I heard from my keyboard tech that roland will be coming out with a new rd4000 series to replace the rd2000. They received schematics for the new unit which will include SST seamless sound switching, touch display, 3000 sounds additional etc. Namm 2020 we shall see...
This will only be exciting if they've fixed the major flaws that the RD2000 unit has:
1) Rubbish headphone amp
2) Inefficient sound selection UI
3) Too many low-quality patches.
4) Compressed dynamic range1) Rubbish headphone amp
The Roland headphone output is probably their biggest flaw: what were they thinking (it's SuperCrap / PureCheap lol)!
Also, there is definitely something tangible to this binaural business that Roland need to compete with. I tried both the RD2000 (SuperNatural) and LX708 (PureAcoustic) recently: both had a sound quality (fidelity) issue in comparison to the binaural sampling on the Yamaha CLP685 i.e., that IMO retards Roland's competitiveness.
Roland really need to work on sound clarity through both speakers and headphones. Roland could try adding algorithms to their modelling so the sound-output takes more advantage of human Binaural perception. They could call the next gen sound engine BrilliantBinaural modeling---or they could go with PureBrilliant Binaural modeling if they continue with a penchant for sounding Glaswegian lol.2) Inefficient sound selection UI & 3) Too many low-quality patches.
3000 sounds is not impressive: 150 great sounds is impressive. The challenge for Roland in their new RD series is to configure the sound selection interface to enable their best sounds to be most easily accessible (especially if they are going to include 3000 sounds). They might even consider retiring many of the old SN sounds that are well, dated to say the least.
Roland should IMO look at how other manufacturer's models like Dexibell (vivo S9) and Kawai MP7/11(SE) handle sound selection and copy that, because their current RD2000 interface is time-consuming and off-putting.
Further to this, Korg has 9 sound engines in the Kronos. Roland only have two sound engines, one of which seems mostly dated. I'd like to see maybe an FM sound engine, a modeled epiano engine and also better organs in the RD4000, as the RD2000 seemed to be a backward step compared to the RD800. With computing power being cheaper than ever and memory costing penuts, why can't we see manufacturers really work on sound quality---maybe splitting the unit into more sound engines. They can and should compete with VST's.4) Compressed dynamic range
The other major problem with the RD2000 was the breadth of its dynamic range. The expressiveness within the dynamic range that the Roland modeled pianos have is excellent. The dynamic range itself seemed compressed. That and the low quality sound output makes it less competitive with the Kawai MP range.
Right now, I'm more interested in the new and very expensive Roland Fantom 8 which has the PHA50 plus the modelled piano. Still haven't tried the Fantom 8, so maybe it too has headphone amp issues. Maybe the RD4000 should have some fun added to it, like a D beam, some arpegiators etc. After all, it's going against some pretty good Nord's.Afterthoughts:
Seamless sound switching is a nice feature, and Kawai/Yamaha should follow suit pretty soon; however, without the major issues being addressed, Roland won't be enticing me to replace my MP7..
IMO, it is a good job that Yamaha messed up on the CP88---by too tightly nicheing it for the live-market i.e., not including binaural sampling/string resonance etc, not including the NXW action, not quite competing with Nord's UI. If it were not for Yamaha's lack of vision/ambition with the CP88, the stage piano market as a whole (not just the live market niche) would be much more competitive than it is.
I don't find the Yamaha sampling more authentic (either in tone or sample quality), it's just outputting at a higher quality fidelity on the CLP685 (both headphones & speakers), so the overall experience is better.
I don't think Roland are the only one's behind Yamaha on the sound quality issue! Although Kawai have improved since the CA97 era models, Kawai still has lots of work to do on their sound output, especially through their speakers. For instance (although I feel harsh saying so), after playing the CA98 comparing it to the CLP685, I personally would opt for the ES8 or MP7SE/MP11SE instead (if going Kawai), and just add my own amplification.
To be fair to Kawai, this new collaboration with Onkyo is in its infancy, and they should definitely stick with it; also, I didn't get chance to test the NV5 or NV10, so I'm behind in testing Kawai's latest systems.
I think the acid test is for Kawai & Roland engineers should be to put their new models directly next to the latest Yamaha CLP model, play them both side-by-side, and withhold their new models from production until it sounds at least on-par with this binaural Yamaha output (sound-fidility wise). Whatever system within the Roland / Kawai cabinet models that is at fault, IMO, the sound fidelity for both speakers and headphone output is the largest area of potential improvement.
My take-home conclusion was that Yamaha had improved their sound fidelity quite a lot with the CLP685 via this binaural output, as clearly the CP88 samples showed the true quality of the CFX/Bosendorfer samples (only quite-to-very good, nothing outstanding).
Disclaimer: the store background noise was high, and I will retest these instruments in another store.