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Roland DP990
Roland DP-990F Reviews

Graham Howard, Piano Advisor
"The following reviews are from owners of the Roland DP-990. The most
recent review is at the bottom of this page", Graham Howard, Piano
Advisor

1) "It sounds for all the world like a real instrument"

I opted for a Roland DP-990RF-PE and I'm over the moon with it. I saw two criticisms of it – one
on your site – that the higher tones are a bit on the bright side. But I honestly don't hear it, which is I guess
what matters. To the contrary, to me it has some artefacts in the sounds in both the higher and lower registers
that sound for all the world like a real instrument. I really can't fault it – it sounds real to me and its minimal
footprint and sleek simple look is exactly what I was hoping for.

I found your website and piano articles very useful and
informative in trying to weed through the possibilities and home in
 on my
requirements.

Reviewed by Paul Herzlich (21/01/2011)

2) "The matt black panel on the polished black model tipped it for
me"

There's a wide choice of electric pianos, but my requirements quickly narrowed down the field for
me. Because of constraints on space, I wanted a compact instrument, and because my room has a meticulously minimal
look, I wanted a sleek piece of furniture. I would have loved to have bought a Yamaha, since virtually everyone
agrees that they have the best sound and touch. But my two requirements ruled them out – even the small Yamahas
have design details I find annoying and the others are too big. After some research (videos on YouTube really
helped), I narrowed things down to a Casio PX-830 and the Roland DP-990RF-PE. Very different prices. My local piano
teacher said the cheaper Casio would do fine. The Roland technical specs gave it the edge, but would I be able to
tell the difference? Probably not.

I was on the verge of getting the Casio when I realised that the back panel on the polished black
model is matt. That tipped it for me. The Roland looked right. I'll never know now about the Casio's sound. So I
can't say whether the extra money is justified by the sound. What I can tell you is that the Roland looks every bit
as good as I'd hoped.

However, I also have to say that it sounds better than I could ever have imagined. The reviews of
the Roland (including one on this site) mentioned that it is a bit bright in the higher registers. I can't hear it.
On the contrary, the instrument sounds so real that you'd swear there were real hammers and strings in there with
secondary resonances. The touch is great too, as is the 'ivory feel' of the keyboard. In some ways, the touch might
be better than many acoustic pianos because it is even across the whole keyboard. I have no idea about the other
electronic features – voices, twin mode, layers, recording and playback. They don't interest me. I know they're
there and I imagine they're competently engineered.

Bottom line, I'm delighted. The DP-990RF not only looks great but sounds fantastic.

Paul Herzlich with his Roland DP990

Reviewed by Paul Herzlich, (26/01/2011)

3) "Yamahas didn't come anywhere close in quality to the Roland's sound and
feel"

Roland DP990RF – natural keyboard and ebony case, $3,400 at Boston Piano and
Organ

I checked out Rolands and Yamahas. To me, the Yamahas didn't come anywhere
close in quality to the Roland's sound and feel, and tended to be more expensive
to boot. The DP990RF was a special order (and additional $800), but I felt it
was worth it because a polished case is much easier to clean and the feel of the
natural keys superior to standard plastic. Since I expect to have the
instrument for years, I considered the extra investment to be minimal.

It took almost two months to arrive but was worth the wait. The sound and touch
are very close to acoustic, with an extraordinarily rich bass and very
responsive velocity sensitivity. All in all, I'm very satisfied.

But . . . I do have some complaints.

1. The piano has no automatic memory from one session to the next. So the
reverb (concert hall effect), metronome (both tempo and downbeat), and other
settings have to be reset each time the piano is turned on. There are some
defaults that can be changed, but not the most important ones as far as I'm
concerned. This is a completely unnecessary annoyance. Many electronic devices
will turn on where you left them the last time you used them. Usability 101
would dictate the same for the piano.

