Roland has successfully maintained its status as a heavyweight in the digital keyboard market over the past few decades. Ever since the 1980’s when watching my keyboard idols play behind “A” stands of keyboards emblazoned with the “Roland” name, I’ve had Roland products on my ever-evolving wishlist.

FP-30_BK_DR_gal.jpgDigital Pianos

Replicating a real, quality accoustic piano with a digital version seems to have been a goal that a lot of instrument manufacturers have pursued for years. Realism has gotten better every year, but it’s been the diminishing size, weight and price of digital pianos that have been a boon for musical consumers.

This year, Roland offers the FP-30, a compact and affordable instrument that brings Roland’s digital piano technology within reach of virtually everyone. The FP-30’s small footprint wil make it perfect for small spaces and very easy to transport in and out of the home, classroom or studio. Ideal for piano students, urban dwellers and young families, the instrument looks to be a great choice for performing musicians and music educators as well.

The FP-30 uses Roland’s SuperNATURAL® sound engine and incorporates a 88-note PHA-4 Standard keyboard, which inherits the progressive hammer action, escapement and Ivory Feel keys found in Roland’s high-end home pianos. This all combines to give you a grand piano experience in a much smaller package.

The FP-30 is equipped with speakers and dual headphones outputs which enable two people to listen at once. The outputs can alternately be used to connect to an external speaker system if desired.

FP-30_WH_gal.jpgAdditional sounds like strings, organs, voices and electric pianos let users broaden their musical experience, while dual and split functions allow two different sounds to be played at once. Onboard drum patterns enhance the enjoyment of everyday playing and offer an exciting alternative to the metronome while developing timing skills.

The FP-30 features built-in Bluetooth wireless capabilities, enabling users to explore using music apps for smartphones and tablets right at the piano. Popular apps like GarageBand and many others interact directly with the FP-30, creating a powerful, inspiring platform for learning, composing, and overall music fun. USB support is also included for playing along with favorite WAV/SMF tunes and sharing performances captured with the FP-30’s onboard SMF recorder.

The FP-30 is available in black or white. For a more traditional home piano setup, the optional KSC-70 stand and KPD-70 three-pedal unit provide an integrated look and classic pedal configuration while maintaining a much smaller footprint than a typical upright piano. When the KPD-70 is connected, one of its foot pedals can be used for hands-free turning of onscreen music pages while using popular mobile apps such as piaScore and Sheet Music Direct®.

RolandBoutique.jpgBookshelf Synthesizers

The Roland Boutique series is a new, limited-edition line of compact sound modules that recreate renowned analog synthesizers from the company’s past. The series includes three modules based on the JUPITER-8, JUNO-106 and JX-3P instruments from the 1980s. Each sound module can be used as a tabletop MIDI device or mounted in the companion K-25m Keyboard Unit to create a standalone compact synth.

Each Roland Boutique module is no bigger than a book and can run on USB bus power or batteries. The modules also include built-in speakers, a convenient feature for monitoring the sound in mobile environments.

The JP-08 models the legendary JUPITER-8 synth in a compact little package. Featuring 36 knobs and sliders from the original JUPITER-8 front panel, the four-voice JP-08 is programmable and encourages sonic experimentation. The JP-08 apparently reproduces the original JUPITER-8 sounds with a few new twists in the form of extra LFOs and expanded VCO range.
The Juno-106 was an icon back in the 1980’s (it was my first synthesizer). The four-voice
JU-06 module has 23 parameters controllable via the front panel. Again, Roland claims to have replicated classic JUNO sound, complete with the original’s signature chorus effect. New enhancements include a faster LFO and continuously variable high-pass filter.
RolandBoutiqueMontage.jpgThe JX-03 module models the JX-3P synth. While the original featured a button-driven interface for immediate access to preset sounds, it was highly programmable when paired with the optional PG-200 controller. The four-voice JX-03 inherits all 24 knobs from the PG-200 and has added extras not present in the original synth include new waveforms, expanded DCO range, and cross-modulation options.
Each Roland Boutique module is equipped with dual ribbon controllers and a built-in step sequencer. With their USB and MIDI I/O connectors, the modules can integrate with studio setups and other MIDI keyboards. Each module also features a chain mode that allows the user to connect two or more modules of the same type to increase the available polyphony as needed.

k-25m_left_gal.jpgWith the optional K-25m Keyboard Unit, users have the ability to turn a Roland Boutique module into a compact, all-in-one synth with 25 velocity-sensitive keys. Each module mounts in the K-25m quickly and easily, and can be interchanged with another in no time. Once in the K-25m, the module can be mounted flat or angled in two different positions for easier access to the panel controls.

Dave Chick
I'm a film / TV composer based in Vancouver BC. Music has always been part of my life, but my first career was in the technology industry as a consultant and project manager. I helped to build and open the Experience Music Project – a rock and roll museum in Seattle. I hold a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration degree from McMaster University. I also hold a diploma in Audio Engineering from the University of Washington and I’m a graduate of Hummie Mann’s acclaimed Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program.