|F20 with optional stand|
Essentially, the new F20 is really a portable version of their higher priced (now discontinued) RP301R/F120R digital cabinet pianos with less features. The F20 has a basic minimalistic control panel situated on top of the piano above the left hand keys and and sound selection is done by holding a sound category button down and pressing the appropriate key on the left hand portion of the keyboard (the owners manual has the sound chart for this). The F20 operating system is similar to Kawai & Yamaha portable pianos in this way and is fairly easy to use although you need to look in the manual for the function chart to know what keys to push to activate other sounds and functions. The F20 uses the same piano sound technology as their RP & F120 models which they call the SuperNATURAL piano sound utilizing 128-note polyphony along with this model having a total of 35 nice sounding instrument tones including electric pianos, organs, guitars, strings, synths, bells, etc, 32 fairly authentic drum rhythms & auto chord styles (nice for rhythm & timing training and playalong), and has most of the connectivity functions of RP301 including USB output to iPad/computer as well as USB flash drive input to record and save songs as well as play multi-track MIDI song files (I talk about this further down in this review).
|Ivory Feel-G textured keys|
|Acoustic Grand escapement diagram|
|acoustic piano keybed and felts|
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The F20 has a bunch of very cool features such as 32 interactive style accompaniments (backing tracks) 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 fun feature for people who cannot play or don't really want to learn to play in a traditional way such as for adults not wanting to take lessons. The quality of these background arrangements are very good which is a Roland specialty, and I like them very much. The F20 also plays the drum rhythms separately so you can just play along with drum rhythms to learn your timing & rhythm better and that's a good thing. But with regard to the interactive chord accompaniment feature that Roland includes in this model, based on my long experience as a piano teacher and musician, most piano students don't use it much, if at all, and most teachers are not able or willing to teach this chord method of play. However, this interactive feature 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 (with standard left hand chords). It really is a fun way to make music that you would probably otherwise not do, but it's also a feature you and/or your family may not use much.
Other useful features on the F20 is a 1-track recorder for recording and learning along with being able to save your recorded songs direct to a USB flash drive (left pic), a headphone out put in back of the piano (I would have preferred that jack to be in front), a keyboard adjustable split function for playing style accompaniments or splitting the keyboard for two different sounds, the ability to layer two sounds together for the two different tone buttons with adjustable relative volume, three key sensitivity adjustments to change velocity curve (how loud the initial sound is when you first press a key), a USB flashdrive input for playing General MIDI songs or even audio WAV file songs for play along and learning with your favorite tune. You can slightly speed up or slow down the audio WAV file song while learning to play it which is useful and a very cool feature. See my blog article for more info on General MIDI here: General MIDI educational features and why they work The F20 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 which is a nice feature to have! Another unique feature of the Roland F20 piano in this price range is that it can wirelessly connect to an iPad using an optional Roland wireless USB adapter. Without a wireless connection you would be using a special cable/iPad connection adapter & cable which is how it would connect for other digital piano brands. The wireless feature is a very unusual to have in this lower price range under $1000 (assuming you have wireless in your home) and can help reduce clutter. Roland also has some very cool iPad apps for song playback from iTunes, piano education, and navigating Roland control panel buttons much easier and more intuitively that they have specially created for their Roland pianos which are exclusive to the Roland brand.
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