Roland EV-5 Review: An Affordable, Lightweight Expression Pedal

Expression pedals are pretty simple gadgets — but that's exactly what makes it so hard to pick just one out of the hundreds of options in the market.

Enter the Roland EV-5 expression pedal, an affordable option that's as expressive as it is reliable. Straightforward, lightweight, and portable, the EV-5 is just about perfect for most musicians — no matter if you're a keyboardist, a guitarist, or just a curious multi-instrumentalist.

I've compiled a short, yet thorough Roland EV-5 review to help you decide whether it's the right option for you or not. But, as with most devices coming from Roland, it probably is.

Roland EV-5: Our Take

Roland EV-5

Average Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Why I Like It:

  • Expressive and reliable
  • Fantastic groove pattern
  • Affordable price tag
  • Straightforward workflow

What I Think Could Be Improved:

  • Non-detachable cable
  • Mostly plastic construction


  • Controls: Main volume pedal, minimum volume knob
  • Width: 3-7/16 inches (86 mm)
  • Height: 2-3/16 inches (54 mm)
  • Depth: 7-7/8 inches (200 mm)
  • Weight: 15 oz.
  • Cable Length: 2 meters

The Roland EV 5 is designed to fill a very specific gap in the pedal industry — that is, providing an affordable option for people who need a reliable, lightweight, and straightforward expression pedal.

The pedal is as simple as it looks: just connect it to your expression-compatible instruments and devices, set the minimum value for your range, and you're ready to go! Controlling your parameters has never been easier than this, I can tell you that much.

Although the Roland EV-5 expression pedal was originally designed to work with Roland keyboards, you can connect this beauty to pretty much anything. From guitar pedals to synthesizers, the EV-5 can handle any device — as long as it's 1/4" TRS-compatible.

Just like Roland claims on its website, the main volume pedal feels good and expressive, allowing for a more dynamic performance in just about any situation. Part of that is thanks to how precise it feels — and the grooves really come in clutch here, as they allow you to use the pedal continuously without having to readjust your feet.

But, as with all things in music, the Roland EV 5 expression pedal is not exempt from a few... well, controversial specs.

The pedal works great, but the mostly-plastic construction is not something I'm particularly fond of. The EV-5 feels sturdy and reliable — but I get the feeling that it won't be able to tolerate drops and bumps very well.

Similarly, the included cable isn't just included: it's actually attached to the pedal! This is a double-edged sword, as it means you won't have to worry about carrying a cable everywhere you go — but you also really don't want to break it.

All in all, the EV-5 expression pedal is a very cool addition to any musical arsenal, but there's a lot more here than meets the eye!

Features of the Roland EV-5

Roland EV-5

Even the top-rated expression pedals are rather simple devices, but that doesn't mean every option is the same.

There are quite a few details to consider, so I've done my best to break the EV-5 expression pedal into four key aspects to help you know what you're getting, and just how good it is.

Expressiveness - 5.0

Expressiveness is, naturally, hard to measure — but that isn't really a problem with the EV-5, as it does an excellent job at accurately representing what you actually want to play.

The grooves, minimum volume knob, and smooth main volume pedal all come together to provide a fine dynamic performance in just about any scenario. Forget about endlessly tweaking the parameter limits in your devices — the EV 5 will open up a whole playground at your feet.

Portability - 4.5

Coming in at a mere 15 oz. (425 grams), the EV-5 expression pedal is as portable as it gets. You can carry this lightweight monster just about anywhere without having to worry about space in your gig bag — or even carrying an extra cable!

My only pet peeve in this regard is that the EV-5 could be a bit smaller. The foot-sized main volume pedal is fantastic for certain scenarios where you need ample control, but it turns out to be a tad bit overkill in most situations.

Connectivity - 4.0

The Roland EV-5 expression pedal comes equipped with a solid 2-meter TRS 1/4" plug cable, which should be more than enough for any situation. Although plug is undoubtedly the standard in expression-compatible instruments and devices, I would have liked some extra features included.

You may've noticed that some other expression pedals on the market are able to connect multiple expression-compatible instruments at the same time. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with the EV-5 — and it would've been appreciated.

And, of course, the non-detachable cable is a... controversial feature, to say the least.

Build Quality - 3.5

Maybe the most arguable aspect of the EV-5 expression pedal is its build quality and overall construction decisions. It's hard to understand why Roland went for an almost all-plastic construction, which is understandably less resistant to drops and bumps.

Naturally, plastic is much more affordable than aluminum or metal — but still, this comes at the cost of durability. Yet, if you're not planning on moving your pedal around too much, then this shouldn't be much of a problem!

What to Know Before Buying

Buying any musical instrument, pedal, or gadget is a hard task. Pulling the trigger on just one option requires hours and hours of research — so how would you know if the EV-5 expression pedal is the right choice for you?

Well, the main thing to be aware of is that the Roland EV-5 is an affordable, lightweight expression pedal that's fantastic for anyone looking for an expressive yet budget option.

However, if you're after a sturdy pedal that will withstand hundreds of gigs and last you for years, then this may just not be the option for you.

Here are three key questions you should ask yourself before you purchase an EV-5 expression pedal:

  • Am I looking for an expressive pedal that's compatible with a lot of instruments and devices?
  • Am I planning to not move my expression pedal around too much?
  • Do I want to only control one keyboard or instrument at a time?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the EV-5 expression pedal will be the perfect pick for you!

But if you're not quite sold on it yet, then fret not — below I've gathered two of its fiercest competitors so you know at least a couple of top-notch alternatives.

Alternatives to the Roland EV-5

The music world is filled to the brim with options when it comes to pedals and gadgets. So, naturally, the Roland EV-5 pedal isn't the only top-tier expression pedal out there — here are two alternative picks for you to consider:

Roland EV-5 vs Boss EV-30

Boss EV-30 Dual Expression Pedal

The Boss EV-30 pedal is certainly more expensive than the Roland EV-5 — but its features are definitely worth it. Made out of aluminum, the EV-30 is much more solid and durable than the EV-5, which is already a much-appreciated step up.

But what's even more impressive about the Boss EV-30 dual expression pedal is the double TRS output jacks which allow you to control two parameters or synths simultaneously. Oh, and did I mention the polarity inverse switch?

All in all, the Boss EV-30 is an undeniable upgrade from the EV-5 — if you can pay the premium price tag!

Roland EV-5 vs Moog EP-3

Moog EP-3 Universal Polarity Expression Pedal

The Moog EP-3 pedal is pretty much the same as the Roland EV-5 expression pedal in terms of functions. It's a bit more affordable, and it also provides a polarity switch that comes in very handy when dealing with more experimental effects.

However, the Moog EP-3 expression pedal is designed to work mostly with Moog synths — so compatibility with non-Moog devices isn't 100% guaranteed.

Final Verdict

Roland EV-5

To wrap things up, the Roland EV-5 expression pedal is designed to be a cool addition to your gear arsenal — if you're looking for an affordable, versatile, and expressive pedal, that is. This isn't your average repurposed data entry pedal!

I'm not particularly a fan of the mostly plastic construction or the non-detachable cable, but the EV-5 is a fantastic unit nonetheless. There's just no way to go wrong with this one — especially if you're not much of a gigging musician yourself.

But if you're not sold on the EV-5, then don't worry: something like the Boss EV-30 or Moog EP-3 might very well be the perfect alternative for you!

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