Roland keyboards hardly need any introduction. Some of the biggest names in music aren’t slow to use and praise this Japanese company that has contributed as much as anyone to musical development and the use of progressive techniques. Rick Wakeman just one who regularly uses the brand.
They excel in the manufacture of their range of keyboards and pianos, and we are going to take a close look at one of their extensive range, the F-140R.
The Roland F-140R is just one of a complete catalog of portable digital pianos that are principally designed for use in the home. They are neat and tidy, and the design concentrates on being compact, but also producing a great sound with a lot of sound options under the bonnet.
So let’s take a look at it in this Roland F-140R Review…
How Well Is It Built?
The F-140R is one of those rare breeds of digital piano that is made from wood, Rosewood to be precise that has a rich black stain. The design is simple and quite understated. And nothing flamboyant or particularly eye-catching has been included which is one of its big plus points.
It is delivered essentially as a piano and a stand. You assemble the stand yourself, which is quite easy, and the piano sits on top. You will find that after assembly, the unit is very sturdy and feels extremely secure. Two rigid crossbeams form the stability of the stand, and on the lower beam, the three pedals are attached.
The metal pedals are soft, sostenuto, and a damper pedal. The sostenuto is a pedal giving you sustain on any keys that are held down.
The piano is designed with another valuable extra not that common on digital pianos, a returning lid. The lid covers all of the playing surface when not in use. And also acts as a rest for music if required when it is being used.
Included in the design are two 4.75” speakers rated at twelve watts each and powered by an onboard amp. But you could, of course, hook it up to one of the best keyboard amplifiers available if you want more sound.
Aesthetically pleasing it is an elegant piano that will fit comfortably into any decor. It is compact and doesn’t take up too much room and is therefore suitable for most living spaces.
How Good Does It Sound?
If you want your product to be considered one of the great digital pianos it has to fulfill certain functions. There are two areas to consider here. The first the sound of the piano, or should we say pianos and the second the sound of the other instruments included. Roland knows a thing or two about producing high-quality sounding keyboards, and this piano is no exception.
The sound is very mature and stylish and has a richness of tone. It has an authentic piano sound which is quite surprising, allowing for its relatively small size and the stereo speakers add depth to what you are playing.
The F-140R has Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine installed. This is software that is only usually seen in higher-level models. It is a format developed by Roland for reproducing exact grand piano sounds, especially the variations that occur in tone with varying keystroke pressures.
This is a complex area and involves including note decay and response to give you an exact replica of what your playing would sound like on a full concert grand piano. The result is an authentic sound and recreates an acoustic feel to a digital piano. The piano has an excellent Polyphony of 128 notes which will cope with advanced complex pieces.
This piano though doesn’t have just one piano it has eleven superb recreations of grand piano sounds, all of which demonstrate the individual nuances of different concert pianos.
We mentioned earlier some sound options under the bonnet. There is more to this piano than just piano sounds. Roland has been producing synthesizers and keyboards since 1972 and in that period have produced some classic sounds. Roland was also at the forefront of the development of MIDI.
In 2016 Fact wrote and we quote here “ Roland arguably did more to shape electronic music than any other company in history.” A lot of that experience and knowledge has been put in the piano with over three hundred other instruments included and at your fingertips.
A variety of electric pianos to suit all genres and the same with the number of organs that you have access to. Roland decided to go a few stages further with the sound options and included strings, orchestral, and individual and a variety of guitar sounds. As well as brass, a variety of harpsichords and of course synthesizer sounds from their past catalog which is extensive — a stellar line-up of options.
Seventy-two rhythms are included for you to play along with and of those six are especially for piano styles.
We think there might be enough there to be getting on with. In creating the F-140R, Roland has packed just about as much sound creating technology as is possible into an instrument that will cover a very wide selection of applications.
How Is It To Play?
Whether you are learning, improving, or are an accomplished player, you will want to feel like you are playing the real thing. This piano gives you the experience of that. Despite it being a digital piano, Roland has created a piano action that feels remarkably close to the feel of a real keyboard under your fingers.
It is a standard-sized 88-key design with the usual black and white colorings so nothing unusual there. The keyboard action though is worth some consideration, and here again, Roland has produced some real quality.
The Progressive Hammer action that operates across all 88 keys takes this keyboard to a higher level than its price suggests. This action basically means that as you begin to play higher up the keyboard, the feel of the keys under your fingers begins to feel lighter. The reverse happens as you move down where the action gets heavier. This replicates the feeling of an acoustic piano.
The attempts to create a reality doesn’t stop there as an escapement function has been included. This mechanism in an acoustic piano lets the hammer move from the piano string instantly at the moment of impact. This means the string can vibrate and create the note.
On digital pianos, this essential action is replicated and given the name escapement. With a keyboard that is accurately weighted using a progressive hammer action and the application of the escapement facility, you will have quicker transitions, faster repetitions of notes, and the feel of a real grand piano.
It is a great piano to play and does what most people really want, to feel like the real thing.
Other Included Features…
Including such an extensive list of instruments and sound options is one thing. And it goes some way to making the F-140R a great digital piano. But it also needs to perform some basic functions, and these have been included.
If you are a piano teacher, a split keyboard mode will be an essential tool for you to work with. And it is included with this piano allowing both teacher and student to play at the same time. A metronome is also included, which adds to the learning experience and is an essential tool.
It also has a split mode allowing you to combine instruments from the vast array of options. Even the rhythm sections can be utilized in this mode. Plus there is a specific headphone channel and output with 3D ambiance. These offer a wide experience of the sounds you are playing.
Included is access to the Piano Partner App. This will help you develop your skills in playing and reading music.
There are Bluetooth and USB connectivity that permits connection to apps specially designed to assist musicians. You can use your tablet or your computer to record what you are doing or use its onboard recorder. A further option is to connect to DAW software like Ableton or Logic Pro.
On a more basic note, there is a volume control to regulate the general sound and a separate volume for headphone use.
Roland F-140R Review Conclusion
There is no doubt in our mind that Roland has come up with a great digital piano. It is very well-made from real wood and has an elegant, stylish black finish. And it sounds great with its crisp, clear quality and has so many options to use and combine other instruments.
It plays beautifully with keys that simulate the real thing which will be of interest to experienced players and excellent for students.
It is a well-used expression, but this piano punches above its weight in terms of its all-round quality. And represents tremendous value at the price point.
We are struggling to find something to criticize, but for a product as good as this, it is hard. The only two things we can think of is that it doesn’t come with a transpose option and there is no bench seat. Sorry, that’s all we can come up with.
A great digital piano in every way and another excellent Roland product.