Roland FP-4F Review

Posted by: Jazz+

Roland FP-4F Review - 07/25/11 02:44 PM

I am a professional pianist and play a variety of Steinway, Yamaha, Baldwin and Mason & Hamlin pianos and Roland, Yamaha and Casio digital pianos on a daily basis . I have owned the the older FP-4 model for years and have recently purchased the newer FP-4F model. The piano sampling is improved with a better longer sustain, more legato response, a darker and fatter tone, and more it seems more natural or "organic" sounding.... however the new FP-4F's action is very disappointing. It's sluggish and physically tiring to play. I can play Chopin Etudes on the old FP4 action with out straining but I become quickly tired on the over weighted new FP-4 action. It is a strain to play it for more than a few minutes. My wrist tendinitis came back after playing the FP-4F action for a for a few minutes. It feels stiff and resistant, the keys don't bounce back or move as fast as the easier to play FP-4 original action or as on my Mason & Hamlin grand or any of the acoustic piano I usually I play for that matter.

Two other complaints I have are that they have not included an editable Effects generator on the new FP-4F, whereas the old FP-4 had a sophisticated library of effects. Also, there is no volume balance control for when in Split Mode, so if the bass for the left hand is too loud or too soft for whatever sound you are using in right hand you are stuck because there is absolutely now way to adjust the balance.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/25/11 03:07 PM

Jazz+, thanks for posting your thoughts. Your earlier posted concerns were helpful in steering me away from the 4F towards the 7F, but I'm sorry that you're still having problems with the action.

I totally agree with your complaint about the "disappearing" effects trick. It is such a shame that Roland decided to deny the user access to such a useful tool, especially since (in the 7F at least), the FX block is still there, but hidden. The only two explanations I have come up with are that either Marketing said: "Remove it as we're giving them enough already," or it would have entailed a redesign of the user interface to accommodate extra buttons or enhanced software for the screen. It's not as if you can buy an upgraded model with the effects restored (the RD series is aimed at a different market sector). It does also seem a little cheap to take away the balance control (edit: I thought it was still there on the FP-7F, but I'm wrong; it's only a balance between main instrument and accompaniment).

Having said that, the SN sounds are great, and I'm finding the 7F to be a major advance over previous incarnations. But I'm not going to be parting with my FP-4 any time soon, as the weight and functionality mean that it is still a very useful gigging board.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/25/11 07:36 PM

To comment on your comparison of the action differences, I've always felt the older alpha-II action is a little on the light side, very noticeable when comparing to most good acoustic pianos. And I agree that the new FP-4F action is on the firm side of average, making the side-by-side seem more drastic.

You may just need to give yourself a little more time to adjust to it. We commonly hear complaints from customers adjusting from an overly-light acoustic upright action to a more typical grand action. For most better players, to fully adjust can take 3-6 weeks, and sometimes it is rough. But the good news is nearly everybody is able to adjust successfully. It will still feel firm, but the sense of sluggishness will usually disappear as you adjust. I hope this is the case for you.

Just curious, but have you compared the built-in speakers between the two? They spec differently, but from memory, sound very similar possibly due to the position and housing.
Posted by: thomsurf

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 05:13 AM

My 300NX has the same action. I agree that it's not as nice as the 700/7f series, but it's still a high quality action. When compared to Casios, Korg SV, Fatar and the cheaper Yamahas the Roland wins IMO. But it's still too noisy and if you hit some keys in an uneven way they can woble a bit.
I don't see much bias towards the FP4-F when the 300NX is available. The speakers sound like crap and like other people mentioned, it's stripped down when it comes to editing. The 300NX has a lot of editing options, sliders, EQ knobs and so on. And for a few $ you can get some active monitors or even computer speakers that will outperform built in speakers.
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 06:38 AM

Shame on you, Roland! You removed three most useful features on FP-4, and added 8,5% of weight!


1. They also removed on/off speakers switch! It was advantage in comparison with such boards like Yamaha P-140. I used it often - I switch them off during monitors setting, it will help them last longer; now to switch them off during the concert you have to plug some cable in to the headphones socket. I've done that with some old Roland with speakers, also because I don't want any unnecessary sound source on stage.
Many people say speakers are crap, but I don't think so - I use them on quick, quiet rehearsals (like to rehearse a single song with the vocalist), for practicing, or in other situations, like when soundman turns out monitors, and I want to have a few minutes of quiet warm up before a gig. I don't expect to have powerful volume or realistic bass in such speakers, they are just added feature, which may be turned off. (Oups, now it can't be done so easily)

2. Effects section really gives another life to some voices; for example try use humanizer (staccato playing on high notes), tremolo (set freq to 27) or wah-wah on rhodes sound on fp-4. Shame.

