Introduction

The Roland F140R is a home digital piano with a wide range of features, sounds, and top-notch key action. It’s a true musical instrument that’s well suited to both beginners as well as intermediate hobbyists, and sure to wind up on thousands of musicians’ wishlists this year. It’s also an extremely affordable instrument given that it delivers virtually the same ‘guts’ as the RP501r at several hundred dollars more.

The sound categories include high quality grand piano, electric piano, organ, string, and synthesizer patches, the action is Roland’s well-liked PHA-4 action with triple-sensor for high-resolution sensing and a graded hammer action. The features include drum sets with intelligent accompaniment and different rhythm styles (essentially your own backing band to play along with), a 3-pedal system with full sostenuto function, transpose, dual and duet modes of playing, and SMF playback through its USB port.

It’s most commonly offered in Contemporary Black, although there is a white satin finish available as well, which makes it highly adaptable to most living spaces. We hope you enjoy this video review and accompanying article, and good luck with your shopping!

Roland F140R Digital Piano Review Video Transcription

Roland F140R
Roland F140R

Hi, everybody and welcome to another digital piano review here at Merriam pianos. My name is Stu Harrison, and today we’re going to be talking about Roland’s ultra-popular F140R Digital Home Piano. We love this instrument. We’re going to be talking about that beautiful cabinet that comes in. We’ll be covering the action, the supernatural sound. We’re going to be talking about all the connection options it has through its Bluetooth function, and of course, who it might be just a perfect solution for at home. If it’s your first time in the channel, please do subscribe. We’d love you to come back for more videos in the future and we do our best to reply to every single comment that you leave. Thanks again for joining us. Let’s get started right away.

Sound and Tone Engine

We’re going to talk about the sound on the Roland F140R digital piano first. And when we say sound, I guess there’s a few components that go into that. We’re talking about the stereo speakers and the amplifier but we’re also talking about the tone engine, which is kind of the computing side of things that takes your physical input and translates that into an audio signal that we then wind up hearing. The Roland F140R is equipped with their SuperNATURAL piano sound engine, and this is something that’s been in the works being developed, being evolved for many, many years now. Roland’s really quite good at producing piano tone and other tones with the supernatural piano sound engine. And it’s kind of an interesting blend of both a set of samples and then adding extra synthesis on top to add the detail like the sound of the hammer hitting the strings and sound of the damper coming back down or the sound of the pedals.

And all of those are actually something you can manipulate within the Piano Designer app music score apps that you can hook up with Bluetooth. And I will show you how to do that a little bit later when we start talking about the wireless connectivity. So, the supernatural sound engine is inside the F-140R. We’ve got a 128 note polyphony, which even by today’s standards is pretty solid. If you’re just going to be doing piano playing on its own as a solo player and you’re not, sort of, sending all kinds of extra Midi signal back through it, 128 is usually pretty sufficient. It’s hard to max that out unless, of course, you’re doing some really intense classical playing or you’ve got sort of multiple tracks going within a sequencer. So, 128 is fine. You’ve got your SuperNATURAL piano tone. I find the supernatural sound, and this is just on the default tone, by the way, tends to have really crisp, well-rendered trebles and upper parcels. The bass is really very clear. Nice strong attack.

And of course, it’s equipped with several different types of acoustic piano in there as well. It sort of rounds out that attack. So, you’ve got a few different sample sets to choose from. You’ve got the Piano Designer app in which you can modify settings like key-off resonance, damper resonance, or hammer resonance, or adjust the master tuning and even mess with the semitones if you want to. Of course you can save your settings so once you find something you love, you don’t have to rebuild it every time. Being driven by that tone engine is 26 watts worth of sound, or sorry, 24, it’s 12 watts per side, which delivers a surprisingly full sound, and in a normal-sized room, comes somewhat close to the authentic tone of a real acoustic grand. And I would say for a small room and even for a medium room that isn’t super padded, that produces a pretty decent, pretty respectable amount of tone overall.

I do think that when you first start to hear it lack is when you get down into the bass and you really try and drive some thicker harmonies. You can tell that there’s a bit of presence there that you do get on some of the higher-level Rolands that maybe is not quite there on the F140R. But you have to keep in mind the price point and, of course, what this compares to. And in that respect, I think the F140R is really well balanced. Even at max volume, this isn’t breaking up or distorting. So, I think it’s every part of the design is really well paired. So, there’s no weak link anywhere in the tone generation chain, I guess we could call it. It’s got a very…we’ll just get to some E-piano sounds here. I really, really loved the roads on here. There’s a beautiful treble going on left and right. I don’t know if you can hear that at home.

