Posts Tagged ‘FP-7F’

The Yamaha CP-5 digital piano provides a nice piano sound, however less detailed/muddy in low octaves compared to Roland FP-7F’s one. The touch is also less realistic/pleasant. Strings sounds are far more impressive.

The Kawai MP10 sounds like a real piano (details and texture of sound, notably in lower octaves, and great expressivity), contrary to other digital pianos that remind we are playing samples. The sound seems however somewhat distant (despite a presence setting) and panned a little high, overall more processed. The touch is close to FP-7F’s one. Strings sounds are also great (even better than on the CP-5).

The Korg SV1 brings a less interesting piano (reminds the one from the M-50) and the touch isn’t realistic. It however provides impressive strings sounds (and synthetic ones/pads), great organs as usual, and interesting electric piano sounds (not static thanks to onboard effects that alter the samples).

The RD-300NX seems finally interesting and features a great additional church organ (not found in FP-7F, however included in the RD-700NX). Despite feeling very lite/unrealistic, the touch remains correct, as well as the overall sounding.

Finally the RD-700NX touch is a little heavier than on the FP-7F, gradded, and keys sides feature a wood texture/color (the top is however less realistic than on the FP-7F). It includes the same SuperNatural Concert model as on the FP-7F and RD-300NX, plus a Studio model (tighter and not really necessary) and a Brillant model (very interesting, emphasizes the feeling of modeling).

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Roland FP-7F review

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Audio
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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).

Yamaha CP-5 vs Roland FP-7F

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Audio
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CP5’s electric piano sounds better in the demos, however the acoustic piano doesn’t sound as good, and someone stated this in a forum :
The Roland SN AP sound is light years ahead of anything any other DP manufacturer has, including Yamaha Avant Grand. The CP1 CF voice is audibly stretched and looped, and the velocity layers aren’t completely blended. Looping is my main bugbear, and the CF loops are overprocessed IMO so there isn’t much realistic “wobble” going on. The CP1 S6 voice has all of these issues and also has poor timbre matching between the attack and loop samples.

Moreover CP5 keys action does not seem to use 3 velocity sensors (found in V-Piano’s PHA III Ivory Feel and likely in RD-700NX’s PHA III Ivory Feel and FP-7F’s PHA III Ivory Feel-S) , and it is priced more than FP7-F (2259 euros vs 1777 euros). The CP5 also features wooden keys, that don’t seem to provide as good feeling as Roland’s Ivory feel.

As RD-300NX is now listed on some shops (here and there), we now know it will be priced 1699$ (1585 euros) – also see brochure here -, that is 200$ or euros less than FP-7F (1777 euros).

Considering FP-7F’s amplifier section, that may cost close to this price difference (at least 150 euros), and its harmony FX processor (derived from Boss VE-20 Vocal Performer, at least 50 euros), mic input, Onboard Looper, Chord Progression, audio input and sequencer, the FP-7F would have cost around 1500 euros without these features (instead 1777 euros).

So how can the RD-300NX price be so close to FP-7F’s one while providing additional SuperNatural electric piano, Sound Focus and Piano Designer features, 3 live multitimbral parts (and 16 parts multitimbral for GM2 sounds). Here are some likely answers when we are used with Roland’s trimmed down models (JV1010 sounding less good than JV2080, XV5050 sounding less good than XV88, RD-300GX’s piano – derived from previous RD-700SX one – sounding muddier) :

– its keyboard is of Ivory Feel-G keyboard type, that is not PHAIII. It incorporates Roland’s most advanced sensor, escapement mechanism, and Ivory Feel features. The keyboard provides the superior touch and sensitivity of Roland’s flagship keyboards, in a compact and lightweight design.

RD-700NX’s PHA III keyboard with escapement offers maximum comfort, playability, and response. PHA III improves key repetition and perfectly conveys dynamic, velocity-based tonal changes. The escapement mechanism recreates the authentic “click feel” of a grand-piano keyboard, which particularly enhances expression when playing pianissimo.

