Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks

Posted by: 10fingers

Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/18/11 03:45 PM

So I'm just emerging from a longish time with the new beast, and wished to share with forum members my early impressions along with some ideas for tweaks. Perhaps others would like to do the same, as there are seemingly endless permutations for the SN engine.

Firstly, the Concert Grand sound: lush, warm, inviting and strong. I found the treble range a little harsh/twangy at higher velocities, out of the box, for romantic era music, and so I played with the 'Tone Character' setting, which enables the user to vary the tone from mellow to bright. I love mellow for Schumann and Schubert impromptus, so that worked well. Oh, and I whacked 'String resonance' up to 127, and I'm playing with 'sympathetic resonance'. (Loved that effect on the Nord Piano).

The connection betwixt man and keyboard is the most important issue for me, and I was not expecting perfection, but hoping for something good. After playing the Schubert Impromptu (Gb) using various key touch settings (all in the medium range), I found that with the default setting I could get the right hand chords suitably soft, (under the melody), but then the higher velocity notes seemed to jump out at me. Adjusting touch to Medium +3 remedied the latter problem but made it harder to control the former.

Feeling a little frustrated, I moved to the Studio Grand and - hey presto, problem solved. I have to play with the other parameters to get this piano sounding bigger (oh, I whacked the lid right open straight away, for a fuller sound).

I'm very glad to have the studio grand sound for this reason, and if you're thinking of buying a piano with only the Concert Grand SN voice, it may be worth your while to give it a very good test run to make sure that it will give you what you want. I will still likely use the Concert Grand voice for much of my playing, as it really is fabulous, but for some folks it may just be useful to have the Studio Grand sound (and perhaps it is just an anomaly of my particular technique).

I haven't delved into the other sounds much, which is as much a testament to how good the SN pianos are as it is anything else. (Don't feel you have to remind me of this review when in six months I'm wailing about the sterility of it, or some such smile )

When I can work out how to post sound clips I will demonstrate what I'm talking about here. I really do think that this is a remarkable keyboard (love the action) with great piano sounds.

Meanwhile I would love to hear of tweaks that other folks have found - in particular I would really like to get the touch just right for the Concert Piano sound, and I'm guessing that FP-7F owners have done lots of experimenting.
Posted by: marknz

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/18/11 05:23 PM

Along with all the tweaks the NX offers for it's SN piano sounds. Working with the EQ can have a major effect on the character of the sound. For example lowering the mid low and mid high frequency ranges will thin out the sound, increasing this frequency range adds that woody, boxy effect. Adding to the high frequency will brighten the sound. Want more bass depth, add to the low frequency. Choosing the frequency value to be adjusted up or down within the 4 EQ settings takes a bit of trial and error, just go with your ears. If you are like me when I started with it, you will find that what you thought sounded good one day didn't sound so hot the next. It took me maybe a month to finally settle on what I like.
With EQing and general tweaking one size doesn't fit all. The 3 SN pianos have very different characteristics to start with, as do the sub sounds in each group.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/18/11 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: 10fingers
Oh, and I whacked 'String resonance' up to 127, and I'm playing with 'sympathetic resonance'. (Loved that effect on the Nord Piano).

Jacking the key sympathetic resonance to max S/B OK since it is a fairly subtle effect (max is where I put ours too). Speaking of sympathetic resonance, whenever I dink around on our Young Chang and then move to the NX I find myself upping the pedal sympathetic resonance ever higher - I think it's around 80 or 90 now. Real pianos resonate all over the place.

Originally Posted By: 10fingers
Feeling a little frustrated, I moved to the Studio Grand and - hey presto, problem solved. I have to play with the other parameters to get this piano sounding bigger (oh, I whacked the lid right open straight away, for a fuller sound).

I'm very glad to have the studio grand sound for this reason, and if you're thinking of buying a piano with only the Concert Grand SN voice, it may be worth your while to give it a very good test run to make sure that it will give you what you want. I will still likely use the Concert Grand voice for much of my playing, as it really is fabulous, but for some folks it may just be useful to have the Studio Grand sound (and perhaps it is just an anomaly of my particular technique).

The "Studio Grand" bass is lighter, and it seems to handle a wider range of velocities better than the other two pianos. One thing I was playing with was layering the Concert on the bass end and the Studio on the treble end, you might want to try this too. Placing the transition somewhere around A3 (IIRC) sounded fairly seamless, though I didn't play with it much.
Posted by: 10fingers

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/18/11 10:35 PM

Originally Posted By: marknz
Working with the EQ can have a major effect on the character of the sound. The 3 SN pianos have very different characteristics to start with, as do the sub sounds in each group.


Yeah, I dallied with the basic EQ settings (love the sweepable EQ), but felt overwhelmed by the number of parameters I don't know anything about. (Mid1 Q, anyone?). This was even more true of the sympathetic resonance parameters: 'pre LPF','P-Sft to rev' etc.

