Hi everyone, and welcome to another piano review here at Merriam Pianos. Today we’re with the Roland FP-60X. This is the update to the FP60, part of their newest FP-X lineup featuring all sorts of new goodies. We’re going to be taking a look at its features, talking about the sound, and exploring its action.
Everything that we hope that you’re looking for in a review and want to know about this instrument, we’re quite excited to share with you.
So without further ado, let’s get started with the Roland FP-60X right away.
Roland FP-60X – Sound
We’re going to start with sound as we typically do. The big difference between the FP-60X and its predecessor, or others in the marketplace, is the addition of the BMC chip. This is the brand-new processor that Roland has been developing for a couple of years. It’s faster. Essentially, they’ve been able to load it up with a more complex algorithm. For people who are using Roland for acoustic piano, or I would say particularly the e-piano stuff where they’ve got the SuperNATURAL piano sound engines driving a lot of those piano sounds, the BMC chip is going to make a difference.
We did an FP-30 versus an FP-30X comparison and I was quite surprised at how big a difference in the sound we were getting between the 30 and 30X, especially given that the wattage of the sound system was the same. We were hearing exclusively the difference that the BMC chip was providing or some combination of that and the improvement of the quality of the speaker system. The 30X had a more round sound. It was beautifully sculpted around the edges, I’m talking about the tone itself, and the 60X has a lot of those same characteristics compared to its previous version.
We are going to be doing a comparison of this to an FP-60. We’ve got an FP-60, so that’s coming up within the next couple of weeks. Watch out for it.
That BMC chip has allowed them to take a sample such as their concert grand piano and just beef it up.
So what are we hearing in the piano tone?
Well, one thing for sure is a much better, more authentic dynamic response in the lower range.
There’s just more life to it underneath a mezzo forte.
So for people using this primarily for solo piano playing at home perhaps, this new 60X or the new FP-X generation generally, is giving you a few more corners to explore.
The second feature they’ve added is something that you also see on Roland’s newer LX series, and it’s the My Stage button. When you get into the My Stage button, accessed via the LCD screen, it essentially gives you some presets, similar to the Piano Designer settings, a combination of all sorts of things, and it sets them up in these different labelled templates or presets.
This is a really fast and efficient way of going through and finding a combination that feels responsive to you.
This is far more than just adjusting the ambience because I know that there are a lot of apps and presets out there for many of the manufacturers where you can just choose different stages. You can still get into the Piano Designer app through the function as well.
It looks as though what the My Stage is doing is actually changing all of the settings within the Piano Designer as well as the ambience function.
I really like that feature because of how easy and simple it is and who wants to spend hours and hours and hours exploring infinite little details to try and find the right combo because there’s a good chance you might just get lucky and one of these could be perfect for you, and then you don’t have to go any further than that.
Loaded into this instrument is over 300 different sounds, like orchestral instruments, synthesizers, drum sets, etc. so it’s an enormous amount of selection, amongst the ones that really sound fantastic on this new BMC chip are a lot of the ones that are being driven with SuperNATURAL mechanics behind it, like the electric pianos—those sound great.
The other area where I found a lovely surprise was the rich sound, the thickness, and the texture of the pads that you get.
So we’ve talked about the BMC chip, we’ve got the My Stage functionality, there are 256 notes of polyphony coming to you through a pair of 13-watt speakers, and it’s loaded up with over 300 sounds.
Another couple of features that did arrive on the previous generation of the FP60, but they’ve continued it and I think it’s a good thing that they’ve continued it, is the onboard three-band equalizer sliders. You’re seeing this more and more in the industry where core intuitive functions that musicians really want to be able to access quickly, especially in a live show, are getting outside of menus and onto tactile control surfaces. Nord is probably the most famous for being the first to get literally every one of those functions and parameters outside of a menu and onto a knob somewhere. Professional gigging stage players really it like when you get that type of access.
Roland started this a while ago, and they’ve continued it again with the FP-60X.
That’s all we’re going to talk about with sound for now. We’re going to leave sound and move on to action.
So the Roland FP-60X is equipped with a weighted, touch-sensitive PHA-4 standard keyboard action. This is the action that you’ll also find in the FP-30X, the FP-10, the F701, the RP701, and the RP102. You’ll find this across all of the current Roland mid-range and entry-level portable pianos that are focused on the piano industry.
It is a fine action. It’s got a triple sensor, which is always a good thing when it’s an option, and it’s also got escapement. Escapement on its own sounds like a bit of a snobby thing, but more and more I’m realizing for me that when an action incorporates escapement really well, it provides an extra level of control in the super low dynamic ranges. That’s where I’m finding it to be a benefit.
