I’ve been a Casio fan for some time. Although the corporate has often been the butt of unhealthy jokes from musicians who seemingly have an issue with inexpensive devices, Casio has lengthy provided sensibly designed merchandise that are usually extra accessible than a lot of the competitors.
The Casiotone CT-S1 feels just like the epitome of Casio’s design philosophy. The corporate says it’s the religious successor to the unique Casiotone CT-201 from 40 years in the past, a digital keyboard meant to get anybody taking part in the piano. To me, it simply appears looks like a fantastically whole lot for a cent underneath $200.
Disclaimer: I’m a bit biased as I’ve owned a Casio Privia PX-560 for some time now, and I like that factor. I’m additionally removed from a sophisticated pianist. However I am knowledgeable gadget nerd and I’m acquainted with a lot of the digital piano choices in the marketplace.
There simply isn’t a lot that gives the sort of worth you get from the CT-S1 at this worth level.
The CT-S1 is geared toward relative newbies, however there’s additionally quite a bit to love right here for extra superior musicians, particularly these searching for a secondary keyboard. Right here’s what you’re getting for 2 benjamins:
- 61 full-size velocity-sensitive keys
- A nifty ‘encompass’ sound mode
- Non-compulsory battery energy (through six AA batteries)
- USB MIDI
- Non-compulsory Bluetooth MIDI and Audio through the WU-BT01 adapter
- Compatibility with Casio’s Chordana app for studying items
- 9.9 lbs (4.5 kg) weight
- Music stand included
- An choice of black, white, and crimson colorways
Although the essential spec sheet could not appear that distinctive, it’s the considerate consideration to element that makes the CT-S1 so spectacular. Casio has rigorously curated each sound and have current for an expertise that oozes extra high quality than you’d count on for the worth.
Firstly — the CT-S1 is only a handsome keyboard. Certain, it’s all plastic, nevertheless it’s plastic-fantastic. The physique and keys have a matte end which, mixed with the material protecting the audio system, makes for a sophisticated design that feels good to the contact. It’s not simply one other low cost shiny keyboard, and I believe it appears much better than the rest on the worth level.
Bonus: there’s a deal with on the underside that makes it simple to hold, and there are even strap pins to make use of the CT-S1 like a keytar. Whereas my PX-560 is smaller and lighter than most digital pianos, it’s nonetheless not precisely one thing you may simply decide up on a whim and convey with you to a different room.
Now the vital half: how does it sound?
There would possibly ‘solely’ be 61 sounds onboard, however this is likely one of the solely keyboards I’ve examined — particularly close to this worth level — the place I truly like nearly each sound.
As a result of I’m not ok to submit my taking part in on-line, right here’s a video from Casio displaying off the built-in voices:
A few of the sounds constructed into the CT-S1 are higher than those I’ve seen in multi-thousand-dollar keyboards or some built-in libraries for skilled music software program. Except for an all-around strong acoustic piano sound, the electrical piano and organ choice being notably spectacular, noticeably altering in timbre relying on how exhausting you press the keys moderately than simply quantity as on some devices.
You’ve received legitimately good-sounding Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond, and clavinet samples, strings that don’t sound like whole junk, funky brass, and even a moderately pretty flute in right here (many samples on Casio’s web site). Whereas most devices have loads of sounds which are simply throwaway inclusions, nearly the whole lot within the CT-S1 is genuinely enjoyable to play with.
I even have to present kudos to Casio for the precise sound high quality from the audio system — I’ve heard bigger keyboards with worse sound, and I actually dig the ‘encompass’ mode that expands the ambient presentation of the piano, and I just about used it on a regular basis. Sadly, the encompass mode doesn’t work for headphones, and it does have the facet impact of brightening the tone a bit bit, nevertheless it’s a welcome characteristic.
As you’d count on from an inexpensive light-weight keyboard, the important thing motion received’t remind you of an acoustic piano. They’re spring-loaded synth-style keys, however even right here I admire the impelentation; they provide a matte texture, and the keys are delicate sufficient to permit for an excellent quantity of dynamic management. That mentioned, in case you’re used to the weighted hammer motion of an acoustic piano or excessive finish digital, you’ll in all probability need to regulate the important thing sensitivity to the ‘heavy’ setting.
Talking of adjusting settings, the CT-S1 doesn’t have a display. Whether or not or not that’s an excellent factor relies on your tastes; as somebody utilizing the CT-S1 as a secondary keyboard that I can simply transfer round the home, I admire the simplicity and lack of distractions, and it helps keep the keyboard’s clear look.
However this is likely one of the few occasions you actually ought to learn the handbook. In actual fact, you’ll need to preserve it shut by or obtain it onto your cellphone initially, as altering settings is a matter of urgent the ‘operate’ button and remembering what key every setting is assigned to. After just a few days, you’ll in all probability memorize your most used capabilities, which in my case are the metronome and octave shift.
Another caveats to bear in mind:
- Whereas Bluetooth MIDI is just about instantaneous, Bluetooth audio by the piano does have a slight latency, so I’d nonetheless use a wired audio connection if you wish to use this as MIDI controller for a digital piano or different functions.
- Fairly counterintuitively, the piano has each USB-A and Micro USB ports, however solely the Micro USB port works for MIDI out to a PC or smartphone. You’ll want a particular cable or some sort of adapter.
- This factor chews by batteries; you need to get rechargeable ones in case you plan on utilizing it on battery energy.
- There’s no pitch bend or mod wheel, in case you’re into that kind of factor.
- Given the heavy concentrate on piano and different keyboard devices, a maintain pedal ought to have actually been included. Fortunately you may get one for fairly low cost.
- Whereas the piano samples are very nice, there’s no pedal or sympathetic resonance taking place right here, such as you would possibly discover on Casio’s ‘correct’ digital pianos.
However there’s actually little to complain about right here. The Casio’s closest competitors is arguably the Roland Go:Piano — an instrument I owned — and although it’s costlier, the built-in sounds simply aren’t nearly as good, the design appears less expensive, and the keyboard motion is inferior. To be truthful, the Roland is just a few years previous now, has a correct show, and has Bluetooth built-in. It was nice when it was launched. However because it stands, the Casio is simply the higher keyboard in nearly each respect.
Casio got down to make a digital keyboard that was inexpensive, seemed good, and sounded nice, and it succeeded in each measure. Whether or not as your first digital piano or a secondary keyboard for portability, you’d be hard-pressed to seek out something higher on this kind issue or worth vary.
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