REVIEW - Roland RP102 Digital Piano - Recommended

picture of Roland RP102 digital piano
RP102
🎹 UPDATED REVIEW - April 1, 2018Roland RP102 Digital Piano - Recommended - Roland recently introduced their 2018 model RP102 digital piano ($999US internet discount price) and it is the first furniture cabinet digital piano they have had priced at under $1000US. Up until now the lowest priced traditional type cabinet piano they have offered is the RP501R which sells for $1499US price, $500 more than the new RP102, but the RP501 is also upgraded over the RP102 and you normally get what you pay for. However, the RP102 is a welcome new model in the lineup of Roland home digital cabinet pianos because of its lower price under $1000 and that it has some of the  primary things people are looking for in a digital piano while still offering some cool "bells & whistles."

FP30 stand, and triple pedal
The RP102 comes in a nice looking satin black finish only with built-in sliding key cover, 3 full size piano pedals, and a 1/2 size back privacy panel. What most people may not realize is that the RP102 is actually a cabinet version of the current lower priced portable model Roland FP30 digital piano, except that the FP30 is a better instrument in terms of features, functions, and internal speaker system. The FP30 is priced at $699 internet price by itself but you can add a Roland furniture stand and furniture style (triple) pedalboard that turns the FP30 into more of a regular piano style cabinet with the additional cost of the stand & pedalboard being only $176. When you put it altogether the total price of the portable FP30 with stand & pedals is just $875 as compared with the price of $999US on the new RP102. However, you may like the look and design of the RP102 better than the FP30 and this may be the best reason for buying the new RP102.

RP501R
As I mentioned earlier, Roland has a more expensive version of the RP102 which is called the RP501R ($1499US internet price) and that model does more things and sounds better and has been out awhile already. Just to make matters more interesting, the RP102, FP30, and RP501R share the exact same piano key action, same piano sound chip, pretty much the same pedaling system, same polyphony memory, and some of the same features. But if you want to keep the cost down under $1000US, then the upgraded internal speaker system on the FP30 makes that model sound much bigger and fuller than the new RP102 along with the FP30 pedaling system being able to sense more levels of sustained damper tones with continuous pedaling detection as opposed to the RP102 with its standard half-damper sustain pedaling. So musically speaking the FP30 gives you more bang for your buck, but when you consider the upgraded more traditional piano cabinet (with sliding key cover) of the new RP102 as opposed to the FP30, then as I said before, you may like this one better.

The new Roland RP102 is for people who mainly just want to play piano although it does have some extra digital features (bells & whistles) but not nearly as many as the portable FP30. As far as the Roland piano sound and Roland key action goes, this is what shoppers should focus on the most. In other words...how closely does the piano sound, expressiveness of that sound, and the key action response come to replicating a real piano playing experience? I have detailed my findings of the Roland piano sound and key action in my FP30 review so you can read about that in great detail there. However to sum it up as far as the key action goes, the RP102/FP30 key action is nice to play but a bit heavy (firm) in pressing the keys down as compared to other digital pianos in this price range, but overall I like the key action and the way it moves. However, for me I personally would prefer to have the key action be a bit lighter and easier to press the keys down so that I can move more quickly. The key action is overall fairly quiet when it moves and seems sturdy to the touch and Roland calls it their "PHA4 Standard" key action with 128-notes of polyphony and 3 key sensors per key for good repetition response. The keys have a synthetic ivory & ebony feel on the key tops which is nice and also an escapement key response feature which tries to simulate what grand piano keys might feel like when played lightly and slowly although most digital pianos including this one still don't come close in that way.

With regard to the piano sound, there are four different acoustic piano sound variations including concert, bright, mellow, and ballad. They have good dynamic range and expressiveness using the Roland SuperNATURAL piano sound technology although the piano sounds overall can be a bit brassy and metallic especially when playing a bit more forcefully with louder keytouch volume. Some people may like the brighter, more metallic piano tone expression on this piano but even the "mellow" piano sound is a bit metallic when playing a bit harder on the keys and this is true of the other previously mentioned models as well. This is just a characteristic of the Roland SuperNATURAL piano sound, and based on all the Roland models I have played under $1500, the RP102/FP30/RP501R just has a brighter, more metallic piano sound than other brands in my opinion. But as I said for some people that's fine and they may like it especially for jazz, pop, and other popular music.

