Roland’s widespread FP line has received an overhaul this year. The company went ahead and upgraded an already solid series. The new X unit still deliver a premium piano experience in a compact form, but with some interesting refinements. I’ve received the FP-30X, which is the second model in the series if you count the still-produced FP-10. It’s in a particular niche where the model is viable for casual home playing, but also for professional, streamlined uses. This makes it a very attractive product that will interest a wide variety of players. Let’s take a look at its features and strong points.
I’ve recorded a few sound samples of the FP-30X, as well as my initial impressions. You can view them in this short video.
Roland’s refinements to a time-tested product
The FP-30X is a rather streamlined portable console-style keyboard which means that you won’t get all the bells and whistles that are found on some of the more elaborate options on the market. That being said, the manufacturer examined every little detail and refined every aspect to a high level of quality.
Enhanced sound quality
Sound-wise, on board the keyboard itself, you get access to 56 unique sounds that include 12 pianos, 20 electric pianos and 24 other tones such as strings, synths, choirs and others. The sound library expands to close to 200 sounds with the Roland Piano Everyday app. If you are really into editing, you can get the Piano Designer app to customize your piano with a lot of depth. This adds a lot of power to the user and can be very useful for many performance and recording applications.
Roland has increased the polyphony from the previous 128 voices to 256. This is thanks to a new chip that offers more processing power to handle the load. This won’t affect the user experience in a major way, but it’s good to know that for heavy layered usage, the additional polyphony will be there to support it.
The built-in speakers are more powerful than the average models found in this price range. This offers a more satisfying low-end and more volume potentially. True to Roland fashion, they produce detailed results and provide an immersive playing experience. There are built-in EQ options that mitigate the effects of placing the keyboard directly on a solid surface. Being mounted underneath, the speakers are subject to various acoustic phenomena when placed on a desk, for example. These equalization settings enable you to have an optimal experience if you don’t have a dedicated stand.
This is a full-range digital piano so it has 88 keys. It uses the PH-4 action which is an excellent reproduction of the piano playing experience. It has a definite weight that is very satisfying. The surface material has a nice feel, thanks to a simulated ivory finish. It has an ever so slight grip to it, but it shouldn’t take long to get used to it if you usually play on glossy keys.
Various connectivity options
One of the new features on the FP-30x is the Bluetooth connectivity to the Piano Every Day app. This is a learning app that really optimizes your learning. You’ll have an efficient breakdown of a wide variety of music pieces and a little chunk will be presented every day for you to practise. It’s a great way to achieve your goals in a focused, efficient manner.
There are more features related to the Bluetooth connectivity. First of all, your Roland keyboard and speakers can become an elegant music player. Also, that same connection can transmit MIDI information to a compatible Bluetooth/MIDI device for ease of use. With the USB output, you’ll have an integrated audio interface to record audio and MIDI to your DAW, a new feature for the X models. You can also hook up the line outputs to your sound card for audio recordings if you wish to use your own audio interface. There is an optional bench available, a triple pedal unit as well as a matching keyboard stand. The product comes in either black or white. It is shipped with a power adapter, music stand, a simple sustain pedal, but no USB cable.
I’ve been a fan of Roland’s FP line for a long time. I really like the feel of the keys and the attention to detail when it comes to crafting their products. The FP-30X is definitely a nice addition to anyone’s keyboard arsenal, be it a seasoned pro or a motivated beginner. The updated chip and speakers enhance the playing experience further than what was available in the past and that’s really impressive.
Future-proofed and stage ready
The FP-30X will interest various potential consumers. First of all, for newer pianists and keyboardists, this is an excellent choice for growth and learning. The awesome keys and action will develop your technique properly and switching to an acoustic piano won’t present any sort of challenge. The quality of the sounds is very satisfying and won’t leave you wanting for more. Also, the onboard connectors offer many versatile options and interfacing with computers. You’ll be able to easily record Audio/MIDI, compose and control external instrument banks that greatly increase the number of timbres you’ll have at your disposal.
For those who plan on taking this keyboard on stage and on the road, it’s a great affordable model that offers a high level of quality. As a stage piano, you’ll have a great sound and the action will make the whole experience very satisfying and authentic. Its light weight will help you carry it wherever you go and a dedicated carrying bag is available. For studio work, you’ll have an excellent keyboard with great action to craft great performances for various productions.
I’ve been recommending the FP line for years now and the new models in the X series are no exception. Roland has excellent quality control and great customer service. No matter where you are in your musical journey, the FP-30X is an awesome choice.
Make sure to check out the Roland FP-30X on Best Buy’s website.
[NOTE: the previous version of this article erroneously stated that this keyboard couldn’t transmit audio through the USB output. This has been confirmed by Roland and the new X series does, in fact, have audio interface capabilities.]