Roland makes a wide variety of products for the consumers of musical tools and instruments. No matter the level of experience of the player, from beginners to professionals, they offer an excellent playing experience and sound quality. This fact puts the company in a unique position, where the merchandise is highly future proof, which adds additional value. Roland’s track record in the keyboard and digital piano world is universally liked. I’ve recently received the top of the line FP-90X (coming soon) that offers high-end features and exemplary playability.
First of all, check out this video that documents some of the sounds and my first impressions of the Roland FP-90X digital piano.
High quality features on the FP-90X
Being the top of the line of the FP series, it’s no surprise that the FP-90X has many different options that make it a fine addition to any pianist’s collection. Its features mean you can use it as a portable keyboard or even to start learning on.
The FP-90X features the PHA-50 keyboard. This is one of Roland’s top actions and it’s featured on their high-end home pianos. The company has always manufactured excellent keys and this model is no exception. It provides good resistance, like you’d find on actual acoustic pianos. The texture is inviting and provides a good grip. There’s no plastic feel here. There’s a lot of attention to detail, including actual wooden sides that make the whole package that much more authentic.
The FP-90X has a sophisticated 4 speaker system that delivers rich, detailed tones. It’s loud enough to fill large rooms, though at higher volumes it becomes so loud it might be slightly unpleasant to play. Under the hood, Roland’s SuperNATURAL Modelling reached new heights thanks to limitless polyphony for the first eight piano tones. The other sounds are set to a generous 256 notes of polyphony. This represents the number of simultaneous sounds the piano can emit. Samples can be made out of multiple different recordings and notes add up quickly when they bleed into each other with reverb and pedal usage. This is why the more polyphony, the better.
There are over 360 sounds to pick and all of them are high quality. There are many pianos, electric pianos, organs, pads, and synths to choose from. You’ll also be able to play non-keyboard instruments such as strings, woodwinds, brass, guitars, basses, percussions, and effects. The piano tones can be deeply edited with the piano designer that gives you access to parameters such as lid adjustments, hammer noise, soundboard type, and much more. You’ll also be able to add effects such as reverb to further tailor the tone to your liking.
Multiple connection options
There is a lot of connectivity available on the FP-90X. First of all, there are two separate headphone outputs for silent practicing, duets, and lessons. Additionally, there is a stereo output to plug into a console, amplifier, or PA system. You’ll also be able to connect a physical music player, such as a CD player or iPod, thanks to an AUX input. There are separate connections for various pedals (soft, sostenuto, and damper), as well as a switch to turn off the speakers (which is useful for recording and live performances). Digital ins and outs include MIDI and USB (both A and B) to plug in flash drives and your computer. Finally, there’s even a microphone input, so you can sing along to your playing or accompany another singer.
Computers, Bluetooth and apps
A very useful feature Roland added to the FP-90X is the integrated digital audio interface. This eliminates the need for a separate interface and really streamlines recording. When I plugged it into my laptop, Logic Pro instantly recognized the keyboard and I could instantly use it for input and output. This means that I could easily record and have the built-in speakers act as a monitoring system.
This model has Bluetooth capabilities, meaning you can enjoy some additional features that an acoustic piano can’t offer. First of all, you’ll be able to stream audio from any sort of device such as a phone or tablet. MIDI is also transmitted, so you’ll have an easy way to interface with compositional and sheet music writing tools.
Roland even has a totally new app, called the Roland Piano App. This is an enhanced education and control environment. It gives you access to many different features or sound editing of your keyboard. Additionally, there are fun music learning activities such as flash cards and ear training. You’ll also be able to practice different songs with extra tools to help you, such as accompaniment, tempo changes, and hand isolation. It’s a great option for individual learning or an excellent supplement to private lessons.
Fantastic for learning and composing
If you are looking for an excellent starting point to begin your musical journey, the Roland FP-90X might seem like overkill at first. But if you are certain that you or child is deeply interested in learning the piano, it might just be the ideal instrument. First of all, it has a really good set of keys, resembling the type you’d get on a high calibre acoustic piano. This is great for developing technique and transferring to an acoustic instrument won’t be an issue. Additionally, the excellent sound quality, as well as the many built-in features and connectivity, make it a versatile and future proof investment. The fact that you can easily record thanks to its built-in audio interface adds enormous value and educational potential.
I really appreciate the fact that the piano itself is a digital audio interface. This makes home recording so much simpler, as you can simply plug into your computer or laptop for fast recording. It’s a great way to actually lay down tracks, compose, or keep track of your progress. Even if you don’t have any writing ambitions, listening back to performances is an excellent way of working on your time keeping and technique.
The Roland FP-90X is a very satisfying instrument. Even with the power off, simply laying down some chords is a great feeling thanks to its refined action. The attention to detail that Roland poured into its design is amazing and provides a very good result. I especially like the wooden sides that your fingers will surely graze as you are playing. It adds a lot of authenticity.
The sound quality is excellent, whether from the built-in speakers or headphones. Roland is known for great sampling and this keyboard is loaded with realistic and inspiring tones that will keep you practicing or writing new material.
For current pianists and experienced players, this is a high-quality digital piano that will serve you well. If you are looking for a realistic experience in a portable, maintenance-free format, this model is hard to beat. The action will likely satisfy demanding players making it a great alternative for a bulky upright or grand. Although it’s portable, it’s not the lightest of keyboards. If you were planning on using it for gigging, it might be wise to consider a similar model that doesn’t integrate speakers, to save on weight.
Make sure to check out the Roland FP line on Best Buy’s website.