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Roland GO Piano: First Impressions #2653858
06/15/17 02:48 PM
06/15/17 02:48 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,960
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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Apologies for the double post, but this is kind of buried in another thread:

Okay, I stole some time from work, opened the box that arrived last night and put the unit on the kitchen counter. So far I've only turned it on and followed the instructions on the keyboard itself -- I haven't opened the manual, I haven't attached the pedal, and I've only listened on speakers -- not through phones. I have not yet tried this on iGrand or other programs of that ilk -- I've only listened to the voices built into the board.

I'll start by saying that I am an acoustic piano guy, first, last, and always. Even as to acoustic pianos, I'm very picky. For me, digitals are a necessary evil to be able to practice on my frequent trips, most of which require flying.

I'm also mostly a classical player, though I like Great American Songbook stuff too.

My core question was: Would the GO Piano be better than the NP-11 that I have often had to use for travel practice on short trips? That's a very low bar, and this device wouldn't have to be any good at all to clear it.

Much to my surprise -- and subject to all the qualifications above, based on all of my fifteen minutes of playing scales and fooling around, I LOVE this board. Roland has far, far, far, surpassed my fondest hopes.

Disclaimer: These are unweighted keys. If that's a deal-killer for you, skip the rest of this. This instrument is simply a no-GO for you.

However, they're GOOD unweghted keys. They look and feel like keys on a decent acoustic piano. That alone beats the NP11.

The GO is as light as or lighter than the NP11. Controls are intuitive.

But the real victory comes in the voices and sounds. Even through the small speakers, the various piano voices SOUND like pianos. Beyond that, Roland provides a ton of other voices that are really good and fun, ranging from harpsichord to organ to strings to EPs to clavs to human voice simulation. Accordion, even, for gosh sakes. They all sound pretty good, and they're fun to play with.

One last point -- unlike the RD64, the keyboard layout of the GO is "coast to coast". There's no wasted space on the left side for sliders, twiddlers, and the rest of that crap that you DP people like so much. As a result, the GO is less than 36" wide. It fits like a glove in the Gator Pro-Go 49 gig bag (also highly recommended!). Thus, you have a travel keyboard in a package not much bigger than a violin case, and significantly under 20 pounds (depending on what you throw in the gig bag along with the keyboard). I ask you...

But most of all, the built-in piano sounds are good. The sound will probably be even better when I hook this up to iGrand.

This is a valid unweighted key option for anyone who wants a travel piano. It's also a heck of a lot of fun. It's well worth the small amount of money charged for it.

By all means, try one out if you get the chance!

Last edited by ClsscLib; 06/15/17 03:08 PM.

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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2653880
06/15/17 04:37 PM
06/15/17 04:37 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Thanks for the review! It's a shame that the keys are unweighted...that unfortunately is what I was afraid of and it's a deal-breaker for me. I do wonder why they'd go through the trouble of making the keys look like piano keys and not attempt to make them weighted too. I know that would make the whole thing weigh more, but I think there's a market for something more piano-like to travel with.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Morodiene] #2653890
06/15/17 05:16 PM
06/15/17 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
It's a shame that the keys are unweighted...that unfortunately is what I was afraid of and it's a deal-breaker for me. I do wonder why they'd go through the trouble of making the keys look like piano keys and not attempt to make them weighted too. I know that would make the whole thing weigh more, but I think there's a market for something more piano-like to travel with.

They kind of already make that model, it's the RD64, except the RD64 admittedly doesn't have speakers. Of course it's heavier and more expensive, but it does employ the lowest weight weighted action that Roland makes (and speakers would make the board even heavier). This board of course serves a different purpose, at $329 and 8 lbs 10 oz.

Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Morodiene] #2653893
06/15/17 05:20 PM
06/15/17 05:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,960
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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ClsscLib  Offline OP

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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Thanks for the review! It's a shame that the keys are unweighted...that unfortunately is what I was afraid of and it's a deal-breaker for me. I do wonder why they'd go through the trouble of making the keys look like piano keys and not attempt to make them weighted too. I know that would make the whole thing weigh more, but I think there's a market for something more piano-like to travel with.


They're aiming at a couple of different markets here -- first, people who are willing to spend a small amount of money to dip their toes in the keyboard market (probably the much larger segment); and second, people like me who are picking up a short, lightweight keyboard as their second (or sixth smile ) instrument for travel use.