2. All of the function buttons, including volume, are located an inch or so
above the keyboard, are activated by a light touch, and are easily brushed by
the hands. So during a passage everything will suddenly get louder, or a
completely different piece from its memory will begin playing along with the
pianist, or the metronome will start ticking. To me this is extraordinarily
dumb engineering by people who don't play. After a while one gets used to it
and mostly avoids incident, but a guest pianist will invariably stumble into
this most irritating situation at least once.

3. Some of the notes in the low bass tends to be too sharp in pitch. There are
pitch adjustments possible, but I haven't tried them out yet. The default
should be in better tune.

4. It's way too complicated. All I wanted was a really good digital piano that
did piano well. I got that, but far too many blinking lights, tricks and
enhancements that require adjustment that I don't care about at all. But
they're all like that these days, except the cheap ones that don't sound that
good.

These aside, however, it's a wonderful instrument. Thanks again for your
generous and insightful assistance.

Cheers from the colonies!

Review by Adam Sacks, USA (26/04/2011)

4) "In a small room, the speakers are adequate but sound
nowhere as good as through headphones"

I started out with a flexible budget up to £2500 if necessary. I tried the clavinovas
at a shop, including the 430, 440, 470 and 480.  I found the 430 and 440 to be insufficient and the 480 to be
excessive in fancy features. Overall, the clavinovas sounded too tinkly and light despite a heavy
touch.

There was a Roland 990rf at the same shop which I initially passed
over as I had not read much about Rolands. However when I played on it I found the sound to be closest to a real
acoustic piano. The speakers let it down but through some headphones, the Roland is hard to beat.

My background is in classical piano, I completed grade 8 ABRSM on
an inexpensive non-examination standard Yamaha and acquired a Schimmel baby grand later.

The clavinovas do not resemble what I remember in my Yamaha or any of the other
yamahas i have used during piano lessons. The low and high ends sound particularly jarring, with coarseness in the
low end and a muffled high end.

The roland has a warmth especially in these areas which reminded me of a Chappell
and this made it my top choice thereafter.

Trying to decide between the Roland 990f and 990rf was a bit more difficult. The
Rf offers a synthetic ivory feel which is in fact quite realistic, having played on an antique piano with real
ivory. However the display piano in the shop showed significant discolouration of the keys and I wasn't impressed
given the age of the display model and the volume of human traffic through the shop.

I settled on the 990f in a medium cherry, which turns out to be a very handsome
colour and with the cover down, masquerades well as a respectable piece of furniture. The plastic keys are shiny
and a bit slippery however I have never had problems on my old acoustic Yamaha and haven't found significant
slipping on the keys on this either.

Within a small room, the speakers are adequate but sound nowhere as good as
through headphones.

Since taking delivery I have only used the piano voice of the Roland, and haven't
felt the need to use the other voices or features.

 
Review by Pingping, London (10/04/2012)

5) "It has been well worth it!"

What a lovely piano to play and I would like to thank Graham Howard so much for
pointing me in the right direction.

I knew a Roland would suit me but hadn't a clue which one. I initially had doubts
about paying so much extra for

the "ivory feel" but it has been well worth it! Thanks once again – UK
Pianos' expert guidance is much appreciated.

 
Review by Andrew Ford, London, UK (19/06/2012)

6) "The DP990 is magnificent"

I purchased a Roland DP990RFPE on Thursday, from a local music instrument outlet.
It was not a shop, more like a warehouse with all the instuments, – drums, guitars, brass instruments, other
keyboards, set out in various areas of the building.
 
The DP990 is magnificent, having tried the Yamaha Clavinovas CLP 470 and 480 earlier in the week, at a main piano
store in Bolton. Both the Yamahas had no "note tone" in the last 4 or 5 top notes, both in normal use and with
headphones. This was the very first thing I tried on the Roland, even before sitting down on the stool. The top "C"
rang out clearly as a musical note, not like the sound you get when you "clap" two pieces of wood together. It was
because of this lack of tonal sound on the top notes that a decided to look eleswhere from the Clavinovas. I do
play some classical pieces that include the top "C", and my accoustic piano's keyboard ends on the "A".

