Roland FP-90X Review: Innovative and Advanced

If you are in the market for a portable piano with high-end performance and a sleek design, you won’t go wrong with the Roland FP-90X. It is the latest and most powerful portable piano in Roland’s famous FP series.

Similar to its predecessors in the FP-series, such as the Roland FP-90 and FP-60, the FP-90X comes in a slim and stylish easily portable cabinet that looks really good. It also features the latest Roland piano technology including a PHA-50 keyboard, onboard speaker system, PureAcoustic Piano Modeling, and much more.

In this Roland FP-90X review, we take a look at some of the piano’s key features and how it measures against its prominent competitors such as the FP-90 and other popular portable pianos.

Design

Let’s start this Roland FP-90X review by taking a look at the portable piano’s design. The FP-90X overall design brings all the important components of the console digital piano to a portable digital piano with an elegant futuristic look. It comes in two colors, black and white. Both colors look great, in my opinion, but ultimately your choice depends on your personal preference.

Another notable thing in the FP-90X is its minimal design. It seems Roland sought to keep everything clean, sleek and clutter-free in this compact digital piano. Unlike other portable models, the FP-90X does not have a bunch of often overwhelming controls and functions yet features all the versatile high-end functions and power found in a console piano.

The FP-90X has a sleek slim design and comparatively lighter than most portable digital pianos. It comes at a height of just 5.4 inches, depth of 15.3 inches, and is only 52.7 inches wide. The piano weighs 52 pounds (23.6 kg). It is actually not the lightest but definitely not among the heaviest digital piano in its price range.

Much of its weight comes from its wooden keys and hammer mechanism, which although heavier, gets you as close to the console piano as possible. The slim design and less bulky design allow you to use the keyboard both at home or in your gigs. It even works perfectly as a studio keyboard.

The Roland FP-90X comes with illuminated buttons which add to the portable digital piano’s aesthetic appeal. It has 25 illuminated buttons and 8 sliders which is plenty for any player. In typical Roland style, the FP-90X also features an LCD screen smack in the middle of the keyboard. The LCD screen is reasonably sized to show you what you need to see clearly without running the risk of cracking, which often happens with large keyboard screens.

The sliders are great, especially if you are someone who does professional music production. The sliders will significantly help to control different music parameters during your songwriting or recording sessions so things will be easier for you.

You are not likely to find similar sliders, or even any type of sliders, on most digital pianos. The FP-90X features equalizer sliders that you can easily use to adjust highs, mids, and lows at will. You also get a song volume slider that you can use to turn up or down the volume to match the volume of the track you are playing.

And of course, there’s the mic slider that helps a lot in adjusting your microphone volume to the best setting possible. Overall, the Roland FP-90X comes in a sleek, compact, and portable design with access to all the key features you need when writing, playing, or recording music.


Keyboard

If you liked the previous Roland models’ keyboards, you’ll definitely love the FP-90X’s keyboard bed even more. The keys in the FP-90X combine wooden and plastic construction to give you an ivory and ebony feel similar to the keys of an acoustic piano. I believe this the closest you can get to an acoustic piano in digital piano keys.

In the FP-90X, Roland uses an innovative keyboard bed known as the PHA-50, which basically stands for Progressive Hammer Action 50.

Keep in mind that this is the same keyboard used in the company’s most expensive digital pianos such as the HP603, HP605, and the LX-17. The PHA-50 is basically an extremely responsive key bed with the same feel and action as an acoustic piano. Getting the same PHA-50 technology at the price of the FP-90X is definitely a great bargain, especially if you are on a tight budget.

The PHA-50 technology gives you weighted hammer action in which the lower register keys are heavier than the higher register keys, just like in an acoustic piano. You basically get the same quality and feel of an acoustic piano in a portable digital piano.

Roland PHA-5

Roland has also incorporated the “escapement” feature which simulates a clicking sensation whenever a key is pressed halfway down. The FP-90X keyboard is a more improved version of keyboards in the previous Roland FP series pianos. It is one of the best keyboard actions available in digital pianos today as you can see.


Sound

Roland’s FP series pianos are well known for delivering highly authentic sounds but the FP-90X takes things a step further. It features Roland’s PureAcoustic Piano Modeling sound engine technology which has great accuracy and the ability to produces the same resonant sound as an acoustic piano.

