Review: Roland FP-30X. The Perfect Digital Piano... Almost
I have had my Roland FP-30X for almost a year now and during my time with it, I found a couple of things I really love about it. In my opinion, the Roland FP-30X is almost the perfect 88-key digital piano for under $800 for both beginners and those who need a competent practice piano. However, there are a number of quirks and idiosyncrasies about this keyboard, you should know if you are thinking of getting one. I will be making an in-depth review of the Roland FP-30X to help you make an informed purchase.
The FP-30X has one of the best key actions in the under $1,000 price category.
The simulation of an acoustic grand piano double escapement sets this keyboard apart from the rest.
Those of you who only play on upright acoustic pianos and do not have the opportunity to play on a concert grand piano may find this action to be unfamiliar.
Getting the feel of a $50,000 concert grand piano by paying less than $800 is an absolute steal. The subtly textured ivory and ebony keytops are also one of the least slippery keys you can get.
Compared to other digital pianos in this price range, which usually have either 64 or 128 note polyphony, this sound engine has a 256 note polyphony. It is especially important when you play fast & high note density passages with lots of sustained notes.
You may start out as a beginner but you will grow into the high note polyphony without needing to upgrade your keyboard in the future. The most demanding pianist will also be happy with the FP-30X as a practice piano with 256 note polyphony.
Great Keyboard Tones
If all you care about in a digital piano are great keyboard instrument tones such as piano, electric piano & organ tones, the FP-30X does not disappoint. From every imaginable acoustic piano to the renowned Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, DX7 electric pianos as well as Hammond, Church, jazz, and electric organ tones, the FP-30X has every genre of music you can ask for.
While it may not have hundreds of tones like the competition, the FP-30X is first and foremost a digital piano. The 56 voices on this keyboard may not seem to be much but these are the bread & butter tones most performing keyboardists will ever really need.
You will be able to configure the lid position, string, damper, and key-off resonance of the default concert grand piano tone to get the exact sound you want. Other keyboards around this price may have string and damper resonance but they are mostly fixed and cannot be user configured.
If you prefer an 88-key hammer action digital piano with hundreds of sounds and rhythms but with a lower note polyphony, check it out here as well as my other recommendations.
The Roland Piano Designer mobile app allows you to wirelessly tune each and every key on the FP-30X. A feature not yet seen in other digital pianos at this price. For those of you who play ethnic and world music with non-standard tuning, this feature is extremely important.
The app, when used on a big-screen smartphone or an iPad, also makes accessing sounds and changing voice parameters significantly easier with the visual graphical interface. There are also additional features on this keyboard, such as rhythm accompaniments, that can be accessed with the app.
You can also check out my beginner piano app as well as some beginners courses available for you.
1/4 Inch Stereo Outputs
While the onboard speakers are above average, the high-quality sound on this piano really shines when you connect it to a pair of high-quality active powered speakers.
That is where the ¼” stereo output sets this keyboard apart from the competition.
If you want to know the active monitor speakers I use to get the best-amplified sound from my setup check it out here. If you are looking for other audio Interfaces check out my other recommendations as well.
Audio Interface and Wireless Connectivity
You will eventually want to explore recording your performance in a high-quality digital format into a DAW software on your laptop or iPad. This is where the built-in digital audio interface of the FP-30X shines. For other keyboards at this price, you have to buy an additional audio interface costing a few hundred dollars. With the FP-30X You could easily send high-quality digital audio directly to your music production software
If you have an existing keyboard and want to know the audio interface I use, you can check it out here.
You can also wirelessly connect with music learning apps on your tablets and smartphones with the built-in wireless MIDI. Other competing brands require the purchase of an additional wireless adaptor, but on the FP-30X, wireless connectivity is available right out of the box.
You can find the music learning apps I recommend to my students, as well as lessons and courses made available for you.
Dual Headphone Ports
Sure enough, many of you may have been frustrated trying to use your regular headphones to practice silently on your keyboard but find that your headphone jack does not fit. Roland is the only reputable manufacturer to design their dual headphone ports to be of different sizes.
One port is 3.5mm and the other is ¼ inch.
No matter which pair of headphones you have, you can be assured it will fit well without rummaging for an appropriate adaptor.
A good pair of studio-quality headphones makes a massive difference to the sound of a keyboard, especially a high-quality one like the FP-30X. You can find a pair of affordable studio headphones that I recommend.
Quirks and Idiosyncrasies
These quirks which make the FP-30X almost perfect are part of features not many buyers will use and whether it will be a dealbreaker for you depends on how you intend to use your digital piano.
For more advanced keyboardists who need to set up multiple voice layers, keyboard splits and layer volume mixes, it can be frustrating that there is no way to figure out how to do it without constantly referring to the manual or using the mobile app. Also after setting up the piano perfectly the way you need for a song, there is only one user registration memory. You cannot save multiple song setups for quick recall.
For those who intend to perform quick yet complex voice settings and the feature to save unlimited song registrations, check my recommendation out to see if it is what you are looking for, if not I have a list of digital pianos for you as well
Without the app, it is hard to figure out the name of the voice you have selected. Selecting voices without an app requires contorted button presses with no indication of what exactly you have selected unless you have the manual in front of you. A simple $2 LCD screen on this keyboard would have helped greatly, but Roland thinks otherwise. Without the mobile app, you cannot configure the lid position, string, damper & key-off resonance.
With such great dependence on the mobile app, you would think Roland would put more R&D into developing it but this is not the case. The app is buggy, laggy, crash-prone, and has a decade-old UI. In fact, the pairing of the app with the keyboard is so buggy that Roland has to devote an entire page on their user manual guiding us on what to do when the app fails to pair with your keyboard
This is way too much friction for a generation used to instant turn-on and uses smart devices. Roland proclaims in their user manual that supports for the app may be terminated at any time without notice. This does not feel assured that a critical component of the digital piano will not be supported in future smartphone models.
The volume buttons are also a victim of form over function.
It is inconvenient to set the volume to exactly the level you want each and every time. A simple knob would have done a better job.
Last but not least, it would have been great if this keyboard can be battery operated. The FP-30X is relatively lightweight for a hammer-action keyboard. A few competing brands have managed to make their digital pianos battery powered so there is little technical reason Roland cannot do so.
I hope you found my review of the Roland FP-30X useful. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest and most updated information and prices of Roland FP-30X. Do also take a look at my other articles to find the best and most suited instrument for your personal need.