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In my opinion, some 10 years ago Roland designed a really good portable piano, the FP-4. I watched a few videos featuring it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3PGNnG1OGw (Natalie, Melbourne street piano player)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEMcPwIQZN4 (Liszt Mazeppa superbly played by Koopakool)

Even taking into account that they play really well (which can make feel that an instrument is even better) I have the feeling that Roland pre-Supernatural 88 keys sampled tone was quite better and more realistic than Supernatural. Sometimes it fools me and creates the illusion I'm almost listening to a real grand. Paradoxically I find it more natural, less dull, less artificial, less muffled and brighter than Supernatural.

Regarding the action, I can only speak from memory but when I tried some Pha Alpha II instruments 5 or 6 years ago I thought that, while it was a bit lightweight comparing to acoustic instruments, it was very playable and easy. Later portable actions aren't, in my opinion, that playable. Ivory Feel-G, placed on the later FP4-F and FP-50, is heavier but not very natural or piano alike. PHA-4 Standard (I'm not talking about PHA-4 Concert and Premium) like in FP-30 is quite a bit better but still not as good as PHA-II, PHA-III or even PHA Alpha II.

What happened to you, Roland? You made a superb enjoyable instrument. Instead of improving it, everything you made is, in my opinion, a downgrade.

Just an opinion. I would love to read your opinions too.

Thanks!!

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That the PHAIII represented a high point, I agree. 5 years ago, it seemed to me substantially better than the (available) competition. I agree that PHAIV was not quite as impressive, but OTOH, I really like PHA50, which is used across the Roland range now, even at the low end - so that's an improvement.

Regarding the cheaper compact actions,

PHA alpa II. Horrible, un-pianolike, difficult to control. Strange.
Ivory Feel G. Better, but still un-pianolike like and rather restricted in feel - also strange.
PHAIV Standard. Much better.

I don't know the previous piano sounds to 'supernatural' but the SN holds up well to VSTi. The default setting (concert grand?) slightly lacks brightness and character, but is very detailed and realistic. It is excellent in terms of re-pedelling, half pedalling and sympathetic resonance - actually better than most of my VSTs.

PS, when I'm mentioning Roland SN, I mean the sample/model version, not the fully modelled version that Cybergene is talking about below smile which, imo, is impressive but a bit too crystal-clean for my liking.

Last edited by toddy; 12/02/17 07:24 AM.

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PHA50 is probably the best plastic action today together with Kawai RH2/3. In combination with the latest fully modeled SN it’s also in my own opinion one of the most playable digital piano experiences, certainly better than Clavinovas and the previous CA-series. But I have problems with the timbre realism and that spoils everything else frown


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Having the FP50, i was pleasantly surprised by the Ivory G action which was marginally inferior to the Ivory feel S found on the FP80 which was however, very noisy; the worst I'd heard; so from that pov I wouldn't buy the more expensive model.
Playing the 50 with full resonances enabled an easy transition to the acoustic uprights in the shop; I never even noticed the keyboard, it was all in the sound.
But Pianoteq scores over the Roland every time; I simply can't go back to the DP voices. Any of 'em.
And, 2 years later, I still have a quiet keyboard!

Last edited by peterws; 12/02/17 10:39 AM.

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Originally Posted by CarloPiano
In my opinion, some 10 years ago Roland designed a really good portable piano, the FP-4. I watched a few videos featuring it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3PGNnG1OGw (Natalie, Melbourne street piano player)


The first video of the rather Shakespearean looking toothless crone (she can afford a piano but not dentures apparently - odd) is a layered sound of piano and pad so that is not representative. The piano sound is I think based on the old RD-700SX 'Superior Grand'. It's okay. Nothing to write home about but it later formed the basis of the Supernatural piano sound.

For what it's worth I do agree there are some good sounding demos out there of the old FP4.

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Originally Posted by peterws
I simply can't go back to the DP voices. Any of 'em!




Last edited by toddy; 12/02/17 09:00 AM.

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I thought the FP4 felt okay, and agree with those who think Roland took a step backwards when they when from that action to the FP4F/FP50/FA08 etc., simply because the return on those keys felt too sluggish, even though the overall feel was arguably more piano-like. Sometimes a change that makes something better in one respect can make it worse in another. (Plus there's the whole subjectivity element.)

