Roland RD-2000 Review

The Roland RD-2000 is a professional digital piano that was manufactured by Roland Corporation. This modern instrument contains many more advanced features than early pianos such as its predecessor, the Roland RD-1000, and the Yamaha CP4. It has a 88 keys, and 80-dot LCD display. Several features aimed towards stage performance are present, such as two sound engines, premium action, and great controller features. There is also a proprietary LED indicators for specific adjustment with quick visual feedback.

The Roland RD-2000 is the manufacturer’s first professional stage piano for several years. With the RD-2000 Roland has released a stage piano of the upper class again after a long time. Stage piano, however, might be understated, because the successor to the RD-800 goes well beyond the basic equipment of a stage piano. Equipped with the physical modeling-based sound generation of the V-Piano, about 1000 more sounds and extensive controller options, the RD-2000 has what it takes to become a stripper in Keyboardburg.

The RD-2000 is not quite workstation yet, but much more than just a piano. In this respect, it also poached in the areas Kronos, Montage and Nord Stage and must show how it works in this environment. With its extensive sound storage and versatile options for controlling other instruments or even a laptop, the RD-2000 could be interesting for many live keyboardists. In the test you will learn whether the historic Roland RD series remains competitive with the RD-2000 in 2017.

Roland presents at NAMM 2017 its new RD-2000 that combines the functions of a full-scale stage piano with those of a generalist keyboard rich in control extensible to plugins and DAWs. You can see it in action from this video:

In order not to compromise any of these two vocations, it incorporates two independent sound engines that can be combined.

One of them is the latest version of the acoustic piano sound engine V-piano and has full polyphony, as well as allowing a note-to-note edition of abundant parameters to fully customize the sound (controls not only on the pitch of each note , also about its attack and its maintenance, as well as its color / timbre). The other is a second generation of Supernatural technology, compatible with Live-Sets already developed for RD-800, and has 128-voice polyphony with which to play other sounds, from acoustic and electric pianos to all kinds of sounds such as strings, metals, organs (including drawbar organ simulation), synthesizers, etc. until totaling 1100 timbres, expandable with new samples through two expansion slots compatible with libraries present in the Roland Axial sounds website.

The Most Important Features of Roland RD-2000

Roland RD 2000 Review

The keyboard is the Roland PHA-50, combining wood slats on plastic structure and “ivory feel” finish for an ivory touch, and without missing the ‘escape’ mechanism, completing some sensations suitable for pianists.

Via USB it manages both MIDI and audio with 24bit and 192kHz. You can work with multitimbral configurations up to 8 parts executed from the keyboard (16 parts different MIDI channel), which can be internal sounds or external devices such as audio received from software instruments arriving via USB and can be mixed and controlled from the panel sounds . Its controls can be configured to act on software synth parameters to perform all the control of internal and external voices from its panel.

It has 200 rhythm patterns available to use as a base. Eight encoders with LED crown and nine faders with column LEDs, in addition to a large number of buttons also illuminated, allow editing numerous parameters of sounds, effects and mixing. Also present is the classic Roland joystick for pitch bend and modulation, and two control wheels. With input for four pedals, Roland’s DP-10 comes standard, for use in sustain pedal functions with half-pedaling function.

Exterior

Roland RD 2000 Review

The exterior of the RD-2000 leaves no doubt that it has to do with a serious stage piano. At just under 22 kg, it is not a lightweight, but radiates a confidence-inspiring solidity. The area and material was not saved here. However, the flat corners and edges are at most modern in the classic sense, just as the overall design seems to follow a more traditional orientation.

Keyboard

Roland RD 2000 Review

Roland RD-2000 is equipped with an excellent 88 keyboard with wooden keys that can be played really well. Known as the HP-600 series and the FP-90, among other things, the PHA-50 keyboard is pleasantly heavy weighted yet light and dynamic enough to not feel needlessly hard. In addition, it is noticeably quiet, which will please the home user. In terms of keyboard, the RD-2000 can keep up with the best.

The new platforms highlight

Roland RD 2000 Review

With the RD-2000 Roland brings a new top model in the field of stage pianos on the market. The next smallest model RD-800, that is, and for about three years on the market currently for just less than 1.900, – Euro moves over the counter, it will continue to be the manufacturer. With the Roland RD-2000, you want to address those who need even more sound and functions.

Those who travel a lot on stages and often have to transport their equipment from the car to the stage know how hard it can sometimes be as a keyboard player, drummer, guitarist, bassist, etc. Even if the Roland RD-2000 with its 22 kg cannot make this way easier, it is immediately felt that it is to do with this stage piano with a wash-real stage piano.

