Roland RP500 - REVIEW | Digital Piano | Costco | Is it Good?


Roland RP500 Review
UPDATED REVIEW
- April 1, 2022 - Roland RP500 Digital Piano at CostcoThe Roland Music Company has been producing the RP series of digital pianos for many years. Roland makes a line of digital pianos from under $1000 to over $10,000 which are available at local piano stores. The Roland RP500 at $1699 regular Costco price is a furniture cabinet style piano and is only available at Costco in the US. The RP500 has been out on the market for a number of years now, over 5 years (it is definitely not a new model), has older technology compared to the new mainstream model Roland RP701, and the RP500 was the replacement of the much older discontinued RP400 which was also available at Costco. 

Those two models are virtually the same with the exception of the RP500 having MIDI Bluetooth functions for connectivity to external devices such as iPad/Android tablets whereas the RP400 had WiFi connectivity instead. Also, the RP500 has slightly different speakers but with the lower audio power of just 24 watts going through 2 speakers and 2 amplifiers as compared with other digital pianos in this price range with a higher output for better volume.  

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Roland RP500 piano
To make matters a bit confusing, Roland produces a new mainstream version of the RP500 called the RP701 (which I just mentioned) and is new for 2022. The RP701 ($1729 internet discount price) just replaced the previous mainstream RP501R and the differences between those 2 models (RP701 & RP501R) are more significant. The older RP501R was nearly the same as the Costco model RP500, but not anymore with the new RP701. So with regard to getting the RP500 at Costco, just know that this model is considerably older than what is now available at Roland piano stores with the new RP701 model for close to the same price. However, the key action, piano sound, and pedaling response are the same on all the Roland models under $2000 including the current models and older models, so that has not changed.

Roland RP500 piano
The Bluetooth connectivity on the RP500 does not do audio streaming which is actually what most people want when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity, so you cannot run iTunes or or song libraries through the RP500 using Bluetooth. The Bluetooth functionality on the RP500 is for MIDI only and will connect wirelessly to an external device for selected "MIDI" apps and for specific sheet music apps that allow for instant Bluetooth "page-turning" so your foot can press a pedal and the page of a song will turn instantly on the iPad when you are ready to do that. However, that type of music is still very limited so when it comes to music reading and notation, using traditional books will be the primary way of doing that, unless you load your own PDF sheet music files into your tablet. The new mainstream RP701 at the Roland piano stores does have the newer Bluetooth audio streaming and that is definitely an improvement over the RP500 at Costco.

Roland RP500 digital piano
One the the things inherent with the RP models has been the way it is tuned using the "stretch tuning" method. This is the way many acoustic pianos are tuned with tuning the higher strings somewhat sharp and the lower strings somewhat flat which is supposed to even out the resonances and frequencies associated with over 200 strings in a regular piano.
Tuning a piano takes practice and using the stretch tuning method is somewhat of an "art" and if is not done right, the piano can sound "out of tune" or sharp. The Roland RP, F, and FP models have all had an issue with those models sounding out of tune (sharp) when playing the piano sound as certain notes are played together (chords) with one or more notes from a lower lower combined with notes in an upper octave. 

The result of playing these different notes in different chords can make the piano sound of of tune...or sharp, and that is something I have heard many times on this piano and it personally distracts me from playing. Some people may not hear it at all depending on their ears and their experience playing and listening to pianos. But for me it is definitely an issue and a "deal-breaker" as far as I am personally concerned. But again, you may not hear it or be bothered by this odd "sharp" tuning, but as far as I can tell it is not something that can be changed and is permanent.