The action has a nice subtle texture to it. If you look carefully at the white keys, you can see that they’re trying to mimic a real ivory feel and look. They have not made that attempt on the Black Keys. It’s basically just a microtexture on the black keys, very similar to what Kawai does. The white keys have about the same texture as what you find on Roland’s PHA-50 action, which is the action that you could really say is the upgrade to this one.
It’s also one of the biggest reasons why there’s such a big price jump between the FP-60 and the FP-90X. Yes, it goes up to the piano modelling, so there is a tone chip difference and there is a wattage difference, but there is that action difference when you get up to the 90 because you jump up to the PHA-50.
So at the PHA-4, that’s really what you’re getting.
The mechanical sound of the PHA-4 is pretty consistent with what I know Roland for, which is, that it’s a bit louder of a downstroke, but the upstroke is quite a bit quieter. It’s almost the opposite of what I find on, say, Kawai, where the downstroke is a little more cushioned, but the upstroke has a more pronounced return sound.
Connectors and Accessories
Next is connectivity. There are all kinds of ways for you to connect this to pretty much any other musical device. This has Bluetooth audio which means you can stream to this for audio playback, but not out of this with Bluetooth. It also has Bluetooth MIDI, which means you can connect to pretty much any host. You’re going to use this a lot when connecting with portable devices or connecting with a host computer, potentially.
It has quarter-inch outputs, almost a default necessity if you’re going to be using this in any kind of professional context with amplifiers or PA systems. It has a mic input jack with a mic volume level on it, which is also very handy. It has both types of USB ports, so you can play and record onto a USB key as well as plug this physically into a USB host. It has a headphone output jack for Roland’s Headphones 3D Ambience. It also has several different pedal options which is great. You can get the FP-60X with a matching keyboard stand (the KSC-72 or KS-20X), and a fixed triple pedal board (the KPD-90) with Soft, Sostenuto and Damper pedal connections, or you can get it with the triple pedal unit as a floating option as well, the RPU-3.
A lot of people are now picking these floating triple pedal options up for portable users where they’re not going to have the permanent stand. They’re using it with a collapsible stand and that triple pedal really is coming in quite handy.
As with all of these models of digital pianos, there is a music rest to hold your sheet music, and of course, a PSB-7U power adapter.
In terms of other functions on here, I’m leaving one to the very, very last. This has all of the standard stuff you’d expect. You can split the instrument into two, you can layer sounds on top of one another, and you’ve got twin mode as well.
This also pairs with Roland’s Piano Everyday app. The Piano Everyday app is, I think, compatible with virtually all of their pianos these days. It’s a combination of a remote control app, and a practice aid, and also has a number of repertoire pieces preloaded in there for you to play along with using the onboard metronome if you want. It’s not necessarily the slickest-looking app, but it is incredibly easy to use, and as far as I can tell, I’ve been using it for hours and hours and hours, totally bug-free. So I would certainly take a bug-free app that was a little plain-looking any day over the opposite. So that’s the Piano Everyday app, and that connects very easily.
Pairing this with the device is also super easy because there’s now a forced pairing option. Rather than having to get into the menu or do any kind of a reset, you just hold this function button for a couple of seconds and it automatically trips it into pairing mode.
These companies are finally really getting their Bluetooth act together. The first generation was a little bit buggy. This is now becoming pretty much foolproof. You’re not going to need owner’s manuals and lots of YouTube videos to try and figure out how to pair your device to an FP-60X.
The very last thing I’m going to mention is something that Roland does not mention, but I heard whispers of out on the internet and we have confirmed this ourselves, which is that this has a USB audio interface, meaning you can plug this into a computer and it will stream audio to and from this device entirely through your USB cable. This is super handy for all kinds of reasons.
Now, I throw this up with caution, and the reason I throw this up with caution is that generally if Roland does not put it on their website, it is not an officially supported function. So this could be something that is on the instrument awaiting a new firmware update.
It could be that Roland is going to determine that if for any reason it’s not stable, they’re going to shut it off. There is a point to not putting it on the website, and it’s so that if they have some sort of an experimental function on there, they don’t really have to back away from anything because they didn’t make the claim in the first place.
I guess that makes sense, but for those who want to take the chance and roll the dice, this does in fact have USB audio. It’s pretty cool.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the review and I hope you have a chance to experience a Roland FP-60X somewhere. It is a very full-featured portable digital stage piano. Really quite perfect for super small venues. I could see this used for rehearsal situations and small home personal use settings. There are lots of times and lots of places where the FP-60X is going to be the perfect fit.