We are so familiar with the Roland name, and it feels like they’ve been here forever. It hasn’t been that long, just 47 years since their founding in 1972 in Osaka, Japan. They have made a big impact in many ways. Their Boss effects are widely used and known for their quality. Their Roland synthesizers and keyboards played by some of music’s greats.
Roland has also been at the forefront of technical development. They were one of the driving forces behind the development of MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Fact wrote in 2016 that Roland ‘arguably did more to shape electronic music than any other [company] in history’ Quite an accolade. They know a little bit about producing keyboards.
Their piano range has always been very good and cost-effective. Unfortunately, they have lived a little bit in the shadow of fellow Japanese giants Yamaha and Kawai. This is mainly because Roland does not make acoustic grand pianos. Yamaha and Kawai make some of the best acoustic grand pianos in the world.
But Roland has been manufacturing digital pianos for over 35 years. They invented touch-sensitive keys on digital pianos. They produce quality digital pianos, and we are going to take a look at one in this Roland F-140R Review. A very good Roland digital piano.
The first thing you notice is the sleek design. Almost elegant in its styling, it is a compact piano designed to fit into rooms where space is at a premium. Its traditional black finish allowing it to fit into any decor.
The good looks, though, are just the promise of things to come. If we know one thing about Roland, it is that their instruments are packed full of technology. We expect to see that technology put to good use in this piano.
So, let’s take a closer look…
The F-140R is a piano that is designed to resemble a piece of furniture. It is going to reside in the home, so it should do. The design is certainly going to impress. It is understated in its design but still catches your eye. And it is a piece you will be happy to have in any room.
It is a compact design and, therefore, isn’t going to take up too much room. It measures 53.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 30.6 and weighs 78 pounds.
These days Roland has factories in Japan and Taiwan as well as in the US. Their pianos are manufactured worldwide. They are built with traditional Roland quality. Roland instruments are renowned for their sturdy and strong manufacture. This piano is a good example of that.
There is a folding cover that extends over the keyboard. This is to protect the keys when not in use from dust or accidental damage. It also doubles-up as a music stand when in the upright position.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this design. Usually, a music stand is not particularly wide. This design runs the full length of the keyboard. It folds up, making a rest, so there is plenty of room for manuscript or music sheets.
The downside is that it is not very tall. This means that A4 sheets will fold over. There is a simple solution, just put a book behind the music sheets or use the manuscript with a stiff cover. Music books will not be affected, just single music sheets.
It is an 88-key piano with full-size keys. It is equipped with the three standard pedals from a metal alloy, giving an authentic feel underfoot. And the controls are built-in to the top of the piano above the keyboard. More on this later.
It has a built-in sound system with two 12 inch speakers giving you a sound pressure level of 103Db. Which is more than adequate for home use
The build quality is very good. A strong stand for the piano that is attractively finished and a well-designed keyboard layout.
So let’s take a look at these controls, which are placed on a panel above the keys. The panel extends for the length of the keyboard, but the controls are arranged toward the left side. Some will like that arrangement, while others will consider it rather cramped. Our view is that having the controls in one area is a convenient feature.
In the early days, as you get used to the controls, you don’t have to look too far. Locating the controls is, therefore, easy. The power button is to the left and then the buttons for the features. The buttons are backlit, which is a nice touch.
Every control is with a button, even the volume. This is a design feature that some will like, and others will not. We think we would prefer a rotating knob rather than a button. But that is just a personal preference.
In our opinion, the control panel is well-designed. It is not obtrusive and isn’t going to distract you while you are playing. The layout is good, and there is an LED display for visual awareness of what is going on.
We see no problems at all with the way the controls are designed and presented. They are clear and well-defined and very user-friendly.
How Does It Play?
This is an 88-key digital piano. Roland keyboards are noted for their playing comfort. The R-140R has a design Roland call ‘Ivory feel.’ The idea is that the keys which are full-size and plastic are given a coating. This coating creates the feel of ivory under the fingers to give the user the feel of an acoustic piano.
Whether it does is probably down to each individual user, but the feel of playing it cannot be disputed. It is considered by some to have one of the best key actions that there are in the price bracket.
The weighting of the keys is realistic being heavier at the low end and getting lighter as you progress to the high notes. And there is a three-pedal formation with the usual damper, soft and sostenuto.
Roland to their credit, have tried to recreate the feeling of an acoustic piano by including ‘escapement.’ This is an attempt to give you the feel of hammers hitting strings. In a digital piano, there are, of course, no hammers and strings. So it isn’t really necessary, but it is an interesting inclusion in search of authenticity.
Fitted to this digital piano is the PH-4 system, which at this price point, is very rare. It is a triple sensor action that replicates the real feel of an acoustic piano. This system uses high-resolution sensors to ensure tonal excellence is achieved. This brings us on to the sound.
Roland has used what they call their Supernatural sound engine. These are a series of samples that, when combined together, give a good recreation of the real thing. This Supernatural sound engine works in conjunction with the PH-4 digital system. The result is to give you great authentic tones — rich and warm acoustic grand piano sounds.
It has some great sounds built-in, eleven different pianos, and two electric pianos, as well as four organs, lead the way. Harpsichords, a Vibraphone, and five different sets of Orchestral strings follow. In total, there are 305 extra instruments besides the pianos.
There is also what they call an intelligent accompaniment. A rhythm feature that will play along with you. That is underselling this feature. It will listen to what you are playing, and then besides rhythms, you get some instruments. Basslines, some brass, and guitar all join in. You have a band at your personal disposal.
There are a total of 72 different rhythm styles that you can also dial-up.
It is well set up to be played by experienced players with a Polyphony of 128 notes. Allowing even complex pieces to be played seamlessly. And to add to the playing experience, the keyboard has both Split and Dual modes.
All things considered for a digital piano, the authenticity of the piano sounds are very good. And at this price point more than what you might reasonably expect. The added extra instruments and rhythm options put this Roland digital piano at another level.
The Bluetooth connection will allow you to turn your music pages. This can be done by attaching the sostenuto pedal to ‘page-turn’ on iPad music score apps. You can also attach your phone or tablet.
It has an audio in and out. Unfortunately, they are mini-jack size instead of ¼” jack sockets. There are also a USB MIDI port and USB memory port to save your performance directly to an external device.
If you’re interested in a Roland piano or keyboard and are not sure if this is the one for you, it’s well worth checking out our in-depth Roland Juno review, our Roland VR 09 V Combo Organ review, our Roland Juno DS88 review, and our Roland FP30 review.
Roland F-140R Pros & Cons
- Weighted 88-key piano with full-size keys.
- Wide selection of sound options.
- Triple sensor action replicates the feel of an acoustic piano.
- Supernatural sound engine produces very convincing acoustic piano sounds.
- 128 note Polyphony.
- Music stand is short, which is not great for holding A4 sheets of music.
- Inputs and outputs are mini-jack size, instead of ¼” jack sockets.
Also see: Roland FP-90 Portable Piano
This is a class act for the price point. It looks good and sounds even better, and is packed with typical Roland technology. This piano seems to be marketed as for a Beginner or Improver. However, we do not think that does it justice at all. It has all the attributes of a digital piano that will be appreciated by an experienced musician.
Yes, it will be a great buy as an instrument to learn on. But it will go so much further than that. It has an audio in and out. Unfortunately, they are mini-jack size instead of ¼” jack sockets.
In typical Roland style, they have come up with a great machine and priced it to make it very competitive. Many of the features you will only find on higher-grade machines — a fantastic Roland digital piano at a great price.