Roland RP500 keys
It is important to note the Roland RP500 plastic key action is somewhat firm (heavier) when pressing down the keys (takes more finger force) as compared to other key actions from regular acoustic pianos as well as major brand digital pianos including Kawai and Casio. Personally I prefer the slightly lighter piano key actions to reduce hand and finger fatigue when playing, especially for beginners but even for seasoned players because that's how real piano key actions feel...they are lighter. Also the piano sound on the Roland models tends to be somewhat brassy and twangy particularly when playing the keys a bit harder with more expression. The harder you press the keys down the more brassy and metallic the piano sound gets, regardless of which piano tone you choose. This is just the personality of this model as well as the new RP701 that I mentioned, but is not the case with most regular acoustic pianos or with other digital pianos such as Kawai, Yamaha, or Casio. So if you prefer a more rounded, mellower piano tone, there are definitely better options. The same is true for the Roland RCP-800 and Roland MP-200. Check those pianos out at the following review link: Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 Review

Roland RP500
Overall the Roland RP500 at $1699 regular Costco price is overall a nice piano in my opinion, but with the exceptions that I mentioned. The Costco RP500 version only comes in matte black whereas the mainstream Roland RP701 comes in a variety of cabinet colors. As with all Costco purchases for states that have state sales tax, you would need to add tax to the selling price of the Costco Roland RP500 which does bring the price up a bit higher. There are still some shortcomings in the piano like its smaller 24 watt internal speaker system, especially considering that at least 40 watts of power is more of the standard in this price range which would give a digital piano a much richer, fuller sound as compared to the less powerful 24 watt system in the Roland. Also, the key action in the RP500 is somewhat firmer as I mentioned before and I prefer somewhat lighter key actions when it comes to key movement up & down.


Casio AP-470 digital piano

CASIO AP-470 FURNITURE CABINER DIGITAL PIANO


I would instead recommend another brand and model of digital piano that has some noticeably upgraded features in this price range when it comes to a more authentic piano playing experience. That model is called the Casio Celviano AP-470 ($1699 internet sale price - left pic)  and it plays more like a real piano and has some impressive digital features too.  It also has a limited time $109 instant rebate going on it now which brings the price down to $1590, no tax, free shipping. To get this rebate you would need to ask me about it. On the Casio AP-470, the piano top has sound projection ports and a lid that can open up to allow the piano sound to come out through the top towards you as well as front firing speakers under the keyboard for a more immersive sound. The top does not have to remain up as you can also close it flat. 

This piano also has a more powerful piano polyphony sound engine (chip) with 256-note polyphony as opposed to 128-note polyphony in the Roland RP500. The AP-470 also has a very impressive proprietary app for iPad and Android tablet/phone to remotely and intuitively control the piano functions from your color touch screen of your tablet (or phone) which works very well and is fun to use when connected to the piano by USB.

Casio AP-470 with closed key cover and lid
The upgraded stereo sound system in the Casio Celviano AP-470 includes 4 speakers going through 40 watts of power as opposed to just 24 watts of power and 2 speakers in the Roland RP500. The AP-470 also has 2-track recording-playback system as compared to a 1-track system in the RP500.
The Casio AP-470 is also a newer model and the factory warranty on the AP-470 has 5 years of labor as compared with the Roland at just 2 years of labor warranty and it comes in an attractive matte black, walnut brown, and matte white cabinet with front support legs and matching height adjustable bench. I recommend you read my review of this model before you make any purchase anywhere and as with all brands of digital pianos we can help you purchase one for less money than Amazon or internet price incl free shopping, no tax, brand new with new factory warranty. Casio AP-470 Review

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.

7 comments:

Piano said...

Which would u recommend, CPF 140 or RP500?

Tim Praskins - AZ Piano Reviews said...

they are the same piano as far as operation, keyboard, speakers, and piano sound chip except the CPF140 has some built-in interactive rhythm and chord functions. Depends on what you want and also cabinet design

Anthony said...

How many rhythm accompanying functions does the RP-500 have using the app, compared to the built-in RP501R?

Unknown said...

Is there a slide-out cover to cover the keys when the piano is not being played?

Tim Praskins - AZ Piano Reviews said...

yes, and this is true for the RP501R as well which is the mainstream internet version of the Costco RP500. A piano choice that may even be better in terms of functions, cabinet, piano sound, etc would be the Casio Celviano AP460. I have done a review of that model which I recommend that you read before making decisions.

Unknown said...

Roland FP-25 and the Roland RP-500...both from Costco. What's the biggest difference between these 2 and is the RP-500 worth the extra money? I noticed one says weighted keys and one says hammer action...

Unknown said...

Would you purchase this for a beginner - a 7 year old just learning to play?