Roland’s FP-E50 is a portable digital piano with ZEN-Core synth sounds

Roland is back with another portable digital piano, and this one - the FP-E50 - is bringing the company’s ZEN-Core synth engine along for the ride.

ZEN-Core is Roland’s flagship synthesis system - the one used in the likes of the Jupiter-X and Fantom workstation keyboards - and its inclusion gives the FP-E50 a notable point of difference in comparison to other digital pianos.

In the case of the FP-E50, ZEN-Core supplies 1018 onboard sounds (synths, brass, orchestral voices, guitars/basses, drums and more). These can be layered with the all-important piano tones that come included.

Said tones are generated using Roland’s renowned SuperNATURAL piano engine, and can be played on the 88-note hammer-action keyboard, which offers escapement and an ivory-like feel. 

More ZEN-Core sounds can be added via Roland Cloud. Sadly, it seems you can’t install the Model Expansions that emulate specific classic Roland synths - you’ll need a Jupiter-X, Juno-X or Fantom if you want those - but EXZ Wave Expansions and SDZ Sound Packs are on the menu, providing you have the appropriate subscription.

Although it’s designed for home use - the built-in stereo speakers are a clear indicator of that - the FP-E50 is also portable, and you can hook it up to external speakers if you wish. Other connectivity options include a headphone output, Bluetooth audio/MIDI and computer integration via USB.

There are auto-accompaniment tools, too. You can fire-up full-band backing tracks in more than 200 styles, with more style packs available on Roland Cloud.

Accompaniments are triggered using your left hand. Beginners can use one-note triggering, and there’s full-chord detection for more advanced players. An Interactive mode enables you to adjust the volume and “energy” of the backing in real-time, and you can set up chord progressions for improvisation in a dedicated sequencer.

Oh, and there are vocal effects, too. Plug in a mic, start singing and the FP-E50 can generate real-time vocal harmonies that follow the chords, and there's a transformer that can switch your vocals' gender or turn you into a robot. Further "studio-grade" vocal effects include a vocoder, an ambience effect, a compressor and a noise suppressor.

Navigation of the FP-E50 is said to be simple. The top-level display shows you the current sound, tempo and other essential information, and we’re assured that it’s easy to make sound selections, favourite specific tones, transpose and more. Long-press functionality on many buttons is designed to cut down on menu diving, and you can save complete keyboard setups as Scenes.

Landing this month, the FP-E50 will cost $1,000. Find out more on the Roland website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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