The Roland is everything you could wish to have in a piano. My accoustic piano is
an Eavestaff "Mini-Grand", just over 40 years old but an ideal small piano for domestic use. The Roland is tonally
better, with very rich base and lower middle notes and equal to slightly better in the upper register. The keys
settings have a choice of five settings from two heavy through normal to two light settings. the normal is just
like a new accoustic piano. The rapid repeat of notes is also no problem, being able to play trills without any
hesitation. I bought the piano so that I could practice in silence – Chopin Studies, a wide range of Rackmaninov,
Debussy, Beethoven, Schumann, Listz. With headphones, none of the sound lustre is lost, one thing I noticed in
earlier trials of the CLP 370 last year.
 
Key clatter is indescernable to people in the same room, however my wife could hear this in the lounge below my old
office ( the small bedroom), I am converting into a "boy's room"/spare bedroom. I have read about this on a website
and have inserted rolled rubber car mats beneath the feet of the unit. This has considerably reduced the mechanical
noise transmitted from the keyboard, down through the frame, the carpet, and floorboards, to it being almost
indescernable in the room below.This was without any other sound being in the lounge.
 
One thing not mentioned so far is the size of the keyboard "Box". Sorry for calling it that but that is what it is.
A nicely damped lid that opens up to reveal the keyboard and control panel. On looking through the comprehensive
users manual, I found you can lock the electronic settings you have set. Before being aware of the lock facility,
in my playing my finger tips caught one of the electronic buttons and set off an auto playing of one of Chopin's
famous Polonaises.
 
The Roland DP990 is in polished black ebony, reminding me of the Bechstein Grand piano I used to play at my old
school, over fifty years ago.
 
After my first visit to the warehouse, I received an e-mail from the piano department manager informing that the
model I had tried had just been replaced by a new model having a few new inovations, which were of no use to my
requirements.
 
…As mentioned before, a wonderful instrument for it's sound, touch and response, just like the best accoustic
piano's with the added benefit of being able to play in silence, and not being an annoyance to members of the
household and neighbours.
 
Thank you for the digital piano
guide
. It certainly highlights the various points you need to be aware of and consider before buying a digital
piano.
 
Review by Geoff Whitelegg (30/07/2012)

7) "The sound is generally very good – but the electronics interface SUCKS!"

Hi Graham –

I bought a DP 990RF around 16 months ago, when I gave you a brief review. 
Now that I've been playing it regularly since then, I'd like to offer a bit of an update – something to consider
when you review it.

The sound is generally very good, although the normal decay on at least one key is
inexplicably short.  Makes me wonder how they did their sampling.  The touch is excellent, including the
escapement feel, and they did a very nice job emulating some of the subtleties of an acoustic, such as executing a
forte-piano by lightly damping the strings by releasing the pedal halfway and then depressing it again without
silencing them, and also capturing sympathetic vibrations.  So I am very happy with the musical electronics
and normal physical interface of the piano, well worth the price.

But I wouldn't buy it again. 

In a word (an impolite one), the electronics interface SUCKS!  The control
buttons are inexplicably placed so close to the playing fingers all across the keyboard that it's very easy to
press one, and at any moment without warning the instrument suddenly transposes, or plays a pre-recorded polonaise
over whatever the pianist happens to be playing, or turns into a string orchestra.  It's not just me, several
other pianists, and some very good ones, have had the same problem.  Furthermore, there are very few defaults
the user can set.  Every single time I turn the instrument on I have to turn off the annoying downbeat ping on
the metronome and reset the tempo (it always defaults to 108, so I can't stop one day and start at the same place
the next).  In addition, the volume slider seems to be non-linear and is very difficult to get right; a knob
such as the one on my old 1500 would have been better.  If I had known about the N-1 then, I probably would
have bought it despite the additional expense.