The processing is excellent; the housing is made of sturdy metal with side parts made of plastic. Nothing is going to break up here so quickly. The optics can also convince, Roland sets the RD-2000 on a mat, black outside with a front-tilted user interface. The central LC display with 256 x 80 pixels can be read very well and thanks to the many backlights and led chains/wreaths, the stage piano can be controlled beautifully on and in dark stages/rehearsal rooms, a clear advantage in advance. Some details like the two side-lit mood wheels are also positive. These can be set using different functions.

Roland RD 2000 Review

Although the user interface of the Roland RD-2000 seems to be very crowded at first, the concept of the piano can be seen very quickly. Starting from the left, two modulation wheels are first found on the surface, plus the Roland-typical pitch Bend-/Modulations-Joystick. The volume control and the effects department, which provides direct access to various parameters with eight pots and some function keys, follow this. The RD-2000 has a maximum of eight zones and its volume/activity can be controlled with the subsequent faders/buttons. This is followed by the display, which is controlled by means of the buttons lying around and the endless rotary wheel.

To the right of it goes on with the sound section and the ten category buttons on, there are the functions for registrations, Tone Designer, etc. The surface is completed with the buttons for sequencer and transposition.

The rear of the RD-2000 offers a variety of connectivity options, depending on the orientation of the profile bearing. Wherever which port is, can be read from the player’s position, ensure the labels on the housing edge.
Roland RD 2000 Review

The Roland RD-2000 offers three stereo outputs, whereby the Main Out can be used as either a balanced XLR or unbalanced jack output. The third stereo output is used as an unbalanced “sub out”, this can be done with effect sounds, or, for example, the organ sounds to further edit them. Next to it are the headphone out and the 3.5mm jack stereo input. In any case, enough opportunities to duly link the RD-2000 in all circumstances.

Roland RD 2000 Review

Four pedals (Damper, Footswitch 1/2, and Ext) can be operated on the stage piano, for data connections a MIDI trio or two USB ports (to-host / to-device) are available. This also allows the RD-2000 to be used as an audio / MIDI interface. Stage piano hanging on the laptop, play on the software instruments and the audio signal comes through the main outputs of the RD-2000 to the mixer. The connection to a tablet is of course possible. Power is supplied to the RD-2000 via a standard IEC power cable. The power switch is located directly next to the connection socket.

The RD-2000 comes with a power cord, a printed multilingual quick start guide, and a damper pedal. Optionally available is the matching stand KS-G8B.

Sound equipment

Roland RD 2000 Review

The most ambitious stage piano in the Roland catalog, the RD-2000 that was introduced a year ago, has just seen a free update with firmware 1.5. It Includes 7 new grand piano sounds like icing on the cake, but they are only part of the additions. It is an update that is simultaneous to two new expansions available for free download with organ sounds and synthesizer.

The seven new grand piano sounds are the result of the use of Roland’s V-piano (virtual piano) technology, which allows you to model and customize very different aspects of the piano sound without needing to incorporate large collections of new samples. The Aco Grand acoustic pianos 1 … 4 initials now reach a more than doubled set with Aco Grand 5 … 10, plus an At Stage with another personality.

As for the effects the 1.5 firmware adds a new leslie (rotary type 2) that adds to the initially existing to allow more variety. It has a first stage of overdrive with 5 parameters and the rotary section with 14 to allow an extensive individual control over the speeds of the woofer and tweeter rotation and its accelerations and decelerations in the face of slow / fast changes, among others.

The two expansions with new sounds are available for free download on the Axial website, the space of Roland to offer this type of collections and expansions of sounds for their products. As the previous, four can be downloaded and incorporated into the RD-2000. It is RD-EXP05 Virtual Tone Wheel Organ with 31 sounds that bring out the new leslie and RD-EXP06 Analog / Digital Vintage Synth with a wide selection of 125 sounds derived from synths like Jupiter-80, Juno-106, or D- 50, as well as synths from other manufacturers.

It is not the first expansions for RD-2000, but they are the first ones originally conceived for this model and they are not heirs of previous models, given that the first four led to the RD-2000 sounds of other pianos of the RD series.

A question in advance: Who still knows the V-piano from Roland? Roland released this piano, based on Physical Modeling, in 2010 and in conjunction with the RD-2000; the sound production is back on the table. The RD-2000 has two sound genres: The Physical Modeling, which virtually simulates the sound and the overall sound behavior, responsible for all acoustic pianos, and secondly Roland’s own Supernatural technology, including the Virtual Tone Wheel Organ and PCM Sound Generator.

