Roland pretty much invented the under-a-grand, under-30-Pounds digital piano a quarter-century ago when the manufacturer introduced the EP-7. Semi-weighted and only 76 keys, it was a godsend to the legions of players who simply wanted something small and lightweight for gigs and living rooms. The touch was addictive, and the piano and electric piano sounds, though unsophisticated by today’s standards, were highly musical. Roland, as usual, was ahead of the marketplace.
That’s why I was so curious to play the new FP-30: It is the latest incarnation of the portable digital-piano concept and Roland’s entry in the current under-a-grand, fully weighted, 88-key piano race.
A Clean Machine
The Roland FP-30 is the size of its competitors but weighs in at about five pounds more than the others, lending it a reassuring substantiality. And it has a super-clean design.
Available in black or white, the FP-30 offers many of the features that have become de rigueur in this category—layering (called Dual here), split and twin-piano modes, 128-note polyphony, a metronome, a pre-programmed rhythm machine, WAV file playback, USB connectivity, and a (single-track) MIDI recorder with SMF playback capabilities so you can play along with multitrack song files. A pair of built-in 4.75" speakers, each with an 11W amplifier, provides onboard sound. Moreover, the FP-30 sends MIDI over Bluetooth so you no longer need a USB cable or Camera Connection kit to control your favorite music apps.
As far as stands for the FP-30 are concerned, Roland suggests the KSC-70 ($99) or one of their latest x-or z-frame stands. And if you opt for the 3-pedal KPD-70 ($75 street), you can use it to turn pages in compatible sheet-music apps such as Sheet Music Direct and piaScore using a pedal command.
The FP-30’s rear panel hosts two USB ports (one for a thumb drive, another for computer connection) and two pedal inputs (1/4" and a multipin jack). For analog audio output, you have your choice of 3.5mm and 1/4" headphone jacks on the front, below the keyboard. Because there are no discrete 1/4" audio jacks, you will need an insert cable to feed the output to a pair of studio monitors or mixer inputs; for example, a cable with a 1/4" TRS plug on one end (for the piano’s headphone output) that splits to a pair of 1/4" TS jacks. (A forthcoming update will allow you to use the headphone outs without muting the speakers.)