Piano Reviews: Roland FP-90 Portable Piano Review
The Roland FP-90 Digital Piano is an extremely versatile instrument, equally at home on stage or in your living room. Roland has combined a realistic-feeling keyboard action, their SuperNATURAL sound modeling technology, and an elegant interface. Its bi-amped stereo speaker playback system is loud enough for rehearsals, smaller venues, or home use.
Along with a selection of acoustic piano instruments, you get an excellent assortment of additional voices, including electric pianos, tonewheel and pipe organs, strings, and synths.
For concert performance, you can use it right out of the box on a keyboard stand. Or you can purchase optional cabinet components to turn your FP-90 into a compact home piano that looks great in any room.
What makes this digital piano different from all the others?
Table of contents [Show] [Hide]
- 1 It’s SuperNATURAL!
- 2 Other Great Sounds
- 3 Keyboard Modes
- 4 The FP-90 Action
- 5 Versatile Pedals
- 6 Front Panel Interface
- 7 Built-in Recorder
- 8 Powerful Bi-amped Playback
- 9 In & Out
- 10 Bluetooth Connectivity
- 11 A Great Piano For Your Home
- 12 What’s Not To Like
- 13 More Roland Options
- 14 Roland FP-90 Portable Piano Pros & Cons
- 15 Conclusion
The biggest distinction between the Roland FP-90 and other digital piano brands is the realism of the sounds. Most digital pianos use samples, recordings of each note of a real acoustic piano made at several dynamic levels. It was wonderful, innovative technology when it was introduced back in the 1980s.
But Roland has done something different. Their SuperNATURAL pianos like the FP-90 incorporate innovative software that models the complex physics of a piano hammer hitting a string stretched over a soundboard.
The resulting sound is much more realistic for several reasons. For one, the tone of notes changes gradually as you play harder, with no sudden breaks, unlike a sampled instrument. Also, the modeling algorithm considers all of the many physical processes that make a piano sound so rich, including the soundboard, dampers, and the cabinet. This means you have far more control over how it sounds. For example, you can choose seven different lid positions. Or change the duplex scale, which is like making the whole piano longer or shorter.
Another benefit of physical modeling is unlimited polyphony. You can hold down the damper pedal and play a big glissando all the way across the keyboard without dropping a note.
A software feature called Piano Designer lets you tweak the performance of the FP-90’s modeling engine. You can adjust thirteen physical parameters, including hammer noise, soundboard noise and soundboard type, and even the volume and tone of individual notes.
But that’s not all you get!
Other Great Sounds
As a bonus, the FP-90 digital piano includes a large selection of other instruments as well. In addition to 15 pianos, you get 16 electric pianos, 11 strings, 15 organs, 15 synth pads.
Also included are 278 General MIDI instruments, eight drum sets, and even a whole bank of sound effects. These other instruments have a generous maximum polyphony of 384 notes.
Under normal circumstances, you’ll choose one instrument for the entire keyboard range. However, you can split the keyboard at any point and assign different sounds to the lower and upper parts. Front panel faders let you balance the volume of each part. Also, Dual Mode lets you layer two instruments together over the entire keyboard.
The FP-90 Action
The FP-90 features Roland’s new PHA-50 keyboard action. It combines the comfortable feel of wooden keys with modern molded materials, resulting in a keyboard with a more reliable and even touch. The keys are covered in synthetic materials that feel like genuine ivory and ebony. Under normal circumstances, it requires no maintenance.
The action simulates escapement; this is when the hammers slip back after the key has bottomed out. You can select from 100 key touch sensitivity settings and the hammer response.
The FP-90 ships with Roland’s DP-10 damper pedal. It’s a good, solid accessory that can do half-pedaling.
However, to take full advantage of the FP-90’s pedal capabilities, you should definitely invest in the optional KPD-90 Pedal Unit. This assembly has three pedals that can emulate the soft, sostenuto, and damper pedals of an acoustic grand piano.
For example, you can assign the center pedal to control pitch bend, vibrato, rotary speaker speed, and much more. Or assign one pedal to step through the multi-sound presets you’ve set up. And if you have an app on your tablet that displays music, you can use the pedals to control page turns.
