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Roland RD800 mini review
#2310647 08/03/14 01:48 PM
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I bought an RD700nx because I was inspired by the woodsy, spatial, resonant AP's--especially the concert grand--and authentic key action and texture. When I got it home I played it non stop through a pair of entry level M-Audio monitors and it sounded gorgeous. For the next 10 months I played it daily for a couple hours minimum. Then, I got tired of not being able to quickly record clips of my playing, so I decided to get a keyboard with a recorder. I sold my RD700 and got a Motif XF8. The Motif XF8's grand piano wasn't nearly as authentic sounding as the RD700, nor was I inspired by the Motif's high gloss keys, heavily weighted key action, and much shorter black keys, but at least now I could record. But a funny thing happened. I stopped playing every day, and lost interest in the piano. Three months went by. I made some really good music on the XF8. But playing piano on it felt unnatural and uninspiring. I decided having an authentic digital keyboard that inspired me to play was more important than the convenience of an onboard recorder. So I bought an RD800.

I got the RD800 home and opened it... here are my impressions..

Packing is decent but not great. Using single ply cardboard is a no-no with shippers, so if you ship this keyboard you need to double box it for them to honor insurance claim . Experience speaking here . Also not a big fan of the box opening on the front side, makes it hard to pull the keyboard out.

Noticed immediately the sloped back and plastic casing. Hmmm. Feels about 8 or so pounds lighter, but I have to question the use of Korg Krome-like plastic for a pro stage piano. Steel dents, but plastic cracks. Not good. I prefer the robust steel of the RD700.

Power plug was a b$&@$ to remove from it's tightly wrapped plastic. It's like they shrink wrapped it. Get a razor blade, and be super careful. Frustrating little nit on my part, I know. Power plug itself is smaller and two holes, with plug side now no different than the one for your electric razor. Seems consumerish and cheap.

Power button reminds me of Korg Krome. Very consumerish and not pro feeling like RD700nx.

RD800's flagship piano (the first one in the bank) blew my mind-- the wrong way. Not even close to the quality of the RD700 concert piano. Boxy, unbalanced and muddy are the nicest ways I can think to describe it. I went through the other presets but didn't really pay attention to names. I then came here and read some threads and figured out the RD700 piano I love is indeed in the RD800. And it sounds just as good, and even slightly better because Roland got rid of that terrible cycling/looping sound on some keys. Fixed. Beautiful. Many of the other pianos are amazing. I'm happy with the AP's. There something awesome for every genre.

EP's have improved a lot, although I don't hear that beautiful, spacious, rich, warm DX7-like TINE that was on the RD700nx yet. Anyone? There are a lot of new patches and they sound super good. Love the organs as well. Nothing I can't find here. Definitely has all the keys I need to make great music. Reverb has improved too it seems.

Key action is not the same as the RD700. At first I thought It was inferior, as in the key action felt a little sloppier/looser/bouncier. But after spending time with it we settled our differences. Still isn't as perfect as the RD700nx thing IMO. Good news is that the dynamics in the 800 have improved over 700's and you can get super super soft tones . Great overall dynamic range.

Cosmetically speaking, I don't like the red and blue lights around the knobs at all. Feels consumerish and distracts me, especially when grooving in the dark with a nice buzz. Kind of a buzzkill. frown wish I knew how to turn tHose lights off.

Functionally, I don't understand why Roland won't put a basic midi recorder on the RD board. 100,000 note sequencer with 128 slots would be amazing, and solve so many problems for me, as producer and as piano teacher. Why is it so hard to add a simple midi sequencer?? Anyone have any recommendations for a super simple midi recorder I could hook up (so I wouldn't have to fire up Mac system every time I just want to record piano playing).

Overall I give this board 7 out of 10 stars and I give the RD700nx 8 out of 10 stars. What you gain in improved sounds with the RD800, you lose in build quality and some other annoyances. You also get unprofessional plastic casing, an unconventional shape that makes it prone to slippage when carrying, less than stellar new piano patches, absence of basic midi recorder (again), and obnoxious red and blue lights that serve no purpose whatsoever other than to buzz kill.

Net net: I'm very tempted to go back to the RD700nx.

Hit me up with questions. I'm glad to help!





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Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310651 08/03/14 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Bussit

EP's have improved a lot, although I don't hear that beautiful, spacious, rich, warm DX7-like TINE that was on the RD700nx yet. Anyone? There are a lot of new patches and they sound super good. Love the organs as well. Nothing I can't find here. Definitely has all the keys I need to make great music. Reverb has improved too it seems.


If you want the FM like E. Piano tone, Press the Modern E Piano category button, and turn the Tone Colour knob all the way to the right. That bell like tone will be more than evident.

Trust me when i say that the case will more than stand up to every day gigging use. The weight savings are worth it.

The LED's were included so you could see what effects and EQ etc, were on at a quick glance. Sorry you aren't a fan.

Thanks for the review, and look out for the Turbo Start series we hope to have up on the Roland Canada blog very soon.

