Roland RCP-800, Roland MP-200 - REVIEW | 2022 Digital Pianos


Roland RCP-800 & Roland MP-200 review
UPDATED REVIEW
- June 1, 2022 | Roland RCP-800 & Roland MP-200 Digital Pianos | Should You Buy Them? | The Roland RCP-800 and MP-200 digital pianos are newer models from the Roland music products company sold by Costco and Guitar Center stores (respectively) on-line at both companies and in some Guitar Center stores. They are the identical pianos with the RCP model being sold exclusively by Costco and the MP model selling at Guitar Center and also Musicians Friend which is a Guitar Center owned company. The RCP-800 is $1999 plus tax and the MP-200 is also $1999 plus tax. 


Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 control panel
On the Costco website they sometime do not have this model in stock and therefore may not be advertising it at that time. So if you do not see it then you'll just have to keep looking elsewhere. When this model is advertised on their site then generally they don't list most of the specifications of this piano and where it lines up with the mainstream Roland models or the MP-200. So the RCP is a bit of a mystery in that way (they do that on purpose). 
Guitar Center does list the specifications on their web site so you can definitely see it there. Typically what Roland does for their digital pianos sold by Costco and Guitar Center on-line is they take an existing model already sold at Roland piano stores and then they make slight changes to that model in some way (could just be a name change or a cabinet design change, or maybe one or more feature changes, etc), then they rename it and sell it for a bit less money at Costco and Guitar Center and that's in fact what they have done here. 

Roland took their entry level HP702 digital piano from the HP line which has been out for a a few years and sells on average for about $2400 plus tax at piano stores and changed the piano polyphony memory from "unlimited memory" to 256-notes of memory (according to their web site specs) and changed the bench to a matching height adjustable bench instead of a larger bench. 

Roland MP-200 / RCP-800 digital piano
Roland kept the factory warranty the same which is 5 years parts & 2 years labor. Unlike the Roland HP702 which comes in a variety of cabinet colors including rosewood, light oak, white, and charcoal black, the RCP-800 and MP-200 only come in the black color.
The letters (RCP) in a Costco digital piano model and MP in a Guitar Center model identify those pianos as being exclusive to those stores and not available under those model numbers at actual Roland piano stores. My best guess on the RCP is that it stands for "Roland Costco Piano," but I am not quite sure on the MP for Guitar Center model. The actual model numbers of both models are not on the pianos themselves so you cannot know what you are buying when you look at the front of the piano. That's kind of strange because on all other top name digital pianos that I know the model number can be clearly seen on the front of the piano somewhere. Is Roland trying to hide something? 

Roland RCP-800 & MP200
Costco and Guitar Center says on their sites that this new RCP-800/MP-200 offers a grand piano playing experience through a powerful internal speaker system.
However, this statement (a powerful internal speaker system) really is not true because an actual grand piano playing experience on a real grand piano makes this RCP-800 and MP-200 models look like toys in terms of volume and tonal quality. In other words, to suggest the RCP-800 and MP-200 is like playing a real grand piano in both touch & tone is marketing and hype in our opinion. 

To say the RCP-800 and MP-200 are good digital pianos in their price range and are enjoyable to play is a much more reasonable statement and for many people they will likely enjoy it. But for Costco, Guitar Center, or Roland to say on their web sites the following statement: "Now you can have the sought-after tone and touch of an acoustic grand piano" s really stretching it and is not even close. Plus, no one can expect it to be close especially given its $1999 price. 

Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 digital piano with bench
For a digital piano to come closer to a real "grand piano" playing experience you have to be in approximately the $4000-$5000 price range minimum for that to happen and get much longer, all-wooden keys.
So don't get fooled by the Roland-Guitar Center-Costco "hype." The Roland  HP702 is the mainstream version of this RCP-800 and MP-200 and share the same Roland entry level key action in the piano called the PHA-4 Standard key action which is also in the Roland $899 portable digital piano called the FP-30X and a few other Roland models around or under $1500. 

Although this key action is overall nice to play, it is a bit heavy in key movement and certainly does not feel in any way like real grand piano keys. So if anyone is saying that then they are trying to "sell you something" and have no credibility. As for this so-called "powerful" internal speaker system that the Costco and Guitar Center web sites are saying is in the RCP-800 and MP-200, it's the same speaker system that's in the HP702 with a total wattage at just 28 watts of power going into 2 amplifiers through 2 smaller speakers. 

