Roland keyboards are renowned for their acoustic piano feel and their realistic sound engines. It's what makes them popular in homes, schools, and houses of worship. Roland simply sets the bar high for music technology, expression, and performance. It’s really hard to go wrong with a Roland keyboard, no matter what kind you get.
However, Roland has so many different keyboard options that it might be challenging to choose the one that is best for you. Whether you are a professional gigging musician or a beginner just getting started, there’s a Roland keyboard that will suit your needs. You just have to know which features you’ll use the most, whether you are gigging, recording, or just playing for your own enjoyment.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best Roland keyboards and give you our pick for the one that stands out the most. Then, we’ll talk about the criteria we used to choose our list of the best Roland keyboards and show you why we think they’re great.
Inspire your beginner keyboardist to love practicing with this fun, interactive keyboard. The velocity-sensitive keys are easy to play, especially for beginners who have yet to develop their hand strength. You can record to the keyboard and even stream music from your smartphone or tablet to the keyboard via Bluetooth and jam along or just listen. This keyboard includes a plethora of professional sounds to choose from, along with high-quality onboard speakers. This lightweight battery-powered keyboard truly goes anywhere.
The JUNO-DS is a lightweight, 88-note weighted-action keyboard just right for gigging and practice. It’s an all-around great value with plenty of capability. What sets this keyboard apart is that it is about as close to a weighted keyboard as you can get without actually weighting like one, making it easy for transporting to gigs and rehearsals. You also get an onboard sequencer, mic input, and optional battery power, all at a very reasonable price point, making this a high-value keyboard for beginner gig players.
The Roland V Combo Live Performance keyboard gives you an authentic vintage organ sound without the vintage organ. The onboard organ sounds mimic the technique and sounds from vintage electric pianos and organs for your favorite gigs. It is easy to carry, lightweight, and can even run off of battery power.
The Roland RD-2000 makes an excellent stage performance keyboard. It has a dedicated acoustic piano sound engine to give you rich and realistic piano sounds. The other sound engine provides over 1100 other sounds to provide you with versatility in your playing. Another standout sound is the Hammond organ sound. In addition, you can use pedals and sliders to control the Leslie effect.
The Roland FP 30X is streamlined and compact, making it an excellent choice for portability and small spaces. Even better, it is an excellent balance of affordability and performance. The Rolands dedicated piano sound engine creates an unrivaled acoustic piano sound, but there are plenty of other types of keyboard sounds to choose from, as well. You can use the dual headphone jacks or onboard speaker system to make music. Stream live music from your tablet or smartphone with Bluetooth connectivity or connect to apps such as garage band and music lessons.
The Roland FA-06 is available in multiple sizes, including 61,76 or 88 key versions. There are over 2000 onboard sounds as well as expansion slots ofr additional sounds. The large LCD screen can be used to access the controls for the workstation. It can also be used as a standalone keyboard or a MIDI controller.
Roland is well-known for its exceptional sound quality and real-feel keyboards. But there are other criteria that will help you decide which Roland keyboard is right for you. You need to consider what kinds of sounds you need, how you want your keyboard to feel, your budget, and the number of keys you actually need.
Full-size keyboards have 88 keys. If you are focused on classical piano music, you’ll likely want to choose a keyboard with all 88. On the other hand, many pop songs or modern music will work just fine on a 61 or 76-key keyboard, which will save you a little bit of space.
Brand new students will only use a couple of octaves in the beginning but may quickly advance to needing more keys. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have more keys than you typically use, but you might become frustrated if you only have a 61-note keyboard and your music calls for a bigger one.
The action of a keyboard is critical to getting that authentic, acoustic piano feel. When you play an acoustic piano, you’ll push down the key, which activates levers inside the piano. The levers, in turn, cause a hammer to strike a string. The harder you push, the louder the sound, but it also gives you a feeling of resistance as you play. The lower notes on the piano have more resistance, while the higher notes have less because the strings are lighter and thinner.
This resistance is known as the Graded Hammer Standard. Many keyboards and digital pianos will use the graded hammer standard with weighted keys to give you the feel and responsiveness that you would find on an acoustic piano. This helps with strength, dexterity, and musical development.
Most of the keyboards in this list have weighted action, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the keys are weighted but that they feel weighted when you press them. They are also velocity-sensitive, so the faster you play, the louder they sound. If you didn’t have this kind of responsiveness, the keyboard would be like on-off switches for the notes without any kind of musical nuance.
