🎹Roland FP-30X vs FP-30 Digital Piano Comparison - What's New?🎹

The Roland FP-30 digital piano was a popular and well-reviewed musical instrument, but to say that the FP-30X is a step forward would be an understatement – Roland was able to include more key improvements than would be considered typical when an instrument is replaced by the next generation model.

On the heels of our in-depth FP-30X review, we wanted to do a second article/video that focuses on exactly what has been changed from the FP-30 to the FP-30X.

As a result, this article and video are primarily aimed at folks who already have an FP-30 and are wondering if it’s worth trading up to an FP-30X, or for folks who might be choosing between a secondhand FP-30 or a new 30X.

That said, even if all of this is new to you and you’d simply like to educate yourself on what has changed here between the Roland FP30x vs FP30 and can’t find the info on Amazon, you should derive some enjoyment from this piece as well.

Roland FP30X vs FP30 – Background

Roland FP30X Digital Piano
Roland FP30X Digital Piano

It’s important for us to note up front that we’ll be assuming some prior familiarity with the Roland FP-30 throughout this piece. If you want to get some background information filled in, check out our full reviews on the FP-30 and FP-30X on our YouTube channel.

This piece is simply dedicated to drilling into the upgrades from the 30 to the 30X, which as we mentioned in the intro, are quite significant.

In fact, many people are already touting the FP-30X as the best all-around portable piano option in the class, and as we go through these various upgrades, you’ll see why they have a powerful argument.

Digital Piano Sound – Sound Engine and Speaker System

Roland’s New BMC Sound Chip & Polyphony

One of the single biggest differences between the FP-30 and FP-30X is the presence of Roland’s new BMC chip in the 30X, and the rest of the new FP-X series models. The effects of this sound chip are felt in a variety of very tangible ways, to the point that you can almost think of this as a new version of the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound Engine.

The first spec that jumps off the page relating to the sound chip is polyphony. Where the FP-30X had a totally respectable 128 notes of polyphony, the 30X doubles this with a class-leading 256 notes. This number on its own doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact on the user experience as 128-note polyphony is just fine for solo piano playing, but it does speak to just how much more powerful the processor is here.

More importantly, however, is that the BMC chip is producing noticeably better sound with more depth and character across the grand piano tones and frankly all other tones for that matter. If we zero in on the harpsichord sound, there’s so much more resonance around every note on the 30X. There are more harmonic partials and it’s just all-around much higher-fidelity, more dynamic sound.

We also suspect that the extra power of the BMC chip has also allowed them to beef up the sound engine’s algorithmic model as we’re hearing more of things like the hammer noise, damper resonance, cabinet resonance, reverb etc.

Speaker System

While the amplifier power has remained the same at 22 watts, Roland has tweaked the design of the built-in speakers themselves with the 30X. You can really notice a difference in the lower third of the instrument with more overall presence.

They’ve also added a new speaker stand equalization feature which essentially optimizes the speaker depending on what type of surface you have your 30X resting on.

The end result is a class-leading speaker system with most other speakers in the class generally offering between 12 and 16 watts of power.

Piano Designer

The FP-30 lacked the internal processing power to be compatible with Roland’s Piano Designer feature which allows the user to go in and edit various sound-related parameters present in the algorithm.

While Roland hasn’t included the Piano Designer as a built-in feature with the FP-30X, it is now fully accessible along with the new Roland Piano App which replaces Roland’s Piano Every Day app.

Via Bluetooth MIDI connectivity or through USB, simply connect your 30X to an iOS or Android smart device, download the free app, and you’re on your way. With a great selection of available editable parameters, you can really get the sound customized to your liking.

Total Sounds

The last big sound-related difference we need to highlight is the sheer quantity of tone selection that you have between the 30X and the 30. The FP-30 had 35 total sounds which wasn’t bad at all, but the FP-30X manages to crank this up to 56 in total with a selection of really nice electric pianos (with modulation effects,) synthesizers, organs with rotary speaker effect, strings, pads and more.

And like we said above, you can compare the same e piano or synth patches on each instrument for example, and you’ll notice that the 30X is delivering a superior version of the same patch.

Lastly, you can also access the full GM2 sound bank via the Roland Piano App which expands the total onboard sounds even further.