Jay



Formerly in the business. Now just a piano fan.
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
JayGVan #2310660 08/03/14 02:33 PM
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What is turbo start series? And when will there be a basic midi recorder?

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310665 08/03/14 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Bussit
...Packing is decent but not great. Using single ply cardboard is a no-no with shippers...

Word. Especially with sales of DPs migrating more and more to online channels, it's not smart IMHO to skimp on packaging.

That box is going to end up on the customer's doorstep with no bricks-and-mortar retailer in the loop to vet the thing for signs of abuse or misadventure. I'm convinced that a healthy fraction of perceived "quality control" problems with DP manufacturing is simply shipping damage in disguise.

The HP-207 I used to to own arrived in truly well-designed, heavy-duty packaging. Some things I've bought more recently, not so much.

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310670 08/03/14 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Bussit

Packing is decent but not great. Using single ply cardboard is a no-no with shippers, so if you ship this keyboard you need to double box it for them to honor insurance claim . Experience speaking here . Also not a big fan of the box opening on the front side, makes it hard to pull the keyboard out.

Power plug was a b$&@$ to remove from it's tightly wrapped plastic. It's like they shrink wrapped it. Get a razor blade, and be super careful.


Yes, I agree with the above. The packaging was mediocre at best. It was a pain to get the board out of the box. I remember as I was cutting the plastic around the power cord I was thinking what a pain it was.

Originally Posted by Bussit

RD800's flagship piano (the first one in the bank) blew my mind-- the wrong way. I then came here and read some threads and figured out the RD700 piano I love is indeed in the RD800.


Interesting. The main one is the one based on the V-grand right? I actually found that I liked it a lot. Did you play with the tone color? I found that I liked that piano best with the tone color set about 2/3 of the way over, and with the key touch set to the light setting. Which one is the one that you liked best?

Originally Posted by Bussit

Key action is not the same as the RD700. At first I thought It was inferior, as in the key action felt a little sloppier/looser/bouncier. But after spending time with it more I find I like it even more than the 700. It's easier to play, it's as simple as that. Further more, the dynamics have improved and you get super super soft tones . Great overall dynamic range.


Yes, I can't say enough about the new key action. It's a joy to play smile


Originally Posted by Bussit
Why is it so hard to add a simple midi sequencer?? Anyone have any recommendations for a super simple midi recorder I could hook up (so I wouldn't have to fire up Mac system every time I just want to record piano playing).


If you have an iOS device, I've heard some good things about Music Studio. It's cheap and seems pretty powerful. If you don't already have an iPhone or iPad you can probably do better elsewhere, but if you already have one It might be worth looking into. I don't really need a sequencer so I haven't played with any of them.

Congratulations on your new board, despite your nits you do seem rather pleased with it. Can't wait to get back to mine!



Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310677 08/03/14 03:09 PM
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Yeah I made a few edits to my orig post, but yes, generally I am pleased with it.

Trying to avoid any IOS device integration. The less I have to use "smart phone" for the better

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310706 08/03/14 04:04 PM
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I would also be interested in some cheap external MIDI sequencer. Any advice appreciated.


W.Hoffmann T122, Roland FP-50, Roland RD-64
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
fizikisto #2310756 08/03/14 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by fizikisto
Originally Posted by Bussit
Power plug was a b$&@$ to remove from it's tightly wrapped plastic. It's like they shrink wrapped it. Get a razor blade, and be super careful.


Yes... I remember as I was cutting the plastic around the power cord I was thinking what a pain it was.


Are you both referring to the molded cable clip that fixes the power cable in place? If so, I'm not sure it is supposed to be removed...

Cheers,
James
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Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Kawai James #2310760 08/03/14 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by fizikisto
Originally Posted by Bussit
Power plug was a b$&@$ to remove from it's tightly wrapped plastic. It's like they shrink wrapped it. Get a razor blade, and be super careful.


Yes... I remember as I was cutting the plastic around the power cord I was thinking what a pain it was.


Are you both referring to the molded cable clip that fixes the power cable in place? If so, I'm not sure it is supposed to be removed...

Cheers,
James
x


Now that's funny if true.


AG N2 | ES 110 | REFACE CP | GK MK & MP amps
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310763 08/03/14 07:59 PM
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James,
No, we are not. When the RD-800 ships the plug is already attached to the board (though not plugged in) by the infamous solution. We're not talking about that. smile The rest of the cable is folded over several times (to make it take up less space) and then wrapped in a *very* tight fitting plastic to keep it together during shipment. That plastic needs to be cut away to free the plug.


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310767 08/03/14 08:10 PM
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Ah, I see, thanks.

James
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Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2310857 08/04/14 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Bussit
Cosmetically speaking, I don't like the red and blue lights around the knobs at all. Feels consumerish and distracts me, especially when grooving in the dark with a nice buzz. Kind of a buzzkill. frown wish I knew how to turn tHose lights off.