Some really, really beautiful course effects. So, lots of variety on there. And in fact, when you pair it up with the Piano Partner 2 app, it gives you access to over 300 additional tones. So, it’s got the entire general Midi 2 soundbank in there in addition to all the supernatural sounds as well. So, 128 note polyphony, we’ve got 24 watts of power, and all of that being driven by the supernatural piano engine with about 2 dozen, sort of, really high-quality, well-crafted tones in addition to the general MIDI soundbank. So, that’s all for sound. We’re going to splash the specs up there for you to take a look and we’re going to move on to action.

PHA-4 Key Action

The action in the Roland F140R is called the PHA-4 standard keyboard action with escapement and with ivory touch. This is exactly the same action that Roland is now putting in all of their FP series except the FP-90 which is using the PHA-50. It also is going in the RP-501 and the F140R. It’s a really fun, satisfying action to play, very, very effortless in terms of feeling like there’s lots of response and touch sensitivity. And as your key is sort of hitting the bottom there. It’s a little bit of a harder bottom than you’d expect out of, say, a Kawai digital, but in some respects that almost allows your finger to sort of bounce off the bottom and you wind up feeling like this action is a little more effortless and overall a great playing experience.

The action has that ivory texture on it, it’s right in the name, and it’s pretty cool. I actually think they’ve done a nice job of creating a texture, which is it doesn’t distract, it doesn’t feel overdone and gives it a great key touch. But visually, it makes it feel like you’re playing on a bit more of an elegant action and you actually do appreciate the texture that it gives you. The black key also has a texture or maybe you’d call this a micro-texture, Roland calls it ivory feel. It doesn’t really simulate the ebony key at all. But it does give a bit of grip so that it’s matched with the white key. That’s also really nice.

Another thing that I will say about the PHA-4 action, because I’ve played on many of these, both on instruments that I’ve owned as well as what we’ve seen throughout the store, is they’re super durable. So, whether or not you like the feel of them, whether or not it’s giving you, you know, accurate enough response, which, you know, everybody’s going to have a different situation.

One thing that can’t be debated is how reliable and how well-made those actions are. So, if you’re putting it into situation where it’s going to get a lot of abuse, you can be sure that this is not something you’re going to be having to bring back for warranty claims, which I always love being able to tell that to customers and really feel like I’m being honest about that advice, you will not regret and you will not find tech problems with the PH-4 action. So, we’re going to throw some specs up about the action and then we’re going to move on to all of the different ports and the connectivity options including Bluetooth. So, thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back in a second.

Features, Connectivity, Ports

Okay. So, last thing we’re going to cover is the various sort of ports and connections that the instrument has. And of course, what you can do with the Bluetooth. Roland has installed Bluetooth connections or Bluetooth connectivity for smartphones and iPads on virtually their entire lineup of digital pianos, which is great. Thank you, Roland. And I’ve actually got a smartphone here and we’re going to hook it up right now just so you can see at home how easy it is to actually use this because people sometimes know that it’s there, but there’s an intimidation factor in actually trying to get it working and feeling like it’s always going to be complicated. This is not complicated. Even to set it up the first time only takes about 30 seconds. And then once it’s connected the first time, going back to the instrument, again and again, is literally just the press of one button, which is awesome.

So, the first thing you need to do when you get the F140 digital piano is to enable the Bluetooth, and granted, there’s nothing intuitive about this, you kind of just have to know this and you can look it up in the instruction manual or you could just watch this video. So, you need to press the function or activate the function button, which is pressing the metronome and the split button down at the same time. We’re going to do that. And then you’re going to see the F for function come up. And then there’s a variety of functions which you can scroll through with your plus and your minus keys. You want to go to F15, which is actually whether to turn the Bluetooth radio on or turn the Bluetooth radio off. We want to make sure that it’s on.

So, you press the start-stop button to enter function 15, and then you can use the plus and minus to simply indicate whether you want it on or whether you want it off. In this case we definitely want it on. Then you press the start and stop again to get back to the F15. Now, you’re going to go to F16, which tells the instrument what the mode that you want the Bluetooth in. And so, there’s the potential to have just the MIDI or the audio.

And so, you can choose to have one or the other, or you can have both turned on at the same time. I don’t really personally know why you wouldn’t just have both turned on at the same time, but I’m sure there are some circumstances if you have multiple devices in the room and you only want it to be pairing to one and you have others that are competing for the pairing. Yeah, I could see why maybe you would need to have those differentiated. But for most people, I think the safe thing is to just have both turned none. So, you’re going to want to put the function on F16 now. You’re going to press the start-stop button to enter that F16 function and then it looks like we want to put it on, it looks like a P-N or I guess that could be an A, but I think it’s N. And that seems to turn off on both the audio and Bluetooth. So, we’ll keep it on that.

Once that’s done, you would go to an app. And the app that I really, really like to use is called BLE-Midi. I believe it’s a free app, and it makes it very easy for you to connect. So, I don’t know if you can see that on the camera. If not, we’ll just get, you know, some B roll later, but I can see my F140R is right there and it’s connected.