With the FP-90X you have ready-to-play variations to choose from including Concert and Dynamic Stage pianos. You can also personalize your sounds just like a piano expert using the onboard Piano Designer’s easy-to-adjust parameters which make everything easier for you.

Pure Modeling Technology

Roland’s PureAcoustic Piano Modeling sound engine also comes with PureAcoustic Ambience and My Stage features that allow you to create realistic sound environments such as concert halls and studios. The FP-90X comes with almost infinite piano tones to suit every musician’s needs, whether performing, recording, or writing music.

This wide range of sounds is one of the many features that make the Roland FP090X digital piano a versatile instrument for diverse purposes.


Polyphony

Polyphony basically refers to the number of notes produced by a digital piano at once. A majority of digital pianos have polyphony notes ranging from 64 and 128 to 192 or even 256 notes.

You could be asking how one can play 64 or even 128 at the same time from 88 keys which you never play together at once. Well, the answer is quite simple. Modern digital pianos normally use stereo samples that require two notes for every key that you play.

Keep in mind that other piano functions such as sound effects like Chorus and Reverb, sustain pedal, dual-mode, and the ticking sounds of the metronome use up more polyphony notes too. For instance, the first notes played every time you depress the sustain pedal will continue playing as you add new notes.

The piano also requires more memory to keep playing all the notes. Polyphony is used up when you are playing together with a song playback such as auto-accompaniment and your recorded performance. The piano requires polyphony for the notes you are playing as well as the backing track.

So why do you need a high amount of polyphony? You need a piano with a high amount of polyphony because when a piano reaches the polyphony limit it will begin to drop the notes you had played earlier to free up more memory for the next tones you are about to play. The drop will definitely affect the quality of the sound you get from your low polyphony piano.

You need a piano with a higher amount of polyphony notes even though you won’t be using all the 192 or even 256 polyphony voices at the same time. However, it is quite common to reach 64 or 128 note limits, especially when creating multiple track recordings or layering several sounds at once. We, therefore, recommend getting a digital piano with a minimum of 64 notes of polyphony.

This is where the FP-90X excels because it comes with limitless polyphony (Other: 256 notes). With the FP-90X you can be assured of playing your favorite songs and doing your recordings without reaching a polyphony cap and affecting the quality and fullness of the piano sounds.


Speakers

The F-P90X comes with an onboard speaker system designed to give you rich powerful sounds for your home playing or live performances.

It is a 2-speaker & dome tweeters system with high-fidelity immersive output that projects your music from different angles. You will be hard-pressed to find another digital piano with a similar dynamic range and sonic depth speaker system as the Roland FP-90X digital piano.

The FP90X gives you a pair of powerful woofers that work in perfect harmony will twin dome tweeters and well-designed vents at the back of the speaker cabinet to deliver deep sounds for your music recording, live performance, and any other musical purpose.

The full range speakers are ideal for live performances, private practice, music recording, and much more. The system also comes with a Headphones Acoustic Projection feature that gives you the same deep immersion surround tones as the speaker system.


Features

The Roland FP-90X comes with all the features you need for all types of music and playing situations. There aren’t many portable digital pianos with the same superior features found in the FP-90X.

Let’s look at some of the key features of this latest digital piano in Roland’s FP series:

Modes

Like most digital pianos, the FP 90X comes with three extra modes besides the standard whole keyboard mode. It has dual, split, and twin modes that allow you to use different notes simultaneously.

With the dual mode, you get two instrument sounds layered over each other. The dual mode allows you to play more complex and richer tones. For example, you can use the dual mode to achieve unique combinations of string and piano or even church organ and choir tones.

The split mode allows you to divide your keyboard into two different sections and play a distinct tone in each part. For instance, you can split your keyboard and play a piano tone using your left hand and a bass tone with your right hand. You can also adjust the point where the keyboard is split into two sections.

While still on the split mode, you can use part sliders to change the volume balance between the split tone automatically as you play without stopping to adjust or tweak things around. The part sliders allow you to create unique and beautiful sound effects.


Recording & Playback

The Roland FP 90X digital piano allows you to record and playback standard MIDI files or SMF as well as audio in either WAV or MP3 format via a USB stick.

