Roland FP-50 Review
Roland presents the FP-50, the new generation of the FP series of portable digital pianos. These updated instruments contain SuperNATURAL piano sounds, 88 keys with Ivory Feel, a wide selection of accompaniment rhythms integrated with the advanced chord recognition function throughout the keyboard. Stylized, compact and available in two colors, the FP-80 and the FP-50 are designed for the stage and to enjoy at home.
Easy to transport and affordable, the FP-50 offers the behavior of a high-end piano along with many other functions to increase the pleasure of playing the piano. On your fingers you will have the authentic tone and feel of an acoustic grand, and a great selection of versatile sounds to play in a variety of situations. The intelligent rythm function makes it very easy to create amazing music, providing dynamic and sophisticated accompaniments that will automatically follow your interpretation in real time. And thanks to its compact and stylish design and integrated speaker system, the FP-50 is always ready to go wherever you want.
Roland FP-50 Main Features
- Ivory Feel-G keyboard with escape
- Built-in speaker system
- Intelligent rythm function with chord recognition throughout the keyboard
- 90 types of rhythms, with two variations for each style
- Available in attractive black or white finishes
- Compatible with the DP-10 damper pedal (included) or with the RPU-3 triple pedal (optional)
- Optional supports: KSC-44 (for home) or KS-18Z (for the stage)
- Optional transport bag CB-88RL
- Acclaimed sound engine SuperNATURAL Piano by Roland
The renewed SuperNATURAL Piano sound engine provides a professional level of acoustic piano sounds with an extremely natural response and a wide dynamic range. The FP-50 integrates a great selection of electric piano sounds based on SuperNATURAL, as well as strings, organs and other versatile sounds. The Dual Play and Split Play functions allow you to create two layers of sounds in a very simple way or divide the keyboard to have two different sounds at the same time.
The FP-50 is equipped with the Ivory Feel-G keyboard with exhaust, an excellent keyboard that also offers a progressive hammer action and an authentic touch of ivory.
Simply by touching a button, you can add impressive accompaniments while playing the FP-50. 90 new rhythms that cover styles such as jazz, rock, and other musical styles, with drum sounds for a richer group sound. Thanks to the chord recognition function throughout the keyboard, the intelligent accompaniment follows the chords played in any position on the keyboard to create an interactive accompaniment in real time. Through an optional USB memory, you can record your performances and play along with your favorite WAV songs.
The FP-50 offers full, dynamic sound thanks to its stereo speaker system. In addition, the FP-80 is equipped with Roland’s Acoustic Projection technology, which adds a pair of additional speakers for an even more impressive sound with extra depth and dimension.
The FP-90, FP-80 and FP-50 are compatible with the Roland Wireless Connect, which provides wireless communication with Apple’s iOS devices via the Roland WNA1100-RL USB adapter. while Air Performer (for the FP-50) plays the songs on your iPhone / iPad through your piano.
The FP-50 are available in black and white.
I think you can not do much wrong with Roland’s digital stage piano. They are built as tanks, the piano sounds are great and the FP series is excellent for the musician who travels a lot. They play like a dream, with one of the best weighted keys from every manufacturer. They perform in my opinion many times better than comparable stage pianos from Yamaha (the P-115 and P-255 for example) and they have one of the sampling technologies of the market. Roland is a fairly young company and was founded in 1972. They were the first to invent the touch-sensitive keyboard and have been leading in the market ever since. The FP-3 looks great, but is a bit on the heavy side for an stage piano, which is definitely a point that musicians must consider. Today I will take a look at one of the newest models in the FP-series in this Roland FP-50 review.
Roland FP-50 review:
Roland stage pianos are certainly the keyboards that suffer from obesity, since they are often the heavier models on the market. The FP-30 weighs 14.1 kg, while the FP-50 weighs 16.5 kg, which is a nice weight to carry with you. And although I really enjoyed this instrument with this Roland FP-50 review, it’s a hell to transport it.
Best Roland FP-50 Review
A similar stage piano is the Kawai ES110. Many of the functions are similar to the FP-30 and it is a lot lighter with 12 kg. So a traveling musician who does not want to drag too many kilos will possibly choose the Kawai earlier. However, it depends on what you are looking for. The Kawai offers better mobility, but the Roland has a superior feel and plays nicer. The weight of the FP-50 is partly due to the great weighted keys; there are few mobile stage pianos that have such a great feeling. So unless you really want to travel light, the extra weight is justified.
On the other side of the balance you have the Yamaha P-255 . Although he has many of the same functions, he weighs 17.3 kg, which I think is too heavy for an instrument that you take with you a lot.
With physical weight you also get a decent keyboard feeling, but imagine a performance in which the elevator is broken and you play on the fourteenth floor. If you want a great keyboard that is only in your house, then weight is not a problem, but I’d rather opt for something more substantial, like a Clavinova or a model from the great Kawai CN series or Roland LX series .
Play and feel
I’ve never seen a Roland keyboard before, where I did not want to play after an hour of playing. The key action is great; you really get a pianistic feeling with the FP-50. This instrument is a great choice for the traveling musician. With an impressive built-in speaker you get a great sound and you also have a great realistic piano action and the real keyboard weight and sensitivity of a grand piano.
Roland FP-50 ReviewThe keys are built with Roland’s Ivory G-Feel technology with escapement (the ability to play a note several times without releasing the key completely). With a textured matte finish they have tactility and make playing a pleasant experience. There is a real reaction under your fingertips, which gives you the feeling that you have control. Combine this with the great Roland SuperNATURAL samplemotor and you know that you get something outstanding with the FP-50.
