There are many cool features on both models including "twin piano" which electronically divides the 88-key piano keyboard into two identical 44-key keyboards so you can play duets with two players simultaneously, & 30 very nice individual and layered instrument sounds on the RP301 (above left pic) and 54 impressive instrument sounds on the RP301R (left pic - control panel). Both pianos are offered in attractive satin brown rosewood and satin black color furniture style cabinets with sliding key covers and come with a matching bench. However, Roland is still using a rather weak speaker system (as compared with other brands and models of pianos in this price range) with just 24 watts of total power and two small 4.7" speakers which is the same as in the previous RP201 model. The weaker audio power and limited speakers doesn't allow for a full, rich tone in my opinion and instead makes the piano sound a bit mid rangy, thin, and electronic, especially when playing the middle octaves of the keyboard. The sound is actually much better through a good pair of headphones, although Roland's SuperNATURAL piano sound is not so "supernatural" in the middle octaves of the keyboard where you normally play and sounds unnatural to me. The lower bassier piano sounds are full and resonate, but as you get up to the middle and upper octaves, that's where the piano starts sounding somewhat electronic and thin. A first time player or someone who doesn't know what pianos are supposed to sound like may not notice this unnatural part of the piano sound when playing in middle and upper octaves, and so it may not be an issue for some people, but it is for me and that's why I am pointing it out. The dynamics and expression response on these pianos however is very good and much better than many other digital pianos, and that a big plus.
I was looking forward to seeing what new type of key action Roland would be using in these new models and they elected to use their basic Ivory Feel-G Keyboard Action found in a couple other lower priced Roland models including the FP4F and RD300NX. Roland's obvious goal was 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 heavier. Roland did improve that part although the key movement is a bit sluggish when playing softly or lightly. The upgraded Roland key actions in the higher priced HP models (as well as the the portable FP7) move noticeably better and I recommend those models.
Roland also claims to have added an "escapement" feature in the key action which they have in their better key actions. This key action mechanism duplicates more closely the touch of a grand piano as opposed to 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 including their HP series. 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.
Piano key actions and the way they move, look, and feel are very important and people need to consider that before they make a digital piano purchase decision. Although all digital piano key actions on all brands produce some background noise when being played, there are some digital pianos that have obvious distracting noise that are just not acceptable to me, and the RP301 & RP301R are two of those pianos. However, both of these new models do have nice front panel dedicated control buttons, a handy sliding key cover on the RP301 only, 128 notes of note polyphony memory which is very good, an adjustable electronic metronome for timing, an overall nice acoustic piano sound (Roland calls it SuperNATURAL sound) but not as good as it should be through its minimal speaker system in my opinion, an 1/8" mini jack audio input to run an iPod/MP3 player through to pay along with (very cool), a song recorder, special effects, 5 levels of touch sensitivity control, built-in music holder clips in the music rack (above left pic), and half-damper gradual pedal sustain for more authentic pedal expression (which is very good).
The RP301R (R stands for Rhythm) has a bunch of very cool upgrades over the regular RP301 such as 60 interactive style accompaniments (backing tracks) divided into 11 music categories so that you can "play with the band." This feature allows you to play regular pop, jazz, classical, country, big band, and other styles of music on the piano and then a background group of instruments (including a drummer) will follow your playing and recognize your chords and notes (chord recognition technology) and play appropriate backgrounds just like a band or orchestra would do. It doesn't wait for you like the teaching system on some Yamaha digital pianos but instead fills in some great multi instrumental music behind you piano playing. This is a super fun feature for people just wanting to have fun or wanting to improvise with various music accompaniment styles. The quality of these background arrangements are very good which is a Roland specialty, and I like them very much. There are other pianos that have automatic style arrangements in this price range including Yamaha & Casio, however, this feature on the Roland is even more intuitive and natural sounding. Unfortunately, based on my experience, this function is normally not utilized by piano students or their piano teachers unless the students are older (teens and adults) and the teacher is able and willing to teach this chord method of play. However, this is something you could learn to use on your own but you need to have good rhythm and timing for it to sound good and understand the concept of playing that way. It really is a fun way to make music in ways that you would not otherwise do, but it's also a feature you and/or your family may not use much.
General MIDI educational features and why they work! The RP301R also has a direct USB to computer output (above left pic) for connection to a laptop or iPad for even more fun with your piano!
If you want more piano info and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts or store prices, please email me at email@example.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.