Synth-action has even less resistance than weighted-action, which is just fine for synth players. Synth-action uses a spring system to add some resistance to the keys.
Semi-weighted or weighted action keys are ideal for portability because they come pretty close to mimicking the feel of an acoustic piano without having the physical weight of weighted keys. They’re also a little bit more affordable than weighted keys, which are more typically found in a digital piano than a keyboard.
When shopping for a new keyboard, you want to consider if you need it to be portable or not. If you will be taking your keyboard to gigs, you definitely want it to be portable. On the other hand, if it is just going to take up residence in your living room, it doesn’t really matter how portable it is.
Weighted keys are heavy and make the keyboard or digital piano less portable, while weighted-action or synth-action keys are much lighter and more portable. Also, you might want to consider the size of your keyboard. If you are toting your keyboard around, you might want one that is a little smaller (with fewer keys) or at least one that is very streamlined and as compact as possible.
Roland keyboards are known to have extensive sound banks and realistic acoustic sounds. For example, the RD-2000 has a dedicated sound engine that delivers authentic piano sounds. But it also has an entire sound engine dedicated to creating other sounds, as well.
Since most keyboards have a variety of sounds, you’ll want to make sure yours can provide the type of sounds you need for the music you play. For example, if you like playing 70s cover songs, you might want a keyboard with a rockin’ Hammond Organ and sliders that can mimic drawbars. On the other hand, if an acoustic piano is more your style, then choose a keyboard that has a dedicated piano sound engine for the best acoustic piano sound.
If you want to create your own sounds either by recording or by editing other sounds, you’ll want a keyboard workstation such as the FA-06. This will give you lots of sound editing capabilities, as well as effects. However, a more extensive sound editor, such as you would find in a workstation, will be more expensive than a keyboard that just has preset sounds.
Connectivity is something to consider. Older models of keyboards didn’t have much more than a line out or a MIDI connection. However, some newer keyboards have both USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
If you are looking to use your keyboard as a workstation or MIDI controller, you’ll want to make sure it has a way to connect to your digital audio workstation. This might either be a five-pin MIDI connector or, more likely, a USB MIDI connector. Then you can assign sounds to your controller.
If you want to stream music to your keyboard or use your keyboard to access apps like Garageband, you’ll want a keyboard with Bluetooth connectivity. In addition, some keyboards, especially workstations, may have expansion cards or SD card slots so that you can add additional sound banks.
The number of sounds or notes a keyboard can make at a time is called polyphony. For example, an acoustic piano could, in theory, produce sounds from all the keys at the same time (if you were able to press them all at once). However, electronic keyboards often have a limit on how many notes can sound at once. Therefore, you want to have at least 128 note polyphony to keep your keyboard from sounding robotic and strange. However, higher polyphony is better, and anywhere between 192 to 256 will give you a more realistic sound.
This is because even though you might only physically play a few notes at a time, the sounds may continue to play even after you have let go of the keys, especially if you are using a sustain pedal. But if your polyphony is too low, the notes will cut off quickly and unnaturally to make ‘room’ for the new notes to sound.
You always need to keep your budget in mind when shopping for a new keyboard. While we all love the features on a higher-end model, if it is too expensive for you, you might need to find ways to compromise so that you get the features you want and need at a price that you can actually afford.
Thankfully, even Roland’s low-end models can make great sound, so you won’t have to do much compromising at all.
You can’t go wrong with a Roland keyboard since all of their keyboards produce great sounds and have a well-rounded feel. However, some are more expensive than others due to the features they include. Our favorite keyboard, though, is the Roland RD-2000.
We love the Roland RD-2000 for its blend of features and performance capability. It makes an excellent performance keyboard, especially if you are looking for an impressive-sounding acoustic piano. It also has a great feel. While it won’t feel the same as an acoustic piano, it does have semi-weighted keys with velocity sensitivity, so you’ll be able to play with musical nuance without the weight of a digital piano. Finally, since it's only around 50 pounds, you’ll be able to take it to gigs just as easily as you can practice on it at home.
The RD-2000 has plenty of sliders and knobs for effects and well over 1100 onboard sounds for you to enjoy. It also works as a MIDI controller with your digital audio workstation.
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