Roland RD-300NX vs. RD-700NX: Smaller Dog, Different Tricks
(ShackMan | Posted 2011-01-24)
Sometimes the midrange item in the series gets released last. A company waits as all their faithful buyers salivate over the latest flagship monument in a line of instruments, then releases a more affordable version, usually without being too clear on which features are being lost from the big daddy of the line. Here, however, while the Roland RD-300NX is definitely less feature-laden than the RD-700NX, Roland has still managed to add some new features that the 700NX does not have. Here's the skinny on which is which and what goes where with the new RD-300NX.
When it comes to features you'll be missing, the vast majority of them are going to come from the dashboard. The RD-300NX keeps the EQ, song playback and record control, effects, and sound editor, but whether or not you're losing functions, you're definitely going to be losing some dedicated knobs (which isn't the worst you could lose). The compressor is now just a button on the RD-300NX, instead of having a ratio and level control, as on the RD-700NX. I can only assume that that will be controllable via the rotary wheel and various menus. I really don't care to move things to a menu, but if I'm not losing any major functions over it, and the results are a lightweight, cheaper piano, I can still be happy with that. It would seem that some of the sound banks are doing the same thing, merging various categories into one, and now you only have one piano and one electric piano preset to store into the One Touch Piano settings, whereas before there were three. On the back panel, we no longer see XLR outputs, but any competent soundman can run a 1/4" output into a direct box, so that isn't a huge problem either. Nothing terrible lost so far.
We do get a boost in the RD-300NX in that the Electric Piano sounds now feature the SuperNATURAL (no, I didn't accidentally hit caps-lock) transition-free technology that blends dynamic levels for smoother crescendos and decrescendos and touch response that better recognizes exact key velocity. We also get a taste of the new Ivory Feel-G keyboard which, as Roland says, " incorporates Rolandís most advanced sensor, escapement mechanism, and Ivory Feel features. The keyboard provides the superior touch and sensitivity of Rolandís flagship keyboards, in a compact and lightweight design... a great benefit for gigging musicians who want to travel light."
There are two brand new features as well. First is the Sound Focus feature, which, to quote Roland again, "ensures that every note will be heard in the mix without compressing or coloring the sound." It sounds like a presence control, essentially, to allow players to incorporate a broader range of dynamics without worrying whether or not their pianissimo's will still be heard in the back row of the theater. I'm curious as to what it actually does to the sound, but Roland is of course keeping silent on that. I don't blame them.
Last but not least is the Piano Designer feature. This allows users to build their own pianos from sound and sample components and tweak until the cows come home through the rotary knob and graphic LCD screen. Speaking of grand pianos, the triple pedal RPU-3 is still available for those who want the full grand piano pedaling experience, and that's one feature I hope never goes away. We pianists like having more than just a damper pedal. Thanks, Roland.
That looks like about all I can decipher for now. I'll let you know more when I get my hands on one in a local music store. Look for a review either on the front page or in the Keyboards section in a few weeks.
To keep up on Roland's new products and check out more pics of the RD-300NX and RD-700NX, check out their website.
James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook.
Got questions? Comments? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at James.Rushin@MusicGearReview.com.