Introduction

Roland’s FP-10 Digital Piano has quickly become the dominant entry-level digital piano in the market today, providing a stellar action (PHA-4 standard keyboard), class-leading piano tone from the Supernatural Piano Engine, light-weight portability, bluetooth midi, and an available keyboard stand (KSCFP10). The FP-10 picks up on where Yamaha’s P45 and Casio’s PX-160 left off, bringing a level of realism that even an experienced player would be satisfied with in casual or professional settings – something rarely said about affordable digital pianos.

Stu Harrison from Merriam Pianos takes us through the FP-10 in depth in this video and accompanying article – we hope it helps your research, and perhaps the FP10 winds up being the perfect piano for you!

Roland FP-10 Digital Piano Review Video Transcription

Welcome to another piano review here at Merriam Pianos! Today, we have got the FP-10 digital piano from Roland. We’re going to be listening to this 88-key digital piano and putting it through its paces. In short, this is a complete beast for its price point. We’re gonna be looking at the action. we’re gonna be looking at its sound engine. We’re gonna be looking at how it integrates with all of Roland’s cool apps, which really extend the functionality of this instrument. And of course, we’re gonna be putting this into context with where it sits with the rest of Roland’s FP line.

Looking at this instrument, it is a lightweight, compact instrument that really is essentially the Roland 88-note PHA-4 standard keyboard action with a tiny, little compartment built around it. When I look at this instrument and when I sit down and really think about what it delivers the end user, essentially, this is an instrument that if the only thing that you really have as a priority is a good solid piano sound and the action, and you’re not looking for a ton of other onboard features, you don’t really care about how powerful the onboard speakers need to be, the FP-10 is a complete slam-dunk because the action that you’re getting in the FP-10 is exactly the same action as you’re getting in the FP-30 and the FP-60 digital piano, which means you’d have to spend more than four times the budget of the FP-10 before you get any improvement in the action. That’s just mind-blowing. The PHA-4 action that we are playing here today on the FP-10 is actually Roland’s top action from probably five or six years ago. So, you think about how much you had to spend back then to get what you can now have, at least in Canadian dollars, for just $699. It’s crazy.

I remember the day Roland came in, our Roland digital piano rep in the area, his name’s David, he came and he said, “Stu, I’ve got something for you to try.” I had no idea what it was that he was about to show me. He pulled me over, he had loaded an FP-10 into the showroom, sat me down in front of it, asked me to play it. He didn’t show me the model number. I honestly thought that it was some kind of an update to the Roland FP-30, it was that good. And then he told me, “No, brand new model coming in. It’s underneath that price point,” and then he told me the price. I think we ordered something like 15 on the spot just based on that one demo. It was just crazy good how much you get for the price.

Keyboard Action

Anyway, so back to the action. So, we’ve got the PHA-4 standard keyboard action, which is Roland’s mainstay 88-key hammer action. The PHA-4 keyboard includes escapement, that’s also coming with a nice ivory feel on the white keys, as well as an ebony feel on the black keys – the natural texture adds a familiarity which feels good, and contributes to the action having a true ‘piano look’. It’s also built with a graded hammer action (the bass notes have a heavier hammer-weight than than in the the treble range). So, the textures help a little bit with grip, whether it’s a dry or a humid environment that you’re in. Even for somebody with a few years of experience, whether that be in front of an upright piano or grand piano, if the action is really the priority here, this isn’t gonna disappoint – the authentic feel is convincing.

The PHA-4 is definitely one of the more quiet keyboard actions that you can access at this price…in fact the comparison with the Casio PX-160 is pretty notable in this regard. It’s got a nice fast key repetition making it an ideal instrument for personal use across a wide range of genres.

The action also has a triple-sensor, which is considered a high-resolution sensing action, which makes it sufficiently accurate for professional applications requiring midi connectivity or integrating into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) or soft-synth environment, but it also increases the overall touch sensitivity with the end result being a greater range of expressive sound.

Sound Engine

Moving on to the sound engine, the features, and the port’s that you get. The chipset is of course Roland’s renowned supernatural piano sound engine This is where you start to understand why the instrument is obviously a little bit on the leaner side. The total wattage for the speakers on this thing is only 12 watts. So, even when it’s completely cranked up, this is not going to give you a whole ton of bass and it’s not gonna fill up more than about a small room, but will definitely still work as a personal practice instrument. So, you need to be able to, you know, possibly plug this into an amplifier or stereo if you want to get a nice full rich sound without having to use headphones. The polyphony is slightly lower than typical for a 2019 instrument, but still adequate for personal playing – at 96.

There’s also an ambience function which essentially replaces a “reverb” setting which can be a fun setting to play around with since it can simulate larger spaces such as a stage…or leave it completely off to sound like it’s in your living room.

Connectivity & Features

Brings me to the second point about the various ports that you get on the back of this. It’s far less than on other Roland models, but isn’t without options. You’ve got the port for the pedal, which is a quarter-inch jack, and then the only audio out that you get from this is actually like a 3.5-mill jack for what usually would be headphones. It also has the MIDI/USB port to a computer, and a USB to device port for updating the instrument (Type A and Type B connections), but can’t be used for audio playback. And so, if you’re looking for something with a lot of different discreet outs or an audio output that’s separate from a headphone output, unfortunately, this isn’t gonna give it to you. But again, please remember the price point, this is $699 or, you know, in US dollars even less. So, we’re still getting a lot for the money.

One minor complaint of the instrument is that they don’t include the standard Roland DP-10 damper pedal, which allows you to get half-pedaling technology that the rest of the FP series shares. Instead, they include a footswitch which is lightweight, easy to kick around, and doesn’t give a particularly authentic feel…however I do appreciate that Roland is meeting a price point and that gets tough when we’re under $1000 to be including things like the DP-10 pedal. I would highly suggest is for more experienced players upgrade to the DP10 sustain pedal – it will definitely increases the quality of the overall experience.

