Roland FP-30 can be placed on surfaces such as desks without having to employ the use of a piano stand. This comes in handy when space is an issue, seeing as one will not have to rearrange the entirety of their workspace just to have room for the piano.
With a width of 51.2”, a depth of 11.2” and a height of 5.9”, the Roland FP-30 is quite similar in size to most digital pianos within this range. The dimensions are very similar to those of the Kawai ES-110 digital piano.
Despite being a stage piano with focus being on portability and playability, the Roland FP30 has a modern and contemporary look thanks to the refreshing new design and employs the use of illuminated buttons of which come in extremely handy when performing in late night shows.
The design features a row of 13 buttons that are clearly labelled in a simple and concise manner. The user accesses most of the piano functions by way of these buttons. While some digital pianos in this range feature the use of an LCD display screen, the Roland FP30 doesn’t have one.
While navigation through the settings is pretty straightforward, the one criticism that pops up is the fact that in order to change some settings, one would be required to hold down one of the keys as they press a button. It is therefore necessary to check for the different combinations of buttons within the manual that comes with the piano.
While this may feel like a bit of a chore, it isn’t a deal breaker seeing as many digital pianos on the market employ the same style of navigation.
Furthermore, the Roland FP-30 does not come with its own in-built stand. This is hardly a shocker seeing as the instrument is geared towards the stage-piano market. Not to mention an in-built stand would take away from the portability of the instrument due to transportation logistics.
The Roland FP-30 can be purchased in two colour finishes; black or white. Both look stunning and user can choose a finish that appeals to them. But if we absolutely had to pick a favourite, the white colour finish gets heads turning without even trying.
Featuring 88 keys with ivory quality, the Roland FP-30 feels light to one’s touch and offers a rather realistic feel when it is played. The realistic feel can further be attributed to the progressive hammer action.
Progressive hammer action simply means that user’s will find the keys in the lower registers are heavier than the ones in the higher registers. So just like an acoustic piano, the higher up the keyboard you go the lighter the keys become.
This progressive hammer action greatly lends towards the natural and realistic feel of the Roland FP30 as it is very similar to an acoustic piano when played.
The Roland team employs the use of the PHA-4 Standard action. This is what creates the graded action on the keyboard and allows it to feel so realistic. In fact, some users have mentioned that the PHA-4 standard action of the Roland FP-30 is better than the Casio Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II.
However, opinions are usually very subjective when it comes to such attributes, so its recommended that you give it a go and see how it feels before you decided to fork out the necessary funds.
Just like the Casio Privia digital pianos, the Roland FP-30 boasts of a three-sensor key detection system. This allows for greater dynamic expression and it will no doubt be appreciated by most, if not all, piano players.
However, the Roland FP-30 has the upper hand when it comes to sensitivity settings. Whilst most digital pianos offer three sensitivity presets, the FP-30 offers up to five options; Super Heavy, Heavy, Medium, Light, Super Light or Fixed touch sensitivity.
The ‘super heavy’ setting has become a quick favourite amongst many users of the Roland FP30 on the basis that it allows for the greatest dynamic expression and variations when being played.
The ‘fixed’ setting on the other hand will result in the same level of loudness being produced regardless of the velocity at which one strikes the keys.
The touch sensitive keys of the Roland FP-30 further add to the realistic nature of the piano. The loudness of the sound produced will depend on how hard the keys are pressed, another great feature of the PHA-4 Standard action keyboard.
All in all, the keyboard on the Roland FP30 easily blows away most competing models within this price range. The PHA-4 standard action keyboard and the ivory keytops make this a very realistic feeling digital piano.
The addition of other sounds, other than regular piano sounds, allows for more room for experimentation as well as giving the user greater space for creative expression.
The Roland team are well known for their SuperNATURAL sound technology, it has been featured in many if their flagship digital pianos over the years.
