AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: REVIEW - Roland FP80/FP90 Digital Piano - Portable & Powerful - Nice for the Price - Digital Piano Reviews

Feb 20, 2014

REVIEW - Roland FP80/FP90 Digital Piano - Portable & Powerful - Nice for the Price

Roland FP80 digital piano UPDATED REVIEW - March 10, 2017 - Roland FP80 & FP90 portable digital pianos - Recommended - Update: The FP80 is discontinued and new model is now available. Go to the following link to read my review about the completely revamped new model https://azpianonews.blogspot.com/2017/01/Roland-FP90-REVIEW-Digital-Piano-Portable-Low-Price-.html

Previous FP80 Review: The FP80 portable digital piano with built-in internal speakers ($1799US internet discount price not including optional stand or 3 pedal unit) is the latest top of the line FP model produced by the Roland company. This model replaces the discontinued Roland FP7 & FP7F, and the FP80 has some definite improvements over the previous models which can be used for home, church, stage, studio work, teaching, and more. Whether you are a beginner of professional, this piano can pretty much do it all including having nice acoustic piano sound, realistic piano style key action, and lots of cool digital features. 

First of all, it is good to know that the FP80 can be used in a variety of playing situations because it is not only portable but it also has a new larger, fuller sounding stereo internal speaker system which allows the high quality instrument sounds to come through in a very impressive way. The speaker system consists of 4 speakers balanced on both sides of the keyboard specially aligned inside the top and sides of the cabinet with the larger speakers inside an enclosed sound box for fuller bass reproduction. The power amplification consists of four separate amps powering each speaker independently with a total of 26 watts altogether which is pretty good for a portable digital piano considering its smaller size. With this kind of internal speaker system, you do not have to connect an external speaker system to it if you do not want to, and because the way the speakers and amps are installed and mounted in the compact FP80 cabinet, the sound is fuller and clearer than many furniture cabinet pianos I have played in this Kawai ES7 digital piano price range including all of the Yamaha Arius series digital pianos as well as some other brands. So just because a digital piano is in a furniture cabinet does not necessarily make it sound better than one in a portable compact cabinet. The only other portable digital piano in this price range with a very good built-in internal speaker system along with competitive functions which would compete strongly with the FP80 would be the Kawai ES8 ($1999 internet discount price - left pic). The Kawai ES8 should definitely be a consideration in my opinion for this price range considering what it capable of doing.

Roland FP80 digital piano LCD display screen As far as the some of the cool features of the FP80 go, one of the things which impresses me is its larger, easy to read LCD display screen in the center of the control panel, which is convenient. This large screen displays lots of useful information for the user so that it is easier to understand what is going on inside the piano. I do like this LCD screen on the FP80 and wish other brands would do the same thing in this price range. There are a whopping 372 high quality instrument tones on this model, which is a lot for a portable instrument, and these instrument tones include a big variety of acoustic pianos, electric pianos, strings, pipe & pop organs (with drawbar settings), synths, horns, woodwinds, guitars, and many more. The sounds are impressive and have a live sound to them. You can layer any 2 of these instrument sounds together along with also being able to split two sounds anywhere on the keyboard so that one is on the left side of the keyboard and one is on the right. You can plug a microphone into the FP80 and sing through it and also use the vocal harmony function which adds other vocal parts to your own solo voice so it sounds like you are singing in harmony with other people...but the harmony is all from you! You can even record your vocal performances as an audio wav file to a USB flashdrive and save those recordings to be heard later or even sent by email to friends & relatives.

Roland FP80 digital piano LCD display screen Roland RP401R and Roland F130R digital pianosThe Roland FP80 also has the interactive ensemble chord arrangements so that you can play left and/or right hand chords and get the entire accompaniment just like a band with a pro guitar player, pro bass player, pro piano player, pro drummer, pro orchestra instruments, and more. These interactive arrangement styles include music from nearly all music genres such as rock, jazz, blues, swing, big band, country, classical, kids, Latin, and others. In all there are 180 different arranged styles along with impressive introductions and endings, and in my opinion they are really great, musically tasteful...and fun to play and definitely the best I have heard on a portable piano like this. It does make it sound like you have an entire professional band playing along with you whenever you want...and the band always shows up on time and they work for free...what more could you want:)! When playing chords in the split mode (left hand/right hand separated), it recognizes the proper root bass line no matter what inversion of the chord you are playing (root, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion), and that makes the song you're playing sound musically correct all the time because of the more natural bass line pattern that is occurring. When you are not separating the keyboard into two distinct parts through the "split mode," the auto-accompaniment will play chord style arrangements wherever your hands are on the keyboard without you splitting the keyboard into two distinct parts and that offers more playing flexibility to more advanced players. However, with this method the bass line pattern will follow the outline of the chord inversion you are playing and play those notes rather than root position notes in the normal accompaniment split position. This feature is called "leading bass" and although it can be musically tasteful depending on the chord inversion you are playing, the leading bass line is always on in this non-split mode and can never be changed to root position. In other words, there is no option on the FP80 for having the accompaniment play the more common root to fifth, etc, bass line which a lot of people prefer, including myself. Although a leading bass line in the accompaniment is considered by some to be an advanced bass line pattern, that feature should have a way to revert it back to a more basic bass line, and it doesn't. For people who know what I am talking about (don't worry about it if you don't understand), that is a disappointing part of the Roland chord structure when using auto-accompaniment, as far as I am concerned. So I do knock points off for that one, especially considering the FP80 is a portable digital piano which more advanced players like to use when playing live somewhere...or even at home.

