Introduction

The Roland DP603 digital piano is an unassuming powerhouse, built for the discerning player in need of a compact instrument with a contemporary design. This instrument is in a category unto itself within the Roland line.  It uses one of their top actions, the top sound processor, and the top speaker quality available from ANY product within the Roland lineup. And yet, available for a surprisingly affordable rate, with a stylish cabinet design that keeps embellishments to a minimum.

Product Overview

Roland has been one of the lead innovators in electronic and digital pianos from the 1980’s onward. Many of the approaches to manufacturing and synthesis technology that Roland developed in their early years have become industry-wide practices. They were one of the first companies to bring MIDI recording to people’s homes, and also one of the first to develop a truly life-like piano tone. Roland’s embrace of the entire range of instruments led to the development of the V-Series of instruments, encompassing everything from Accordions to Drums, to Pianos.

Undoubtedly one of Roland’s best value offerings is the sleek, contemporary, and powerhouse DP603 digital piano. The DP series have been around since 2003, and have been highly regarded since their release. It makes use of their latest SuperNATURAL piano modeling engine for detailed grand piano sounds as well as their Progressive Hammer Action Keyboard (PHA-50) for authentic grand piano touch. There’s a ton of onboard tech including hundreds of sounds as well as pre-loaded classical scores for playback as well as play-along, and Bluetooth MIDI wireless technology for popular integrations of popular DAW software and apps. Basically, the DP603 boasts the exact same core features as the more expensive HP models, and many of the same features as Roland’s flagship LX series, but with a much more minimalist look.

For any modern piano player in need of the conveniences of a new digital piano housed in modern cabinet design for modern living spaces, the DP603 is a perfect match from any angle.

This stylish piano is also available in three stunning finishes sure to complement any modern home – Contemporary Black (matte, dp603-cb), Classic Polished Ebony (dp603-ep), and Polished White (dp603-pw). The Polishes are of extremely high quality – entirely in line with acoustic piano finishes and sure to stand up very well over time.

Action

The Roland DP603, like the FP-90 and RD2000 Roland pianos amongst others, uses Roland’s new PHA-50 keyboard action with a blend of wood components, escapement and a slightly slower, heavier stroke and return to simulate a grand action more closely than the PHA-4. There is significant debate in the industry over which action is more ‘satisfying’… a wholly subjective discussion with no agreement – so our advice is to ensure you’ve tried both so that you find out which action’s mechanical nuances are better suited for your fingers and preferences.

One thing that seems certain is that the accuracy of the MIDI output is excellent and well-suited for studio work should that be relevant. The feel of wood also adds an extra level of authenticity.

Sound Engine

The DP603’s crowning feature, certainly in terms of tonal generation, is its SuperNATURAL piano modeling engine and limitless polyphony when in “Piano Mode”, or essentially it’s top-level piano patch options. This is top-notch technology that few digital pianos offer and provides players with highly realistic sound, and an insane level of detail and editing options that may be intimidating to some, while highly engaging to others. Roland has done a nice job of giving two distinct levels of control, one very basic and obvious with physical controls on the front of the instrument, while the next level of control requires deep menu editing and/or tablet connectivity.

Beyond the piano sounds, the classic sounds such as EP’s and synths are also very high quality and deliver over 300 polyphony and in complex detail – all great for either personal playing or professional use as well.  The DP603 also features the Headphones 3D Ambience technology, which enhances the experience when playing with headphones.

The DP603 speaker system features a robust 60 watts of power. Where Roland’s like the F140r or RP501 have traditional downward-facing speakers, the DP603 uses a speaker box that is mounted on the lower stand, where the speakers face directly forward towards the player, rather than down and away.  We’ve found that this helps to create a sense of fullness around the instrument and improves the efficiency of the speakers.

The DP603 uses Bluetooth Midi connectivity, and through it, the Piano Designer app can be used to manipulate, customize, and save all of your personal piano settings. Tons of fun!

Connectivity

Roland really made sure to outfit the DP603 with a ton of connectivity options. First of all, both Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio are present here so your convenient wireless connectivity options are covered. It’s super easy to connect to a smartphone and access Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app, among others. The Bluetooth Audio means you can stream your favorite songs right from your iPad or Android device.

A ton of other bases are covered here too; DC In jack, Input jacks: Stereo miniature phone type, Output (L/Mono, R) jacks: 1/4-inch phone type, USB Computer port: USB B type, USB Memory port: USB A type,
Phones jack x 2: Stereo miniature phone type and Stereo 1/4-inch phone type.

Notable Features

  • SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling
  • Limitless Polyphony solo playing using ‘Piano’ category tones, 384 note polyphony when playing using other tones
  • 307 Tones
  • PHA-50 Keyboard: Wood and Plastic Hybrid Structure, with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel (88 keys)
  • 60 Watt Speaker System
  • 353 Internal Songs
  • Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio
  • Metronome (adjustable Tempo/Beat/Down beat/Pattern/Volume/Tone)
  • Twin piano mode, Transpose
  • Graphic LCD Display
  • Integrated 3 pedal system with soft, sostenuto and damper
  • Safety-Conscious Soft-Fall Motion Lid

Conclusions

If you’re a student, hobbyist player, or educator looking for a robust stand-alone instrument without the associated maintenance of an acoustic piano, the Roland DP-603 is going to deliver more bang-for-your-buck than nearly any other instrument on the market. It boasts acclaimed durability,  its easy to operate, flexible with Bluetooth MIDI, has a minimalist design, and offers a wide array of high-quality studio-grade sounds.  A true heavyweight of the digital piano market.