FP-7F’s PHA III Ivory Feel-S keyboard with escapement provides the same progressive hammer action and escapement as the top-line PHA III, and offers unmatched expression and performance authenticity, capable of transforming the most subtle finger nuances into sound. It also provides incredibly fast key-repetition action. FP-7F’s action is then of same quality as RD-700NX, despite being a bit lighther, and so seems a perfect compromise. In fact it was obviously the best action of all digital pianos, master keyboards and workstations tested in many shops, and exactly what I was expecting/had hoped for. It also provides 100 levels for touch setting, and 10 setting levels for hammer response (not found on RD-300NX).

– From video presentation of RD-300NX, the SuperNatural piano sounded somewhat muddy compared to FP-7F. So converters may be less punchy. However the sound engine is more likely to be less powerful (as was XV5050’s one, that also sounded less good than XV88 when using digital output, and really cold – so more tied to a trimmed down soudn engine, and also perhaps more compressed samples – than its converters).

In RD-300NX video we don’t see Damper Resonance and Cabinet Resonance parameters for example in the editing screen, while there are present on FP-7F. There is to know if these editing parameters found in the RD-300NX correspond to the Piano Designer feature, or not (in that case Piano Designer feature would provides deeper editing parameters, allowing more variations than FP-7F). However there is to consider that RD-300NX only provides one SuperNatural Piano model, Concert (same as the one in FP-7F), while the RD-700NX provides additional Studio and Brillant models.

– RD-300NX electric piano didn’t sound so great (just ok) in the presentation video. In fact is seems (as reported in a forum) that RD-700NX’s Rhodes doesn’t sound/react as expected (more like old 80’s Rhodes than more used 88’s ones). So not having this one in FP-7F wouldn’t be a problem.

– PF-7F provides great organs, that sound as good as RD-700NX’s Virtual Tone Wheel Organ based ones. In fact PF-7F provides a Rotary Speaker Effect for these (and also displays Tone wheel settings for each Organ patch, despite not allowing editing – at least no button found for that), that seems to achieve same (or at least very close) result. RD-300NX does not provide such Tone wheel based organs, nor Rotary Speaker effect. Finally FP-7F’s church organ is really great, some of a mix of Kontakt2’s one and D-50 ones. These sounds are then very likely to be more important than RD-300NX’s SuperNatural electric piano, that may not be so much better than FP-7F ones.

– RD-300NX’s 17,5 kg (compared to FP-7F’s 24 kg) is very welcomed, however there is to know if it can justify overall less good sounding piano and less good keyboard action. It is also 10 cm larger, due to its pitch bend/modulation lever.

Finally RD-300NX isn’t expected until end of March, so the FP-7F may be the best choice. There is still to know whether a FP-4F will be announced (not likely, at least not during this winter NAMM’s first days), however it would have to provide an even more downscaled keyboard and sound engine (besides same lighter amplification as before), and 1000 euros price point to compete with RD-300NX.

UPDATE : the RD-300NX action is finally somewhat deceiving (not really better than with on the previous RD-300GX, and far more less realistic than FP-7F’s action). Moreover buttons look cheap.

The RD-700NX features a slightly heavier touch than the FP-7F, however the later reacts more smoother and realistically, and looks better (ivory soft colour contrary to white on the RD-700NX).

Roland RD-300NX announced

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Audio
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Following the recent FP-7F (best keyboard action and piano sound among all other digital pianos and master keyboards), Roland presented the RD-300NX. Contrary to the FP-7F it includes a SuperNatural electric piano sound, the Sound Focus features, is lighter (17,5 kg), provides a pitch bend controller and is multitimbral.

The keyboard however is of Ivory Feel G technology, that will probably not provide the same precise and responsive action as FP-7F’s Ivory Feel S PHA III one.