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.