Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq

Posted by: Ole Laursen

Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 05/15/10 02:31 PM

I'm not sure I can contribute new observations to the old rats here, but I thought I'd write up my impressions so far anyway.

I went out and tried the new HP-307 three weekends ago to see if it really had incorporated some of the nice features of the V-Piano. Last year I concluded that V-Piano might be good enough, none of the other digitals I tried at that time felt good enough, and I haven't heard any demos online either since that could convince me. So I went with great expectations.

Some background - I tested the pianos with classical pieces only and head phones. And these are really personal opinions, we're all obviously sensitive to different things.

I played the HP-307 for more than an hour. How did it sound? Roland has obviously upped themselves, the new tweakability and incorporated noises are nice.

But still, I was disappointed. It left me with the same bad feeling as the HP-207 did last year. Not enough life. At the place in the Waldstein sonata where the big octaves are ringing and the piano is supposed to sing, it just died between my hands. After more than an hour, I was really down. I thought that maybe I was just too negative about the digital world, so I went over to the V-Piano on display and tried that.

And it was like night and day. Next thing I knew, a sales guy interrupted me because the shop was closing, I'd spent almost an hour on the V-Piano. smile

Now, I spent some time listening to the tone of the V-Piano this time and while it's not as good as a sample, it really didn't matter as much to me when actually playing it. I think it makes a big difference when you're thump'ing the keys live compared to listening to a recording.

If Roland hadn't been so aggresive with the price, they'd probably made a sale. But instead I went home and considered Pianoteq again.

I have been sending MIDI files from the e-Piano competition through Pianoteq, but always found the tone lacking at some point. However, armed with a laptop and my new-found knowledge that real-time playing is different I went to the shop again two weekends ago and tested Pianoteq on a Roland LX-10. It took a bit of tweaking with the presets and velocity curves, but I was really surprised at the result. It felt good! It felt like a piano, and with the PHA-II keybed, a much better one than my trusty achoustic upright at home.

So I went over to the V-Piano and tested it against Pianoteq, and while the V-Piano had something Pianoteq doesn't have, something to do with the ambience, hard to explain, the Pianoteq tone was actually a step up from the V-Piano (V-Piano Evolution vs. Pianoteq 3.6).

If money wasn't an issue, I'd probably bought the V-Piano anyway. Then I could always later think about using a software piano.

The end of the story is that I spent the rest of the afternoon trying different keybeds, then last weekend I went to the shop again without a laptop with the intension of buying a HP-203 demo model for about 1425 EUR/1800 USD. But in the end, I convinced myself, with some help from the kind sales guy, that I deserved the real authentic synthetic ivory on the keys, so I coughed up 2145 EUR/2730 USD for a HP-305 - that also saved me from the formica rosewood of the demo model. smile

ETA for the piano is early next week. I hope I won't regret it. I also need to buy the full version of Pianoteq. Or perhaps I should see if I can get to try one of the big sampled software pianos first. The new HP-307 videos with classical pieces on the Roland US web site have confirmed for me that I do need a software piano for the sound generation.

Ole
Posted by: Melodialworks Music

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 05/15/10 03:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Ole Laursen

But still, I was disappointed. It left me with the same bad feeling as the HP-207 did last year. Not enough life. At the place in the Waldstein sonata where the big octaves are ringing and the piano is supposed to sing, it just died between my hands.


Was this with with the default settings in the Piano Designer, or had you tweaked things to increase the sustain?
Posted by: Ole Laursen

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 05/19/10 04:11 PM

I did try various settings. But not exhaustively. My impression with Roland so far is that they're pretty good a getting the defaults rights.

Now I've gotten my HP-305 and spent some time with the built-in piano, I think the above characterization may be a bit too harsh. It's not dead, it's just not quite as much alive as it could be. I think I'll give at bit of time and see if I can adjust to it, it's definitely very convenient just hitting the power button and 2 secs later it's on.

Regarding the V-Piano, I went to a public (classical) concert today sponsored by the local Roland dealer, The People United Will Never Be Defeated, and it was pretty amazing. Not a bad buy.
Posted by: Qbert

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 06/03/10 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Ole Laursen
...so I coughed up 2145 EUR/2730 USD for a HP-305


Interesting story. But the end is that you spent more than 2000 EUR for just a controller?! RD700GX hasn't the same action (PHA II "Ivory Feel") for less?

I was interested in HP 307 for new PHA III action. Not really interested in "ivory feel"... I wonder if a FP9 (with PHA III) is in the Roland plans!

However, I'm curious to read your opinion about other piano vsti (Ivory, Galaxy, EWQL and so on)!
Posted by: pesk

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 06/03/10 10:16 AM

Originally Posted By: Qbert
I wonder if a FP9 (with PHA III) is in the Roland plans!



I wonder about it too but what I've seen untill now then Roland is making strictly step-by-step upgrades. So I bet that next top FPx model will have mostly the same features like FP7 only with built-in SuperNatural piano and PHAII with ivory-like surface and escapement (same keyboard like today RD700GX). PHAIII will be probably in new RD series top model. But maybe we will be surprised whome wow
Posted by: Ole Laursen

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 06/03/10 01:53 PM

RD700GX was actually more expensive in that shop, about 90 EUR. I can see they're the same price at thomann.de though.

But with HP-305 I got a stand and three pedals, there's plenty of space to a laptop and scores - and the black satin model doesn't look too bad. Yeah, it was kind of expensive, but I didn't really have that many choices. So I'm happy with it. It feels like a grand. What more can I say? smile

Regarding PHA III, to me it felt the same as PHA II. I'm not sure, but I think the only difference is the extra sensor for repetitions. But the keys jump up much faster than I can thrill anyway. I have only experienced pressing a key down with no sound once so far - when using both hands on the same key, the need arises sometimes with pieces where you have to cross the arms.

I haven't gotten around to trying any other VSTIs yet, unfortunately, too busy at work. Maybe this week-end.
Posted by: Qbert

Re: Review of Roland HP-307, V-Piano and Pianoteq - 11/22/10 08:14 AM

Originally Posted By: pesk
Originally Posted By: Qbert
I wonder if a FP9 (with PHA III) is in the Roland plans!



I wonder about it too but what I've seen untill now then Roland is making strictly step-by-step upgrades. So I bet that next top FPx model will have mostly the same features like FP7 only with built-in SuperNatural piano and PHAII with ivory-like surface and escapement (same keyboard like today RD700GX). PHAIII will be probably in new RD series top model. But maybe we will be surprised whome wow


It was a post of 8 months ago...

Reality is better than fantasy!
grin