Released in early 2017, Roland’s new stage piano, the RD-2000, is a powerful keyboard packed with sounds and features that are essential for any gig or studio session. Encased in a sleek aluminum shell, this 88-key digital piano weighs just under 48 lbs. It’s solidly built, but still weighs much less than some of its competitors (namely the Korg Kronos at 51 lbs and Yamaha Montage at 63 lbs.
It includes an array of inspiring sounds and a hammer action that feels completely authentic. The Roland RD-2000’s list price is $2,999, making it inaccessible for most beginner or intermediate players. Its target market is for professional gigging musicians, who will appreciate its portability, exquisite feel and sounds, and its assortment of useful features.
But is it worth the high price tag? Well, we’ll examine all of that today in this review. And, to better help you, please take a moment to use our interactive table to compare the Roland RD-2000 to some of the best digital stage pianos on the market.
|Roland RD2000||88||SuperNATURAL Sound Engine: 128 voices|
|Casio PX5S||88||Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II Keyboard|
|Kawai ES110||88||19 voices (8 piano sounds)|
|Kurzweil SP6-7||88||10 selectable key velocity map|
|Yamaha YC88||88||128 Notes (AWM2/Organ), 128 Notes (FM)|
While the RD-2000 has a lot to offer in terms of sounds, playability, and features, Roland made some questionable decisions with its physical layout. The left side of the keyboard includes most of the essentials you would need to access quickly: volume, mod wheels, eight encoder knobs, and nine faders.
A display that could afford to be slightly larger sits in the center. To the right are the tone selection buttons, the rhythm and song section with its start and stop buttons, the transpose and octave buttons, a section of mainly setting and utility buttons, and a rotary selection dial.
From a functionality standpoint, there are a few flaws in the layout. Compared to the rest of the dials and buttons on the keyboard, the volume knob feels small and somewhat hidden. The fact that Roland uses a knob could also be a drawback for players who are used to a volume fader.
The nine faders that are incorporated into the RD-2000 feel too small and flimsy to my touch. Other keyboards with a similar fader bank layout, such as the Korg Kronos and the Yamaha Montage, utilize larger, heavier duty faders. The durability of a fader with multiple uses, such as zone volume and organ drawbars is extremely important, especially when they’re put under the abuse of a live performance situation.
While the encoder knobs offer exceptional control and precise customization of sounds and patches (which will be discussed further in the review), the ability to see which parameters are being controlled is hampered by the small print under the knobs and the sheer amount of data presented in such a small space. It’s difficult enough to read and select the correct parameter in a well-lit room; it would be nearly impossible to do on a dark stage.
A feature found on most Roland keyboards, the pitch bend/mod lever is located on the far left-hand side of the keyboard. This is a classic Roland device that allows players to move left and right to control pitch as well as moving up to give vibrato to a sound. The lever is situated in a position that makes it easy to access and gives the player exceptional control when modifying pitches and sounds.
Please feel free to view a list of some of the best-selling digital stage pianos currently on sale at Amazon, and see how well they stack up against the RD-2000.
Roland really hit the mark with the assortment of sounds in its RD-2000. The acoustic piano sounds are a highlight of this keyboard. Using Roland’s V-Piano technology, the acoustic pianos have their own dedicated sound engine. The detail and depth that is heard in the piano patches is remarkable. Especially noticeable in the higher registers, the piano’s sympathetic resonating strings and hammer noises add an impressive realism to the sound. Although the reverb parameter is adjustable on all sounds, it really brings the acoustic pianos to life.
Another notable feature of the RD-2000 is its Piano Designer. Located under the “Tone Designer” button on the right side of the keyboard, this hidden gem allows the player further customization of the piano’s mechanisms. Tone color, lid, string resonance, damper resonance, hammer noise, key off resonance, and duplex scale are the adjustable parameters.
The second sound engine uses Roland’s SuperNatural Technology to drive the remaining sounds of the RD-2000. This includes everything from smooth vintage electric pianos, to rich and full-bodied string ensembles. One notable patch is the Touch Wah Clav (think Stevie Wonder). This funky clav changes its timbre based on the key velocity. This gives players a truly unique performance when combined with emotive playing. There are far too many patches to review all individually, (there are over 1,100), but the sounds are all realistic, inspiring, and enjoyable to play.