Menu > System > Knob LED Switch = Off


Roland RD-800, RD-700, SRX-02, SRX-04, SRX-07, SRX-11, EV-5
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311099 08/04/14 04:41 PM
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I ended up returning the RD800. I ultimately decided I like the RD700nx better. I got a new RD700nx for $700 less. A few other parting notes for posterity..

-I prefer the firmer action of the 700's keys to the 800's more lighter/bouncy feel.

-I noticed halfway between up and down key position that the 800's key "catches" slightly if you press softly. If you play regular velocity you can't feel the catch spot, but if you play very softly you can detect it. Doesn't seem natural to me.

-I prefer the steel casing and extra weight of the 700nx to the plastic casing of the 800. I trust that the 800 is robust, and that's all well and good, but I prefer steel casing.

-The 700nx's pianos are superb and more than competent for all the music styles I do

In the end I can't justify nearly another grand for the upgrades the 800 offers. Maybe I will upgrade next go-around IF there is a midi sequencer on board

Thanks all


Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311136 08/04/14 05:57 PM
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Hi Bussit, while I can't disagree with your preferences, especially given the price difference right now, which is not unsubstantial, as a former 700NX owner I'll put in my .02 just for the benefit of potential purchasers. Yes the keyaction is different, but I find the microdynamics so much better that I couldn't go back now that I've adjusted. Additionally it's the only digital I've ever played where I feel like glissandos are musical. You barely have to touch the keys to get them to sound, and it's just a joy that way. The new piano sounds come into their own when you experiment with the piano designer. And despite all of this, the one thing I would never want to do again without, for live performance, is the single key editing. I can't believe how you can dial out the hot spots for any room, or any pa system without eq. It's amazing. Everything else we agree on! Cheers! smile

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311145 08/04/14 06:13 PM
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Gretel.. re the midi sequencer - I would love this also!

Jay, any chance Roland could make an app for tablets that emulates the Fantom G sequencer smile That would be sweet!!!!!

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311161 08/04/14 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bussit
I ended up returning the RD800. I ultimately decided I like the RD700nx better. I got a new RD700nx for $700 less. A few other parting notes for posterity..

-I prefer the firmer action of the 700's keys to the 800's more lighter/bouncy feel.

-I noticed halfway between up and down key position that the 800's key "catches" slightly if you press softly. If you play regular velocity you can't feel the catch spot, but if you play very softly you can detect it. Doesn't seem natural to me.

-I prefer the steel casing and extra weight of the 700nx to the plastic casing of the 800. I trust that the 800 is robust, and that's all well and good, but I prefer steel casing.

-The 700nx's pianos are superb and more than competent for all the music styles I do

In the end I can't justify nearly another grand for the upgrades the 800 offers. Maybe I will upgrade next go-around IF there is a midi sequencer on board

Thanks all



You really need to spend a significant amount of time with the RD800 to really appreciate everything it has to offer. I was a bit frustrated at first (overwhelmed perhaps) but now completely inspired every time I turn it on. Im familiar with it enough now that I know I can achieve almost any sound I need. Yes, the keys are very sensitive and accurate. It will call you out if you are sloppy player. It's not as forgiving as the RD700NX, but I truly believe the action and resolution on the RD800 is making me a better player. Maybe the RD800 is not for everyone, but at this point Im extremely connected with the RD800 in every way, however took a little patience and dedication to fully get there and appreciate this amazing board.

However, you did the right thing if you honestly prefer the action, sound, and casing of the RD700NX. It's what you like and connect with that is most important.

Last edited by Marko in Boston; 08/04/14 07:06 PM.
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311175 08/04/14 07:03 PM
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Agree with Marko! But for sure, for the price the NX is hard to beat! One other little tidbit - about the new piano sound, I feel they might have voiced it for live playing. It's quite possible to meaningfully overhaul its character, and add dimension and nuance - which on my studio monitors is wonderful! However it might muck up the live sound a little to have all those resonances happening, unless you're doing solo. I did have a little trouble with my NX live, unless I was playing it through studio monitors in a church or wedding context. But anyways - the NX is still wonderful though! smile

Last edited by GWILLY; 08/04/14 07:08 PM.
Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Gretel #2311211 08/04/14 08:33 PM
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Maybe this might be interesting? Although I can't seem to find any user reviews about it...

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2011/08/22/genome-midi-sequencer-for-ipad/

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
GWILLY #2311215 08/04/14 08:44 PM
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Ah, found a decent explanation of the app. And sorry, I realise this is offtopic - so that's all I'll say about it! Looks like it might work though smile

http://createdigitalmusic.com/2011/...er-for-ipad-and-a-chat-with-its-creator/

Re: Roland RD800 mini review
Bussit #2311290 08/05/14 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Bussit
I noticed halfway between up and down key position that the 800's key "catches" slightly if you press softly. If you play regular velocity you can't feel the catch spot, but if you play very softly you can detect it. Doesn't seem natural to me.

The PHA-4 keyboard has 'Escapement' to emulate the action of a real piano, and will feel completely normal to most users.


Roland RD-800, RD-700, SRX-02, SRX-04, SRX-07, SRX-11, EV-5
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