The Roland RD-2000 can trace its ancestry back to the first crude typewriters. That’s when the idea of communication through a keystroke first began. Of course, we already pianos and harpsichords, but we didn’t know that the electronic keyboard was soon to be on the drawing board.
There were a lot of technical developments that led up to this in-depth Roland RD-2000 Review. So, let’s take a moment to look back on the road we have traveled.
Portable keyboards came later…
It might surprise you to know that the portable keyboard arrived after the synthesizer. You could be excused for thinking it was the reverse. Before synths, there were Hammond Organs and Vox Continentals. It was in the 70s that the portable keyboard as we know it came into being. Yamaha made those first early steps. Who else would be the pioneer, right?
Lots of choice…
Today there are hundreds of instruments to choose from. Some good, some not. And of course, there are, as always, the big players. Names that are synonymous with music, whether it be full orchestral to rock band and everything in between.
Yamaha, Kawai, Korg, even Casio. And, of course, Roland. Roland is a company, along with their subsidiary Boss, that has done much to shape modern music. We are going to look at the Roland RD-2000. But before we do, who is Roland?
The Roland name seems to have been with us forever. Certainly since the birth of what we might call ‘modern-day’ music in the 60s. But it hasn’t been around as long as you might think.
They were nothing like Yamaha, who was founded in 1887. Roland was founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1972. Nevertheless, in that short time, the Roland Corporation, to give it its full name, has left a massive mark on modern music.
One of their subsidiaries, Boss, makes guitar effects that are some of the best and most popular around. And people hardly need reminding about the Roland synthesizers and keyboards.
At the forefront of development, they have been played by some of the greats. That list includes Rick Wakeman (Yes and solo), Richard Wright (Pink Floyd), Tony Banks (Genesis), and many others.
There is also a long list of great Roland keyboards, including the JD-800, the D-50, the Juno range, and the Jupiter X. We could go on.
More than just keyboards…
Roland has always been at the forefront of technical development. They were one of the technical forces that created MIDI. And where would we be without that?
Fact magazine wrote in the year 2016, and we quote, “Roland arguably did more to shape electronic music than any other [company] in history”. Obviously, Roland knows a little about keyboards.
In the Shadow of Yamaha and Kawai…
In some ways, they have been. This is simply because those two manufacturers produce world-class acoustic grand pianos. The full-size real deal. Used at many of the world’s greatest classical theatres. Roland is not in that market and never has been. Hence they can get overlooked by some.
Roland has been manufacturing digital pianos and keyboards for over 35 years now. They initially developed touch-sensitive keys, now common on many digital pianos. But they tend to sit in the cost-effective bracket, even though they are usually excellent instruments.
However, they also are quite capable of producing real quality at the higher end of the price scale. We are going to take a look at the Roland RD-2000.
So, does it belong among the best electronic keyboards on the market?
Let’s find out in this Roland RD-2000 review…
Make no mistake on this one; the RD-2000 is a Digital Stage Piano and a professional keyboard. It has great keyboard action and two sound engines independent from each other. There are also some controller features that are very advanced. It excels with its acoustic and electric piano sounds. This makes it a perfect instrument for use on stage and in the studio.
A large setup…
If you need a keyboard that can control a large setup, this is a good solution. It can integrate sounds, software-based instruments, and just about everything. This doesn’t even include the piano options. It has over 1000 sounds that cover a wide range of musical tastes. We can discuss the sound contents a bit later.
There are highly expressive virtual tone-wheel organs, modern and vintage synths, clavinet, orchestral strings, brass, and many other sound types.
This is a well-built and strong instrument with a tough molded plastic body. It is an 88-key PHA-50 keyboard that measures 55 ⅝ by 5 ½ by 14 ½ inches. However, it is no lightweight at 47 lbs.
This is considered as one of the best Roland keyboards to date. It features a hybrid wood design with a molded finish to the keys with a mock-ivory look. It has a hammer action, and the keys are weighted as well as full-size.
There is a small LCD that provides current status information located centrally. Roland has included their pitch and modulation controls, along with two modulation wheels.
What creates the sound?
The RD-2000 has two sound engines. The first is dedicated to the acoustic piano. It delivers an incredible sound. The second is the Supernatural engine that delivers electric pianos and other tones, all with 128 polyphony. There are plenty of controls and sliders located on the top, and connections on the rear, which we will deal with later.
This keyboard does not feature built-in speakers or a USB port. It has one pedal for sostenuto. A typically tough Roland design, there can be no complaints regarding the quality of the build.
If you think that the controls look quite daunting, we would have to agree with you. But once you get to know your way around them, they are easy to navigate.
It is designed specifically to make it easy to control during live performances. And if you can achieve that in the ‘heat of battle,’ playing at home won’t be a challenge. The intuitive interface is what makes it so easy, and this is easily one of the best keyboards for live performance currently on the market.