Digital Piano Action

Roland PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action
Roland PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action

From an action standpoint, there hasn’t been a change from the FP-30 to the FP-30X with Roland returning to the PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action. This isn’t really a surprise though as the PHA-4 is still the go-to action throughout Roland’s lineup under about the $3,000 CAD price point, including the FP-60X.

When you move up to the high-end FP-90X you get the PHA50 action, but obviously, Roland won’t be putting the PHA50 into the 30X or it’s eventual replacement since to do so would dramatically increase both the cost and weight of the instrument.

Despite being on the market for several years now, the PHA4 has undergone some minor tweaks and enhancements, and the current version is widely held as one of the top plastic key actions available, and many people would agree it’s also the best action available in the class.

Since you’re here, we’ll cover a few of the things that make the PHA4 a stand out.

Triple Sensor, Escapement & Keytops

The PHA4 is equipped with triple sensor key detection and escapement, but the comparable models from Kawai (the Kawai ES110 has just been replaced by the ES120), Yamaha, Casio and Korg are only using a dual sensor and don’t feature any escapement.

A triple sensor provides greater accuracy in terms of MIDI output and allows for a wider dynamic range of available touch sensitivity levels. This is great if you’re looking for your digital piano to double as a MIDI controller.

Escapement is a simulation of the sensation a grand acoustic piano hammer action produces, and can allow for faster repetition speed in the hands of a skilled pianist.

The PHA4 action also features ivory feel white key surfaces, and a matte finish on the black keys. This provides a good combination of glide and grip for your fingers. The Yamaha P-125 and Yamaha P45 (even much of the YDP series) by contrast feature an action with a glossy key surface that many feel is overly grippy.

These above-listed features are a big reason why piano teachers will often recommend a digital piano with this key action as it’s great for beginners to start piano lessons and develop technique, while also advanced enough for an experienced player.

Features & Connectivity

FP-30X Connectors
FP-30X Connectors

1/4” Line Outputs

If you wanted to connect the FP-30 to an amp or PA system, you had to buy an adapter and fiddle around with the headphone jacks. This isn’t ideal, and the lack of 1/4” outputs is what kept the FP-30 from being considered a true gig-worthy stage piano.

Roland has levelled up the FP-30X by including discreet line outputs, and when paired with its great tone and touch, the big potential for gigging is readily apparent.

For our money, this is one the single most important upgrades that the 30X features.

Bluetooth Connectivity

The FP-30 had Bluetooth MIDI which made for quick, wireless connectivity to Apple and Android smart devices for use with music apps like Roland’s own apps and others like Garageband.

The 30X of course brings this back, but also expands it to include Bluetooth Audio. This allows the user to stream music directly through the 30X’s great onboard speakers to listen or play along with.

Other connectors like dual headphone outputs and USB flash drive all make a return.

FP-30X - Bluetooth and USB Connectivity
FP-30X – Bluetooth and USB Connectivity

Functions

The FP-30X now features a built-in USB Audio Interface. If you’re looking for an instrument to control a DAW, this is quite significant as it allows you to cut down on gear and transfer audio information directly.

Standard features like a metronome, twin pianos, split and transpose all make a comeback here, as well as a basic onboard MIDI recorder and the ability for WAV playback.

Accessories

Like the FP-30 before it, the FP-30X includes a handy music rest in the box for sheet music. It also ships with a basic sustain pedal, though we would recommend upgrading to the DP-10 damper pedal right away as it’s much more authentic.

You can also add the optional KSC-70 keyboard stand and KPD-70 triple pedal unit/pedal board if you’re going to generally be keeping your FP-30X in one place.

Closing Thoughts

In a lot of cases when a model replaces a previous generation version the upgrades are largely minor and/or aesthetic. Every few generations however a new model comes along that significantly improves on the model it has replaced.

It’s definitely the latter case here with FP-30X as it’s packed with a whole host of meaningful upgrades including the addition of 1/4” line outs, the new BMC chip for superior high-quality sound and polyphony, more onboard sounds, improved speaker design, Bluetooth Audio and a built-in USB Audio Interface.

To have packed all of these improvements in without dramatically increasing the price or weight of this portable digital piano is quite the feat from Roland. It’s no wonder that many feel that the 30X is the best digital piano in the class and price range.

Thanks for reading!