What this means is that you can record your performances on the digital piano in both audio and MIDI. With the MIDI recorder, you can record ten 1-track songs and save them in the piano’s internal memory.

The piano also allows you to record your performance via a built-in audio recorder. The built-in recorder records the instrument’s actual sounds instead of the MIDI data to give you high-quality audio recordings in WAV format that can easily be played on any MP3 player and computer, or shared with your fellow musicians, family, and friends.

You can also exchange the songs and the MIDI files between your piano and computer or any other device that can decode and play MIDI files.


Other Features

The FP 90X also comes with other handy features such as the Metronome, Transpose, Twin Piano, and Auto-Off. These are basic yet useful features that are also present in the other Roland FP series pianos such as the FP-90.

The Metronome is an important tool that helps you to practice more effectively by timing your rhythm. The time-keeping tool comes with an adjustable beat, tempo, pattern, tone, downbeat, and volume. It is an essential tool when you want to perfect your piano playing skills.

The transpose function is mainly used when you want to play a certain song in a different key without having to relearn the entire song in the new key. The function can also be used to play songs originally written in a different key. Transpose allows you to play songs in different keys and still hear them in their original key.

The FP-90X also features a twin mode function that works the same way as the split mode. You can divide the piano keyboard into two sections and play along with a friend on the same keyboard and at the same time.

The Auto-Off function is another power-saving feature. It automatically turns off the digital piano when it is no longer being used

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Roland FP 90X gives you state-of-the-art options for both professional and beginner piano players. For instance, with the FP 90X, you get both audio and MIDI connectivity via USB and Bluetooth.

The digital piano comes with two headphone jacks that allow you to connect your piano to two sets of headphones and work together with another person, especially during your piano lessons.

It has one ¼-inch jack and another 1/8-inch jack that allow you to connect your headphones without needing an adapter. The dual headphone connectivity is quite useful when learning or practicing in a noisy environment or when you are playing a duet with your music instructor.

The FP 90X also features several ports and connectors at the back of the keyboard. There is a port for hooking up your laptop or PC when you want to use your piano as a MIDI controller or get access to all the available piano apps and online piano lessons via your computer. You can also use the USB port to use the keyboard as a MIDI controller. However, this feature only works with an A or B USB cable, which is pricier than the regular USB-C cable.

One of the best things about the FP 90X is its Bluetooth connectivity for MIDI. This is a great connectivity feature, especially when you are playing live. Roland also has its app known as Piano Every Day and
Piano Designer.

The piano is also compatible with some of the popular music creation and playing apps such as Apple’s GarageBand app for iOS devices. As a recent digital piano developed at the height of wireless technology, the FP 90X does not disappoint when it comes to connectivity.


Accessories

The Roland FP 90X portable digital piano includes the following accessories:

  • Product manual
  • AC adaptor
  • Power cord
  • Music rest
  • Damper pedal (DP-10)

Stand

The FP 90X comes with optional stands and 3-pedal units for an upright position. The stand can be configured for use with KSC-90 (single pedal support), KPD-90 (3 pedal support) or for portable keyboard use with KS-20X or KS-10Z.

KPD-90 Stand

KPD-90 Stand

Sustain Pedal

One of the best accessories that come with the FP 90X is the DP-10 single sustain pedal. The piano can be configured with a three-pedal unit like RPU-3 . The sustain pedal gives you the feel of an authentic grand piano and gives you full control over your piano playing style. 


Summary

The FP-90X is currently Roland’s flagship digital piano. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a digital piano with high-end performance.

Similar to other digital pianos in the FP-X series, the FP-90X comes in a sleek stylish cabinet that is extremely easy to transport to your gigs.

It also features the latest innovations in Roland’s digital piano technology including the PHA-50 hybrid keyboard, PureAcoustic Piano Modeling, custom tone-shaping onboard speaker system, and much more.

When you invest in the FP-90X, you are assured of getting your signature sounds complete with acoustic piano tones thanks to its Piano Designer feature. 

Its PureAcoustic Piano Modeling sound engine delivers everything up to fortissimo while the PHA-50 hybrid keyboard gives you an easy and enjoyable piano playing experience similar to an acoustic piano.

The FP-90X allows you to get into different music styles including electric pianos and other non-piano sounds. Its 2-speaker & dome tweeter system is carefully engineered to deliver rich deep sounds to suit your music recording and performance style. 

