Roland RD-700SX
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Roland RD-700SX

RD-700SX, Digitales Klavier from Roland in the RD series.

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sireson 24/07/2014

Roland RD-700SX: Produktbewertung von sireson (content in English)

"Excellent portable piano"
5

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I will open this review by saying that I primarily purchased this instrument for the piano action and a reasonable piano sound. I am a classically-trained pianist and regularly need to perform at events where no piano is available and a lightweight keyboard just will not suffice.

This instrument is a stage piano and therefore has a full, 88-key, piano action keyboard. This action makes the piano quite heavy (25Kg) but the pay-off is the realistic feel of the keys. I spent some time selecting my first stage piano and that was an RD-600. Eventually I upgraded to this instrument, purely because the previous piano had seen too many gigs to look attractive at classical events any more.

Connections to the piano are very basic. There are balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4” output sockets, a headphone socket, MIDI ports and three pedal inputs. The only other connections are power and a USB B socket, discussed later. The layout of the control panel is simple but effective. Almost everything has a dedicated button and those that don’t are easily accessible via menus on the clear, central display.

Something that should be obvious is the lack of internal speakers. This piano requires connecting to an amplifier of some sort. I generally use a Yamaha StagePas for amplification since it is very portable yet provides stereo sound - necessary for really appreciating the piano sound. This is clearly a negative but if there were speakers mounted in this portable instrument they would, most likely, be facing up, towards me, and not to the audience. This would be useless for all the situations I need this instrument for.

Internally there are just over 200 sounds, as well as General MIDI, and 185 rhythm patterns. There are also various different effects that can be applied to the sounds to give quite a variety of results. However, I tend to use this piano primarily as a piano so I have not dug deep into sound/effect combinations. There are expansion slots available for the Roland SRX expansion boards but I have not installed any in my instrument as yet.

UTILIZATION

Operating the piano is very easy. The simplest option is to turn the unit on and then press the one touch piano button. You are then playing the Superior Grand instrument and everything is setup as a classical piano. Edit options then allow you to raise or lower the lid, play with the mic positions and type, add or remove reverb and adjust the touch-sensitivity. All of these options are fairly unnecessary really since the standard sound has served me well over the years. The most useful section, as a pianist, on the instrument is the equaliser section with it’s parametric EQ. Rarely do I find myself in the same ambient environment and it is a matter of seconds for me to match the sound of the piano to the room - such as removing bass when playing on a wooden floor.

When not using the one touch option it is possible to layer up to 4 sounds across the keyboard, two each side of the split point. Each sound has a dedicated fader and on/off button which can be very useful in a live situation. In addition, when an external MIDI device is connected the piano can control 4 external channels via the same faders - by toggling between internal and external sounds. I have used this piano connected to a Roland JV-1010 and controlled 8 sounds at the same time. All configuration on the keyboard can be stored in one of the 99 available presets and this includes any external configuration. This means that the MSB and LSB settings are sent across to the external device whenever a preset is selected. This means that I can leave the JV-1010 on the floor and trust that when I select the preset on the piano the external module will be configured immediately without any need to touch it.

The sounds themselves can be edited quite deeply - in fact it is possible to use PC-based software to edit them ad-nauseam. There are a good selection and in combination I have achieved some fantastic results. However, a keyboard workstation this instrument is not. This is a performance instrument designed to be configured for quick, preset use on stage. This is highlighted by the lack of any sequencer for recording and the appalling addition of the rhythms.

The included manual is well written for new and experienced users alike. As with all instruments, it is generally a case of play, fiddle, consult manual, play fiddle, consult manual. I have yet to not find what I am looking for in short order.

SOUNDS

The selling point for this instrument was the piano action. I tried many different stage pianos before settling on this action. Although this section is concerned with the sounds I wanted to reiterate that the score reflected here is affected by how much I enjoy the touch of this piano.

All the sounds are crystal clear and a grouped sensibly. I have yet to hear any notes drop due to polyphony issues - even when playing Debussy. The two grand pianos and two electric pianos used for the one touch settings are excellent, although the ‘B’ grand piano is generally a little bright for my taste. The use of the faders as tone wheel controllers for the electronic organs is definitely a nice touch. It could be argued that some of the sounds are now getting a little dated. I would even agree that better overall piano sounds can be found elsewhere. However, with the ability to layer sounds together and play sounds from other, connected hardware the piano action is still what gives this instrument it’s edge.

The rhythms are the low-point of the piano. There is a reasonable selection of different beats but with virtually no flexibility I find them so loud and unsympathetic that I fail to see the reason for their being on there. To compound this I continue to be surprised at the lack of a metronome on the piano. How difficult it would have been to one of these I can’t imagine but really? No metronome on a piano?

In addition to the standard MIDI ports there is also a USB B socket to connect to a Mac or a Windows PC. Once connected it is possible to backup all the settings on the piano as well as use the piano as a MIDI controller. I regularly use this piano for recording into my DAW and I have never experienced any latency or drop-out issues.

OVERALL OPINION

There is no doubt that this instrument is expensive. Other digital pianos are available and, if you are not going to need to move it around, I would suggest looking at the Kawai or Yamaha digital pianos. Both these names have excellent hammer-action pianos and I regularly teach students on both. The difference with the RD-700SX is that it is portable - heavy yes, but portable and it has a fantastic action.

If you are after a portable and realistic-feeling piano action and an acceptable piano sound then this instrument is for you. If you want a workstation with sound editing, recording and a raft of different effects then I would suggest looking elsewhere. I wanted a reliable piano that felt like my acoustic grand back home and I have yet to be disappointed with my RD-700.