Simply put, the SuperNATURAL sound technology system provides a natural and authentic sound with great dynamics that many modern day digital pianos lack. Just like Casio’s impressive AiR Sound Source, Roland’s SuperNATURAL system provides a sound that is rich and full in detail.
This is achieved through sampling. The SuperNATURAL sound system uses real acoustic piano samples and they are delivered in rich and stunning detail. The sound system employs the use of lossless audio compression that allows for high quality audio samples to be played without distorting or degrading the quality.
One of the highlights of the Roland FP-30 is that it also makes use of the brilliant SuperNATURAL sound system thus providing the users with a rich and vibrant sound.
Unlike most digital pianos that rely on multi-layered samples (samples recorded with different velocities and then stack on one another), the Roland FP30 uses full length acoustic piano samples. The SuperNATURAL sound system allows for smoother transitions between these samples thus creating a very ‘clean’ sound.
Furthermore, the Roland FP-30 sound system recreates the same fine details found in an acoustic piano such as string, damper and key-off resonance. As such, one ultimately has a digital piano that sounds, and feels, very similar to an acoustic piano.
Despite having a variety of great sounds to choose from, the one criticism that stands out is the fact that one does not have much leeway when it comes to sound customization. In terms of adjustable sound effects, one can change the brilliance as well as the reverb effect.
While the lack of customizable sound options is not a deal-breaker or a reason to shy away from the Roland FP-30, it is nevertheless a bit disappointing given all the other impressive sound qualities of this digital piano.
Most digital piano players understand the importance of polyphony and the rather crucial role it plays when it comes to performing.
As such, the Roland FP-30 features 128-note polyphony. This is basically the industry standard when it comes to digital pianos within this price range.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of polyphony, this is basically a feature found in digital pianos whereby the higher the polyphony, the lower the chances that notes will get cut off early regardless of how fast one is playing.
With that being said, the 128-note polyphony offered by the Roland FP30 is more than enough for most players and it unlikely that one would actually make use of the full 128-note polyphony when playing.
Featuring two relatively powerful built-in speakers, the Roland FP-30 offers a rather rich and natural sound when played.
The Roland FP-30 is furnished with two 12cm speakers as well as two 11W amplifiers. These provide the Roland FP-30 with a sound that is audible enough for small performances. For the ‘at home’ player, these will definitely be loud enough to suit your needs as the sound easily fills the room.
As opposed to other digital pianos within this price range, the Roland FP-30 once again blows away its competition as no other competing model can keep up with the loudness of this compact instrument.
Worth noting is the position of the speakers on the Roland FP-30; while they are indeed great, the speakers face downwards. As such, the sound can sometimes come across as slightly muffled. However, this little detail is not enough to completely put us off the FP-30.
The Split Mode option is a rather simpler and straightforward feature to use and understand. As the name suggests, when this mode is selected the keyboard splits into two parts and allows for different sounds to be played on either side. For example, you could have a strong section on one side and a grand piano on another.
This feature allows for the user to perform interesting pieces and create the impression that there are two different instruments being played, when in reality everything is being produced by the Roland FP-30.
The Dual Mode feature is also extremely interesting as it allows for the user to layer two distinct instruments that will then play simultaneously when a key is pressed. For instance, one can layer a harpsichord with an electric piano sound to create an interesting tone.
The dual mode feature in a way makes up for the lack of sound customization options as users can layer different sounds to create interesting tones. Furthermore, the Roland FP-30 allows for the user to adjust the volume mix so that one instrument is more noticeable than the other.
The Duet Play (Twin Piano) feature is a great option for jamming with fellow musicians, or for teaching a piano lesson.
When selected, the keyboard splits in the centre and each half has an identical pitch with its individual middle C section. This means that two people can play at the same time and create the illusion that they are playing from two separate instruments.
The duet play feature is extremely handy when it comes to teaching. Not to mention it takes the concept of collaboration to a whole new level seeing as users do not have to make use of a second piano.
The variety of modes and features at one’s disposal makes the Roland FP-30 a truly versatile instrument with a lot of room for creativity, collaboration and experimentation.
