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. In this review, I discuss everything good, bad, and in-between about Roland’s slimline digital piano.
About the author
- 88 weighted keys
- 256-note polyphony
- 324 voices
- built-in speakers
- OLED display
Final 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 I 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.
What I like
- Modern compact design.
- Huge range of voices.
- Realistic piano feel.
- OLED display.
- Beginner-friendly features.
What I don’t like
- Not as robust as larger consoles.
Roland’s SuperNATURAL piano engine powers the F701, and as always, it sounds superb. I have got into the habit of instantly saying any keyboard/piano that uses this engine sounds great, but it’s true.
The SuperNATURAL engine has been around for a while. 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 voices, including the pianos, electric pianos, and strings. Many similarly priced digital pianos barely get into double-digit sounds/voices.
One of the things I like about the F701 soundbank 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 I 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 Roland F701 comes with a pair of 4.7″ speakers powered by two 12 W amplifiers. On paper, that might not sound overly impressive, but when you consider how compact this piano is, it’s more than enough. The speakers’ clarity gives the F701 the sound of a much bigger unit.
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. The weight of the keys, from heavy to light, is well-balanced across the keyboard.
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. I have to score the F701 a little higher in this department because slimline digital pianos don’t usually feel this good.
It’s not the number of features that’s impressive here; it’s the choice of features. Every feature is designed to enhance the realistic piano experience.
Most digital pianos have internal songs, whether just a couple of demos or tracks that help you develop technique. The thing I 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, well-known for their technical exercises.
The first thing I should say is that I’m talking about a tiny OLED display; it’s not a large screen like you’d get on s 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.
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, so 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 that any aspiring pianist should use.
Piano Every Day/Piano Designer apps
Piano Every Day 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 musical scores on the screen.
The Piano Designer app is 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.
The main control panel has function buttons for voice and song, metronome, and tempo. The parameter you change 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 screen.
The F701 has many features that make it ideal for home use. Let’s start with the size, which means it takes up less space in your living room, and it’s easier to move somewhere else in the house if need be.
The other great features 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 build quality is something that might divide opinion. Overall, I have no complaints about the F701, which means the stand and the controls/buttons. However, when you make something more compact, it generally impacts the strength of the build quality, and that’s also true here.
The F701 might seem less robust compared to some bulkier options, but that’s the trade-off. The wooden stand has a support panel across the back that considerably strengthens the entire unit.
The F701 has two headphone jacks, one 1/4″ and one 1/8″, great for silent duets. It has a single audio input (1/8″) and a single 7-pin pedal input for the three-pedal unit. There are two USB ports (Type A/B) and Bluetooth connectivity.
Compared to other digital pianos
The F701 is one of the best modern digital pianos available. It should appeal to many users with its sleek design and a massive range of sounds. If you still aren’t convinced, here are a few more options.
Roland 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.
Roland F701 vs Korg LP-380U
If you want to go for something slightly cheaper, the Korg LP-380U is an excellent option. However, I do prefer the F701 if you have the budget.
Roland F701 vs Yamaha YDP-165
Yamaha’s Arius 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-165.
Who is the Roland F701 best suited for?
The Roland F701 suits all playing levels, although the price may not suit beginners. Anyone who wants quality in a compact unit should love it.Buy Roland F701 at: SweetwaterAmazon