Using weighted keys will make a board heavier and more expensive. In the process, it might cease to appeal to the large market of toe-dippers.

Especially with the great work now being done by Luciano Minetti on "chopped" and weighted keyboards, it's now possible to find shorter versions of respected keyboards. They are relatively expensive, though.

The only serious efforts I'm aware of to date to market factory-made, weighted key, short keyboards are the Roland RD64, which is both an inefficient design and an outdated board (in terms of features) and the old VMK, which even five years ago was rarer than hen's teeth, heavy as sin, and subject to all kinds of hardware and software problems.

People in the industry seem to think there isn't much of a market for weighted key travel pianos. That's bad for us, good for Luciano. smile

The niche the GO Piano fills for me is the two-day trip, when I would either have to miss a couple of days of practice, check a bigger, heavier board, or travel with something light and inexpensive. If the baggage handlers smash this, I won't dance a jig, but it's better than smashing a board that costs four times as much.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Morodiene] #2653898
06/15/17 05:26 PM
06/15/17 05:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,960
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Thanks for the review! It's a shame that the keys are unweighted...that unfortunately is what I was afraid of and it's a deal-breaker for me. I do wonder why they'd go through the trouble of making the keys look like piano keys and not attempt to make them weighted too. I know that would make the whole thing weigh more, but I think there's a market for something more piano-like to travel with.


As to why they'd make the keys piano-like, the answer (it seems to me) is to make the playing experience as comparable as possible to playing on a standard piano. After my experiences with the NP11, I'd say it's well worth that effort.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2653920
06/15/17 07:14 PM
06/15/17 07:14 PM
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Kitsap County, WA
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Thanks for the review, I'm going to have to check one out at an actual store to feel the keys I guess (so spoiled by online shopping!) We're planning to do a lot of trailer camping this year and this seems like it could fit the bill to keep up practice on the road. Have you tried it with headphones yet? Curious about the volume.

Also, I notice there's a "Roland Go Keys" for the same price, does anyone know what the difference is here? Is the piano sound significantly better on the Go Piano?

Last edited by squidbot; 06/15/17 07:16 PM.

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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2653957
06/15/17 09:55 PM
06/15/17 09:55 PM
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Thank you so much for the review! It was very informative and exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get from someone who has first-hand experience with the Go. For the price, I'm OK with it not having the weighted keys. The other features sound very good for the price. My main use for it would be for traveling. I don't need one now, but I am foreseeing possibly wanting/needing one in about six months or so. May I ask how you are planning to take it on a plane? Check it through in a hard case? I would prefer to be able to carry it on, but it is too large for that, isn't it? Hard cases are kind of expensive, aren't they? (Sorry if these are noob questions, but I don't know anything about this!)


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2653960
06/15/17 10:05 PM
06/15/17 10:05 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 14,794
Hamamatsu, Japan
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ClsscLib, thank you for the initial review.

I'm quite interested in this little board, so will pay a trip to the local Roland store this weekend and see if they have one in stock.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Rosewood17] #2653964
06/15/17 10:25 PM
06/15/17 10:25 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,960
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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Originally Posted by Rosewood17
Thank you so much for the review! It was very informative and exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get from someone who has first-hand experience with the Go. For the price, I'm OK with it not having the weighted keys. The other features sound very good for the price. My main use for it would be for traveling. I don't need one now, but I am foreseeing possibly wanting/needing one in about six months or so. May I ask how you are planning to take it on a plane? Check it through in a hard case? I would prefer to be able to carry it on, but it is too large for that, isn't it? Hard cases are kind of expensive, aren't they? (Sorry if these are noob questions, but I don't know anything about this!)


Rosewood, I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to travel with it. smile My first trip next week is on the train, so that won't be a problem regarding carrying on.