I think you should eventually ask yourself whether you want to deposit more than € 500 for the FP-30 or are willing to pay almost € 1,000 for the FP-50. Is the instrument worth paying almost twice as much? Do you get much more in terms of feeling and sound quality? The short answer is: not really.
Both keyboards use the same key-action mechanism, use the same sample set and the same sensors for touch sensitivity. In the area of feeling, you get almost the same instrument. The keys of the FP-50 have a slightly superior construction with a different playing surface, but the feeling under the fingertips is in my opinion negligible; certainly not worth the price twice.
How does the Roland FP-50 sound
Sorry for the following scientific talk, but here it goes. This is why SuperNATURAL from Roland is probably the best sound engine on the market. The first digital keyboards used a very basic sampling technology. The sound you activated when you pressed a key was really an instrumental recording, but touch response is much more complex than just soft or loud.
An acoustic instrument reinforces itself by using a resonating chamber; the hole in the guitar, the soundboard of the piano. Each note has its own specific frequency (eg A4 is 440Hz), but there are overtones and harmonics that the ear can not easily disassemble, but we notice a change a sound quality when they miss.
So the big challenge for manufacturers of digital pianos are how these subtle changes need to be worked out. In the beginning, the technology used filters. When you played a key harder, the same sample would be played, only filtered with less high frequencies, giving the sound a brighter sound quality. This was fine, but you clearly got an artificial feeling.
SuperNATURAL has taken everything a step further. The motor has five samples per pitch which are recorded at different speeds, in order to capture the unique quality of the sound generated by different playing speeds. But that is not all, because he mimics the characteristics and reaction of the real instrument. The SuperNATURAL engine selects parameters that respond to performance dynamics, making it one of the most realistic sound motors on the market.
So you can be sure that this instrument sounds great. The biggest difference between the FP-30 and the FP-50 is the amount of available sounds.
The piano sounds are of course the most important and you will not be disappointed by the FP-50. They are full of clarity and power, and have an extensive variety of characteristics that suit every style of play. The electric piano sounds are great. The FP-50 has a brilliant range of funky harpsichords, including one with a built-in Wah Wah, where you will undoubtedly have fun with. You get really qualitative instrument sounds here.
User interface of the Roland FP-50
The FP-50 is twice as expensive as the FP-30 , so when I tested it during this Roland FP-50 review, I was really looking for justification for that higher price. And I must honestly say that I had problems with this. Yes, the FP-50 has more instrumental sounds, but a realistic piano sound is very similar and the choice you have with the FP-30 is sufficient for a stage piano.
In the seventeen years that I have been using the Roland FP-3, I believe I have never changed sound during a performance. However, where the FP-50 shows a huge improvement is in the area of the user interface. This is much better than the FP-30 and let me not talk about the Kawai ES110.
The user interface is a simple digital screen next to a number of buttons that give you quick access to the various onboard instrument sounds. For such a small backlit LCD screen it offers a surprising amount of information, including instrument names (often abbreviated), the title of the rhythm section, the tempo, etc.
It is easy to switch between instruments and scroll through their options with the + and – buttons. This is in short a solid and basic interface. If you are a performing musician, you want something that is simple, so this is perfect for the musician on the road.
The background part
The background part is impressive and quite surprising. You activate the function with a separate button (‘rhythm’) and scroll through different choices of background numbers by using the + and – buttons. I did not expect much from this job, but I was really completely surprised how smart he is. A drum track is offered and (depending on the background track choice) a rhythm guitar, bass guitar and various synths. All plays perfectly synchronized with what you play on your keyboard.
The keyboard recognizes the chord you play and the background track plays in complete harmony with you. It works perfectly without any delay. I was very impressed by this and you really get the feeling that you are playing with a full band. So is this what justifies the higher price?
Although it is certainly impressive, I’m not sure I will use it a lot. Okay, we all have had a gig where someone asks you to play a Venga Boys song and that is only possible with you and the piano. Maybe I have a different customer base, but for such a situation this function is very useful. There are 90 background tracks that you can choose from, so you probably have enough for a performance. Some tracks were very convincing, others were not real. It is certainly an impressive feature, but I really do not know how often it will come in handy for the average traveling musician.
The speakers on the FP-50 are slightly more powerful than those of the FP-30 and much more than those of the ES110. They are located at the back of the instrument and the sound of the FP-50 thus plays in the direction where it is most needed; towards the audience. There is a LINE out for external amplification, but there are 2 x 12 watt onboard speakers, which are loud enough when you play solo.
The FP-30 has 2 x 11W and the ES110 a somewhat weak 2 x 7W. The Yamaha P-255 has 2 x 15W speakers, which is certainly impressive for a stage piano. So if volume is what you are looking for, then the P-255 may be something for you.
All in all, the sound coming from the FP-50’s speakers has a real clarity and will fill a room enough.
Connectivity of the Roland FP-50
Cheap Roland FP-50 ReviewThe FP-50 has all the standard outputs you would expect – Stereo LINE out, a mini-socket Stereo in, 3 pedal connections for damper, sostenuto and soft foot pedals (not included) and 5-pin DIN MIDI out and in. You can enjoy WAV files via USB memory, but I have to mention that there is no USB output for MIDI.
In addition, there is Bluetooth connectivity, so you can wirelessly connect your FP-50 to an iPad (or similar Android device) where you have a synth or DAW application installed, so you can control it with the keyboard.
Conclusion of this Roland FP-50 review
All in all, the FP-50 is a great keyboard. I feel a little divided whether he is worth the higher price compared to the FP-30, since they have almost an identical construction and sound set. If you are considering buying a digital piano, both are a great choice. They both sound excellent and feel great to play.