Casio is one of the most popular brands out there when it comes to keyboards. They also produce other electronics, but their range of keyboards is one of the most popular due to its great value for money. They also produce larger, digital pianos which are designed to replicate the feel of acoustic pianos.
In this article, we’re reviewing some of the best Casio keyboards for different uses. The range is so big that some models will suit piano players who want a large, 88 key keyboard, others will suit producers and those building home studios, others will be good for beginners. Our guide will help you to ensure you get the right model for your needs.
Table of Contents
- 1 In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
- 2 Types of Casio Keyboard
- 3 Dance Music Mode
- 4 Sound Engine
- 5 Casio Keyboards for Learning How to Play
- 6 Best Casio Keyboard Reviews
- 6.1 1. Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard – Best Overall Keyboard
- 6.2 2. Casio Casiotone, 61-Key Portable Keyboard with USB – Best Portable Option
- 6.3 3. Casio Privia PX-160BK 88-Key Full Size Digital Piano – Best Digital Piano
- 6.4 4. Casio SA-46 – Best Casio Keyboard for Kids
- 6.5 5. Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard – Most Tones
- 7 Conclusion
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
Casio vs Yamaha
This is one of the big questions people ask time and time again. To compare the features of Yamaha and Casio you will see that the two brands are relatively similar in some ways. In terms of features, both have some comparable models of keyboard.
The reason that people make a direct comparison between the brands is the fact that they both have such big ranges. Some music stores, for example, only stock these two brands, knowing that there is something for everyone within, whether you need small and compact or a big, stage piano.
In terms of build quality, the brands are relatively similar. There certainly isn’t a world of difference when we consider the sound engine or the speakers, and both offer keyboards with features such as USB connectivity and recording and playback.
Price is one of the areas where there does tend to be some difference between the two brands. In general, Casio products tend to be a bit cheaper than Yamaha. We’re not sure of the reasons behind this, but the best Casio models certainly rival Yamaha for quality.
Types of Casio Keyboard
There are a number of different types of keyboard on the market. Some are technically described by other names (digital pianos for examples) but all are, in some form, a type of keyboard.
The following styles are available. As you will see, the type that suits one person’s needs may not perfectly suit another person’s.
Digital pianos – whether these are their own entity or a type of keyboard is a matter of some debate. A digital piano is modelled on an acoustic piano and meant to feel and sound like one. The weighted keys and hammer action replicate the feel of acoustic pianos, and the harder the keys are hit, the louder the sound generated. Aspiring pianists will find that this type of keyboard can be a good alternative.
Keyboards – traditional “keyboards” may have 61 or 49 keys instead of 88 and while they are designed to have velocity-sensitivity, they are probably not going to have weighted keys. They are lightweight and tend to be more portable. The sound quality might not be quite as good in Casio keyboards as within digital pianos, but there tend to be a lot of tones to choose from.
“Mini” Keyboards – This is something that not many brands offer. There are some mini keyboards within the Casio range, these are good for kids and for portable options, which can be used as MIDI keyboards with a DAW. They aren’t the best for adult beginners as the keys are not full-sized, but they are good for younger players.
There are some other types of Casio keyboard such as arrangement models, but these are quite specialist musical instruments that probably don’t sell quite as many.
Dance Music Mode
This is one of the “USP” features of Casio keyboards and is included with multiple models. Dance music mode will appeal to wannabe producers and those with an interest in dance and electronic music. It allows you to trigger loops and samples together to create songs. It feels more like remixing than producing, but it is a great addition and can even help you to learn about other aspects of music, staying in time and more.
The sound engine is what generates the audio. Samples of recording or synthesized sounds can be triggered by your keyboard. Those who are looking for a digital piano are more likely to be in the market for a high-quality sound source which can replicate the sound of a grand piano or upright piano.
AiR is the name of the sound engine many of the digital piano models in the Casio range utilize. AiR stands for Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator (AiR). The AiR sound engine creates the illusion of a physical space for the piano to be played within, with the acoustics to match. This makes it sound more like a piano.