Controlling the sound…
There are nine sliders and eight encoder control knobs that handle the effects and sounds. The knobs each have LED indicators. These offer the opportunity for exact adjustments and also give you an instant visual of their status.
Eight zones can be assigned as individual ranges. This allows you to create combinations of sounds in different keys. Each zone will hold up to eight layers.
This is an excellent feature that makes your performing life very efficient and easy. Have you ever had the experience of getting all the settings right and then not be able to find them again? Not any more.
The Scene function lets you save a ‘snapshot’ of everything on your keyboard. Everything. But more than that, you can save up to one hundred such ‘snapshots’. Even better, you can call them up instantly while you are performing. How good is that?
This is one of those keyboards that, if you are a performer, you dream about. The two sound engines give it enormous versatility but also create great sounds.
Using some of the best acoustic and electric pianos Roland has to offer is one thing. Add to that incredible playing action, and you have one of the best digital keyboards you are going to find.
Every style, every genre…
The selection of high-quality ensemble instruments covers any musical task you need to fulfill. And two expansion slots let you add on even more sounds.
All this at your fingertips and with a creative interface. This keyboard is a great master controller for working most of today’s software-based instruments. It also has a key translator that operates from six below to five above and increases in semitones.
How Does It Play?
You get the benefit of full keyboard polyphony courtesy of the dedicated acoustic engine. Great piano performances can be realized without any compromise whatsoever.
The playing action…
The PHA-5 design is a progressive hammer action. Therefore, it is the perfect platform for creating the right responses from the acoustic and electric pianos on board. It easily ranks as one of the best 88 key keyboards currently available.
The keys themselves, as we mentioned, are wood and covered with plastic material. This gives them the feel of a real piano but also ensures they will be able to take a lot of use. The authentic feel of a grand piano at your fingertips. Furthermore, it comes with a damper pedal, but no built-in speakers.
Designed for the stage…
Whilst this keyboard is a multi-tasking, multi-operation instrument, it is designed with something in mind. Roland wanted this to be a great performance piano. Great on stage. That is why there are so many features built-in that give you instant control as well as great sounds.
How does it sound?
The Roland research and development department has a program that has been running for quite a while; it is called V-Piano research. One of the aims is to get as close to the sound of a real piano as possible. This keyboard is reaping the rewards of that program.
The piano sounds on their own are outstanding. The dedicated sound engine for the piano gives a responsive and very natural sound that is precise and detailed. The full polyphony allows you the total piano experience. There will be no losing notes, even with the most complex of pieces. But that isn’t all with this keyboard, is it?
Over 1000 tones…
Covering everything in the orchestra. Synths that are modern and vintage. Brass, Clavinet, and the great tone-wheel organs. All come into play to offer you an outstanding sound. It might even be the most realistic sounding digital piano.
You usually get some keyboards that offer a range of software-based sounds. Some will be quite good. Most very ordinary. And for some, the least said about the better. But not with the Roland RD-2000. Get ready to be impressed. When you take a look at the price point, be ready to be even more impressed.
Simple enough and perfectly suited to what you are doing. There is a USB-A and USB-B port. Along with three MIDI connectors. Two outputs and one input. Also, two stereo phone-type connections and a ¼ inch socket.
Roland RD-2000 Review – Pros and Cons
- Well-built with a sturdy chassis.
- Wooden keys with a covering to give the piano feel.
- Full size, 88-keys.
- PHA-5 Hammer action with weighted keys.
- Two modulation wheels.
- Two independent sound engines.
- 128 Polyphony.
- Control Panel with sliders and illuminated control knobs.
- LCD screen for status information
- Eight zones with eight layers each to create sounds to save.
- Scene option to snapshot all the keyboard settings for instant recall.
- Very visible and interactive top control panel.
- Over 1000 extra sounds and instruments.
- Damper pedal included.
Looking for Something Else?
When it comes to tickling the ivories, we have you covered. So, check out our in-depth Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys Reviews, our Best Kawai Digital Piano Review, our Best Digital Piano Reviews, our Best 88-Key Keyboards Reviews, and our Best Portable Keyboard Pianos Reviews for the best options you can buy in 2021.
You might also want to take a look at our Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard Review, our Yamaha YDP 163B Digital Piano Review, our Korg SP280 Digital Piano Review, our Joymusic Jk-63M Kit Review, and our Alesis Melody Review for more items currently available.
Roland RD-2000 Review – Final Thoughts
Our final remark is important to consider. If you are looking for a cheap keyboard, this isn’t it. It is far too good for that. This is an all-encompassing keyboard for performance, home, and studio use.
It is packed with great sounds, never-ending options, and exceptional features. But above that, it has the absolute best piano sound that you will find around this price point.
If what you want is a great keyboard with a great piano sound, that is going to be brilliant on stage. Here it is. You’ve found it.
Until next time, may your music make you smile.