Roland RCP-800 & MP-200 Speaker system
This lower 28 watts of power and smaller speakers is quite underpowered compared to what you can otherwise find in other good brands in this price range including the popular Korg G1 Air ($1999 internet price).
The Korg G1 has a much larger 80 watts of power coming from 4 separate amplifiers going through 4 speakers, 2 of which are enclosed in a separate sealed sound box for extra bass response...and the G1 Air is only $100 more than the Roland RCP-800 and the same price as the MP-200. The Korg G1 Air which is made in Japan also sounds and feels a lot more realistic as compared to a real acoustic piano in our opinion. The new Yamaha CLP-725 ($1999) and Kawai CA49 ($2899) would be other examples for digital pianos you should consider with noticeably better speaker systems inside.

Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 digital piano cabinet
When an internal speaker system is underpowered in a digital piano, the result of that is not necessarily that it won't be loud enough for your space (it might be loud enough or might not).
The real concern is that unless you play the piano at full volume then the quality of the piano sound at normal volumes (30% to 75%) will not be very good. The piano sound will be noticeably artificial and tinny also lacking good bass response. This was my experience when playing this Roland model...is was  noticeably artificial in piano sound and the overall piano sound engine was thin and twangy. If you are a beginner then maybe you won't notice it. But if you know how to play piano and have experience with pianos then you may not be happy with what you hear.

Korg G1 Air digital piano
The Korg G1 Air digital piano, which we like very much, also has Bluetooth wireless audio streaming and a beautiful sounding 80 watt, four channel internal speaker system to carry that sound and it actually sounds like a baby grand piano. The Casio company is another one that also has a popular model digital piano called the AP-470 and that model has 40 watts of power going through 4 speakers and 2 amplifiers and is only $1699 on-line and has many compelling features as well. So when it comes to the very important internal speaker system on these digital pianos under $2000, Roland is definitely on the low end of it all and for the higher price $1999. 

*Want to take a look at out recommended picks for a more authentic piano playing experience under $2000? Check out the Korg G1 Air at the following link and we think you may be impressed Korg G1 Air Review. Also check out the popular Casio AP-470 home digital piano at just $1699. Casio AP-470 Review. Another one is the new Yamaha Clavinova CLP-725 at $1999 which is a very nice model and you can read my review about it at the following link: Yamaha CLP-725 Review

Roland PHA-4 key action
As for the key action, as I mentioned earlier, it is Roland's PHA-4 Standard entry level key action found in nearly all their digital pianos below the RCP-800 and MP-200 models and down to well under $1000.
It is not until you get to the higher priced Roland HP704 in the HP line until you get their preferred and upgraded PHA-50 key action which is noticeably more authentic. The RCP-800 and MP-200 key action does have the synthetic ivory keys along with matte black keys so that is a nice feature and they feel smooth on the fingers...but again, the key action is a bit heavy in our opinion as compared to other good key actions out there, but it's definitely still playable. The key action is the most important part of any piano whether it's digital or acoustic so that's the area in which you want to focus on when shopping for a new digital piano.

Roland MP-200/RP800 key action
For me a real downside of this key action in these 2 Roland pianos (remember, they are the same pianos with different model numbers) is that the keyboard action is noticeably noisy! I was really surprised when I played it but what happens is when you are playing the keys using the piano sound at normal volume, you can hear the keys hit bottom when pressing down the keys and they make a loud "thumping" sound like there is not felt or cushion below the keys...they are just loud. In fact when the master volume is low or you are using headphones, that's all you hear is the "thump, thump, thump of the keys as they are going back down. The noise does knot occur when the keys are coming back up...it's only when they are going down and there is not way to stop that. 

I always pay attention to "key noise" when the keys are moving and it's a fact that all keys make some noise because the key action is mechanical. But this thumpy key noise is totally unacceptable and just for that reason alone I would never purchase these 2 models...it would just drive me a bit nuts after awhile of hearing that thumpy sound, especially if someone else was playing the piano with headphones on or with the volume turned down low because that's all I would be hearing in the same room or even if I was in another room in the house...thump, thump, thump!