Front Panel Interface
The FP-90’s front panel controls are very logically organized for easy use. From left to right are the on-off switch, volume slider, 3-band equalizer, controls to balance the upper and lower parts of a split keyboard, and the instrument type select buttons.
In the center is a backlit 132 x 32 pixel LCD screen that makes it easy to select instruments and change settings. To the right are the speaker on-off switch and various other controls.
All faders are recessed and very smooth, so it’s easy to make accurate adjustments. The EQ faders have center detents so they can be set flat, even under stage lights.
With the FP-90, you can record up to 10 MIDI songs, with a total of 70,000 notes. And if you add an optional USB flash memory stick, you can also record CD-quality audio.
Powerful Bi-amped Playback
The FP-90 has built-in stereo amplification, and each side is bi-amped. That is, for each channel, there is a 25-watt bass amp and speaker and a 5-watt amp and speaker for the treble. This system is able to provide 107 decibels of clean sound. In practice, this is loud enough for rehearsals or small concerts, but for larger venues, you’ll want an external amp or PA system.
The FP-90 gives you several options for enhancing the sound. It starts with a three-band Ambiance Equalizer. For organs, a rotary speaker effect is provided. And for electric pianos, you can vary the modulation speed.
In & Out
With the FP-90, you get a variety of connections to the outside world. Data ports include MIDI In and Out, USB A for connecting an external memory stick, and USB B to talk to your computer.
For audio, the FP-90 provides a miniature stereo jack for a mobile device and a pair of 1/4-inch TRS (balanced) output jacks on the back, and two headphone jacks in front.
There’s also a 1/4-inch microphone input. On the FP-90 front panel is an input gain knob, plus a dedicated fader so you can mix the vocal level with the keyboard. And you can apply various vocal effects, such as echo, reverb, compression, and even a voice doubler.
The FP-90 supports wireless Bluetooth, so you can stream music through the internal amp and play along. And Roland’s free Piano Partner 2 app gives you access to a large library of rhythmic accompaniments in various styles.
A Great Piano For Your Home
By itself, the FP-90 is a wonderful digital piano for live performance or studio use. But with the optional KSC-90 dedicated keyboard stand and KPD-90 pedal unit, both available in black or white, plus one of the ten piano benches available from Roland, the FP-90 becomes a compact console piano that fits perfectly in even a small room.
What’s Not To Like
Honestly, it’s hard to find any serious flaws with the FP-90, but we have some minor complaints. It doesn’t have a pitch wheel, a fairly standard control on most digital pianos. The microphone input jack is 1/4-inch only, not a professional locking XLR connector.
The keyboard itself with a music stand is 52 pounds. With the keyboard stand and pedal assembly added – which admittedly you’ll probably only want if you plan to keep it at home – it tips the scales at 83 pounds.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St14HPA6Wig[/embed]
Also, if you’re looking for a home piano so you or your kids can learn to play, you may be disappointed by the lack of education features. It doesn’t come bundled with any standard piano literature or instruction materials. And it doesn’t include a four-hands mode for a student and teacher to play together conveniently.
If you’re a fan of Roland, but think the FP-90 isn’t quite right for you fr whatever reason. Please take a look at our in-depth Roland Juno review, our Roland F-140R review, our Roland Juno DS88 review, our Roland VR 90 V Combo Organ Review, and our Roland FP30 review.
Roland FP-90 Portable Piano Pros & Cons
- The acoustic piano sounds are so realistic you’ll be amazed.
- A wide variety of other sounds.
- A great keyboard to play.
- Well-design front panel user interface.
- Bluetooth functionality.
- No pitch bend wheel.
- No XLR microphone input.
- Heavy for a portable instrument.
- No education features.
The Roland FP-90 is an outstanding instrument for professional or home use. It sounds amazing, feels great, and has a clean user interface and a powerful amp and plenty of connectivity. However, as mentioned, it might not be your first choice for studying piano. There are far better options available.
Roland has a long history of developing innovative, premium-quality musical instruments, and the FP-90 is certainly no exception. You’ll certainly enjoy playing it and hearing the amazing realism of its pianos.