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Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
#2534078 04/26/16 08:28 AM
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A few thoughts on the Roland FP-30, now that I've had some time to really get to know it.

pros
* as a piano purist, I can appreciate that it has several really good piano tones, and not much else.
* it does MIDI over USB which is nice if you're going to use it as a controller

cons
* the speakers are pretty powerful considering the size of this board, unfortunately facing them downward doesn't do justice to the otherwise great sound.
* the sensors are placed in an odd position, making the action somewhat un-piano-like. I'll explain below...

All things considered, I do not regret purchasing the FP-30. I was looking for something decent on an $800-ish budget, and I don't know of any boards in that price range that top it.

rant
If you tap a key on an acoustic piano, you will hear a short staccato note. The key itself may have only gone down 25% of the way, but the hammer had enough momentum to swing all the way up and hit the string. This is where the PHA-4 falls short. The sensors are not attached to the hammers, rather directly to the keys, which means that even if the hammer swings all the way up, the note wont sound unless you also follow through and press the key down at least %80 of the way.

I didn't realize at first why sometimes I'd play a passage and a random note would not sound. After taking apart the keyboard and looking closely at the action's sensor placement, it all made sense.

See for yourself in the photos below.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Current gear: Roland DP603, Pianoteq 6 Pro
Previous gear: Yamaha CVP203 > Roland RD700SX
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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534113 04/26/16 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ivorytux
A few thoughts on the Roland FP-30, now that I've had some time to really get to know it.

pros
* as a piano purist, I can appreciate that it has several really good piano tones, and not much else.
* it does MIDI over USB which is nice if you're going to use it as a controller

cons
* the speakers are pretty powerful considering the size of this board, unfortunately facing them downward doesn't do justice to the otherwise great sound.
* the sensors are placed in an odd position, making the action somewhat un-piano-like. I'll explain below...

All things considered, I do not regret purchasing the FP-30. I was looking for something decent on an $800-ish budget, and I don't know of any boards in that price range that top it.

rant
If you tap a key on an acoustic piano, you will hear a short staccato note. The key itself may have only gone down 25% of the way, but the hammer had enough momentum to swing all the way up and hit the string. This is where the PHA-4 falls short. The sensors are not attached to the hammers, rather directly to the keys, which means that even if the hammer swings all the way up, the note wont sound unless you also follow through and press the key down at least %80 of the way.

I didn't realize at first why sometimes I'd play a passage and a random note would not sound. After taking apart the keyboard and looking closely at the action's sensor placement, it all made sense.

See for yourself in the photos below.


That sensor placement is very common on digital pianos. Anything that doesn't use optical sensing (which is almost nothing) will share that sort of construction. It is not endemic to the PHA-4 only.

I hadn't seen the inside of an FP-30 yet, so thank you for the pics.

As I suspected, the core processor is the Roland designed SSC chip. This formed the centrepiece of the last HP/LX series, amongst many other pianos (including RD-800) So it's good to see that the FP-30 has some solid horsepower under the hood.

Jay


Formerly in the business. Now just a piano fan.
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534121 04/26/16 10:07 AM
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Correct me if I am wrong but I believe only the Kawai wooden actions (RM3, GF) have hammers that are not attached to the keys, so you can throw the hammer by partially pressing the key. All plastic actions suffer from the aforementioned issue...


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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534127 04/26/16 10:21 AM
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James can pipe in, but is it the hammer that makes contact with the sensor, or the key...

if the former is the case, then there is no real difference in the mechanics.

Jay


Formerly in the business. Now just a piano fan.
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
JayGVan #2534140 04/26/16 11:02 AM
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I can see no reason why the key need be attached to the hammer. The backlash of the "hammer" would push the key ack up anyway.

Now then. You are the obvious guy to actually do this! And. I m behind you all the way. . . grin


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
JayGVan #2534141 04/26/16 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay Roland
James can pipe in, but is it the hammer that makes contact with the sensor, or the key...


Even on the Kawai plastic action, it is clear that the hammer action push the sensors.

[Linked Image]

On a Roland action, it seems to be the same (we see a white hammer part going over the sensors) :

[Linked Image]


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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534146 04/26/16 11:17 AM
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There's some slight confusion here. It's not whether the key or the hammer activates the sensor. I suppose it's always the hammer. It's about whether the hammer can move independently from the key and activate the sensor with the key partially pressed, i.e. by inertia.