A major advantage of physical modeling is the ability to make even the most detailed changes, for example, for each individual tone and its sound behavior. His personal desire sound can be very close to the RD-2000, in any case, much closer than is possible with the conventional sampling technology plus piano designers, etc.

Playing the V-Piano sounds is great fun; the presets are very dynamic and very authentic. Especially in the upper keyboard range, the V-Piano sounds, of which Roland gives the stage piano 10 factory presets to convince. The attack behavior is excellent, here also the keyboard of the RD-2000, a PHA-50 keyboard (unfortunately without after touch) convince. This consists of a wood-plastic mix and can be wonderfully fast and dynamic play. Of course, with such a top-class piano, the personal taste always counts, but the equipment and tonal possibilities of the Roland RD-2000 are without doubt first-class.

When switching to the “sampling” pianos, it becomes noticeable that the sound becomes somewhat one-dimensional; the sounds do not emit quite as much shine and, in direct comparison, appear flatter. However, there is a limitation with the V-Piano sounds, these can only be applied to keyboard zone 1 and thus can only be used once for larger keyboard splits.

The E-Pianos divides Roland in the RD-2000 in the categories Vintage and Modern and here there is absolutely nothing to criticize. Especially in conjunction with the very good effects department, especially the amp simulation, the Rhodes, and Wurlitzer sounds work very well. Also for the shallower songs, the RD-2000 has naturally suitable presets in the luggage. Very good, I think that Roland also revive old sounds, such as presets of the first RD stage piano RD-1000 or the sound module MKS-20. Especially in the cover band area, you get even closer to the original template with these sounds, but even in current songs, these “signature” sounds can be useful.

Overall, the sound generation of the Roland RD-2000 offers more than 1,000 presets, so there is plenty of sound feed. I find the string and brass sounds of the RD-2000 a bit weak, because in my opinion there are only a few very good presets that are on the level of the pianos, too bad. The RD-2000 convinces again in the organ and synthesizer sector, soon even more optional sound packages for the stage piano will be available.

At least in the case of the organs, the nine faders will be used as well; matching registrations can be quickly and safely created and saved as a setup.

Programs, Scenes, Drums and Sequencers

Roland RD 2000 Review

While we are at it, the Roland RD-2000 offers the option of storing a maximum of 300 “programs”. Complex setups with all sounds, effects, and settings. Once these have been exhausted, they can be imported via USB ex- and later. Another possibility is the “Scenes”, snapshots of the current settings, which can be transferred to the “Programs” on request. Of these, 100 can be stored internally.

Also on board are 200 drum patterns. If the metronome is too boring or if you want some drum support to find new song ideas, you can use these simple grooves.

The internal recorder of the Roland RD-2000 allows the recording of audio data, unfortunately, the MIDI is not supported by RD-2000.Even the RD-2000 cannot play standard MIDI files, which is a great pity. The audio recorder always records WAV files, while the MP3 is not supported. You cannot play MP3s via connected USB storage media. Two missing functions that I cannot understand.

Control panel

Roland RD 2000 Review
The control Panel starts next to the keyboard on the left side with a pitch stick. There are two illuminated modulation wheels. Above the keyboard, the panel is roughly divided into four parts. On the left is the effect section with eight knobs, which are equipped with LED rings to read the set values.This is followed by nine sliders, which, among other things, are used to control the mixing ratio of layered sounds or Keyboardzonen and as organ drawbars. They are also equipped with LED status lights, so that settings can be easily read on dark stages. In addition, the graphics-capable and easy-to-read, 256×80 pixel-sized display with value wheel and some cursor and input keys for navigating through the menus. On the far right, there are nine quite large buttons for selecting the sound categories. Here you can also find various buttons for various functions such as edit mode tone Designer, audio player, and transpose.

Connections

Roland RD 2000 Review
As you can expect from a stage control centre, the rear of the RD-2000 is lavishly equipped with connections. First, there is the stereo main out, as XLR-and as Jack sockets. Additional stereo output is also available with the sub out (latch only). The input is a mini jack for connecting an audio player. In addition, of course, there is also a headphone output, which is unfortunately not very easily accessible on the back. There are also four pedal connections (including damper and expression), midi in/out/thru, and two USB ports. A practical detail underscores the master keyboard claim of the RD-2000: The MIDI thru can be turned into a second MIDI out if necessary. In addition to MIDI, the USB-to-host Jack also transmits audio, which allows the RD-2000 to be recorded in the computer without any inroads and can be used as a sound interface. The USB memory port takes up a flash drive, for example wav-Files can be played.

