Roland was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka in 1972. Currently, it has factories in Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, and the USA manufacturing Pianos, Organs, Synthesisers, Keyboards, Guitars, Drums, Professional Audio gear, Amplifiers and more. Roland made a name for itself with the Juno-106 Synthesiser back in the 1980s. They were also renowned for their design and production of the TB303 synth, and TR909 drum machine.
Roland only manufactures digital pianos. From the most affordable mini-grand RG3F to their most expensive V-Piano Grand, all their Digital Grands use the ‘SuperNATURAL’ sound engine. As an added benefit to being digital, you get DAW connectivity, volume control, portability, and ease of maintenance.
At the lower end of this spectrum is the F-140R that goes up till the LX700 Series. The Kiyola KF10 makes for a great addition as a home decor unit and a digital piano with its hand-crafted wood exterior and bench-style legs. For higher functionality, the HP700 is a worthwhile high-end upright piano, only succeeded by their premium uprights - the LX700 series and two minor models, the LX17 and LX7. In addition to their portable lineup, they also have four Stage Piano options. These offer a lot more functionality than their larger piano counterparts. Apart from the V-Piano, the RD2000, RD300NX, and RD800 have a myriad of features onboard, powered by powerful electronics used in Roland’s award-winning synths. Some of the notable features are assignable knobs, faders, pitch and voice modulation, and pedal support, to name a few.
Building on top of the Juno name came Roland’s newer synths - the XPS series, V-Combo series, FA series, and the Fantom Series. Roland’s original Juno is also upgraded and refined to catch up with today’s synthesisers. It still features its signature sound engine and retro control keys.
The XPS lineup has two versions, the XPS10 and XPS30. The XPS10 is the most affordable synth keyboard money can buy. It's the perfect buy for hobbyists and aspiring synth music producers. The XPS10 comes with six audio pads for loops, audio files, and sound effects, has dedicated buttons for split, layer, octave, and transpose, and an arpeggio function for easier sound production. The XPS30 also includes a large graphic display, four assignable knobs and faders, and a mic input with effects.
The Roland V-Combo series features two keyboards, the VR09B and VR730, geared toward live performances. The lightweight VR-730 is essentially three instruments in one. Roland's reputed Virtual Tone Wheel Organ engine with nine physical drawbars, nails the sound-generation process of vintage tonewheel organs in every way, while the instrument's 73 waterfall-style keys deliver authentic play feel. The VR09 is a combination of Roland’s sounds, including the piano, organ, and synth sound engines. The robust real-time controls give you maximum expression capabilities with nine sliders for tone shaping and an array of knobs and buttons, in addition to a looper, drum section, and more.
The FA series is one of Roland’s highly optimised workstations that has made a positive impact in the synth workstation space. It comes in three variants with different key counts - FA06 (61-key), FA07 (76-key), and FA08 (88-key weighted action). The sounds built into the FA system have been taken from Roland’s award-winning INTEGRA-7 sound module, including the SuperNATURAL sound engine. There’s a dedicated section with 16 performance pads, 4 banks, and direct recording and playback via SDHC cards. The 16-track sequencer with nonstop loop recording lets you build songs quickly, and has easy DAW integration.
The Fantom Series is Roland’s most powerful, feature-packed, keyboard synthesiser ever built. With a massive LCD touchscreen adding simplicity to a well laid out user interface, the Fantom has the Expandable ZEN-Core sound engine delivers authentic acoustic and electronic instruments. It also has two XLR combo inputs, an onboard FX engine, DAW compatibility, and aftertouch. The keyboard also features a suite of knobs and faders to manipulate acoustic and electronic sounds without wanting for more.
The EX series is the most affordable of their selection and has three variants - the EX20, EX20A, and EX30. The sounds included in this range of Roland’s Arrangers are derived from some of their top sound engines. These are 61-key, synth-action keys that have between 150 and 300 voices and styles.
Following the EX series is the E-09 and BK series - BK9, BK5 and BK3. The E-09 is aimed at artists who want to explore Western, Middle Eastern and Asian styles of music. It has over 850 tones and 70 drum kits to choose from. As a bonus, the E-09 also comes with a 16-track recorder to produce your own sound. The BK series is a slightly more advanced version of the E-09, focussed on intermediate keyboardists. These have Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine behind the tones, and wireless connectivity for ease of use. With numerous additional highlights such as USB song playback/recording, an onboard 16-track sequencer, Rhythm Composer, and much more, the BK-9 is a powerhouse music machine for professional performing and song composition. To help extend their product line to traditional, locally-inspired artists, they launched the E-A7 with a style similar to the BK9, but with the added advantage of 1,500 tones from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America. The board has over 150 buttons with dedicated functions and dual screens for ease of use. Impressively, they also managed to make the E-A7 portable without compromising on functionality.
In Roland’s lineup, the TD1K and TD1KV is the smallest, most affordable drum kit. Another notable Roland drum kit is the TD1DMK which is the most optimal electronic drum set for beginners. It is slightly larger than the TD1K, but has utilised the extra space to orient the drum kit as seen on an acoustic set. This kit has double-mesh drum heads and responsive rubber cymbals, which are ideal to feel the kickback as on an acoustic set. It comes bundled with 15 of Roland’s preset drum kits, tunable drum heads, realistic head articulations, and MIDI compatibility.
Another impressive kit is the TD17KV. Here, the TD17 drum module has seen a significant improvement with Bluetooth connectivity, a time check function, metronome, various coaching and exercise options to warm up and learn - all based on the signature TD50 sound engine. In addition to this, the TD17KV also has mesh heads and responsive rubber cymbals to replicate the play feel of an acoustic kit. However, if you’re looking for a more advanced kit, look no further than the TD30K series. They sport Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine and have a sturdy build quality that goes above and beyond the essential requirements for a professional electronic drum set.
Finally, the TD50KVX is Roland’s signature creation. Each of the strike surfaces has multiple sensors to register every small stroke and its intensity, and reproduce the most accurate sound. Even the articulation of the cymbals are unlike any electronic drum ever made. All in all, the TD50KVX was designed for the professional drummer, without sacrificing any detail, and made with the highest quality materials.
All of Roland’s electronic drums come with a recording feature and MIDI compatibility. Roland also produces acoustic drums - VAD506, VAD503, and VAD306.
Keyboard Controllers (MIDI)
The A49 is Roland’s budget controller with 49 velocity-sensitive keys, assignable knobs and switches, octave and transpose buttons, and the bend/mod level with D-beam. ‘D-Beam’ is a feature unique to Roland, which helps increase expression ability by waving your hand over an invisible beam. There is also an 88-key version with weighted keys. Their next lineup is a little more functionaland versatile in terms of features - the A300, A500 and A800 Pro series. There are a total of 45 assignable knobs, sliders, and buttons with eight dynamic pads for drums, looping, and more. There’s also a dedicated pitch bend/modulation stick for audio manipulation. These features are reflected on all three Ax00 Pro models.