The interesting thing is that I have played other Roland digital piano models using this same key action in lower price ranges and although the keys were noisy, they were not as bad as the MP-200/RCP-800. I am guessing it must have something to do with the cabinet structure of these 2 models and the way this key action is installed to make it that much more noisy and thumpy. Regardless...it is very distracting to hear this key action noise.

Roland RCP-800 and MP-200 piano
The actual piano sound in the RCP-800 and MP-200 is from their physical modeling piano sound chip which uses mathematical algorithms to calculate the piano sound. So instead of doing actual sample recording of a real grand piano, Roland uses this newer technology in its place.
However, I am not a big fan of this new technology when used by itself without sampling technology because the physical modeled piano just sounds more artificial that way and more synthetic when playing depending on the piano sound your are using, the notes you are playing, and the sustain you are applying with your damper-sustain pedal. The piano sound is 256-note polyphony which is plenty of power to play any type of music,

Some people won't notice it because they have little or no experience playing a real piano although some people may like it because we all have different ears...but I definitely notice it. In fact if you listen to the demonstration video of the RCP-800 and MP-200 on their web sites, if you listen closely you may hear this more artificial (twangy) tone I am talking about without much percussive attack that you would normally not hear in a real piano.

Roland MP-200, RCP-800 layer/mix feature
Like the Roland HP702 in Roland piano stores, the RCP-800 and MP-200 has a bunch of digital features (bells & whistles) that are very cool including over 300 additional instrument sounds (some very good, some average),  
some cool recording features to help to create songs and play them back and saving them onto a USB thumb-drive for storage, sound editing functions, Bluetooth audio streaming and wireless Bluetooth MIDI connectivity, and a proprietary app designed by Roland called "Piano Every Day" to let you see sheet music notation on your tablet and play along as well as let you control some of the functions and features of the piano from you color touch screen on your tablet. 

Roland MP-200, RCP-800 control panel
I like a lot of things the HP702/RCP-800/MP-200 can do and depending on what your musical goal is, you may take advantage of some of those features and functions.
You can also layer/mix and split any two sounds on the keyboard and save them into user memories for instant recall later on along with having the ability to digitally transpose any music into different keys. change the touch sensitivity setting to make the "key attack" lighter or heavier, use a digital metronome for learning rhythm & timing, and many other things that can be useful. So there is no shortage of fun things to do on these pianos. So that's definitely an "upside" to these models.

Roland RCP-800 and MP-200 piano
But when it comes to the "piano playing experience" and getting a good natural piano tone and key action along with a very good internal speaker system, this is where the RCP-800 and MP-200 falls somewhat short in my opinion as compared with other new digital pianos in and around this price range.
I will say the RCP-800/MP-200 cabinet is very attractive and has nice design features on it with a closing key cover, a good supportive music rack, nicely laid out control panel with easy-to-see panel buttons, and a nice black finish, so they definitely do look good in their more traditional form. 

Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 connectivity array
They also have good connectivity features including Bluetooth wireless (as I already mentioned), USB flash-drive input, USB output to connect with external devices, audio input and outputs, and headphone connections. These 2 models are actually nice pianos (with the noticeable exception of the key action, low powered speaker system, and somewhat artificial piano sound). 

Roland MP-200, Roland RCP-800 with key cover closed
The MP-200 (Guitar Center) and RCP-800 (Costco) look attractive, have a useful and fairly intuitive control panel with easy to use buttons, have a built in sliding key cover, a useful music rack with sheet music holders, and a matching bench which is handy to have.  But as far as a realistic piano playing experience goes without a noisy key action,
 for $1999 plus tax, in our opinion we think you can do better with a few other models for the same price or less money, especially if you want to keep it under $2000. If you want more info on the mainstream version Roland HP702, then please read my review of that model. Roland HP702/704 Review. Again you should definitely consider the other digital piano choices out there. Just because you see a digital piano at Costco or Guitar center does not necessarily make it the best choice in its price range...and in our opinion that is certainly the case here


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:

Marla said...

Hi! Thanks for the review! Just wondering. If they are using modeling on this particular model why are they claiming a 256-note polyphony instead of unlimted?