American Music & Sound
22020 Clarendon Street, Suite 305
Woodland Hills, California 91367
The Nord Piano 88 is a professional stage piano that comes loaded with 19 different piano and harpsichord sounds, and 120 programs that combine the instrumental sounds with effects. Additional sounds come with the instrument on a DVD or can be downloaded from the Nord Piano website and transferred to the instrument via USB. Nord Keyboards are made in Sweden by Clavia DMI AB.
Piano Empire, Inc.
13370 East Firestone Blvd., Suite A
Santa Fe Springs, California 90670
Omega is the brand name used in the U.S. for Kaino digital pianos. Kaino, located in Guangzhou, China, began making portable keyboards in 1986, and digital pianos in 1997.
Roland Corporation U.S.
5100 South Eastern Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90040
To simply say that Roland Corporation was established in 1972 would be to ignore one of the most compelling stories in the realm of digital pianos. Ikutaro Kakehashi started down the path to Roland Corporation at the age of 16, when he began repairing watches in postwar Japan. His enthusiasm for music soon evolved into repairing radios in addition to watches and clocks. At the age of 20, Kakehashi contracted tuberculosis. After three years in the hospital, he was selected for the trial of a new drug, streptomycin, and within a year he was out of the hospital.
In 1954, Kakehashi opened Kakehashi Musen (Kakehashi Radio). Once again his interest in music intervened, this time leading him to develop a prototype organ. In 1960, Kakehashi Radio evolved into Ace Electronic Industries. The FR1 Rhythm Ace became a standard offering of the Hammond Organ Company, and Ace Electronic Industries flourished. Guitar amplifiers, effects units, and more rhythm machines were developed, but as a result of various business-equity involvements, Ace was inadvertently acquired by a company with no interest in musical products, and Kakehashi left in March 1972. One month later, Kakehashi established Roland Corporation. The first Roland product, not surprisingly, was a rhythm box.
Fast-forward to 1986, when the introduction of the RD1000 stage piano was Roland's first entry in what would become the digital piano category. Today Roland offers more than two dozen models of digital piano covering every facet of the category: slabs, verticals, grands (including moving-key player pianos), ensembles, and stage pianos. Some Roland digital pianos are even assembled in the U.S. at the Roland-owned Rodgers Organ factory, in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Of particular interest to those looking for educational features are the HPi models, which include a substantial suite of educational capabilities supported by a music-desk–mounted LCD screen. The newly introduced model LX10 adds a traditional-looking vertical piano to the line. Roland can also lay claim to the most extensive collection of model designations in the world of digital pianos. While this is hardly a drawback, it does present a challenge when sorting through the model lineup; the chart of "Digital Piano Specifications and Prices" will help to clarify things.
The V-Piano is the first digital piano to rely entirely on physical modeling as its tonal source. Physical modeling breaks down a piano's sound into discrete elements that can be represented by mathematical equations, and creates the tone in real time based on a complex series of calculations. There are no acoustic piano samples. For more information about physical modeling, please see, elsewhere in this issue, "Digital Basics, Part 1: Imitating the Acoustic Piano" and "My Other Piano Is a Computer: An Introduction to Software Pianos."
The HP models are the core of Roland's home digital piano offering, and the latest models share Roland's new SuperNATURAL® piano sound engine, differing from each other primarily in the specifications of their audio systems and actions.