🎹Roland FP-30X Digital Piano Review & Demo - Upgraded Speakers & Sound Engine🎹

The Roland FP-30 was such a popular and beloved instrument during its run that upon announcement of the new FP-X series many people assumed the FP-30X would be a bit of tweaking, but not any type of significant leap forward.

Well, those people would be wrong as Roland has managed to cram a plethora of meaningful upgrades into the FP-30X, and they’ve done so without dramatically jacking up the price point.

In fact, the Roland FP30X has a very strong claim for being the top model available in the class, and in today’s in-depth article and video, we’re going to cover the exact reasons why this is the case.

Let’s start with a little bit of context for those just checking out the FP-30X for the first time, and this will also be a nice refresher for those already familiar with the FP-30.

Roland FP30X – Background

Roland FP30X Digital Piano
Roland FP30X Digital Piano

One of the things that made the FP-30 and now the FP-30X so interesting is that it straddles the line between targeted at-home users and hobbyists versus professionals needing a legit gigging instrument that can double as a stage piano.

As a result of its specific combination of features, the FP-30X can fairly be labelled a prosumer product that truly straddles both worlds, whereas the FP-30 had a few gaps that prevented it from truly doing so, specifically with regards to connectivity since it didn’t have 1/4” line outputs.

Roland clearly listened to user feedback and really made sure to fill in those gaps, most notably by adding 1/4” line outputs, thereby erasing any doubt whatsoever as to the versatility the FP-30X is capable of.

As we said, as far as 88-key weighted action portable digital pianos go, the FP-30X is considered by many to be the king in the class due to the major improvements Roland has managed to jam in here.

Let’s move on to a look at everything sound-related about the FP-30X.

Digital Piano Sound – Sound Engine & Speaker System

Roland’s BMC Sound Chip

While Roland hasn’t changed the name of the sound engine from the FP-30 with the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound returning, this may as well be a whole new engine given the inclusion of the new Behavior Modelling Core sound chip, or BMC for short. This is fancy language to say that the FP-30X features a new and improved internal sound processor.

When we first heard about the new chip we didn’t expect to hear much of a difference, but we were pleasantly surprised to realize just how much of a difference this new sound chip is making.

The fidelity of the grand piano sound is just totally levelled up, as is the overall dynamic range. Roland’s in the past were known for sounding fairly limited in terms of the dynamic range as compared to Kawai and Yamaha, and that just isn’t the case here.

For people who are thinking about this instrument for personal playing, you’re very likely to be impressed with what this instrument has to offer.

Lastly, the piano sound can be edited via the Piano Designer app, and this is really fun to get into if this interests you.

Polyphony

Polyphony can sometimes be a barometer of as to the quality of a sound engine’s processing power, and that’s definitely the case here as the polyphony has doubled from 128 to 256 from the FP-30 to the FP-30X.

Not only does that mean that you’re unlikely to ever overtax the processor, but it also just speaks to the increase in firepower we’re seeing between these two pianos. This is of course more relevant with arranger keyboards, but it’s still nice to see such a strong count here.

Speaker System

Like the FP-30 before it, the FP-30X is once again loaded up with a substantial set of speakers when considering the size and price of the instrument. They’ve also tweaked the speaker design to optimize the speakers depending on the playing surface and improve the low end.

In the class, you’ll typically see speaker systems with anywhere from 12 to 16 watts of total power. In the case of the 30X, we’ve got dual 11-watt speakers for 22 watts of amplifier power, and they’ve still managed to keep the weight under 33 lbs.

The result is a piano sound with more body and low end than we’re used to finding in this class.

Other Sounds

In addition to the core acoustic piano sound, the FP-30X is loaded up with a good number of other sounds as well. In fact, they’ve gone from 35 sounds on the FP-30 to 56 here, many of which are highly useable.

And we’re hearing the effects of the BMC chip here as well – the various electric pianos, synthesizers, organs with rotary speaker effect, pads and others all sound fuller. Roland’s e pianos are always nice, but there’s just more depth to the sound here and the modulation effect sounds great.