I also thought the action Casio used on the PX-x30 series as a step back from their earlier actions, they had more pushback and somehow felt "sloppier" and less precise in their control. Luckily, the next (current) Casio generation action was much better (though honestly, I still prefer the feel of my old PX-500L).

Progress doesn't always move in one direction.

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Originally Posted by EssBrace
[this] Shakespearean looking toothless crone.......she can afford a piano but not dentures .......

By 'Shakespearian' I assume you're referring to act one of Macbeth.

Well, at least she has her priorities right. And there is a large subgroup of people who simply do not get on with dentures. They get a horrible shock when, having been persuaded to have all their own old teeth removed to be replaced by sparkling new ones, they discover they cannot get used to wearing false teeth. They are condemned to a life of porridge, pulped up dinners and a sunken jawline. And unlike those with crutches or sticks, they attract little sympathy as they look rather sinister. Life is tough for the toothless.

One day, this will all be solved by a combination of nanotechnology and stem cell research. But I fear it might be to late for this lady.

Last edited by toddy; 12/02/17 12:45 PM.

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I still have the FP-7 (PHA-II), and while I like the sound, the feel caused me a lot of problems when I had to use it as my practice instrument. I haven't played the new Rolands to compare, but the action is nothing like a good acoustic - maybe a bad one.


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Originally Posted by EssBrace
The first video of the rather Shakespearean looking toothless crone (she can afford a piano but not dentures apparently - odd...


Misogyny!!!

Disrespectful for the elderly!!!

Ageism!!!

Shallow and superficial!!!

She has a name, you know? She's a real person with feelings!

And she's 83!

Ok...I'm done with the condescending condemnation now. wink

Unfortunately I have no opinion on the Roland FP4, but I guess Rolands have sounded pretty good for a long time already. If you happen like the Roland sound. It's okay for me.

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Thank you so much everyone for your insights!

Just after reading these posts, I had the idea to play and video record my Supernatural HP-305 with Piano tone 6 (Grand Piano 3). I don't know why it never occurred to me, I always recorded it with the default tone (and never was satisfied).

Surprisingly, this Grand Piano 3 sounds much more alike to what I listened on the FP4 videos. It's brighter, crispier, more defined in a way. It's a matter of taste, of course, but I personally liked more than the default piano tone (Grand Piano 1), at least for video recording directly from cam's microphone, not by line output. Is it possible that his tone is the heir to the old "Superior Grand"?

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by EssBrace
The first video of the rather Shakespearean looking toothless crone (she can afford a piano but not dentures apparently - odd...


Misogynist!!!

Disrespectful to the elderly!!!

Ageist!!!

Shallow and superficial!!!


This is useful, many thanks. Not that I'm planning to die any time soon but I've often wondered what to have on my gravestone. You've pretty much nailed it for me.

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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I still have the FP-7 (PHA-II), and while I like the sound, the feel caused me a lot of problems when I had to use it as my practice instrument. I haven't played the new Rolands to compare, but the action is nothing like a good acoustic - maybe a bad one.


Morodiene, over the years I've agreed with nearly everything you say and benefitted from your wise words. But to say that Roland PHAII only 'maybe' resembles an acoustic action if it's 'a bad one' is a shocking thing to say! How can this be possible? For me it's second only to a Beckstein or a Bluthner, and certainly better than virtually every upright I've ever played, most of which seem in comparison to have toy buttons for keys.

But I say this acknowledging you have a lot more experience than I do. smile


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
PHA50 is probably the best plastic action today together with Kawai RH2/3.


While I can play quite OK on both of them, the PHA-50 is much easier to control, and much faster in trills. It also feels a lot more substantial ("bigger"). I know, because I have both the LX-17 (PHA-50) and the MP7 (RH2).

My GF (who now plays the MP7 mostly) actually finds the PHA-50 to "a lot better" than the RH2 (note that she doesn't have as much keyboard instrument experience as I do.)


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Originally Posted by toddy
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I still have the FP-7 (PHA-II), and while I like the sound, the feel caused me a lot of problems when I had to use it as my practice instrument. I haven't played the new Rolands to compare, but the action is nothing like a good acoustic - maybe a bad one.


