The market is filled with great choices of console pianos. Amongst the best choices, you always find very attractive models by Roland. I’ve always been a fan of the manufacturer’s keys and their feel, the sound quality and options. The FP series features different models with increasing features and specs. The line is aimed at discerning aspiring or established piano and keyboard players. Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned pianist, you will be well served in the long term with the FP’s powerful processing and realistic feel. I’ve received the FP10—the entry model in the line, and put it through its paces. Keep reading to find out if this console keyboard is the perfect model for you, no matter your level.
I’ve filmed a short video detailing my impressions and featuring a few different sound samples.
High quality sounds and features
The FP10 features Roland’s PHA-4 keyboard, a highly detailed set of keys. The construction closely simulates a real acoustic piano, but with a little upgrade: moisture-absorbing material. Not only does the keyboard feel like the real thing, but everything will stay dry no matter the temperature or your intensity. The weight is also very well replicated; escapement permits fast note repetition, and the weight is subtly reduced as you go higher in the register.
The tones are generated by Roland’s Supernatural engine. You get 15 different sounds, including 4 different pianos, 2 electric pianos, 2 organs, 2 sets of strings, 2 harpsichords, a vibraphone, a jazz scat sample, and a synth pad. A 10-step ambience (or reverb) and brilliance adjustment are available to slightly customize the tones. The sound is projected by a set of 6W speakers mounted under the unit.
The FP10 has a USB connector, enabling you to transfer MIDI information between the keyboard and a DAW, effectively using it as a quality MIDI controller. There’s also a headphone output for silent practice. The sustain pedal jack is equipped to support half-pedalling techniques, which will probably interest more experienced pianists. Just plug in a compatible sustain pedal (such as Roland’s DP-10 pedal) to make use of this function. The included DP-2 pedal doesn’t support this option, unfortunately. An interesting internal function is the twin piano mode. This mode splits the keys into two equal parts, allowing a teacher and a student to play simultaneously in the same register on the same keyboard. This is a great way to practise and focus on those harder passages with your educator.
While the FP10 isn’t shipped with a stand, it is compatible with universal stands with no issues. Roland makes one of these called the KS-12. In the videos and pictures, the FP10 I received was mounted on the optional KSCFP10. This is the compact furniture-style base made exclusively for the FP10. It is very easy to assemble, and its slick and minimalistic design will fit in with any type of décor. I also had the RPB-100BK, a very comfortable bench.
An excellent console keyboard
The first thing you notice when playing the FP10 is the fabulous keyboard. The sensation of the faux-ivory texture is simply pleasant, and the material doesn’t accumulate moisture. These characteristics compound into a great grip and feel that puts you in control. The weight of the keys is heavy and gives you the impression of playing a quality, wooden instrument. The hit and the return of the keys feels very realistic.
The sound of the keyboard is excellent. Although you are limited to 15 built-in tones, these are very good sounding ones. The first piano option is a rich-sounding sample that is very deep and satisfying. With the addition of the ambience and brilliance setting, you can really massage it gently and manipulate it just enough to cover a large amount of ground. The other tones are usable, but they may be underwhelming for fans of different organs, Rhodes, etc. If you’re looking for a wide variety of samples and deep editing, you’ll have to plug the unit into a sound library to have access to more parameters and satisfy your need for tweaking knobs.
While the speakers aren’t rated very high in power, they reproduce the sound in a very convincing way. They are powerful enough to cover a large room, and they are very defined while still producing a decent amount of low-end. You can always use the headphone out to plug into a bigger, more detailed speaker system if you need more volume and control. I highly recommend the appropriate stand, or at least a universal stand. It frees up the speakers and will keep the sound from getting muffled if you set it on a desk or bed.
Not just for beginners
If you are in the market for a first keyboard, it will be hard to find better value for your money. Thanks to high quality specifications and features, the FP10 will last you a very long time. I started playing on this type of product, and, even after 20+ years of use, it is still being used by my niece. Beginners will be well served by an excellent set of keys and high quality sounds.
For more advanced players, this might be an excellent practice (or even possibly teaching) tool. Thanks to such a well designed keyboard, you will have the closest thing (feel and sound-wise) to a real piano without all the necessary maintenance that comes with the latter. If you happen to have students, the dual piano function will serve you well. It might possibly even improve your results thanks to its advantages.
I also like the idea of using this for recording, thanks to the USB connection. With a very attractive price tag, this is an affordable way to create convincing piano performances while using high quality, editable samples. If you are the type of keyboard player that has been producing on light-keyed MIDI controllers or other synths for a while, this might be an interesting option to have in the studio.
Check out the Roland FP10 at BestBuy.ca.