Roland’s RD series has been around since the early 1970s with the legendary RD-1000. They have since become known as some of the most trusted stage pianos amongst performers and producers. Much of that reputation is based on the ability to blend high-quality sound, professional features, and a straightforward workflow.
The RD-2000 has the most advanced feature set of any RD keyboard to date. This 88-key stage piano is geared towards live performance with a range of stage-ready features.
About the author
- 88 weighted keys
- full polyphony (V-Piano), 128-note (SuperNATURAL)
- 1100+ tones
- 1/8″, 1/4″ inputs
- XLR, 1/4″ outputs
- MIDI I/O, USB
Final verdict on the Roland RD-2000
Let’s clarify something first. When I say it’s not as suited to beginners, it’s not because it’s hard to use. It’s because it does a lot of things that I don’t believe beginners need. But, if you do need those things, like connecting external hardware on stage, it’s the most intuitive stage piano around. If you are a performer, you will love it; it’s a monster.
What I like
- SuperNATURAL and V-Piano engines.
- Assignable zones.
- Expansion slots.
- Realistic feel.
- Intuitive controls.
- Vast integration with software/hardware.
What I don’t like
- Not as suited to beginners.
Two iconic sound engines drive the sound of the RD-2000; SuperNATURAL and V-Piano. Roland’s V-Piano technology has been around for some time now, but it remains one of the best digital recreations of an acoustic piano available. Not only for the sound but the entire performance, too.
The V-Piano engine provides full-keyboard polyphony and captures the most subtle nuance of any performance. Most of the acoustic piano sounds come from this engine, along with immaculate emulations of the RD-1000 electric piano and MKS-20 sound module.
The SuperNATURAL sound engine handles everything else, and if you’ve been a Roland user previously, you’ll know that it delivers stunning sound.
There are over 1100 non-piano sounds, covering a wide range of instruments, from organs to synths and orchestral sounds. Some of the standout sounds come from the tonewheel organ voices because they sound great, and you have the faders to act as drawbars for easy control.
When it comes to any kind of cinematic sounds, like strings, brass, and so on, Roland has always done a pretty good job. However, the thing that takes the RD-2000 further than previous models is the ability to combine up to eight layers. You can create some truly epic sounds.
The SuperNATURAL engine has a max polyphony of 128-notes.
Roland claims that the RD-2000 has the most realistic-feeling keyboard they have ever put in a stage piano. While that might be up to individual discretion, I have always been impressed with Roland’s keyboards. So, I can confirm that the PHA-50 progressive hammer-action keyboard feels great.
The keys have a hybrid wood/molded construction that adds further realism along with the simulated ebony/ivory feel.
You can also check another article where I put together a list of the best-feeling 88-key keyboards on the market right now for both performers and piano students.
With the RD-2000, it’s not just about the range of features available, it’s how easily you can implement them in your performance. That’s what makes it such a powerhouse on stage.
Two independent sound engines
The two sound engines are equally iconic, and they are Roland’s SuperNATURAL engine and V-Piano modeling technology. The V-Piano engine deals with the main acoustic piano sound, although there are a few SuperNATURAL acoustic pianos.
The SuperNATURAL engine primarily deals with non-piano sound, of which there are over 1100.
Assignable knobs and faders
At a glance, you can quickly see that the RD-2000 isn’t short of assignable controls. There are eight velocity-sensitive encoders and nine faders. In typical RD fashion, it’s not enough to just have lots of controls; Roland has made them extremely useable.
Being velocity-sensitive means that the encoders are very precise; the faster you turn, the further you move. They also have fantastic LED indicators, so you always know exactly where you are when tweaking parameters.
There are eight assignable zones that allow you to split and layer sounds in creative ways. Keyboards can take on many roles in a live performance, often filling in for horn or string sections. The RD-2000 allows you to turn one keyboard into an entire section of musicians.
As well as splitting sounds into different zones, you can create unique sounds with up to eight layers. When using the assignable zones/layers, the RD-2000’s user-friendly design really comes into play. The faders act as level controls for each layer, so you can manipulate your layered sound with great detail on the fly.
