Roland makes some of the best digital pianos for beginners and pros alike. The F701 is an excellent example of a realistic piano feel in a compact unit.
Roland’s new F701 is a compact digital piano that packs a massive amount of tones into a small space. The wooden 3-pedal unit delivers an authentic piano playing experience, and it’s available in three colors.
- Sep 10, 2021: Verified links. Minor changes in structure.
Our verdict on the Roland F701
Overall, Roland has done a great job with the F701. It shows some significant improvements on past models and comes at a reasonable price. The modern/compact design might take away some of the traditional upright piano experience, but we think most users will be glad of the extra space. If you want a versatile digital piano, very few will be better at this price.Check availability and current price: SweetwaterAmazon
Who does it suit?
It suits professionals and beginners/hobbyists who don’t mind spending more to get a high-quality instrument.
- Modern compact design.
- Huge Number of voices.
- Realistic piano feel.
- OLED display.
- Beginner-friendly features.
- Not as robust as larger consoles.
Most digital pianos have some internal songs, whether it’s just a couple of demos or tracks that actually help you develop technique.
The thing we like most about the F701’s internal songs is that they have been carefully selected to do just that – help you develop your technique. Roland has leaned heavily on composers like Burgmuller and Czerny, who are well-known for their technical exercises.
The first thing we should say is that we are talking about a very small OLED display. It’s not a large screen like you’d get on a stage piano. However, you’d be surprised how many digital pianos with limited functions become irritating to use because they don’t have a display of any sort.
So, it might be small, but it’s clear, and it keeps everything nice and simple.
In music theory, temperament refers to a tuning system that alters the size of intervals between notes. We are used to playing with equal temperament in Western music, which is actually out of tune if you compare it to just temperament. The reason for equal temperament is that it allows you to play with fewer flaws or inconsistencies across the entire keyboard.
If you are a theory buff or a hardcore muso, the chance to explore various temperaments should excite you. The Roland F701 offers equal, just major, just minor, Arabic, and much more.
Digital pianos are used at home more than anywhere else, which means the volume can be an issue. Sometimes playing with headphones is the answer, but you don’t hear the sound naturally that way.
The Roland F701 has a volume limit feature that sets a limit that you won’t exceed regardless of other settings and how heavy-handed you are. What it does is it gives you more room to play expressively without putting such a harsh cap on dynamics.
The F701 has a built-in 3-track recorder that captures 16-bit/44.1 kHz audio. You can record one full song internally with the option of a USB flash drive for additional storage.
Another very common feature on digital pianos, but one that any aspiring pianist would be lost without.
Piano Everyday/Piano Designer apps
Piano Everyday is an app that accompanies your daily practice routines. It allows you to record and evaluate your performances via your phone or smart device.
The good thing about it is that you can evaluate your performance while away from the piano with a clear head. It also displays scores on the screen if you want to use it as a digital music stand.
The Piano Designer app is basically Roland’s virtual piano technician. It allows you to tweak various aspects of the piano in a simple, user-friendly interface.
Hinged keyboard lid
It keeps dust away from your keys and doubles as a music/tablet rest; clever and practical.
Roland’s SuperNATURAL piano engine powers the F701, and as always, it sounds superb. We have got into the habit of instantly saying any keyboard/piano that uses this engine sounds great, but it’s true.
The SuperNATURAL piano engine has been around for a while, and it gets better all the time because Roland is always trying to analyze and recreate every tiny aspect of a piano’s performance with greater detail and accuracy.
One significant improvement since the previous F140 is that the max polyphony of 128 notes has now been increased to 256 notes.
The F701 has a total of 324 sounds/voices, including the pianos, electric pianos, and strings. Many similarly priced digital pianos barely get into double-digit sounds/voices.
One of the things we really like about the F701 sound bank is that it includes a lot of synth tones. Synths aren’t something that we commonly associate with digital pianos, but it encourages a different type of playing/learning, and we love that.
Overall, the grand piano’s tones are stunning; everything else is very good, with a few that fall either above or below expectations.
The F701 features Roland’s PHA-4 Standard keyboard. As you’d expect, Roland is one of the best when it comes to progressive hammer-action keys, and the balance of heavy to light is very nice in the F701.
The PHA-4 keyboard also has escapement, which allows each note to ring out naturally and enhances the realistic feel.
The F701 also features a simulated ivory feel and high-resolution sensing, typically reserved for more expensive models.
The layout is very straightforward, with one control panel above the lowest keys and power/volume buttons to the left of the keyboard.
The main control panel has function buttons for voice and song, metronome, and tempo. Whatever parameter you are changing is shown on the OLED display and selected using a handy rotary knob. The OLED display is crucial to the F701 because it has so many sounds and songs, it would be a struggle without a display.
To the right of the OLED display are some basic transport controls for recording and playback. The layout is simple, easy to get around, and non-intrusive, so it doesn’t ruin the look of the piano.
The F701 has a lot of features that make it ideal for home use. Let’s start with the size and weight; it’s more compact and lighter than many digital pianos. That means it takes up less space in your living room, and it’s easier to move somewhere else in the house if need be.
It comes in a light natural finish, white or contemporary black, so fitting in with your decor shouldn’t be an issue.
The other features that are great for home use are the volume limit and dedicated apps mentioned above. These features make practicing more fun and manageable if you live with others.
The downside of the F701 being more compact is that, while it looks great, it’s pretty slender compared to some high-end digital piano consoles. Some users might not feel like a smaller cabinet gives the same authentic piano playing experience.
It’s unlikely that a digital piano would be the choice of a gigging musician; they are too much work to carry around. But, to be fair, the F701 is lighter than most, so if you have transport for gear, it wouldn’t be too bad.
Realistically, it’s more likely to be used on stage as a recital piano or for a house band; that way, it’s still a stationary piano. It’s very good in that kind of situation because you can easily move it around the stage if you have to. The built-in speakers are also enough for small recital performances without an external PA system.
The build quality is something that might divide opinion. On the whole, we have no complaints about the build quality of the F701, and that means the console/stand and the controls/buttons.
However, when you make something more compact, it generally has some impact on the strength of the build quality, and that’s also true here. Compared to some bulkier options, the F701 might seem less robust, but that’s the trade-off.
The wooden stand does have a nice support across the back that strengthens the entire unit considerably.
Compared to other digital pianos
Roland’s F701 should appeal to a wide range of users with its sleek design and huge range of sounds. If you still aren’t convinced, here are a few more options.
You can also check out our pick of the best digital pianos in 2021.
F701 vs. Casio AP-470
It’s hard to choose between these two; the F701 is far more versatile, but the AP-470 looks and feels more like an acoustic piano.
F701 vs. Korg LP-380U
If you want to go for something slightly cheaper, the Korg LP-380U is an excellent option. However, we do prefer the F701 if you have the budget.
F701 vs. Yamaha Arius YDP-164
Yamaha’s YDP range has something to offer every player. It’s a close call; if you want something that looks modern, go for the F701; if you want traditional, go with the YDP-164.