Sound generation

Roland RD 2000 Review

There are three different sound levels in the Roland RD-2000. At the bottom are the “Tones”. These are single sounds like piano, bass, or strings. Up to eight of these tones can be combined in the second level in “programs”, i.e. split and / or layer and provided with effects. If you want to change a sound and then save it, this is only possible as a program. The tones themselves are not over writable. Overall, the memory holds up to 300 programs. As a third level, there are the so-called “Scenes”. In a scene, a newly edited sound or an entire setup can be stored quite easily. The difference to a program is initially very small. Presumably, Roland’s application idea is to view a program as a solid, universal sound (such as a piano with a pad), while the Scenes are designed to store small changes and song-specific adaptations. Example: In Song A, the pad must be loud, in Song B soft. Accordingly, Roland also suggests using the Scenes to organize his set list. However, I have to admit that the demarcation of programs and scenes does not seem to me to be conclusive.

The sound production in the RD-2000 is divided into two parts. Physical Modeling as in Roland’s V-Piano generates the wing sounds. So no samples are used, but the characteristics of the sound are modeled with physical models and calculated in real time. As a result, particularly subtleties such as the mutually influencing resonances of a winged sound can be displayed and readjusted. Even the tuning of individual keys is possible.

In addition to this technology, Roland has integrated its proven PCM sounds, so samples that are responsible for the other about 1000 sounds in the RD-2000. The e-pianos in particular use Roland’s Supernatural sounds, which sound very good. The user only notices the difference in the sound engines because the V-Piano sounds do not have their own modulation effect and the sound stops when switching. The remaining PCM sounds are not tearing off. In addition, only a physical modeling sound can be used within a program.

Furthermore, Roland has announced the possibility to load additional expansion sounds from the Internet. Two slots are available. Since these are not yet available at the time, it is currently not possible to say anything about the scope and quality of the sounds.

With the help of the Tone Designer, you can edit individual sounds. This is where the Supernatural sounds bring out their full benefits. The parameters are tuned to the respective sounds. For example, the Clavinet can be used to adjust the volume of the Key Off, for synthesizer sounds the portamento time, etc. Speaking of synths: An envelope with Attack, Decay, and Release for the amp is on board. Unfortunately, there is no envelope for the low pass filter (incidentally also the only filter). The editing options are not enough here to a full-blown synthesizer or a workstation, in the context of a stage piano, but they appear practically chosen.

By pressing a button, the eight so-called “Zones” within a program can be assigned to both internal and external sounds. The slider can be used to control the respective volume. The RD-2000 proves true Master keyboard qualities. While not all this is outstandingly innovative, it is still very practical – those looking for a hub for live shows will appreciate these opportunities. Sound from the laptop or from other sound generators / synthesizers can be easily integrated and controlled by the RD-2000.

Effects and Master keyboard functions

As already mentioned, the Roland RD-2000 has a very good effects department. This includes four multi-effects that you can distribute freely on the keyboard zones 1-4. The four effect blocks can be selected from a fund of 62 effects, in addition to the tremolo / amp simulator, which again allows the use of four blocks. Reverb (6 types) and delay (5 types) are global in design and affect the overall signal of the RD-2000. In addition, a 3-band compressor and a 5-band equalizer to beautify the signal is ready.

Effects

Three effects can be assigned to the first four sounds within a program: a modulation effect such as Chorus, Wah-Wah or Overdrive, a tremolo effect and an amp simulator. There are a total of 62 modulation effects and 6 tremolo effects to choose from, which can be controlled via the eight rotary knobs in live mode, although the overview here is not outstanding due to the multiple assignments of the controls. In addition, the two-send effects Reverb and Delay are available, which can be added to the individual zones via Aux-Wege. They each offer five variations, including a tap delay. Remains the global EQ, which affects the overall signal. Unfortunately, there is no way to edit individual sounds or zones with an EQ.

Rhythm patterns and audio players

Also worth mentioning are the existing rhythm patterns that invite you to jam or use as a metronome replacement. In addition, a USB stick can be connected, from which (unfortunately only) WAV files can be played. This is handy for backing tracks or play alongs. Praiseworthy is also the function to change the files from the stick in speed and pitch.

The effects offer medium to good quality. The reverb and delay presets cover a wide range of applications and are sufficient for use on stage. Thanks to the effect section’s pots, you can also change parameters in direct access, which is reminiscent of the concept of the North Keyboards, but the intuitive handling of the Nords is even more straightforward than with the RD-2000. In the section Tremolo / Amp-Simulator including Rotary the Roland offers six variations (Normal, Electric Piano, Guitar Amp, MKS Tremolo etc.), which are then divided again in the RD-2000, so there are more options. Although Roland offers a great variety of parameters here, and for example, the speed of Slow / Fast, the Acceleration and the Spread can be set in the Rotary, this department cannot completely convince me. Compared with my Nord Electro 5, the RD-2000 hangs soundly behind it, too bad.