The heart of any furniture style or portable digital piano is the key action, piano sound, and pedaling realism. The other features take a back seat to the primary needs of most people which is "how does the key action feel & respond, how smooth and dynamic is the acoustic piano sound, and how does the pedaling experience allow me to bring in the sustain in a realistic way? As far as key action goes, Roland is using its better piano style key action known as the ivory feel-S key action with 3 key sensors for each key which offers better key repetition response (upper left pic). When the FP80 first came out, Roland had three different key actions which included the ivory feel-G, ivory feel-S, and PHAIII. Just recently all of those key actions have been upgraded and replaced in newer products by the PHAIV Standard, Premium, and Concert key actions. These   actions have been improved over the previous key actions in some nice ways, especially over the ivory feel-G key action as that one is too sluggish in movement and bottoms out hard in my opinion with some noticeable irritating thumping sound (when playing the keys a bit harder) like the key is hitting a wood bottom with little or no padding underneath. Most piano key actions do make some noise when the keys are going up and down, but the G keyboard action is especially noticeable in this area when playing the keys with a harder velocity. The ivory feel-G action is found in the lower priced Roland FP50 ($1299 internet discount price), RD300NX, and also the discontinued F120, RP301, and RP301R, as well as some of the newer Roland pro digital piano-synths. So for me personally, I don't recommend Roland instruments with this ivory feel-G key action because in my opinion it's better to spend more money (or even less) on something that will be a better long term investment in that area.

Roland FP80 digital piano The better ivory feel-S key action in the FP80 is an improvement over the other one (ivory feel-G) I just mentioned and does play and respond nicely to light or heavy playing styles and offers a wider dynamic range than other brands when playing the acoustic piano sounds. The Roland FP80 key action feels more like a real acoustic piano to me as opposed to some other brands I have played (and I have played hundreds of acoustic pianos) and it even has the escapement/let-off feature which simulates what a grand piano feels like when you press a key slowly and lightly. Key action is the most important feature when shopping for a digital piano and that's why I spend a lot of time talking about them.

The FP80 acoustic piano sound itself is enjoyable and the dynamic range is better than most in its price range. The built-in speaker system as I described earlier, really helps bring out the quality of the Roland SuperNATURAL acoustic piano sound (a higher grade of acoustic piano reproduction according to Roland) unlike its little brother the FP50 which has an average on board speaker system and nothing near the FP80. The piano sound is quite realistic and fairly balanced, and in its price range the only brand that competes with it is Kawai which also offers excellent key actions that feel great. The synthetic ivory on the key tops also help with key feel and finger movement and allows for the natural sweat in the fingers to be absorbed so the keys remain dry and not greasy...that's a nice feature. So when it comes to reproducing a natural piano sound playing experience, the FP80 does a good job. The pedaling is also competent and offers half damper pedaling good decay times, and damper resonance for the acoustic piano sound all of which contribute to more piano realism. Roland has also included some extensive editing features for the acoustic piano sound which is great for people who would like to "tweak" or change the piano sound to their own taste and then save that in memory on the piano. Some of these "tweaky" features include Soundboard Behavior (Off, 1 to 10), Cabinet Resonance (Off, 1 to 10), Hammer Noise (-2 to +2), Damper Noise (Off, 1 to 10), Duplex Scale (Off, 1 to 10), Damper Resonance (Off, 1 to 10), String Resonance (Off, 1 to 10), and Key Off Resonance (Off, 1 to 10). These musical acoustic elements are (in part) what makes up an acoustic piano sound and you can edit these functions on the FP80 for your own customized acoustic piano sound. I think this is a very cool thing and am glad Roland included this kind of sound flexibility in the piano. You can also edit and add reverb/ambiance, as well as change the EQ settings for your own environmental sound-room control to increase or reduce instrument sound brightness, bass, etc.

