In a battle between the Roland FP-30X and Yamaha P-125, I’m going to dissect and assess each piano’s key features and help you discover which portable digital piano is worth your time and money.
|Casio PX-S1100||192-note polyphony; 18 built-in tones|
|Yamaha P-125||GHS Weighted Action|
|Roland FP-30X||12 piano, 20 electric piano, 24 other tones|
|Casio CDP-S360||128 Notes of Polyphony|
Roland FP-30X vs Yamaha P-125 – First Impressions
Let’s begin with my first impressions of the Yamaha P-125. I noted that it was set into a wooden stand (sold separately) to make it look more like a real acoustic piano. Even with the big stand, I still noticed how sleek and minimal the Yamaha was. It’s also got plenty of sliders and buttons for different voices, functions, and recording, but not so many that it looked cluttered or overly complicated.
Right away, I like that it has a volume slider vs a knob. It may just be a personal thing, but I don’t like knobs for volume control. I feel like they aren’t as accurate as a slider, so seeing a slider here is a plus for me. Overall, my first impressions of the Yamaha are pretty good.
The Roland FP-30X, by contrast, was a little bit more impressive to me. Here’s a little bit of a closer look:
As you can see, it doesn’t have as many buttons as the Yamaha, but the buttons it does have give off nice bluish or red lights when I powered it on, giving the Roland a bit of a cool-looking retro vibe.
It wasn’t set into a wooden stand, so I was able to see it a little better too. Overall, it seems like a very nice instrument. The small selection of buttons, and the fact that the volume control is a button instead of a slider make me wonder if it will have a confusing interface. But this section isn’t for that.
For pure looks here, I’m going to have to give this round to the Roland.
First Glance Winner: Roland FP-30X
It wasn’t easy to pick a winner in this category. Both instruments have very nice, natural-sounding voices. Still, I would say that the Roland’s voices and effects are a bit more natural-sounding, and to explain why, I have to get a little technical.
Even though it’s priced just $50 higher than the Yamaha, the Roland has more of a sophisticated sound engine. Like many Rolands in its price point, the FP-30X is equipped with the SuperNATURAL Sound Engine vs the Yamaha’s sampled sounds. Because of the little extra punch in processing power, the Roland’s voices are a little more complex and therefore sound a bit more natural.
I also have to mention that the Roland has more powerful speakers.11W to Yamaha’s 7W. So, even though Roland made the questionable decision of putting its speakers on the bottom of the instrument as opposed to on top like Yamaha, its sound system is more powerful. Because of that and because of its more sophisticated sound engine, Roland is going to take this category.
The Sound Winner: Roland FP-30X
Even though both of these instruments are equipped with their manufacturer’s entry-level key action (the P-125 uses the GHS Keyboard Action), Roland just has a more sophisticated system. This is due to each key being individually weighted, with its own sensor, as opposed to Yamaha’s key action, which weights its keys in blocks or small groups.
Not to say that the Yamaha’s key action isn’t good, because it is. It plays very nicely, and I will admit the difference between the two is one a beginner or intermediate student might not even notice. But I noticed and, because of it, the Roland feels closer to a real, acoustic piano than the Yamaha does.
The keys are also textured a little more nicely and that makes for a better playing experience.
This round goes to Roland.
The Touch Winner: Roland FP-30X
If your primary use of your new digital piano is going to be gigging, then you’ll be happy to know that both instruments are very much capable of traveling with you.
Again, the Yamaha pictured earlier is set in a wooden stand made to mimic the look (and weight, unfortunately) of a real, acoustic piano. If you’re keep on getting some kind of a stand (because they are sold separately), I’d recommend an X stand that looks quite similar to this:
Both instruments come with removable music stands to make travel easier and both will fit nicely in your trunk. I do recommend buying a stand like the one pictured above if you plan to gig. It’s not terribly expensive, it’s lightweight, and it adjusts to allow you to play at whatever height you feel most comfortable. Rock out sitting or standing, the freedom is yours.
Unfortunately, neither of these instruments comes with battery capability, so if you plan to gig outside with them, then consider yourself forewarned.
Both of these instruments rank pretty evenly in portability, but because I have to pick a winner, then I’ve got to get nitpicky. So, here we go.
Like many Roland pianos, the FP-30X is a little clunkier and outweighs the Yamaha by seven pounds (32 lbs to 26 lbs). If that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, then take turns carrying that amount of weight to and from your car. It matters.