It’s not just that it has high-quality built-in effects; it’s the choices Roland made that add value. Roland has recreated some vintage effects, including its own Dimension D. But, the most notable addition is a fantastic recreation of the Boss CE-1 chorus. The Boss CE-1 first appeared in 1976, and it has been one of the most iconic chorus pedals ever since.
Wave expansion slots
Expansion slots have been found on previous RD models, but thanks to Roland’s Axial website, they are more useable than ever. The Axial site is a collection of sounds and presets, including artist signature collections. Basically, it will be a never-ending supply of new sounds, and I’m sure no one could complain about that.
Scenes are your user-defined settings. It could be keyboard splits, layered sounds, or specific effects on a sound. It’s another feature that makes the RD-2000 great for live performance.
The RD-2000 has some onboard rhythms that could be handy for practicing without a band or even in the songwriting process.
Rainlink is Roland’s exclusive protocol, which delivers high-definition velocity control for your software instruments. The aim is to provide the same level of expression and dynamics from compatible software instruments that you get from RD-2000 sounds.
There is a lot going on with the RD-2000, so at a glance, it can look a little intimidating to beginners. But, apart from adding more features, the layout remains similar to previous RD models, which have always been pretty user-friendly.
The left side of the top panel has the assignable knobs and faders, and the right side has the voice type buttons and rhythm controls. One of the best things about using the RD-2000 is that much of it is based on one-touch functions. Like previous RD units, you can select a voice type with a single button, then browse further using the screen and central encoder. There’s even a one-touch piano button that returns you to the default piano voice at any time.
Roland has created a very intuitive keyboard in the RD-2000, and everything is in its right place, too. Some keyboards will put faders on one side and encoders on the other, but having both on the left makes it easier to utilize both quickly.
At home, the RD-2000 it’s excellent, or it’s an overload of features. If you want something to integrate perfectly with your home studio gear, it’s well worth the money.
If you are just looking for a keyboard piano with a good sound and feel, it’s probably not for you because you don’t need to pay for all the other features.
On stage is where it shines; it’s purpose-built for live performance. From the assignable zones to LED-lit encoders and faders to the integration with soft synths, the RD-2000 is a monster on the stage.
There’s nothing more to say.
As expected, the RD-2000 has MIDI in/out/thru ports, but it also has a built-in 24-bit/192 kHz audio/MIDI interface. The built-in audio/MIDI interface opens up a range of possibilities on stage and in the studio.
RD keyboards have always been relatively heavy, and the RD-2000 is no different. The weight comes, in part, from the PHA-50 keyboard and in part from the solid metal construction.
The buttons, faders, and encoders all feel like they belong to a premium instrument. There are no real negatives about the build quality, but it might be nice to see some additions like wooden side panels like you get with a few other manufacturers.
Compared to other stage pianos
The RD-2000 is, without a doubt, one of the best keyboard pianos on the market. But, when you are spending a lot of money, you should always check out the competition.
Roland RD-2000 vs Yamaha YC88
The YC88 is a new stage piano with a focus on tonewheel organ sounds, and it’s gorgeous. It might be the closest rival to the RD-2000 right now, but if you need deep hardware/software integration, the RD-2000 wins.
Roland RD-2000 vs Yamaha CP88
The CP88 is similar to the YC88 without the focus on organ sound, and it’s also a fantastic stage piano. There are things that the CP88 does better and reasons to choose it over the RD-2000, but for versatility, it’s the RD-2000.
Roland RD-2000 vs Korg SV-2
The SV-2 isn’t as good as the RD-2000, at least, that’s my opinion. However, if you want a vintage look and sound with minimal fuss, it’s a superb choice.
Who is the Roland RD-2000 best suited for?
The Roland RD-2000 is perfect for performers and studio musicians who work with a lot of software and hardware.Buy Roland RD-2000 at: SweetwaterAmazon