With each redesign and reissue, the new version of Roland’s RD stage piano series is a widely anticipated release event. Professional piano players have been queuing up to have a look at the new RD piano since the release of the first RD pianos in...
"KB: What do you use for piano sounds onstage? LG: It’s the Roland RD-800. I try to mimic as much from their original records as I can, so with our soundman Gary Loizzo, I spend a lot of time tweaking the sound through the P.A. We tweak the basic concert grand-piano sound according to what the P.A. was telling him. "more
With each redesign and reissue, the new version of Roland’s RD stage piano series is a widely anticipated release event. Professional piano players have been queuing up to have a look at the new RD piano since the release of the first RD pianos in the 1980s. The Roland RD-800 is a significant update.
Having enjoyed the endorsement of high-profile popular music piano players for several decades, and more importantly the overwhelming endorsement of journeymen and hobbyist musicians across the world, a redesigned RD is under tremendous pressure to perform like never before. The RD-800 does not disappoint.
There are several primary areas of concern for the modern player seeking an 88-key weighted action stage piano, the first of which is sound. Whether in a solo piano context, a jazz trio or an electric rock or R&B band, the piano has to be thrilling. Roland’s sound archives have been in development for decades, and the best samples with the latest signal processing have been selected for inclusion in the RD-800’s library.
Of course paramount among all of the sounds is the RD-800’s SuperNATURAL Piano engine, which delivers an acoustic piano sound of unprecedented quality and expression. A new Concert Grand derived from the V-Piano Grand is included that painstakingly recreates the subtlest piano attributes. It shines in the harsh light of solo piano contexts, cuts like a knife in rock and R&B band mixes, and excels in all environments in between. It additionally features electric piano, organ, strings, brass and woodwind, mallet and many other timbres (1100 sounds in all), each of which excel.
Another critical aspect of a stage piano is its feel and action. The RD-800 features Roland’s PHA-4 Concert Keyboard with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel. The Ebony/Ivory feel is a matte key with an almost eggshell feel to it that provides a rich and satisfying tactile experience when playing. The weight of the keyboard is graded, just like an acoustic piano so the left side of the keyboard plays gradually heavier than the right side. It is equipped with Roland’s latest touch-detection technology.
It is important from a practical perspective to have all of the great sound quality and the authentic playing feel reside in a chassis that is easily portable. The RD-800 wins in this category as well. It weighs in at an impressive 48 pounds, less than a male bulldog or your average six-year old boy.
The patching on the rear panel is sophisticated and versatile with both XLR and ¼” stereo output jacks, along with a 1/8” stereo input jack for music players or other devices. Versatile pedal connections, optional USB flash memory and MIDI control complete the rear panel.
You can customize your piano sounds that make a particular performance or venue more effective, and store them in the onboard Piano Designer to be called up the next time you encounter those particular performance parameters. If you are very intense about your performance timbres, you can even drill down into the Individual Note Voicing, which allows you to customize pitch, level, and tonal character independently for all 88 notes.
The effects section of the RD-800 is as advanced as its sound engine. Rich ambience improve the piano timbers while tremolo, phase shifting and flanging enhance the electric pianos beautifully, and the rotary effect makes for truly convincing organ tones. There is a five-band equalizer for additional tone shaping and a powerful Tone Color knob that is programmed to behave in a variety of ways according to logical manipulation of the specific timbres.