Roland RD-64 Review

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Roland RD-64 Review
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The Roland RD-64 is one of Roland’s latest electric stage pianos that features weighted-action keys, MIDI output, realistic acoustic and electric piano sounds, convincing draw-bar organ sounds and several built-in reverb settings. As its name suggests, it has eight octaves of keys (64), beginning with low A and ending with high C. Its keys have a textured ivory feel that Roland calls Ivory Feel G, which helps prevent your fingers from slipping when playing on stage under humid, sweaty conditions. Overall, the piano is a pretty good deal for the price, although it lacks some features that you may want to have in an electric piano.

On the plus side, the RD-64 is one of the lightest electric stage pianos in its price range, if not the lightest. It weighs a little over 28 pounds, so gigging with it is quite easy. However, it achieves this low weight partly by removing three octaves from the acoustic piano keyboard — or one octave from the standard electric piano keyboard — which presumably should allow it to take up considerably less horizontal space. Instead, the control panel is placed to the left of the keyboard, occupying about as much horizontal space as a ninth octave. This arrangement may suit you if you prefer to place a second keyboard above your electric piano as it won’t interfere with the controls.

The most important features of the RD-64 are its sounds, which, being made by Roland, are outstanding. It includes Roland’s SuperNatural sampling technology, which intelligently changes tone based on your personal playing style. Its three acoustic piano sounds are extremely clean, bright and full of resonance, although they may sound a little too clean for some people’s taste. This lack of character can be changed by activating the EFX 2 damper pedal switch on the control panel. This effect adds resonance to the tone that makes it sound less like a classical piano and perhaps more like a jazz piano. The choices of acoustic piano sounds are bright piano, concert piano and concert mono piano.

The controls and on-board effects are not the best features of the RD-64, and the expression pedal can only be used in MIDI mode, bypassing all internal sounds. Reverb can’t be adjusted, aside from turning it on or off, and the Clav and electric piano have a slightly unnatural distortion when the keys are struck heavily. For such an electric piano, its lack of effects settings is a drawback. The reverb sounds good, as you would expect, but the simplicity of the control panel is a little over-emphasized. It includes Roland’s famous pitch-bend and modulation paddle, as well as Roland’s D-Beam controller, which uses a hand-proximity modulator to control pitch, volume and other assignable parameters.

You can access finer-detailed controls by holding down the Function button and pressing one of the assigned keys on the keyboard to adjust the MIDI controller values, pitch-bend envelope and other advanced features. The equalizer sliders are accessible from the front of the control panel, and they can significantly change the sound of the piano. The electric piano sounds are based on both a Rhodes and a Wurlitzer, and for the most part, they sound excellent.

There is a slightly artificial-sounding artifact when playing electric piano or Clav at a loud volume, as if the ADSR envelope were set to drop off too quickly. Unfortunately, there are no ADSR controls on the control pad or accessible through the Function button. If you simply want a compact, lightweight, realistic-sounding electric piano made by a legendary company like Roland, then check it out.

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