The Gator gig bag I mentioned is pretty well padded. I'm tempted to try to carry it on, but would be okay if they checked it. I'd prefer that it not be smashed, but it's not a big investment, either. I'd never check my 76-key Minetti keyboard in a soft case. I will travel with that on a longer trip next month, and I will check it in a hardshell case.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2653983
06/16/17 12:29 AM
06/16/17 12:29 AM
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I don't think anybody expected weighted keys from this. It is squarely a shot at Yamaha NP range and seems made better while still within similar price range. The Go Keys is based on the same thing but while the go piano has memory spent on good piano samples, the Go:Keys go all around with the many voices but with lower quality - it is more like a reinvented casio keyboard in that regard and has this one key "make music" feature that can entertain for whole 10 minutes. I think that is an overshot on Roland part, but it is relatively cheap keyboard... I am glad they decided to make the go piano - there was literally just the Yamaha NP in that category, so it is good for us. I want to see one in person before I buy, but it has most of the check-boxes ticked - the go piano would be a great midi controller for ipad with the BT.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: oscar1] #2654044
06/16/17 08:07 AM
06/16/17 08:07 AM
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Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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Oscar, pardon my dumb question, but what is "BT"?


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2654046
06/16/17 08:15 AM
06/16/17 08:15 AM
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Hobart, Australia
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BT = Bluetooth.

Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2654073
06/16/17 10:02 AM
06/16/17 10:02 AM
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Northern England.
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Anybody remember the old Yamaha PDPs? I think they were around in the late 90's or so; they looked like Clavs, but with a lighter cabinet, and semiweighted keys, they suggested.
I'd visited the shop in Kendal (when it was still there). The Clavs and Rolands, Technics and some acoustics were on the ground floor; the other stuff was basement. Dank, dark. Not a place you'd like to shop in.
I was looking for a new piano, and wanted one with better keys than my short scale Clav, so I had a test piece of music in my head, that I had trouble playing.
None of the Upstairs Lot were able to handle it. It was me of course; but one of these PDPs did it perfectly, since it wasn't weighted.
I really should have bought that piano; I wonder why this was to this day; I wonder if this Roland GO will be the same . . ..


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2654095
06/16/17 11:03 AM
06/16/17 11:03 AM
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I've been looking for a "vacation" piano. We already have an XKey Air 37 for use in the car and when extreme portability is needed, but I'd like something with 49 or 61 keys that have traditional piano key travel.

The Go Piano is interesting, but to me it competes against a typical MIDI controller. I don't really care about the quality of the piano sounds, as we always travel with iPhones and computers and I'm sure GarageBand (now free for everyone) or MainStage (only $30) sounds are substantially better.

I'm waiting on this summer's NAMM show to see which updated controllers come out that have added Bluetooth MIDI. At that point, it would be a choice between the keyboard feel, and the quality of the additional knobs and sliders of a controller vs. the built-in sounds of the Go Piano.

Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2658272
07/02/17 03:32 AM
07/02/17 03:32 AM
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So I've had my Roland Go Piano for about a week now, I'll add my two cents ...

OVERALL
Overall, I like this keyboard and I'm keeping it. The design is made for easy travel and to work well with mobile devices. The size is very compact and it has a low profile. It's about the length/depth of a guitar or violin and is easy to grab and take with you to picnics, beaches, camping, jamming by the pool, busking etc. If that's what you need it for - the Go Piano's design shines through loud and clear.

my other impressions:
-----------------------------
KEYBOARD - not a Digital Piano
This is being marketed as a "Piano for those of us on the Go", and I think it fills that role well. But for anyone wondering, it is a consumer keyboard, not a digital piano. No surprise here, but I just want to set people's expectations.

BUILD
To be clear, this is an upgraded consumer keyboard and not a downgraded digital piano. For a consumer keyboard it feels fairly solid and I do trust Roland's quality - I don't expect any problems. * Once again, no surprise here, just setting people's expectations.

KEYS
The keys are full-sized and have a better surface than most other keyboards in this consumer price range.

ACTION
- the action feels like synth or organ keys
- it seems to be spring-loaded.
- the keys return very quickly to their starting position
- there is a strong/constant 'up' pressure from the keys.
- unlike a digital or acoustic actions you cannot send these keys on their own down to the keybed (in other words no feeling of escapement). you have to press the keys all the way to the bottom or the springs will send them right back up to start position
- key length feels 'short' compared to most digital/acoustic pianos
- staccato is very easy because of the quick return to start position
- legato control is pretty blunt because of the strong 'up' pressure from the keys and the feeling that they were 'short' keys. controlling legato dynamics can be tricky (see below)
- dynamics - tricky to control dynamics because of the quick return / up pressure. very easy to accidentally trigger forte and difficult to finesse dynamics inside the range of piano to forte.
- repeated notes are lickety-split easy, repeated 32nd or 64th notes are very doable.