In terms of the onboard functionality, not a lot in terms of buttons to navigate, but just like they do on a lot of the other products, Roland has done a great job of giving us, kind of, a little cheat sheet along or rather in front of the keys. So, this function button, which I used to just be scared of on instruments because at any time I see function, I’m thinking, “I need to go digging 50 pages into a user manual.” In this case, you really don’t need the user manual at all, it’s so intuitive. If you want to bring up, for example, the vibraphone sound, I’m just pressing and holding the function button and then pressing vibraphone, and there you go. And of course, pressing it just on its own returns you to the default piano. And using that same function, you can go through all of the different types of sounds, which is acoustic piano, electric piano, there’s some harpsichord, vibraphone, some organs, like a jazz organ and string. Now, even though this is fairly basic, it still gives you the ability to layer sounds, which is pretty cool. And of course, you can still split the keyboard. You’ve got also the basics of an onboard metronome, which is really great. But beyond that, until you use the Bluetooth functionality, that’s about the limit of what you can do here.

Roland FP-10 really comes alive when you match it up with either a smartphone or tablet and start using Roland’s Bluetooth connection, which I have to say is remarkably easy to do. So, we’ve got an iPad. I’m sure you are all familiar with what one of these is. I should mention that Roland also releases its software for Android so you can use it with both platforms. Doesn’t really matter whether you’re a Mac user or an Android user. And I’m just going to pull up exactly how to get connected here because it’s very, very straightforward.

App Recommendations

To help with the Bluetooth connection, this is just a recommendation. I like to use an app called…the title is BLE-MIDI, it’s basically a Bluetooth MIDI program, it just manages the connection between this device and the piano device. So, you can see that the FP-10 digital piano already has black text and is not grayed out. Means it’s in range, and I’ve already connected to it. If it wasn’t, you could just press it and it would disconnect. In fact, if I press that, goes offline, and then if I wanna connect it again, it’s there, it’s in black, not connected. Press it once more and we’re connected. That simple.

So, the two apps that are kind of directly related to the FP-10 that you’ll wanna explore, the first one is called Piano Designer. Now, this is for piano nerds out there who really wanna dig in and customize the piano sound that they’re able to use with the FP-10 digital piano. And so, I’m in Piano Designer right now, you can see that on the screen. And that gives you quite a few parameters that you’re able to edit with the acoustic piano sound on here. This does not work with any of the other basic sounds, we’re only talking about the acoustic piano sound here. But you can see that you’ve got the ability to adjust the lid. And so, with the lid open, this is kind of the sound. And all the way closed. A little bit more muted. So, usually somewhere in the middle is great. You’ve got hammer response. That’s one of those things that’s you more perceive than actually hear. You’ve got string resonance, damper resonance. You’ve got key touch that you can adjust. Your master tuning is there. So, this is pretty cool because even on a basic instrument like this, you can still customize the piano-playing experience to suit your needs. I think that’s really great.

The second app, which you’re gonna get a lot of use out of is called Roland’s Piano Partner 2. And this is where essentially your device turns into a remote control and you can use this to change sounds, to split the keyboard. So, if we go into remote control, we can now see that we’ve got the ability to select various piano tones. And we’ve got some electric pianos. Wurly. But this is also where you get your split functionality. So, this is where one half the keyboard has one sound, one half the keyboard has the other sound. So, this might be in the left hand, let’s say we want a bass and a cymbal. And in the right, let’s say we want piano. Oops, that’s electric. And then you can, sort of, do fun stuff like…

You’ve got dual mode, which means, of course, you’re blending two sounds at once or twin piano mode, which is something that teachers would often use side-by-side with a student. So, you’ve got both the keyboard split into two but the ranges are matched. So, pretty cool. So, you can have two people at the keyboard both playing exactly the same pitches at the same time. And then you’ve got your metronome settings, which is always very handy. Using the Bluetooth Midi it also connects with the Apple Garageband app, as well as a multitude of other Daw Softwares and fun music-learning apps.

Loaded in this app as well is a good range of demo music, and you can also use it as a wireless recorder, which is something that not a lot of people realize is even available to you. So, that is kind of fun because the recorder is right here and it’s remarkably easy to use.

Conclusions and Summary

So, where does the FP10 fit in the entire range of the FP piano series because we get these questions all the time, like why would I get an FP-30 if I can get an FP-10 for a few hundred dollars less? Or, you know, is the FP-60 worth all of the extra money? Well, like I said at the very beginning of this review, the FP-10 literally is a great piano action surrounded by a little bit of black plastic and a headphone jack. The functionality is pretty limited, but if the priority is getting the best action you can for the dollar and speakers are not a big deal, onboard functions are not a big deal, and of course, lightweight is almost never a drawback, it’s always a benefit because you can, like, throw this in a canvas bag and hop on a subway bus or, you know, run to a rehearsal with this. I know pro players that even use this just as a secondary instrument on stage because it’s so light to bring to a gig. So, if all of those things sound like priorities for you and you’re not gonna miss big, bulky onboard speakers and you’re not gonna miss, you know, fancier LCD displays, you know, or real-time EQ controls, etc., etc., etc., the Roland FP-10 digital piano could be literally the perfect entry-level choice for you.

Roland makes this an easy thing to buy. Obviously, you can buy it just as a slab online from a number of retailers, including us at Merriam Pianos, but they also offer it with a matching stand called the KSCFP10. Another convenience is the included music rest, of course they provide the power supply. It also comes in two colours, a satin black or white, with the model codes being the FP-10-BK, or FP-10-WH.

All right. So, thanks very much for sticking around to the end. Here is our rating of the Roland FP-10.