3. Balance knob plus split/layer plus transpose one part allows you to make sophisticated tricks on FP-4, lack of it makes this features almost unusable for a musician who knows what he wants.


Fortunately it still has session partner; though I think I'd trade it for the 3 mentioned features.


Now I'm happy I didn't wait for fp-4f and went for regular fp-4. smile
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 08:04 AM

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
1. They also removed on/off speakers switch! It was advantage in comparison with such boards like Yamaha P-140. I used it often - I switch them off during monitors setting, it will help them last longer...


Until the switch breaks.

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
now to switch them off during the concert you have to plug some cable in to the headphones socket.




Hallelujah! Problem solved!

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
2. Effects section really gives another life to some voices...


Yes, the effects section disappeared on the FP-7F also - I can only assume there was a technical reason for this.

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
Shame on you, Roland! You removed three most useful features on FP-4, and added 8,5% of weight!

Originally Posted By: kiedysktos.
Now I'm happy I didn't wait for fp-4f and went for regular fp-4.


Much better keyboard action, much better piano sound.
I know which one I'd rather go for.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: Peace-Piece

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 08:05 AM

I spent the afternoon testing pianos today. Among others I tested the fp-4f. Granted, I'm only a beginner so I might not be able to pick up on the nuances a more experienced player might. I was switching regularly between acoustics as well trying to find the closest action. Personally I liked the fp-4f. As far as being heavy, I wouldn't say that exactly. It felt comparable to many other dp's I tried. Perhaps on the heavier side, but I wouldn't say it was heavy. And I don't remember it being sluggish, though I don't really have the technique to push into high speeds. There was an fp-7f which I didn't get around to testing, and it's probably out my price range.

Out of curiosity, were you not able to test the fp-4f before you bought it?
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 11:04 AM

I have had the FP-4F for three months and the action is sluggish.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 12:13 PM

I tried the RD300NX which I think has the same action as the FP-4F, and found it kind of bouncy with a decidedly sluggish return. It somehow made playing feel "imprecise." I never played the old FP-4, but I didn't enjoy this action at all. The FP-7 and FP-7F both felt good to me. Too heavy for me to take to gigs, though.

There's no FP-4F manual on Roland's web site, so kiedysktos' post is the first I'm reading about reducing capabilities vis-a-vis its predecessor. I never went out of my way to check out the FP-4 because it was borderline too heavy and it lacked a feature I need, the ability to pan different sounds left or right (to send them out different outputs).
Posted by: suniil

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 01:08 PM

I just ordered an FP4 for a bargain price under Take It Away finance scheme! Thank Jazz+ / Voxpops and other posters to sway my decision.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 02:11 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
There's no FP-4F manual on Roland's web site...

They have one up now:
http://www.roland.com/products/en/_support/om.cfm?PRODUCT=FP-4F
Posted by: 36251

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 08:56 PM

I owned a FP7 but got tired of the weight and the harshness of the keys, as they hit the base of keybed, and sold it. I ended up buying an FP4 (like new) one year before the 4F came out. I thought sure I'll upgrade mainly because of the Super Natural sound engines for acoustic and electric pianos, I thought. Then I found out the EPs were the same as before (acceptable at best.) Only the acoustic is SN. Then I play the action and it had the same issues as the FP7 and I personally thought the Ivory keys were to rough and fake-feeling. I then read this thread.

This was obviously done to save money and lose my business. No effects? The internal speaker switch gone. This axe has become a home model.

Right now the FP4 is an axe I really like. I would like more and will always be looking around the corner for the next big thing with built-in speakers (very handy, I think.)

Roland, I hope you're listening and reexamine what keyboard players really want and thanks for saving me lots of money.
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/26/11 11:07 PM

Rolands are designed in Japan so I doubt they are listening.
I actually like how the key surfaces feel and the EPs are a somewhat better and I like them. The main problem is the sluggish key action.
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: Roland FP-4F Review - 07/27/11 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Until the switch breaks.

It won't, Rolands are very reliable, I've owned them. Even if, it's pretty simple to repair the switch.
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Hallelujah! Problem solved!

I've used it mostly, but still it isn't nice to have to do it. smile switch is so comfortable, and this thing can be lost or left when you use speakers, I did it a few times smile

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Much better keyboard action

Is that so? smile though fp-4f is affordable piano with one of best piano sounds, so if someone don't need very quick keyboard...