Last week I got a Roland V-Piano in the showroom for the first time, and tonight I decided it was time to get more intimately acquainted with this unique digital piano. Unlike the other Roland digital pianos that generate their sound from sampled pianos, the V-Piano uses modeling technology to create a variety of piano styles….and ultimately enables creating your own very personal pianos.
I quickly set up the V-Piano with my preferred Roland CM-110 speakers, a 2.1 system that I find produces very satisfying sound for BOTH the Roland digital pianos and any Rodgers organ in a home set up. As I started to explore the 24 factory preset piano configurations in the V-Piano, what I heard made me question why I would spend the price of a cheap Chinese-built grand piano for a V-Piano–other Roland stage pianos sound just about as good for a third or quarter the price.
Then I cracked the Owner’s Manual and quickly discovered that the V-Piano supports four-channel audio when the Sound Perspective parameter (in the System settings) is set for one of the more advanced options. I chose “Grand Ambiance” and plugged in a second CM-110….and was instantly immersed in what I can only describe as an “acoustic” experience. A bit more tweaking the EQ and levels of two CM-110 systems and I was off and running, exploring all that the V-Piano has to offer….I couldn’t stop playing.
Preset 003 “V1 Concert” (“A large-sized piano with long bass strings and a large sounding board”) started to grow on me, so I chose this configuration to experiment with the many parameters available for creating a custom modeled piano configuration.
V1 Concert does sound like a large concert grand, but I like a very resonant piano. Substantially increasing the Soundboard Resonance parameter started to create the right effect. I also added some Key Off Resonance, which accentuates the resonance after the key is released.
My Yamaha grand at home has been a satisfying piano for the 20+ years I’ve had it. One of the subtle things I like in an acoustic grand is how the strings are excited simply by lifting the dampers. The V-Piano has this parameter too (Damper Noise Level)–maxing it out at +100 made it sound just like my Yamaha (which is on a hardwood floor at home, and wonderfully resonant).
I increased the Stretch Tuning parameter from Normal to Deep, and increased the Decay Time, which subtly lengthens the time the note decays after reaching peak volume. Finally, a slight negative value for Tone Color darkened the mid-range tone and took the edge off the higher register notes, without reducing the resonance.
Voilà! The “Nelson Grand” was born (and saved…you can create and save up to 100 user-defined pianos)–the piano my Yamaha always wanted to be. I played, and played, and played some more. After four hours I forced myself to quit and just go home….and write this review.
An interesting side note: after playing an acoustic piano for about two hours, my wrists usually give out….too much pain to maintain any control of what my hands are doing. After four hours on the V-Piano (and some rather energetic playing) I was still going strong….and could have kept going. The key action is gentler than an acoustic grand, while still affording all the control I wanted.
As an organist, my keyboard technique on a piano is more on the “organistic” side: lots of sustain and legato keying. My Yamaha responds to this playing style rather well, although one challenge is maintaining the minimal key velocity required to actually make the note sound. This was never a problem with the V-Piano. The key action easily accommodated very “light” playing with great consistency and predictable sound, with the lower notes creating an effect similar to a 16′ Lieblich Gedackt pedal stop when played in a light legato style.
It was an amazing evening….and I’d be happy to share it with anyone: pianist or organist. There doesn’t seem to be anyplace in LA where you can demo a V-Piano. I’ll have this one for a week or two (until it’s sold), so call me if you’d like to take it for a spin.