AUDIO QUALITY
Decent for the price point. Nothing to write home about. I can work with it in exchange for the portability.

BLUETOOTH
Supports wireless Bluetooth Audio AND MIDI at the same time.
- BT Audio pops up right away (iPad, iPhone, Macbook).
- BT MIDI has to be initiated from the keyboard before it pairs.
- There is lag on both BT Audio and MIDI, so there are situations where it will be better to use the AUX IN (1/8 stereo) and the USB port instead (USB 2.0 Micro-B)

MIDI CONTROLLER
Works fine for basic send/receive.
- Easy to connect via BT MIDI to an iPhone, iPad or Macbook.
- For a wired connection, it needs a USB 2.0 MICRO-B CABLE. Note - this USB 2.0 Micro-B cable is NOT INCLUDED. (Additionally - there is also USB 3.0 Micro-B connector but it is a different connector!!!)

AUDIO MIXING
The keyboard automatically mixes BT Audio OR the AUX IN with the built-in sounds.
- The mixed sounds play through the speakers or headphone jack.
- The main menu system lets you turn the internal speakers ON/OFF.
- Generally you control the mix with the volume on the mobile device, with the keyboard volume as a 'master'.
- In Roland Piano Partner 2 I could control the mix between the built-in rhythms and the built-in keyboard sounds.

MUSIC STAND
Has a built-in groove to hold mobile devices in place.

KEYBOARD TRAVEL CASE
This is the fly in the ointment. This keyboard will need to be checked-in for flights, and the trick will be to find a sturdy checkable case that doesn't rival the cost of the keyboard! Most hard ATA/Roadie cases start at around US$199.

notes: Apparently the Hammond SK1 is almost the same dimensions as the Go Piano and the HAMMOND SK1 GIG CASE runs about US$50-70 so I'm hoping it's sturdy enough to be checkable or flexible enough to be made "checkable". So I'll check out the case after I stop drooling over the Hammond SK1 grin

[EDIT] - turns out that the rectangular hard cover electric guitar cases have dimensions similar to the Roland Go Piano, so that might be an option for a 'checkable' hard case.


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2658315
07/02/17 09:31 AM
07/02/17 09:31 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,960
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline OP

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If you find a checkable hardshell guitar case that works, please let us know about it!


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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2658400
07/02/17 03:22 PM
07/02/17 03:22 PM
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oscar1 Offline
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I've got one too, saw it in music centre, played on it for while, bought it. Definitely I would say it beats the Yamaha Piagerro on all front: sound, feel, size and battery life. Also it has AUX in, so you can put ipad on the stand and connect its headphone out to the keyboard and use BT midi to play it. It has also BT audio to the keboard and it can be used together with BT midi, but as all BT audios the delay is prohibitive to actually play anything. The AUX in solves this issue.

I'd say they did a tremendous job on this one. I also played with the red "synth" one and that is is very conflicted keyboard with tons of mediocre modern sounds, one key phrases and just conflicted interface = toy. Don't bother with the red one.


Last edited by oscar1; 07/02/17 03:26 PM.

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Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: ClsscLib] #2658409
07/02/17 03:45 PM
07/02/17 03:45 PM
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The Aux In is a fantastic feature, allowing you to effectively add all kinds of additional playable sounds from, say, your iPhone or Ipad. Interesting about the pushback, though... too much pushback is what I don't like about some semi-weighted boards.

Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Groove On] #2658473
07/02/17 08:54 PM
07/02/17 08:54 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Thanks for the detailed review Groove On, sounds like a really great product.

I too am curious to try one in order to check the action.

I noticed that my local music guitar store had the Go Piano in a box at the entrance, so asked the staff if I could give one a try. Unfortunately, there were no unboxed demo units, and they were reluctant to open their stock for me to try. smirk

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Roland GO Piano: First Impressions [Re: Kawai James] #2658475
07/02/17 09:02 PM
07/02/17 09:02 PM
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Bay Area CA
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
I noticed that my local music guitar store had the Go Piano in a box at the entrance, so asked the staff if I could give one a try. Unfortunately, there were no unboxed demo units, and they were reluctant to open their stock for me to try. smirk

And brick-and-mortars moan about customers buying online . . .

Last edited by pwl; 07/02/17 09:19 PM. Reason: correction
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How to master new skills with 'deliberate practice'
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