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Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
CyberGene #2534147 04/26/16 11:29 AM
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On the 2 pictures, we see the key pushing the hammer action. But nothing pulling this action. Then I think the hammer could move independently from the key.

The main factors I see which could stop the trajectory of the hammer seem to be the weight of the hammer (which pull the hammer back to its rest position) and the force required to action the sensors.


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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534148 04/26/16 11:29 AM
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Either way, it's a sensor placed under the key that makes the sound. not something that the Hammer at the end of the key does. The hammer is there to provide a sensation of an acoustic. Not to trigger a note. I didn't explain myself clearly.

With this common design paradigm, you're going to get the same end result from most manufacturers products.

You can fire a hammer independently of the key on the PHA-4 and PHA-50 actions too. But contact must be made with a sensor to activate a note.

Jay


Formerly in the business. Now just a piano fan.
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
CyberGene #2534161 04/26/16 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Correct me if I am wrong but I believe only the Kawai wooden actions (RM3, GF) have hammers that are not attached to the keys, so you can throw the hammer by partially pressing the key. All plastic actions suffer from the aforementioned issue...

No, I don't think that's right.
http://www.kawaimp.com/mp11/detail/touch/

Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
JayGVan #2534165 04/26/16 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay Roland
Either way, it's a sensor placed under the key that makes the sound. not something that the Hammer at the end of the key does. The hammer is there to provide a sensation of an acoustic. Not to trigger a note. I didn't explain myself clearly.

With this common design paradigm, you're going to get the same end result from most manufacturers products.

You can fire a hammer independently of the key on the PHA-4 and PHA-50 actions too. But contact must be made with a sensor to activate a note.

Jay


I'm not sure if the model used by PianomanChuck here is the exact same thing used in the actual piano, but you can clearly see that the hammer and the key are detached, and it is the hammer piece (at different points) that triggers the sensors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqQ4oaOCSXQ

Also, on this document http://joflaherty.org/VPC1/VPC1_to_cabinet.pdf you can see how at least one of the sensors (the "key down" sensor, I would imagine) is triggered directly by the hammer piece.


Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534183 04/26/16 02:11 PM
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It's nice to see that Roland has written the names onto the keys for beginners. Too bad you can't see them trough the case. wink

Originally Posted by ivorytux
If you tap a key on an acoustic piano, you will hear a short staccato note. The key itself may have only gone down 25% of the way, but the hammer had enough momentum to swing all the way up and hit the string. This is where the PHA-4 falls short. The sensors are not attached to the hammers, rather directly to the keys, which means that even if the hammer swings all the way up, the note wont sound unless you also follow through and press the key down at least %80 of the way.

But shouldn't you send the key to the bottom even by tapping it?

I think for good staccato a digital piano should have a release sample for each note. Do any digitals offer them actually?


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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534204 04/26/16 03:05 PM
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To clarify, the hammers on the PHA-4 do move freely, and you can in fact throw the hammer all the way up by striking a key. But in order to trigger a note, the key must be pressed down far enough to also trigger the sensor.

Jay pointed out that the hammer is there only to facilitate a feel of an acoustic [by providing weight/resistance]. And in the case of the PHA-4, the key's interaction with the hammer is in fact completely isolated and independent from its interaction with the sensor.

In contrast, Frédéric L's Kawai action is different in that the key presses down on the hammer, and the hammer in turn triggers the sensor. That to me seems more true to an actual acoustic action.

I'll try to adjust how I play to suite the way this board works, as I do like the sound and portability of it, and the fact that it has many of the electronic guts found in Roland's much more expensive lines. After all, it never hurts to make sure the keys go down completely, even on an acoustic. Perhaps to a degree its my technique that needs improvement...


Current gear: Roland DP603, Pianoteq 6 Pro
Previous gear: Yamaha CVP203 > Roland RD700SX
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
JoeT #2534212 04/26/16 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeT


I think for good staccato a digital piano should have a release sample for each note. Do any digitals offer them actually?


In Roland land that's called Key Off Resonance. Every SuperNatural equipped Roland has it. It is adjustable on certain models. FP-30 its most likely fixed at around 3 or 4 out of 10. More obvious towards the bottom of the board.