Morodiene, over the years I've agreed with nearly everything you say and benefitted from your wise words. But to say that Roland PHAII only 'maybe' resembles an acoustic action if it's 'a bad one' is a shocking thing to say! How can this be possible? For me it's second only to a Beckstein or a Bluthner, and certainly better than virtually every upright I've ever played, most of which seem in comparison to have toy buttons for keys.

But I say this acknowledging you have a lot more experience than I do. smile

The hard bottoming out resembles a piano whose bushings have hardened. It actually was painful to play and it affected my technique so I ended up playing everything tense as I braced for impact. It took a bit of time on my AP to correct it, but it prompted me to buy the MP11.

Still Roland makes good instruments, and the FP7 has been a trooper. I just can never use it for more than occasional playing. YMMV smile


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by toddy
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I still have the FP-7 (PHA-II), and while I like the sound, the feel caused me a lot of problems when I had to use it as my practice instrument. I haven't played the new Rolands to compare, but the action is nothing like a good acoustic - maybe a bad one.


Morodiene, over the years I've agreed with nearly everything you say and benefitted from your wise words. But to say that Roland PHAII only 'maybe' resembles an acoustic action if it's 'a bad one' is a shocking thing to say! How can this be possible? For me it's second only to a Beckstein or a Bluthner, and certainly better than virtually every upright I've ever played, most of which seem in comparison to have toy buttons for keys.

But I say this acknowledging you have a lot more experience than I do. smile

The hard bottoming out resembles a piano whose bushings have hardened. It actually was painful to play and it affected my technique so I ended up playing everything tense as I braced for impact. It took a bit of time on my AP to correct it, but it prompted me to buy the MP11.

Still Roland makes good instruments, and the FP7 has been a trooper. I just can never use it for more than occasional playing. YMMV smile


And there you have it! Soft bottoming is the answer. We need more soft bottoms . . . .


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Originally Posted by peterws

And there you have it! Soft bottoming is the answer. We need more soft bottoms . . . .

Isn't that what we have the Kardashians for? wink

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Originally Posted by Falsch
Originally Posted by CyberGene
PHA50 is probably the best plastic action today together with Kawai RH2/3.


While I can play quite OK on both of them, the PHA-50 is much easier to control, and much faster in trills. It also feels a lot more substantial ("bigger"). I know, because I have both the LX-17 (PHA-50) and the MP7 (RH2).

My GF (who now plays the MP7 mostly) actually finds the PHA-50 to "a lot better" than the RH2 (note that she doesn't have as much keyboard instrument experience as I do.)


As with everything it's just a matter of personal taste. I have compared them only in a store (and own a RH2 piano) and thought they were very similar. On the other hand PHA-50 is Roland's flagship action they put in their most expensive pianos whereas RH2/3 sit below their premium wooden actions so it's a bit of unfair comparison but I think it fares very well.


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by Falsch
Originally Posted by CyberGene
PHA50 is probably the best plastic action today together with Kawai RH2/3.

While I can play quite OK on both of them, the PHA-50 is much easier to control, and much faster in trills. It also feels a lot more substantial ("bigger"). I know, because I have both the LX-17 (PHA-50) and the MP7 (RH2).

As with everything it's just a matter of personal taste. I have compared them only in a store (and own a RH2 piano) and thought they were very similar. On the other hand PHA-50 is Roland's flagship action they put in their most expensive pianos whereas RH2/3 sit below their premium wooden actions so it's a bit of unfair comparison but I think it fares very well.

I don't think this is unfair at all.
RH3 is Kawais top end folded plastic action. If there is something to compare, that would be it.

Comparing PHA-50 to the GF actions would be comparing apples to oranges b/c the GF variants are not folded, thus I would expect a larger difference between GF and PHA-50 as opposed to RH3 vs PHA-50.


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What I’m saying is Roland apparently put a lot of efforts to make PHA50 because it’s their best action to date and most probably they didn’t sacrifice anything. Whereas RH-actions are meant to be put in middle level of pianos and they don’t have to be their absolute best action since they also offer the GF-action on their premium pianos.


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