In addition to these sound editing features, there are also some realistic special effects (chorus, tremolo, delay, etc) that are built into the electric pianos, synths, and other instrument sounds. However, if you layer any one of those sounds (with the nice built-in effects) on top of an organic sounding acoustic piano tone with no effects (which is a common layer), the nice effects on those instrument sounds do not work when layered with an acoustic piano tone, and as far as I know, there's nothing you can do about it. That's disappointing to me and something that Roland should improve upon and upgrade its software/hardware to accommodate that situation. I don't know why Roland allowed that to slip by.

The FP80 also has the capacity to play complete 16-track General MIDI song files off a USB flashdrive for learning songs, practicing lessons, or just listening to or singing along with great music. The Roland company developed the General MIDI format many years ago and the quality of the playback instrument sounds are very realistic and the best that I have heard in or around this price range. You can purchase and also download some free GM songs from among thousands of selections on the internet. You simply load them onto a standard USB flashdrive and the piano will play them. You can slowdown the tempo to any speed that you like which is great for learning the songs and you can also transpose the key up or down to whatever vocal range would be best for you or whatever key the sheet music might be written in. Go to the following link for my review of the General MIDI format: General MIDI info. The FP80 also allows for audio wav file recording and playback from a USB flashdrive which then gives you the flexibility of having live CD quality music from your favorite CD's playing on the piano along with some tempo control and transpose capability. You can even mute out the center vocal/melody track from your audio CD song so you can take over and play or sing that part instead of the song playing it...that is lots of fun. You can record your own CD quality audio file and then save it to a flash drive and load it into your computer for use with notation programs or further audio recording.

Roland FP80 digital piano control panelThe Roland FP80 has 128-note polyphony piano technology and 100 levels of key-touch velocity sensitivity so that you have plenty of horsepower when it comes to reproducing a high quality, smooth dynamic sound simulating a real piano responding to your personal finger touch in an organic way. The motion of the keys is especially good for its price range because the keys push down easily while still offering a graduated hammer weighted feel of a good piano without the action being too heavy or too light. There certainly are other good keyboard actions out there in other brands and models, but for all this piano does in its class, it's hard to complain and gives you a good finger to sound connection as I call it. This is when your fingers play the keys and you can connect emotionally to the sound that is being produced.

Roland offers plenty of external device connectivity including USB output to iPad and computer, audio outputs and inputs, MIDI in/out, headphone jacks, mic input for singing, and special 1/4" inputs for an optional 3-pedal unit (with assignable pedals) which I recommend. You can also buy an attractive Roland FP80 furniture stand at an additional cost in case the piano will be placed in a nicer area in your home. At 52lbs this model has a bit of weight to it for those that need to move it often, but considering what this piano does and how solid it is with internal speakers, that's not too bad. I do like the control panel and longer plastic buttons that light up on this model because they're fairly easy to use and easy to see. The FP80 can even connect wirelessly to an iPad or computer which is helpful especially because there are so many exciting iPad piano/music apps available for learning songs, understanding music theory, sight reading drills, and many fun educational music games. I use them in my studio all the time.

Roland FP80 digital piano If you want a fun, easy to use, good sounding, nice feeling digital piano with a variety of useable, high quality features in a well made compact cabinet at a reasonable price, I would definitely recommend the Roland FP80, which is offered in both a satin black and satin white finish. This instrument is certainly not a perfect digital piano as I would like to see a few changes in it, but overall for the price, I do like it and enjoy playing this instrument. The FP80 comes with a music stand/rest and one Roland made piano style sustain pedal and so all you need to do is put the piano on any good keyboard stand (I do recommend some specific models), plug it in, and start playing...and that's what it's all about...making good music and relaxing with a quality instrument:) There are also other good digital pianos out there so if you want suggestions on what might be best for you, please contact me and I will be happy to answer your questions.

If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

31 comments:

  1. Hi, i want to know if the problem you mentioned with leading bass line its easy to notice and if the kawai es7 has it. And which one will you recomend to a starter?

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  2. Yes, as I mentioned in the FP80 review, the leading bass line is easy to notice unless you are playing in root chord position. Then it's not an issue. The Kawai ES7 does not have that leading bass problem in any chord inversion although overall, the Roland chord styles are musically & instrumentally better except for the bass line. Both pianos are way beyond "starter" pianos as far a s what a beginner needs so either piano would be a great choice.