Transposing, Octave Shifting & Master Tuning
Every modern day digital piano comes with some pitch-shifting features. As such, the Roland FP-30 is no different and users have several options to choose from.
The in-built Transpose feature of the Roland FP-30 allows for the user to shift the pitch of the entire keyboard either up or down in semi-tone steps.
This is a handy feature as users can shift the pitch of the piano without having to change their fingering positions. Changing keys is relatively hassle free and very simple.
The Octave Shift option facilitates for the user to adjust the pitch by way of octave units.
The Master Tuning function acts the same way as the fine-tuning function in many other digital pianos, it simply has a different name.
The standard keyboard has a pitch of A4 = 440 Hz, the master tuning option of the Roland FP-30 allows for the user to change this to their preference in 0.1Hz steps.
Pitch shifting, and fine-tuning options are of importance as it allows user to quickly change pitch to match that of an accompanying instrument, or even find the same key as a vocalist so that they can play along with no fuss.
Recording and Playback
As with most digital pianos, the Roland FP-30 allows for the user to record their performance via the in-built MIDI Record.
The Roland FP-30 makes use of a 1-track MIDI recorded. This is a bit of disappoint as users cannot record different instruments to seperate tracks.
However, the Roland FP-30 MIDI capabilities means that it can be connected to a variety of different software, such as your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of choice, and users can create multi-track recordings.
This makes the Roland FP-30 a great choice for music producers as it always for quick and easy MIDI recordings. It can also be used as MIDI controller and even double as a drum machine so long as the appropriate keys are assigned to the corresponding instrument in your DAW.
Unlike many other digital pianos, the Roland FP-30 allows the user to play MIDI and WAV files from an external flash drive. Users can also playback 30 built-in songs from the piano’s memory.
One downside about the recording options is the lack of WAV recording capabilities. Nevertheless, the Roland FP-30 is a great choice for music producers, recording musicians and hobbyists alike.
With an in-built Metronome function, the Roland FP-30 guarantees to keep you in the right tempo regardless of what piece you are playing along too.
In simple terms, a metronome allows for the user to keep in time by providing them with a basic click track to play along to. The users specify a tempo (BPM) and the Roland FP-30 helps them keep in count.
Though the metronome is hardly a revolutionary addition, it is nevertheless and essential one seeing as it plays a big role in improving one’s speed and accuracy while practicing. Users can use it to challenge themselves and play out of their comfort zones.
Loaded with several connectivity options, the Roland FP-30 allows for seamless connectivity with external devices of different ranges.
Amongst the differing connectivity options is the USB to Host Port that allows for users to connect the Roland FP-30 to a computer for MIDI recording purposes, or to play along to an app. Users simply need to purchase a separate, and inexpensive, USB – MIDI cable:
- KINGONE USB 2.0 Cable
- For iPhones/iPads
In order to connect external flash drives, users can simply plug into the USB to Device Port located on the back of the Roland FP-30. This allows users to play WAV and MIDI files directly from an external flash drive.
Furthermore, the USB to device port on the Roland FP-30 allows for users to record MIDI files directly on to the flash drive. This is rather useful given the fact that the internal memory of the piano can only hold one song at a time.
Users can connect headphones to the Roland FP-30 for those late-night jam sessions, or for some quick practice without disturbing others. On the front of the keyboard there are two headphone jacks; a 1/4” standard jack and a 1/8” mini jack.
The beauty of this is that it allows users a to connect whatever type of headphone jack suits their needs. Virtually any jack is compatible without needing to employ the use of adapters, which ultimately saves one a bit of change.
The location of the jacks is convenient as some manufacturers tend to place these at the back thus making it cumbersome to play with headphones connected. Not to mention most headphones have relatively short cables that would force the user to play rather closely to the piano. Kudos to Roland for this great design perk.