When a stage piano has eight keyboard zones, it literally screams to use the keyboard as a centralized admin for complex setups. The eight zones of the RD-2000 can be used with both internal sounds and external MIDI hardware. MIDI parameters such as channel, program, MSB and LSB commands etc. can be sent individually for each zone and controlled via the RD-2000’s controls.

Roland rd 2000 review sound on sound

Let us get to the sounds. The grand piano sounds of the RD-2000 are according to their standards very high quality, if not breathtaking. Overall, I would rather call them poppy and smooth, which suggests that they fit well into the overall sound on stage. Thanks to physical modeling, it is a pleasure to screw on the individual parameters and make your own favorite wing. In the sound examples, you can hear the variations Stage Grand and Solo Jazz Grand, then a short overview of all ten-modeled grand piano sounds and finally three possibilities to change the sound (string resonance, soundboard, hammer sound).

I really like the e-piano sounds. They are very numerous, sound good, and can be edited in many ways. Roland not only supplies Rhodes and Wurlitzer, but also various other variants of the electric piano such as the RD-1000, the Roxichord and many 80s emulations that have themselves become classics. At this point, it should also be pointed to the excellent chorus effects in which Roland, of course, traditionally can draw on the full.

Unfortunately, my adulation stops at this point. Because the other sounds like the organs sound at best useful, although the drawbars are fun of course. The rest of the sounds, such as strings, winds, and synthesizers are practically on board and should often be enough for occasional live use. Overall, the sound is rather average and Roland offers here no groundbreaking innovations.

The operation of the RD-2000 is designed for the stage and works quite well in this context. With the help of the eight sliders and an extra “key range button”, you can lay down sounds easily or split the keyboard. The fact that it is easy to control external sound sources is very practical and potentially makes the RD-2000 the control center of a complex live setup. It would even be possible to “redirect” the sounds of a laptop through the audio input and output them via the RD-2000’s outputs.

The sliders and knobs, of course, can be assigned other MIDI functions in addition to their ancestral functions. For example, they are especially useful for organ sounds. Here, the sliders serve as drawbars and give a little Hammond feeling. The limitations of the editing of the sounds and in the slightly confusing effects section make it clear that the end is not a large workstation, but (only) a drilled stage piano. For example, it is not possible to provide layered sounds with different EQ settings or reverb types. Anyone who needs even more flexibility is better served with a workstation à la montage or Kronos.

PROS:

  • High-quality grand piano and electric piano sounds
  • Sound generation (physical modeling/Supernatural)
  • Eight keyboard zones
  • Very good keyboard
  • Master keyboard functions for the integration of external instruments
  • Many controllers
  • Good effects
  • USB audio interface

CONS:

  • More sounds rather mediocre
  • Effect section somewhat confusing
  • Unable to play MIDI files
  • No MP3 support

PRICE:

  • MSRP: $2,999.00

Conclusion

With the RD-2000, Roland has introduced a stage piano, which has almost 1000 workstations and more than 1000 sounds. The physical modeling-based grand piano sounds from the V-piano are high quality and can be adjusted in many parameters, but I think overall a bit too smooth. The variety and quality of the electric pianos and their effects is pleasing. With its huge sound supply, the RD-2000 can cover a very wide range, although the sound quality beyond the pianos and e-pianos decreases significantly. Therefore, the stage piano does not quite match the current workstations of the upper class in terms of flexibility and sound, but has its advantages as a stage instrument. Particularly interesting is the combination of a stage piano with excellent keyboard, master keyboard functions, and many controllers, so that external sound generators can easily integrate and control. With this nifty installation at an acceptable price, the Roland RD-2000 will surely find some fans.

The additional functions such as effects, recorders, registrations, scenes and drum patterns are also good to very good, even if the limitation on the audio format WAV does not seem quite consistent. All in all a smooth one for the RD-2000.

The Roland RD-2000 is a first-class stage piano that can convince in terms of sound as well as the functions and the overall equipment overall line. The highlight of the RD-2000 is the physical modeling sound produced by the V-piano, which provides excellent piano sounds. Overall, the sound quality of the RD-2000 is very high; there are suitable presets for both the live and the studio area. You can control everything comfortably over a maximum of eight keyboard zones.