And, as mentioned before, the Roland’s speakers are on the bottom of the instrument. So, if you don’t have an amp, then getting yourself a stand like the one above is very necessary to play small gigs, because setting it on a table will muffle the sound.
The Yamaha’s speakers, on the other hand, are nicely set on top.
For those nitpicky reasons, Yamaha will take this category.
Portability Winner: Yamaha P-125
The features on a digital piano are often the reason people look to purchase a digital instrument over an acoustic one. Especially if your primary use is going to be gigging. You’ll want your piano to do all of the things you need it to, including different functions, voices, recording, and whatever else you’re using it for.
So, which piano here has the better features? To make it easier, I’ve split this section into different categories to more fairly compare them. Here we go!
Voice and Effects: The voices and effects of your piano are some of the most fun features to have on a digital keyboard! This takes your playing way beyond what an acoustic piano can do, turning your sound from a piano to a banjo or to the string section of an orchestra.
If you gig, then this is especially useful.
And if you gig with either of these two instruments, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It was very hard to choose a winner here. Though most digital pianos can manage nice-sounding piano and electric piano voices, they tend to miss the mark with anything else.
Not the case with these two. Both instruments are natural-sounding, even when veering into the other voices like brass, chorus, and strings (the usual worst offender and the voice I test every keyboard on). Both also have effects like reverb (the echo effect that mimics the sound you’d get playing in a big recital hall) and damper resonance (the recreation of the sounds of piano strings vibrating when the pedal is lifted for a more natural sound).
Only because I have to choose for the sake of this article, I would say that due to the Roland’s more sophisticated sound engine, it’s going to come out on top.
Plus, the Roland has 56 voices compared to the Yamaha’s 24.
Functions: Both instruments matched up evenly here, so much so that I couldn’t really pick a winner between them. Both the Roland and the Yamaha can be set to different functions that assist with playing or recording. Both can play in:
- Split layer — A different voicing for each side of the piano (i.e., piano voice in the bass with a flute or trumpet in the treble).
- Dual-layer — Two voices at the same time when you press a key (i.e., a piano and harp, my personal favorite duo for accompaniment).
- Duet mode — Splits the keyboard in half with both halves able to play the same octaves. Very useful for duets so no one is stuck trying to play technical passages in the muddy bass registers.
- Auto Accompaniment — Play along with yourself with pre-recorded backing tracks! One quick note is that the Roland can only do this with its app. (More on that later)
Data: Both instruments are pretty good in this category. Per their website specs, the Yamaha can hold 11,000 notes per recorded song, while the Roland can hold 70,000 notes. So, while the Roland does have the advantage here, remember that 11,000 notes is a lot of notes! Either instrument will give you plenty of space to record several full-length piano pieces.
Connections: The Roland continues to just edge out the Yamaha.
Both instruments will let you connect to headphones, an amp, USB, and a damper pedal, as pictured in the photo below:
Both also can connect to apps to further your playing experience and let you control your pianos settings from afar. This is a great feature for gigging as you can preset certain settings and switch to them with ease.
The Roland makes your life even easier here because it is the only of the two to have Bluetooth connectivity. So, you’ll be able to use your Roland app without a cord connecting your phone to the instrument.
This also gives you the capability to play your favorite playlist on your Smartphone through your Roland’s speakers, which is a pretty sweet feature to have.
User Interface: The user interface is how easy it is to maneuver your way through each piano’s settings and functions.
Here is where Yamaha finally gets a point. It’s got more buttons, it’s just as simple as that. It’s a little bit easier to maneuver your way around and the little variation lights help keep you from getting confused.
It may take some practice getting to your desired settings, but shouldn’t be too hard.
The Roland operates in much the same way only, with less buttons, it’s a little trickier. But not very much so. Both instruments are pretty even here, with Yamaha coming out just slightly easier to navigate.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to win the category. The Roland runs away with it in the features department.
Features Winner: Roland FP-30X
And with that, the final votes have been cast and it is now time to declare a winner between the Roland FP-30X vs Yamaha P-125! And the winner is: the Roland FP-30X!
This was a close competition for me! Both of these instruments are a great choice for a beginning to intermediate player and it was only the slightly more sophisticated sound and touch that tilted the scale in favor of the Roland.
Regardless, you likely can’t go wrong with either piano.
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