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  3. Hi, I just wanted to clarify about the touch sensitivity - most digital pianos I have looked at, such as the fp50, have 5 levels and fixed touch, but fp80 has 100 levels. To me this suggests that the fp80 will be a whole lot more sensitive and dynamic than the fp50. Is this actually correct or am I misunderstanding the meaning of the number?

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  4. Hi Tim,
    would you kindly say - the Roland FP80 vs. the Casio PX-780. both has additional tones and rhytms, but would you say they are comparable as per grand piano sounds and key action ? pls ignore for a minute the price difference, and I'd like to know if the Roland is really much better than the Casio for these 2 parameters. thanks.

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  5. The Casio is a cabinet digital piano and the Roland is portable so they are obviously different in that way. As far as realistic piano sound is concerned, there is a price difference for a good reason and that's because the Roland FP80 is more authentic both in sound and key action. But whether YOU can recognize and appreciate that difference is the real question. If you cannot or are just not at a level of playing skill where it matters, then spend less money and get the Casio. The Casio PX780 is still a satisfying instrument to play.

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  6. Hi Tim, greetings from The Netherlands. Thank you very much for this very useful review. I was about to purchase the FP80 when I read this. The leading bass issue is a showstopper for me, very unfortunate since I like the rest of this instrument very much. I sent an email to the Dutch Roland importer asking if there is a software update fixing this problem, no answer yet... An alternative for me is purchasing a used Roland FP-7 (F), although older model it would suffice and I would still prefer it over Yamaha models P255, DGX650 or Casio PX350. Do you happen to know if the FP7 (F) have the same leading bass issue? Thanks. Regards, Leon

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    1. The FP7 and FP7F did not have the leading bass issue and could play proper bass and accompaniment instrument lines in the chord split mode or full keyboard mode. However, the FP80 does have the better sounding chord styles but the leading bass situation is unfortunate. I do not anticipate that the FP80 will have an update considering Roland has since come out with a piano sound and key action that supersedes the FP80 in some new model Roland home pianos including DP90e, DP90Se, and others. So I am convinced that Roland will come out with an updated model of the FP80 in the near future that may also include improved or corrected accompaniment styles/bass lines...but I have no way of knowing how long that will be.

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    2. Thank you very much Tim, actually I want to buy a digital piano now, not waiting for a new model to come out. And there seems no other model comparable to the FP80 (without the leading bass issue). I'll have to think about it, any suggestions would be very welcome. I am looking for a digital piano with auto accompaniment with a wide variety of sounds, styles and a good key action. Thanks. Kind regards, Leon

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    3. the only other portable piano with built-in styles that I like would be the Kawai ES7 and it has a similar price here in the US. It doesn't have the same leading bass issue of the Roland, and although the accompaniment styles are pretty good, the Roland styles are significantly better (much more real sounding) and have more features to control the styles. You might also consider a lower priced digital piano and connect a USB MIDI backing tracks & sound module like the Roland BK7m. Otherwise I have no other suggestions. I wish you success.

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    4. Thank you Tim, you are really very helpful, very much appreciated. In NL the ES7 has the same price as the FP50 - so it is a serious option, just found one of the few shops who have it, so will try shortly - from your review and what I found on Youtube this might be the one for me... the BK7m is a very interesting module, but I prefer an all-in-one device. Leon

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  7. Hi Tim,

    Between Yamaha P255 and Roland FP-80 - which one would you pick? Which one out of these two do you feel sound more authentic in acoustic piano sounds?

    Thanks

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  8. Good question. I think you could be happy on either one however the Roland internal speaker system is stronger and fuller and the key action is superior using 3 key sensors instead of two in the Yamaha. The Roland also does far more in terms of digital technology and features offered....that's a big reason why it's more money

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    1. Hi Tim,
      Great review. I have looked closely at the Yamaha P255 in store and I'm really leaning toward the Roland FP-80. Your review of the FP-80 states that a natural acoustic piano sound CAN'T be layered with a chorus/reverb?! That is a serious let down. The P255 does that easily. Did I understand that correctly ? Thanks.

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    2. any two instrument sounds on the FP80 can be layered. Reverb is global and will apply to those sounds. The chorus effect which is preset on certain non-acoustic piano tones (electric pianos, etc) defaults to off when layered with an acoustic piano tone.