If you use the 30X with the Roland Piano App (replaces Roland’s Piano Every Day App) you also get access to the full General MIDI 2 sound bank which greatly increases the total sounds even further.

Digital Piano Action

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

PHA4 Standard Keyboard Action

Roland has once again gone with the tried and true PHA4 Standard Keyboard action for the FP-30X, and this is expected given that the PHA4 has become Roland’s go-to action for most of their instruments with weighted keys below about the $2,500 CAD price point.

While it’s also featured in the entry-level FP-10, you can also find it in more expensive models like the FP-60X and RP701, though when you get to the FP-90X you’re now into the more advanced PHA50.

On paper and in our opinion also in practice, the PHA4 is the most advanced hammer action available in the FP-30X’s price point, outgunning the Kawai ES120’s RHC key action and the Yamaha P-125’s GHS.

Triple Sensor & Escapement

A couple of critical features separate the PHA4 from other key actions in the class. For one, it features triple sensor key detection, while most other actions in the class feature a dual sensor. Having that third key sensor makes for more accurate MIDI output and a wider range of dynamic potential.

Escapement also separates the PHA4, and this feature essentially replicates the sensation unique to grand piano actions which can help improve repetition speed and voicings in certain registers.

Keytops

The PHA4’s white keys feature an ivory feel texture, and the black keys feature a matte finish. The result of the textured keytops is a good combination of glide and grip.

Playing Experience

Action is a highly personal thing, so if possible, try to get into a dealership and play the PHA4 to see if it’s the right fit. But for us at Merriam Pianos, we think it’s going to be a good fit for beginners all the way up to experienced players, and we can confidently say that it’s a professional-grade action.

It’s slightly heavier than some other options in the price point, and this will turn some people off, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Otherwise, the responsiveness, repetition speed and overall authenticity of feel are all class-leading.

Features/Connectivity

FP30X Features
FP30X Features

Bluetooth Connectivity

Like the FP-30 before it, the FP-30X once again has a Bluetooth MIDI connection, but Roland has now added Bluetooth Audio as well.

This is a really nice spec that can be put to great use given the fact that the FP-30X has a great set of speakers with solid amp power, so you can definitely use your 30X to stream music from a smart device.

Bluetooth MIDI, of course, allows you to connect and use apps for iOS and Android like the above-mentioned Roland Piano App which greatly expands the functionality of the 30X and will enable you to control it remotely, while other apps like Garageband are of course available as well.

1/4” Line Outputs & Other Connectors

As we mentioned earlier, one of the single most significant upgrades to the FP-30X is the inclusion of 1/4” line outputs (L/MONO, R.) This was a critical feature missing from the FP-30, and as a result of its absence, kept the FP-30 from being a truly viable gigging option.

This is no longer the case with the 30X, and as a result, you’ll be guaranteed to be noticing more 30Xs on stage in the coming years. Sure, you could get an adapter for the headphone jack and connect to an app that way, but it just wasn’t practical.

The rest of the connectivity includes USB Type A and B, dual headphone outputs, an input for a sustain pedal, and an input for the optional 3-pedal unit.

Functions

The FP-30X has a good amount of onboard features, with all the staples covered like transpose, metronome, twin piano and split.

There’s also a basic onboard recorder for recording MIDI files, while the 30X can also playback WAV files.

Accessories

Roland ships the FP-30X with a basic switch pedal, though we would recommend upgrading to the DP-10 damper pedal which offers half-pedalling, it is also just more substantial and much closer to an acoustic damper pedal.

You can also opt for the optional KPD-70 triple pedal unit, just keep in mind that the triple pedal board requires the KSC-70 designer keyboard stand to function.

The 30X ships with a music rest for sheet music.

Closing Thoughts

The FP-30X is an affordable instrument that’s really quite remarkable because of how appealing it is to beginners while being equally serviceable to the professional community. It’s going to appeal to people looking for a lightweight gigging keyboard where piano tone and action quality are the priority, while a large selection of sounds and 1/4” line outputs are also represented.

This puts the 30X into a pretty unique category, and while the Casio PX-S3100 would be a good competitor, the 30X has decidedly better action.

Thanks for reading!