So, that whole thing that I just did, you literally only have to do just one time. After that, all you do is you just go into whatever app you’re going to use. And in this case, I’ve got the Roland Piano Partner 2 app open and this now gives me access to all of the different function areas that Roland packs in this app. It’s a free app and it literally acts as like a companion to this instrument, unlocks all sorts of functionality that otherwise would be really difficult, or impossible actually, to access just through the onboard buttons systems. So, we’ve got rhythm. And in fact, this comes with 21 different rhythms built right in. So, the F140R actually has this onboard rhythm feature which is generically referred to as intelligent accompaniment, which I think is really cool. It’s also worth mentioning that the rhythm function / onboard rhythm accompaniments is also accessible without the app directly from the keyboard’s own interface.

Super easy to use, very intuitive in terms of how you control it, which is great. The app also has built-in piano masterpieces with sheet music that you can play along with, which is also a ton of fun. At the time we did the review, the sheet music pages were also available in physical form packaged in the box. And it’s got the various lesson, like method books from Hanon and Czerny that have the repertoire for the method books also built into here. So, you can use this to hear back, as a reference point, what you’re supposed to be working on. It’s got flashcards and it’s got the ability to use this as a wireless recorder from the instrument. So, tons and tons of stuff that you can get out of this Piano Partner 2. And of course, the most basic, but sometimes the most useful function on here is just as a remote control for picking the sounds and the key and the tones that you want on this. And switching between single-mode, split mode, dual-mode, or twin piano mode, all of which have separate and very, very useful functions.

You’ve got the metronome function in here. And, of course, your master volume is also in there. So, it makes it very easy to select the different categories of sounds. As we said, this thing is equipped with the general MIDI Bank 2 soundbank, which includes over 300 sounds, including organ, electric piano, and many more. So, tons and tons of stuff kind of just buried just below the surface on the F140R. Now, let’s talk about the rest of the instrument. It comes with its own key-cover, its own stand, it’s integrated right in (it also has stabilizer steel ‘tabs’ that extend out of the bottom of the legs of the stand…most people don’t realize they’re there). So, you can’t separate the F140 from its stand. If you’re looking for something like that, just go by the FP-30, very, very similar in terms of its overall capability but you come in a slab.

Otherwise, it’s coming in this all-in-one cabinet format. And this kind of annoyed me when I first saw this come out. Now, I really like it, to be honest. And this cover, this key cover that also acts as a music stand, so it goes down really quite smoothly and it’s very easy to get up as well and it kind of just locks in place and you’ve got a nice wide music stand that functions at. It’s really great. It comes in two colors as well. This is the classic block. It also comes in a satin white. On the back, you’ve got a 3.5 mil input and a 3.5 mil output. That’s in fact how you’re hearing this instrument today. We’ve just taken a straight line out of the 3.5. You’ve got two different headphone jacks on this, both the quarter-inch and 3.5. They also give the headphones 3d Ambience Effect, which creates some extremely satisfying multi-dimensional sound experiences when playing the F140r. It also makes private practice less intimidating by giving you privacy without sacrificing the experience. And then you’ve got USB memory port (USB Type A) and USB computer port (Type B) in and out as well, which allows for wav playback, midi file playback, and wav recording.

Pedal System

The F140 comes with a triple pedal system, which is also very handy. And these triple pedals, I know at least one or maybe all three are what they call continually sensing. So, as you’ve got the sustain pedal down, you can actually be half peddling and it’s constantly detecting where you are on pedal instead of only being, sort of, a basic closed circuit-open circuit type of situation. So, for people who are more finesse players or are starting to do some work with classical, you might find that to be useful as well. So, that basically wraps up most of the functionality on the F140 digital piano.

Comparisons

What is this going to compare well in the marketplace? I know that Kawai’s KDP110 is something that’s going to compare very well. Yamaha’s YDP144, 143, those models are going to be compared pretty frequently to this strictly because of the price. So, if you can get it, you know, if you are somebody who is looking for a first instrument, but you’ve got the budget to go a little bit more than entry-level and you’re looking for something that’s going to have a really satisfying action, I think of this kind of as a prosumer type of, you know, piano level for people who shop cameras and TVs and are used to that segment of the market I just referred to, this is great.

Try and get to a store where you could maybe compare this to a KDP110 digital piano or compare it to the YDD140 series. I think you’re going to be really pleased with what you find. And like I said, our experience over the last year or two with this model with our customer base has been resoundingly positive, not a single warranty claim has come back from this instrument. And everybody who gets it loves it.

Anyway, thank you much for watching. Be sure to watch the video where all we do is give you some playing samples of the Roland F140R digital piano, and I hope it’s been helpful. Good luck with the shopping. We’ll see you back for another review shortly. I’m Stu Harrison here at Merriam Pianos.

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