Jay


Formerly in the business. Now just a piano fan.
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534285 04/26/16 07:56 PM
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I believe most digital piano keyboard actions share a similar design and key sensor placement (below the key) - this is true of Roland PHx, Yamaha GHx/NW, Kawai RHx, etc.

Based on appearance alone, it's clear that Kawai's wooden key actions (RM3 Grand II/GF/GFII) have a rather different design, with the sensor placed above the key, to the rear, and triggered by the hammer.

As with Roland DPs, Kawai instruments feature an adjustable 'Key-off Effect' parameter, which affects how the 'release' portion of a note changes when playing from staccato to legato.

Kind regards,
James
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Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2534748 04/28/16 10:19 AM
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just re-posting my post:

Originally Posted by Pablo Woiz
Hey!!

I had my doubts about 3 sensors in FP-30.
Then my anxiety was too high... wink I had to see it with my eyes.

YES!! there are 3 Sensors!!

[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]

Have fun!

Pablo


Pablo Woiz
Yamaha G2, Roland Fp-30 //before: Technics p-30, Casio Privia px-100, Yamaha MX-49, M.Audio Axiom-61, Yamaha CP-80, Roland f-20, Upright Zimmermann.
www.pablowoiz.com
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2563025 08/14/16 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ivorytux
sometimes I'd play a passage and a random note would not sound. After taking apart the keyboard and looking closely at the action's sensor placement, it all made sense.

I have the exact opposite problem on the FP-30, so I'd hazard a guess that in both our cases it's probably more an issue of technique rather than sensor placement. Nice pics though, I'm glad you were brave enough to open the case.

In my case, I've never had the problem with notes not sounding. But, I occasionally get an extra or duplicate note because because I'll accidentally trigger the third sensor at around the 80% mark. Generally I play very close to the keys so that may be part of the reason.

Additionally, I prefer the FP-30 with a Key Weight setting of +1 on the Lighter side; this makes it respond more like the acoustic pianos I'm used to playing. The +1 Lighter setting makes it easier to get "Forte", and makes "Piano" a little more challenging.

I'll just echo your review - I've had the FP-30 for about 3 months and play it almost everyday. I'm really enjoying this keyboard, very happy with it.


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And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
Groove On #2567338 08/30/16 10:33 AM
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I agree that technique was very likely part of my issue. It's amazing how adaptable the human mind is, after spending more time on it, I'm no longer having the issue of notes not sounding, and still loving the SUPERNatural pianos!

I've been taking apart radios and anything I could get my hands on since I was 6, so it the keyboard wasn't all that intimidating smile

Also, I just saw Pablo Woiz's pics where he actually peeled back the sensor. That gives me an idea for a mod project that I'm hoping to do in the coming months. Will share on a new post if/when that materializes.


Current gear: Roland DP603, Pianoteq 6 Pro
Previous gear: Yamaha CVP203 > Roland RD700SX
Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2606657 01/21/17 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ivorytux
I agree that technique was very likely part of my issue. It's amazing how adaptable the human mind is, after spending more time on it, I'm no longer having the issue of notes not sounding, and still loving the SUPERNatural pianos!

I've been taking apart radios and anything I could get my hands on since I was 6, so it the keyboard wasn't all that intimidating smile

Also, I just saw Pablo Woiz's pics where he actually peeled back the sensor. That gives me an idea for a mod project that I'm hoping to do in the coming months. Will share on a new post if/when that materializes.


Hi ivorytux, just wanted to ask you (seeing that you own both DP603 and FP30) how do you find the difference in sounding and feeling? Is it huge? The price is 3 times higher on DP603, but is it really 3 times better?

Re: Roland FP-30 review + nekkid pics
ivorytux #2606672 01/21/17 02:53 AM
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I know for my Kawai MP9000, which had a very similar action to the current Kawai wooden actions, the key would fall down if the hammer was manually lifted. So, regardless of the fact that the hammer shank pressed against the sensor, if the key was struck with enough energy for the hammer to move far enough to sound a note, the key would, by inertia, also move far enough down to make a note, so it wouldn't have made any difference if the key was sensed instead.

In fact, even if the key did NOT fall down, I still think almost all of the "weight" in the action is provided by the hammer, so inertia would still allow the key to keep moving down.

In the FP30, if the hammer is lifted, does the key fall down, or if it doesn't, is there much back force on the key, without the hammer?

Greg.

Last edited by sullivang; 01/21/17 02:54 AM.
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