Roland FP-7F review

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Audio
Tags: , ,

The Roland FP-7F, very heavy however also very strong (nice white metal case for the WH model, and wood below), provides a very convincing touch that leads to play as on a real piano (thanks to the rebounce that allows fast playing, and the two steps key-down course that allows very low velocities/soft playing).

Sensitivity settings provide 100 sensitivity curves (5 base curves with -10 to 10 fine values settings each).  The default one (Medium) allows mainly 1 to 102 velocities range, and can very hardly reach 108 value. Using Light or Very Light curves allow higher velocities, however lacking precision (larger velocity level changes for same pressure change, leading mainly to less realistic soft playing).

Sympathetic resonance is great and release time is very long, without audible looping point.

Listening through headphones sounds as if it came from the board’s speakers (about these they are really noisy – whatever volume is -, however it isn’t a problem while not close or playing, and they can be disabled).

Audio inputs are also at max level (the gain has to be lowered on the source device – for example through a mixing console) and can add another hiss to the speakers in case of ground loop (for example when audio from a mac mini – Audiofire interface – is connected to a Mackie VLZ mixing console whose tape outputs are then connected to the FP-7F’s inputs – no problem with other devices connected to the console or with an iPhone).

Playing the Complete Piano (SRX10) sound from the XV5050 from the FP-7F keyboard was far more better than with an old A30 : the base brillant preset was then usable due to restricted velocity range (the fourth/highest samples layer sounded more convincing limited to 108 velocity value, and the first/lowest nice samples layer was easily playable, with more progressive layers switchs). The sound seemed at first better on the lower range than with the Super Natural one, however it ended being less wide (as if tighter stereo width) and less living in release/resonance area.

Most piano samples libraries also sounded great from the FP-7F : Kontakt 2’s August Forester (lite patch with aditionnal reverb – M3o or Independence’s Origami), Synthogy Italian Grand. Eastwest Pianos was even better when mixing player and close perspectives (with parts level setted a little higher) for Bechstein (playable on a 8 Gb mac mini using Firewire 400 only connection and 256 kbits buffer size – some slight audio cuts only).

The DP-10 damper pedal (offers a continuous mode, that allows progressive sustain/half pedaling) also helped a lot (less static release/resonance).
Beside piano sound we find some interesting ones : harpsichord (that some think being a Super Natural one), fingered bass, some organs, sax/flute.

The included 80 session partner presets are great (and include a variation and many alternate chords progressions) and allow quick ideas with a few notes only. The looper provides more basic accompaniments (and are not of arranger type), however it allows to add parts to these / define chords progressions.  Roland also provides at download an utility to create Audio Key sets (samples or full songs to be assigned to lower octaves keys), that includes some audio phrases  (for personal use exclusively).

Finally the Vocal Harmony (duet, trio or quarter mode) work as an harmonizer and chorus when playing chords (seems to fix pitch and adds unison back voices). The mic input gain little knob on the rear panel (pre-amp) allows far more greater gain than with on a Mackie VLZ mixing console, and with far more less noise (in fact not present except on the highest levels – that aren’t required).

Beside factory demos with find 74 famous classical midifiles in the sequencer (that use up to 4 parts), that sound far more impressive.

The FP-4F, only 200-300$ cheaper, is then less interesting (less realistic touch/response, no vocal designer, etc.).

UPDATE :  my unit sometimes produces strong vibrating noise (far more louder than the keys) on the left side of the keyboard, due to unperfect match of the plastic part (that holds the power button) and the lower metallic case (below the keys). The space between the two parts is in fact slightly thinner on that side than on the left side. Playing strong velocities (and chords on the lower octaves) seem more likely to trigger it. It can last for a few minutes to hours, and can disapear (or came back) without obvious reason (temperature may have some effect.

It is using the Roland KS-18Z stand with 80 cm space between legs (max 94 cm). It may not happen with the dedicated stand. Putting the FP-7F on the floor (on its 4 feets).

  1. The speakers noise what also noticed in another unit in a store (a black model), then it may be normal.
    The vibration noise (on the right side/power button panel) didn’t happen since (as there isn’t heat anymore coming from rear – then no more hard temperature variations- it may help).

  2. The FP-7F can play midifiles (also kar files trough an USB memory key – and displays text on its screen), in fact it is 16 parts multitimbral, and the GM/GS sounds (256 presets) are great (they are derived from the live sounds samples) : piano, electric bass, brass, strings, woodwinds. Only distorsion guitars are then of a lower quality.
    Overall it cuts through the mix, the converters are great as well as mixing parts. Midifiles such as MJ or U2 are ways better than on an XV5050 (moreover the FP-7F has 128 voices polyphony).

  3. As supposed, the vibrating noise on the right side of the keyboard (that finally appeared again at some time) was likely due to the bottom right angle screw that was too much screwed (less space between the screw and the back wood plate compared to the opposite screw at the left angle).
    By unscrewing it slightly while the problem was present, it then disappeared and didn’t came back since.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s