Anyway, thanks for the great information you make available!

Best regards from the USA,

Review by Adam, USA (07/09/2012)

8) "The Roland DP990 is magnificent!"

I purchased a Roland DP990RFPE on Thursday, from a local music instrument outlet in Salford. It was not a shop, more like a warehouse with all the instuments, – drums, guitars, brass instruments, other keyboards, set out in various areas of the building.
 
This piano is magnificent, having tried the Yamaha Clavinovas CLP 470 and 480 earlier in the week, at a main piano store in Bolton. Both the Yamahas had no "note tone" in the last 4 or 5 top notes, both in normal use and with headphones. This was the very first thing I tried on the Roland, even before sitting down on the stool. The top "C" rang out clearly as a musical note, not like the sound you get when you "clap" two pieces of wood together. It was because of this lack of tonal sound on the top notes that a decided to look eleswhere from the Clavinovas. I do play some classical pieces that include the top "C", and my accoustic piano's keyboard ends on the "A".

The Roland is everything you could wish to have in a piano. My accoustic piano is an Eavestaff "Mini-Grand", just over 40 years old but an ideal small piano for domestic use. The Roland is tonally better, with very rich base and lower middle notes and equal to slightly better in the upper register. The keys settings have a choice of five settings from two heavy through normal to two light settings. the nornal is just like a new accoustic piano. The rapid repeat of notes ia also no problem, being able to play trills without any hesitation. I bought the piano so that I could practice in silence – Chopin Studies, a wide range of Rackmaninov, Debussy, Beethoven, Schumann, Listz. With headphones, none of the sound lustre is lost, one thing I noticed in earlier trials of the CLP 370 last year.
 
Key clatter is indescernable to people in the same room, however my wife could hear this in the lounge below my old office ( the small bedroom), I am converting into a "boy's room"/spare bedroom. I have read about this on a website and have inserted rolled rubber car mats beneath the feet of the unit. This has considerably reduced the mechanical noise transmitted from the keyboard, down through the frame, the carpet, and floorboards, to it being almost indescernable in the room below.This was without any other sound being in the lounge.
 
One thing not mentioned so far is the size of the keyboard "Box". Sorry for calling it that but that is what it is. A nicely damped lid that opens up to reveal the keyboard and control panel. On looking through the comprehensive users manual, I found you can lock the electronic settings you have set. Before being aware of the lock facility, in my playing my finger tips caught one of the electronic buttons and set off an auto playing of one of Chopin's famous Polonaises.
 
The whole unit is in polished black ebony, reminding me of the Bechstein Grand piano I used to play at my old school, over fifty years ago.
After my first visit to the warehouse, I received an e-mail from the piano department manager informing that the model I had tried had just been replaced by a new model having a few new inovations, which were of no use to my requirements.
 
As mentioned before, a wonderful instrument for it's sound, touch and response, just like the best accoustic piano's with the added benefit of being able to play in silence, and not being an annoyance to members of the household and neighbours.
 
Thank you for your guide. It certainly highlights the various points you need to bne aware of and consider before buying a digital piano.
 
Review by Geoff (13/10/2012)

Roland DP990 info, specs and prices > Click here

 

 
 

 

Pianos to compare with Roland DP990:

Classenti CDP1

Classenti CDP1

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Korg LP380

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Casio PX850

Casio PX850

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Where to buy?

Graham Howard, Piano Advisor
"Read my free digital piano buyer's guide for a list of:"

  • The top ten digital pianos 
  • Recommended (and the most trustworthy) internet retailers 
  • Recommended high street piano shops 

For Roland DP990 best deals > Click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?…

6) Top ten piano models: (a) under £500 (b) £500 to £1,000 (c) over £1000
7) Should you buy online or in a
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Graham Howard ukpianos.co.uk editor

 

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