There is a rather interesting and exciting connectivity option that sets the Roland FP-30 apart from the rest of the pack; the piano offers Bluetooth MIDI connectivity. This means that the Roland FP-30can be connected to computers or tablets so long as they support Bluetooth connectivity.
The brilliance of this feature is that one can still make MIDI recordings without needing to employ the use of MIDI cables or an audio interface. Whilst not all apps may be compatible, this is still a welcomed innovation thanks to its convenience.
Unlike some other digital pianos, the Roland FP-30 unfortunately does not feature a dedicated Line Out jack. What this means is that users will have to get a little creative when connecting the piano to external amplifiers and PA systems by using the dedicated headphone jacks. But still, this isn’t a deal breaker.
Roland offer a sustain pedal as one of the accessories when the FP-30 is purchased.
The Roland DP-2 sustain pedal is part of the Roland FP-30 accessories that come with the digital piano. While it is great that users get a sustain pedal with the purchase, the reality of the situation is that the DP-2 pedal is hardly worth writing home about.
The pedal is made of plastic housing and is essentially cube-shaped. It does not feel, nor look, anything like a real sustain pedal and seasoned piano players with shy away from using it. For beginners, it will be more than adequate for the desired effect.
Users will ultimately have to purchase an external piano pedal in order to elicit a more realistic feel from the device. As such, many users have opted to go for the pocket friendly option that is the M-Audio SP-2 pedal.
Users may also opt to purchase the Roland KPD-70 triple pedals as they were after all designed specifically for the FP-30. The pedal unit is available in black or white colour finishes.
Unlike some competing models, such as the Casio PX-870, the Roland FP-30 does not feature its own in-built piano stand. As such, users will have to part with some money in order to purchase an external stand.
Whilst most X-type stands would suffice, the Roland team designed a stand specifically for the FP-30. The Roland KSC-70 is a custom stand designed to perfectly fit the needs of the FP-30.
Available in two colour finishes, the stand neatly accommodates the requirements of the Roland FP-30. It is easy to assemble and doesn’t take up much space at all. Furthermore, the Roland KPD-70 pedal unit fits perfectly on the stand as they were designed to go hand-in-hand.
Alternatively, users may want to purchase something a little more budget friendly in the way of X-type stands which can also be easily moved around. Several options include:
- K&M 18976
- Millenium KS-2010
- RockJam Xfinity Heavy-Duty
For most of the musicians that play at home, a case may not necessarily be essentially. However, for the gigging musician a case is always a necessary accessory as it allows for easy transportation, and also protects the piano from any external damage.
With that being said, the Roland FP-30 does not come with a case when it is purchased, and users will have to source one externally. The good news, however, is that the Roland team designed the CB-88RL carry case which accommodates the FP-30 and many other 88-key digital pianos.
The case features an interior cushion padding which helps to protect the piano from damage, as well as protecting the knobs and keys.
The Roland FP-30 is an impressive digital piano and offers new and exciting features, such as Bluetooth MIDI connectivity, that allows for it to stand out from the crowd.
Kawai ES-110 (full review)
The Kawai ES-110 is similar to the Roland FP-30 as it also features the use of Bluetooth MIDI connectivity. This is a rather handy feature as we have explored in-depth above. Furthermore, the ES-110 boasts of 192-note polyphony while the Roland FP-30 features 128-note polyphony.
Despite that, the Roland FP-30 has the upperhand for a variety of reasons such as the connectivity options; the ES-110 does not feature any USB slots. This means that users cannot play or record music to external devices.
The Yamaha P-115 is a solid alternative to the FP-30 as it offers many of the same features such as the graded hammer action thus allowing it to feel similar to an acoustic piano. Furthermore, it also offers an in-built MIDI recorder and unlike the FP-30, it allows users to make two track MIDI recordings.
However, the Yamaha P-115 only features 14 in-built sounds, whereas the Roland FP-30 features 35 instruments sounds thus bringing more to the table. The FP-30 also features a much more powerful speaker system at 22W while the P-115 clocks in at 14W.