I was looking forward to seeing what new type of key action Roland would be using in these new models and Roland chose to use their Ivory Feel-G Keyboard Action found in a couple other Roland models including the FP4F and RD300NX. Roland's goal was obviously to improve the key action and piano sound from the previous models, and in some ways they did a good job and in other ways they went backwards in my opinion.The new key action is supposed to be heavier and closer to that of a real acoustic piano, and it is as far as being heavier. Roland did improve that part significantly although the key movement is a bit sluggish when playing softly or lightly or flats & sharpers where your fingers are nearer to the top of the keys. The upgraded Roland key actions in the higher priced HP models and FP7F move noticeably better and more smoothly but many of those pianos are $1000 more and up.
Roland also claims to have added an "escapement" feature in the key action which is supposed to give the feeling of playing on grand piano keys as opposed to playing an upright piano. Unfortunately, this "escapement" feature is virtually non existent in the G-Keyboard as opposed to the escapement feature in the Roland PHA series of key actions found in the majority of Roland pianos. To put it bluntly, the escapement feature has escaped in the RP301 & F120! You just cannot feel it, no matter how hard or softly you press the keys. Roland might as well as have not mentioned this on their specs because it just doesn't work based on my playing experience with them. This is not the case with the better Roland key actions as you can definitely feel this feature on those pianos and it's quite good.
Finally, with regard to key movement noise, Roland has also has a noticeable problem with a few of their models with the ivory-feel G action making a loud thunking/thumping sound when the keys are played harder when trying to achieve louder volume or being played with some force on more aggressive music. The Roland HP302 digital piano at about $2500 had this issue (that model is discontinued) and I have played many of them and they all did the same thing. Unfortunately it is no different on the RP301 and F120. The recently discontinued RP201 and F110 did not have this issue and they were very quiet no matter how hard you pressed the keys, but the action was much too light (as I mentioned before) for people wanting a more authentic acoustic piano touch. So in an effort to improve the weight and resistance of they keys, it would appear that Roland did not get rid of the distracting key thunking noise, and that's too bad. The loud noise when playing the keys sounds like there isn't enough felt under the keys to prevent the keys from knocking on the keybed underneath the keys. I don't know what causes it exactly, but when you play at lower volumes or use headphones for private practice, the thumping sound from the keys is very disturbing and distracting when pressing the keys harder and I have had owners of Roland pianos with this issue tell me this before. However, if you play the keys lightly or softly on these two models, you really don't hear the thumping noise which is good. But that's not the way people play all the time, because you use dynamics and different expression and you will likely run into this situation and there's nothing that can be done about it. I would have expected this issue in an off brand, but not in a Roland, especially in this price range.
If it weren't for the disappointing key action and key playing noise along with the key tops, the lack of a better speaker system, and the fact that these pianos only have MIDI connectors but do not have USB output to computer (a must in my book these days especially when wanting to connect to an iPad, etc), then these models would be very nice to own. Roland also builds an upgraded version of the RP301 called the RP301R and it has all the upgrades the regular RP301 should have had except it unfortunately has the same key action and sound system and is approx $1999 discount price sold at piano stores only (not sold online).
As far as the built in audio/speaker system on these two models go, I will say that a person could connect these pianos to an external sound system because Roland does include 1/4" output jacks on the piano which you don't find on Yamaha digital pianos in this price range. So there is a way to enhance the sound and make it better, but it would require you have a nearby stereo speaker system or invest in a pair of higher quality speaker monitors that would cost about $300 for the pair and then have a place to put the speakers which would mean investing in speaker stands and cables to connect them to the piano which is not what most people want to do.
The RP301 comes in two attractive colors including brown rosewood (left pic) & black on nice looking furniture style cabinets. The F120 comes in a more compact contemporary cabinet in an attractive satin black and satin white (the white looks pretty cool if you like that color - lower left pic) with a useful key cover that folds down flat over the entire piano top and also acts as the music rack backing when opened up. The F120 control panel buttons are all the way to the left as you're sitting in front of the piano, and if you happen to be right handed as most people are, this is somewhat inconvenient (it would be for me) when it comes to using the buttons while playing (there are other digital pianos in this price range with control buttons on the left side as well). However, the RP301 control buttons are near or in the center above the keys which is a much better placement. Both pianos are no doubt reliable because Roland makes good quality electronics and I have owned and played many Roland digital pianos and keyboards over the years, and overall, enjoy playing them and have had few problems with them. But unfortunately I am not as impressed by either of these two pianos as I'd like to be and cannot fully recommend them at this time. The deficiencies in the areas I mentioned, especially concerning the keyboard action, keys and lack of USB output, make the RP301 overpriced and not very competitive in my opinion as compared to other brands. If you still like either of these pianos, and the deficiencies I have mentioned here do not bother you, then you should buy the piano because at the end of the day...it's your money and your decision and there are many things to like about these Roland pianos:). But you should also consider other options in this price range by Yamaha, Casio, and Kawai who make competitive models that may give you more "bang for the buck," and for less money
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