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  9. A nice, helpful review, Tim with useful technical information. It's great that you have noted the drawbacks in terms of layering piano sounds and the effects loss in other tones.
    However, I diasagree completely with your notion that the leading bass line is a disadvantage. You are completely correct in saying that an instrument in this price bracket should have the option for both, however if I had to have just one (which is the case here with the FP80), I would opt for leading bass line any day of the week so I could play chord inversions with the bass note i want. Have you ever tried to play Abba Dancing Queen? Players use inversions all the time and some songs would be impossible without this feature. As a kid I spent many frustrating hours on cheap Yamaha PSRs that couldn't do this!!!

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  10. Although you are correct in liking leading bass patterns with some music because it just sounds better, at this price point, the FP80 should do both and both bass lines (root and leading) are equally important...and for many people the root bass pattern is more important.

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  11. Hello Tim,

    I appreciate all of the reviews you do.

    I am currently considering either the fp80 or the f140r from Rolland. Albeit an odd comparison, My main concerns are keyboard feel, sound, and portability. I was wondering what you would consider best.

    Thank you.

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  12. The FP80 has the more realistic key action movement and piano sound, among other things, and is why the FP80 is more money than F140R. Obviously the F140R is not portable and cannot be played apart from its furniture stand.

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  13. Aaargh I'm very torn! Geat review thanks Tim I was on the verge of purchasing the FP80 but thought I'd better compare with a Yamaha. So I had a good look at the new Yamaha DGX 660 today. Is that in the same league as the FP80 Tim? I really do want a great acoustic piano sound but love some of the features of the Yamaha as well such as recording while you sing.... did I understand you correctly that the FP80 allows this as well -? How would you compare these two instruments?

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  14. the Yamaha is definitely fun to use and has some great digital features that the Roland does not have, but it comes nowhere close to the fundamentals of key action, pedaling, and piano sound authenticity of the Roland FP80. You can plug a mic into the Roland and sing and there is wav file audio recording on it. It just depends what is more important to you.

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  15. Thanks again Tim. I really appreciate your help. My two concerns are: the noise of the keys as you run up and down when the volume's turned right down, and to plug in say a mic or USB stick you need to access the back of the piano.
    For these reasons I'd started to prefer the sound of the Kawai ES7 but I see it's been discontinued. So any further suggestion?
    I'm really after that really great authentic piano sound - and organ sound for church, as well as the recording features and finally making use of apps to help students learn piano.
    Thank you so much.

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  16. Julie,

    If you live in the US I can still help people get a new Kawai ES7 at a low discount price. Please email me if you have further comments or questions

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  17. The ES7 or ES8 would be good choices in giving you what you want based on your shopping criteria. for more info, please email me.

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  18. Hi Tim, spesifically for EP sounds and built in speaker quality, which one better between Kawai ES8 & Roland FP-80 ?. Thanks

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  19. both internal speaker systems are quite good but the electric piano sounds in the ES8 are far superior and more authentic in my opinion and also better than the FP80 when an electric piano sound is layered with a non-electric piano sound such as acoustic piano, strings, synth, organ, etc

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    1. I see, thanks for your kind explanation Tim

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  20. Hello, can you tell me the difference between the FP-80 sound engine and the Juno DS? I was wondering if the Juno had a better piano sound! The stores on island where I live don't carry these as demos. Thanks!

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    1. They have the same sampled supernatural piano sound as far as I know. However the keyboard actions are completely different and the Juno DS uses an older model keyboard called ivory feel G which I do not personally like. It's sluggish as well as being noisy when playing the keys with more force and hitting the bottom underneath the keys and making a loud knocking sound. Roland has come out with a new "Standard" key action which is now used in their F140R and RP401R and it's a much better action than Juno DS. I don't know what Roland was thinking coming out with a new model and using that older G keyboard action? Wouldn't have been my choice. It probably cost them less money to do.

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  21. Roland has announced the FP-90

    https://www.roland.com/RolandComSite/media/global/release/pdf/2016/20160910_02_FP-90.pdf

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  22. I am fully aware of the upcoming FP90 release sometime in late October and I am familiar with that product. I will have a detailed review of it in the near future.

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  23. I suppose it's like beauty, it's entirely a subjective thing, choosing a keyboard/digital piano. I have always preferred Yamamha's feel & sound to Roland. In fact, I have never played a Roland that I liked. All the reviews in the world are just someone's opinion. It comes down to what works for you. I play the keyboard at church on a rotating basis. Recently they replace the keyboard with a FP 80. Honestly, I always walk away frustrated. I can work with it, but I don't like it at all. I find the touch control patchy, unpredictable & difficult. I do not find the voice renderings realistic at all. This keyboard sits beside a Yamaha C1. Trust me there's no comparison between the real grand piano & the keyboard's grand piano. There are some voicings I've looked for on this keyboard, that I'd expect to find, but they're not there.

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