If you are after quiet playing moments, you have the option to use the digital piano’s Headphones Acoustic Projection feature for a more immersive and natural experience even in noisy surroundings.

The FP-90X comes with Audio and MIDI connectivity via USB or Bluetooth, vocal effects, mic input, and optional stands as well as 3-pedal units for an upright configuration with KSC-90 and KDP-90 or portable use with KS-20X and KS-12.

In terms of design, you’ll definitely like the attractive black finishes of the piano designed to match every type of home or studio décor. This makes it a very versatile pick so you won’t have to worry about its look anymore.

Pros

  • Sleek and attractive design
  • PHA-50 keyboard bed with ivory and ebony design
  • Unlimited polyphony notes for piano tones
  • 4 in-built powerful speakers

Cons

  • The 3 sustain pedal unit and stand are sold separately
  • Comparatively bulkier and heavier than similar models such as the Yamaha P515

The FP-90X is lightweight, easily portable, and even comes with a nice cabinet for transportation. It has truly opened up more areas to explore in the digital pianos industry and we can only hope things will get even better from here so we will have to see.

If you have the budget for it, then we highly recommend it as the best portable, feature-rich digital piano. You won’t regret this choice.

If you're looking for a less advanced version of FP-90X, then Roland's FP-30X is a good choice.


Alternatives

Roland FP 90X is not the only quality digital piano on the market. Some of its closest rivals in the portable digital piano industry include its predecessor the FP 90, the Yamaha P515, and the Kawai ES920.

Let’s look at how the FP 90X measures against these alternatives.

Roland FP-90X vs Roland FP-90

At the most basic level, both the Roland FP-90 and the FP-90X are great digital pianos from a reputed brand and capable of achieving just about anything you’d want from your portable piano.

As digital pianos from the same brand and in the same range of products, they typically share several attributes in terms of design, keyboard, and other standard features. However, I believe the FP-90X sounds better than the FP-90 and even comes with a few features lacking in the FP-90.

Roland FP 90

For instance, in terms of polyphony, the FP-90X gives you a better upgrade with unlimited polyphony for piano sounds and 256-note polyphony for other voices.

Unlimited polyphony is not something you come across in digital pianos every day. Overall, the new FP-90X delivers better quality sounds and performance than the FP-90.


Roland FP-90X vs Yamaha P515

Both Roland and Yamaha are well-known brands in the digital piano and musical instruments industry. It is, therefore, quite natural for buyers to compare the two brands when shopping for a good digital piano.

So how does the Roland FP-90X measure against the Yamaha P515?

The FP-90X is the successor of the FP-90 while the Yamaha P515 is a more improved version of the Yamaha P255 digital piano. Both models have some common attributes and features such as 4 speakers with two tweeters, USB flash compatibility, app compatibility, and black and white colors among others.

Yamaha P515

However, the FP-90X delivers better value for money than the Yamaha P515 in certain areas. For instance, while both digital pianos have Bluetooth connectivity, the Yamaha P515 has only audio connectivity.

The FP-90X has a separate song volume controller which is lacking in the P515. The P515 has 256-note polyphony while the FP-90X gives you unlimited polyphony for piano and 256-note polyphony for other voices.

Compared to the Yamaha P515, the FP-90X is a more superior digital piano with better performance. It is a bit pricier than the P515 but definitely delivers value for money.


Roland FP-90X vs Kawai ES920

The Kawai ES920 is another 88 keys digital piano with excellent performance and a great reputation in the music world. However, compared to the Roland FP-90X, it falls short in certain areas.

For example, the FP-90X has larger and more powerful speakers, better connectivity, and better pedal support than the Kawai ES920. The FP-90X also gives you unlimited polyphony for piano sounds while the Kawai ES920 is limited to 256 polyphony notes.

Kawai ES920

You even get a longer warranty from the manufacturer with the Roland FP-90X than the Kawai ES920. The FP-90Xis definitely the better option for those looking for value and excellent performance in a portable digital piano. We highly recommend it.

About the Author Linda Ritter

Linda Ritter is a passionate pianist and a songwriter for more than 7 years. With a Masters in Music, she has explored the world of music and has collaborated with several musicians and brands like Roland, Tune Core, and plenty of blogs.

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