Between the convincing acoustic piano sounds of the Roland RD-2000 and its fully weighted hammer action keys, it’s possible to forget that you’re playing an electric keyboard. Roland’s PHA-50 hammer action keyboard is the reason behind the genuine feel of the keys. Their secret is the hybrid keys: part wood, part molded material. The keys have a barely-perceptible texture to them. It’s enough to prevent the keys from feeling overly plastic, but not too much to become distracting.
The RD-2000’s hammer action also has something called escapement. This is a mechanical feature that originally permitted grand pianos to quickly repeat a note without releasing it fully. On a digital keyboard, it only adds to the authentic piano feel. The PHA-50 keys make other similar weighted action keyboards, such as the Korg Kronos’, feel clunky and inauthentic.
Even though the keys have a “real-piano” feel, it doesn’t mean that they are slow or cumbersome. These keys have the ability to still feel fast and natural, even when playing organ patches and sliding up to notes. It’s this flexibility that makes the RD-2000 a keyboard capable of playing any style.
Features and Functions
More than just a digital stage piano, the RD-2000 is equipped with some really useful features that allow it to be used like a synthesizer, a MIDI controller, or an accompanist. It includes several more knobs and sliders than other Roland keyboards, such as the RD-800.
It’s easy and intuitive to access the rhythm and section of the keyboard. Situated on the far right side of the keyboard, it’s quick to start, stop, and select the many rhythm tracks or songs that the RD-2000 offers.
Even though the preset sounds on this keyboard are already fantastic, Roland gives the user plenty of customization options with the 9 faders, the 8 encoder knobs and the mod wheels.
The RD-2000 has 8 zones that are fully assignable to map different sounds or control to the different key ranges. Each of the faders corresponds to a different zone, which allows the user to seamlessly mix in different tones and patches for a smooth layering effect. The 8 zones can also be utilized with an external device, such as a DAW or a live performance app like MainStage. Those faders also serve as the organ drawbars when an organ patch is selected.
Most of the RD-2000’s physical features have multiple uses in order to save space on the keyboard. This includes the 8 knobs on the left hand side. With an almost overwhelming amount of options, each of the knobs can independently control 5 different parameters, depending on which row’s LED is selected. The parameters are:
- Tone Color
- Reverb Send
- Delay Send
- Low, Mid 1, Mid 2, and High Frequency and Gain
- Reverb Level, Time, Type, and Pre Delay
- Delay Level, Time, Type, and Feedback.
These parameters allow unlimited possibilities when it comes to customization and real-time adjustment of sounds. The physical dials are very robust, and the LED dial lights make it easy to see the positions of the knobs.
Users have the ability to save 100 “snapshots” of the keyboard. These snapshots are exactly what they sound like: a saved version of every parameter set on the keyboard at that particular moment. This gives performers easy and quick access to different arrangements of the keyboard.
For instance, one snapshot could have a transposed synth patch with a user-adjusted EQ, and the next snapshot could utilize the 8 zones with a different sound mapped to the different ranges. This kind of flexibility makes the RD-2000 an incredibly useful tool in live performance situations.
Another useful feature is the One Touch Piano button. It’s situated immediately to the right of the silver selection dial, making it obvious and quickly accessible. It’s aptly named, since a simple press of the button instantly takes the user back to a default piano sound. It’s an overlooked feature, but it’s one that is undeniably useful in an live emergency situation.
Although the RD-2000 may be out of reach for most beginning keyboardists, it packs a lot of impressive features into a keyboard that is competitively priced. Its collection of convincing and fun-to-play sounds should attract many gigging musicians or studio players, regardless of their genre.
Roland’s V-Piano technology brings highly detailed acoustic pianos to this keyboard. The realistic feel and weight of the hammer action keys makes it an easy transition for traditional acoustic pianists to switch over to a digital keyboard. Even musicians who employ external devices during their performances will appreciate the connectivity options that the RD-2000 offers and its seamless integration with other software and systems.
Although the layout of the keyboard may seem a bit unwieldy to some, such a minor issue shouldn’t prevent potential buyers from missing out on a powerful and impressive instrument.
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