Originally Posted By: dewster
One thing I was playing with was layering the Concert on the bass end and the Studio on the treble end, you might want to try this too. Placing the transition somewhere around A3 (IIRC) sounded fairly seamless, though I didn't play with it much.


An interesting idea, dewster. I'll have a looksie.

Any other ideas out there for refining the SN pianos?
Posted by: RafaPolit

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/18/11 10:53 PM

10Fingers,

"Q" in Equalizers determine, in very simplified terms, the width (thinking in terms of the graphic line of the EQ) of the effect on that frequency. Higher values produce a more pinched curve on that point, lower values produce a more even curve.

So, say you have everything flat and only a 1Khz EQ gain of 6db. If you set it to Q=2.0, the line will be mostly flat with a very sharp pinched gain at 1Khz (affecting 0.67 octaves worth of Hz). If you set it to Q=0.7 you will have the slope start much earlier, reach the 1khz 6db point more relaxed and then ease back for a longer amount of hz (in this case, worth 2 octaves of equivalent Hz).

So, for instance, a DeEsser has a very pinched (high Q value) setting on the "S" frequency to avoid affecting other ranges, while a bass-boost will have a low valued Q effect on the lower bands. Hope I'm making any sense.

Here is some more reading on that:
Quality EQ

Hope this helps,
Rafa.
Posted by: 10fingers

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/19/11 03:00 PM

Thanks, Rafa - that was a very clear explanation.

I'm wondering: has anyone out there tried the kind of layering that folks have dedicated a thread to for the Kawai CA63?
Posted by: dewster

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/19/11 03:15 PM

Originally Posted By: 10fingers
I'm wondering: has anyone out there tried the kind of layering that folks have dedicated a thread to for the Kawai CA63?

You mean like with heinous preset names and a kabillion emoticons? wink
Posted by: kippesc

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/20/11 02:16 AM

I spent several hours this evening comparing the Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand, Galaxy Vintage D and various Roland RD-700NX APs. I was surprised that I could replicate a lot of the character of the Galaxy Vintage D in the Roland by using the Studio Grand Bright preset and then exaggerating many of the parameters in the tone editor (notably, hammer noise and resonance). What I found surprising is that I always thought of the Vintage D as a mellow instrument. But in comparison to the Roland, the Vintage D seems closely miked with a lot of hammer noise. One of the things I really like about the Vintage D is that it is very much a player-perspective piano -- you hear plenty of action noise and harmonics. It also has all sorts of interesting quirks up and down the keyboard -- places in the treble where the sustain is a bit short and the dampers seem to leak just a bit. When you switch to the Roland, everything is really smooth and consistent. In any event, the big revelation for me was that the Studio Grand Bright is actually something I will want to use. I've never thought of myself as a bright piano sort of person.
Posted by: RafaPolit

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/20/11 02:36 AM

Kippesc, any insight into how they compared to Ivory II? I'm interested in what you found, myself having never had access but to Ivory I.

Thanks,
Rafa.
Posted by: kippesc

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/20/11 03:48 AM

Originally Posted By: RafaPolit
Kippesc, any insight into how they compared to Ivory II? I'm interested in what you found, myself having never had access but to Ivory I.

Thanks,
Rafa.


The Ivory preset dynamics need to be narrowed a bit so that the volume doesn't drop too much when playing soft. The "Easy 1" velocity curve seems to be the place to start if using the Roland as a controller to play the Ivory Italian Grand.

The Ivory Italian Grand may produce a better (more realistic) sounding recording without having to do a lot of tweaking. I made WAV files of the same performance of a piece played both on Ivory and the Roland RD-700NX and played them both on my stereo this evening. The Ivory sounded more realistic, more like a typical classical piano recording. But the Roland is very playable and does sound very good. It's fair to say that I like both the Italian Grand and the Roland.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/20/11 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: kippesc
I was surprised that I could replicate a lot of the character of the Galaxy Vintage D in the Roland by using the Studio Grand Bright preset and then exaggerating many of the parameters in the tone editor (notably, hammer noise and resonance).

Thanks kippesc, I'll have to give that a try.

Originally Posted By: kippesc
I made WAV files of the same performance of a piece played both on Ivory and the Roland RG-700NX and played them both on my stereo this evening. The Ivory sounded more realistic, more like a typical classical piano recording. But the Roland is very playable and does sound very good. It's fair to say that I like both the Italian Grand and the Roland.

If it's not too much trouble, could you perhaps convert those to MP3 and share them with us?
Posted by: 10fingers

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/21/11 03:45 AM

Does anyone know the easiest way to post a short audio clip on this forum?
Posted by: Lefty Chev

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/21/11 08:17 AM

A lot of guitarists use http://soundcloud.com/ and then link to it.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Roland RD700NX SN piano review and tweaks - 07/21/11 08:58 AM

Any file hosting site like Mediafire will be fine too.

Cheers,
James
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