Recently a customer asked me the difference between two great stage pianos; the Roland RD700nx and the Roland RD800; they already had the RD700NX and were wondering if it was worth upgrading. With the RD800 coming in cheaper than ever before, let’s have a look at the main differences…
Both pianos use Roland’s SuperNatural sound engine to produce the piano and electric sounds. This means that part of the sound is sampled but the behavioural nuances like note decay, timbre (from velocity) and resonances are modelled to accurately recreate the feel of the original instrument. The RD800 takes this technology a stage further by modelling more of the sound than the RD700NX. In fact, its main piano sound is based on the legendary V-Piano. This is important because it means a greater level of behavioural realism, but also more control over the sound. For example, the RD800 has the facility to edit the tuning, volume and tonal characteristics of every single note individually, allowing you to model your favourite acoustic piano or create a completely new one! Check out this great article on the Roland Blog for more details on this
Both these pianos feel great to play, however the RD800 uses the new “PHA4 Concert” hammer action system rather than the “PHA3 Ivory feel” on the RD700NX. The main differences between these two actions are in the sensors and material of the keys. The RD800 has more sensors per key which means more information is transmitted to the sound generator chip inside, meaning more accurate representation of technique and style! The keys are made from a harder wearing material, perfect for intensive gigging and the mechanism is actually physically quieter to play making practice at lower volumes more enjoyable.
FEATURES AND INTERFACE
As I mentioned above, the RD800 allows you to edit more parameters within the sound. It also has more physical controls for realtime adjustment of effects, EQ and other tone related parameters. There is a unique Tone Character knob which changes its function depending on the instrument selected. If you are on a piano sound it adjusts the stereo width of the piano sound (particularly useful if you are plugging into a mono amplifier) or on the Fender Rhodes sound, it blends between different models of Rhodes (MK1, MKII etc.)
The screen on the RD800 is larger and full colour and when you are playing the keyboard in a “Live Set” mode with numerous splits and layers, it actually shows where these occur on the keys.
SIZE, WEIGHT AND CONNECTIONS
The RD700NX is built like a tank, with its aluminium chassis and solid end cheeks, it’s definitely designed for life on the road! The RD800 is a slightly smaller, lighter instrument weighing in 3.3kg lighter at only 21.7kg but still has a rugged, robust construction. Connections wise, they are more or less the same with the only noteable difference being the addition of an 3.5mm audio input on the RD800 to connect an MP3 player or smartphone to play along with.
The RD700NX is an excellent stage piano that any player should be proud to have in their rig, however it’s hard to deny the value for money the RD800 offers at the moment. It has newer sounds and new ways of controlling them. It has a great new action which feels even more authentic and responsive and crucially, it is easier to operate and program. Finally, it is lighter, smaller and cheaper! (£1649 at time of writing!) If you’ve been thinking of changing your stage piano or would simply like to find out a bit more, contact me to arrange a one to one session here at the store or a facetime/skype demo!