picture of Roland RP102 digital piano
RP102 control panel
The RP102 is unusual and different from all other Roland pianos because it only has 4 buttons on its small control panel located on the left side of the keyboard which makes the appearance of this model very minimalistic which some people may like. These buttons are for volume up/down, function, and power on/off...that's it. However, all of the digital features in this piano are accessed by holding down the function button and then pressing a corresponding key on the keyboard to trigger that function which means you need to look in the owners manual to figure out how to access functions and features. The RP102 has 4 piano sounds along with 11 other instrument sounds including harpsichord, strings, choir, electric piano, etc. Other functions include being able to transpose to any key, change the brightness or mellowness of the piano sound, add and adjust reverb ambiance effects, select a digital metronome with a variety of timings and tempo control for rhythm training, changing touch sensitivity control to digitally adjust the keytouch response (5 levels), being able to layer two different instrument sounds together for playing at one time, and finally to adjust the piano so two people can play independently at one time when playing the same song in the same octaves using a feature called "twin piano." The "twin piano mode" is typically used by 2 students who are practicing the same song at the same time or by teacher/student during practice. However for most people I have found that the "twin piano" feature is generally not that important and is seldom used.

In terms of the piano speaker system and connectivity, the RP102 has 2 built-in speakers going through 12 watts total audio power which is by far the smallest amount of audio power on any Roland digital piano that I know of. Although 12 watts of power is generally enough volume for a room, the small amount of power tends to make the piano sound a bit tinny and not fuller or richer like more powerful digital pianos in the Roland line. The Yamaha YDP143 digital piano ($1099 internet discount price has only 12 watts total power going into 2 speakers, and even the new 2018 Casio AP270 digital piano ($1049US internet discount price) has just 16 watts of audio power going through 2 speakers. Also the new 2018 model Casio PX870 digital piano ($999 internet discount price) has 40 watts total power going through a built-in 4 speaker  projection system which offers a much richer piano playing experience. The RP102 also has 2 headphone jacks, a USB output to external devices, and a special update port which would only be used if Roland came out with updated software for this instrument that you could load in with a USB flashdrive. Actually that's a pretty cool feature but only if Roland actually does something with it so we'll have to wait and see.

picture of Roland RP102 digital piano
One of the big things Roland has done to promote this model along with other Roland keyboard product is with their new updated iOS/Android app called Piano Partner 2. The Piano Partner 2 app for iPad, and also in the future for Android tablet, gives the user access to some impressive and fun features such as interactive music educational help, play-along sheet music, interactive rhythm functions including drum patterns & one-man-band accompaniment, piano practice diary, and the ability to select picture of Roland RP102 digital piano the instrument sounds and metronome in the piano from the iPad making it more intuitive than using the piano itself. Roland has had their Piano Partner app available for their digital pianos for few years already but this version is an upgrade with more features and better accessibility. If you have an iPad or Android tablet then you may enjoy the various features in the Roland Piano Partner app and find them useful and fun. But it does not mean the app will teach you how to play or give you access to your favorite music. That aspect needs to be done through other 3rd party apps or through music educational programs for laptop computers.

The Roland Piano Partner 2 app also has wireless connectivity using the Bluetooth function on your external device. Bluetooth wireless certainly is convenient and handy to use and it eliminates  needing USB cable connection which is definitely a nice feature.  The USB/MIDI connection through Bluetooth or through cable controls the MIDI signal and page-turning function but does not offer Bluetooth audio. So there are some limitations to it but the Roland app is very nice if you take advantage of it. However, there are many 3rd party popular music interactive apps for iPad that you can interact with from the Roland piano and be involved with some very impressive music education apps, additional music instrument options, music theory curriculum, and so much more both both adults and kids. These app options will work with any USB digital piano so you don't need the Roland piano to have all of that technology.

picture of Roland RP102 digital piano
RP102
Overall the new Roland RP102 digital piano is a nice piano and many people could be happy playing it. But there are digital piano competitors who in my opinion offer more for the money in this price range when it comes to the actual piano playing experience. However these competitors may not have a dedicated iPad app to add features and capabilities to the piano playing experience, so it really just depends on what you want and these certainly are a lot of good digital piano options in and around the $1000US price range. So before you purchase anything from anyone be sure to contact me and I can help you make the right buying decision based on your musical needs, musical desires, and budget. Also, don't forget to read my review of the portable version Roland FP30 and then you'll know what that one is like. 

Roland FP30 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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim,
    where did you find that PHA-IV has 3 sensors per key? Cannot find this information in the Roland's website.

    ReplyDelete