The Casio Privia range of digital pianos is very popular and the models within contain the AiR engine.
Casio Keyboards for Learning How to Play
Casio is as good a brand as any when it comes to learning how to play keyboard or taking the early steps toward playing the piano. Some of the models include learning modes and added extras to help you learn your favorite songs.
Many Casio models include access to the Chordana Play app. This works with both Android and iOS for the ultimate in accessibility and is constantly being updated with new lessons and functionality. Having free access to such a quality app is a bonus for beginners.
Casio keyboards, just like any other brand, can be bought with a number of accessories. It is worth keeping an eye out for bundles, as these can be a good way to get an affordable digital piano and keyboard accessories. Some of the items that can come bundled with Casio models include headphones, stands and music stands.
You can always buy accessories separately and they are not necessarily essential, but it is worth checking on the bundled options.
Best Casio Keyboard Reviews
1. Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard – Best Overall Keyboard
For those looking for a traditional “keyboard” design, the CTK-2550 is one of the best models. It’s small and compact, but still has a decent keyboard range with 61 keys to play. The keys are full-sized, and though they are not weighted you will get used to the feel of playing melodies much like you would on a digital piano.
There are 150 different rhythms built-in along with Dance Music Mode, this means that you can get used to playing in time and also start to play around with ideas for full dance songs. 400 tones are included so there is no limit to the creative pursuits. You can use an AC adapter or battery power, great for writing and practising on the go, or at home.
There are a number of different learning modes as well as the app integration, Lesson Lite, Scoring System and Voice Fingering Guide are included.
Most people who are looking for a simple keyboard with loads of tones and a portable design will find the CTK-2550 to be a good option. It is relatively affordable, too, and arguably cheaper than similar models within the Yamaha and Roland ranges of keyboards.
2. Casio Casiotone, 61-Key Portable Keyboard with USB – Best Portable Option
If you are looking for lightweight and portable then the Casiotone could be the best option, not just in the Casio range, but in any range! It still has 61 full-sized keys but the lightweight and clever design makes it a fantastic choice for those who are constantly on-the-go and still want to be able to take their instrument with them.
The features are actually similar to the CTK-2550, but packed into a more compact shell. The controls are very simple, and take up less space, plus the very smart inbuilt handle means you can put it in the back of your car and take it out and about with you.
There are 400 instrument tones included and 77 rhythms, as well as 60 songs to learn and play along with. Like most of the modern Casio keyboard options, it includes the Dance Music Mode so you can play around with EDM sounds and samples too.
It doesn’t have specific learning modes but it connects to the Chordana app perfectly. In terms of connectors, you can use a headphone output, an audio input (to listen to your music via the speakers) and a USB connector to use this as a MIDI controller.
If you are happy sacrificing a little bit of the sturdiness for portability then this could be the best Casio model for you. The sounds are good, and the speakers are surprisingly high-quality considering the compact package. This model is also exceptionally easy to connect to your computer and use with virtual instruments and other software.
3. Casio Privia PX-160BK 88-Key Full Size Digital Piano – Best Digital Piano
We wanted to include a digital piano for those who are looking for something with the feel of an acoustic piano and some of the professional features that go along with these larger products.
One of the main advantages, naturally, is the fact that this comes with 88 keys. The full range of the piano, which is great for people who want to play classical music or a wide range of songs.
The AiR sound engine drives this piano with its expressive sound. The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard is an amazing addition and the fact that it replicates the hammer action of an acoustic model can get people used to playing a “real” piano.
Two 8″x8″ speakers are included which give a loud and clear sound, this is the only way to do the sound source and the exceptional Casio AiR engine justice. As well as great sounds such as grand piano and electric pianos, there are also strings and harpsichord. You can layer two sounds to play at once, or split them across the keyboard.
The Casio Privia range is impressive and though they cost more than most Casio keyboard models, they can be used as a stage piano and represent value when compared to other digital pianos by brands like Yamaha. For some people, the realistic feel is essential, and the hammer action sets this keyboard apart.
4. Casio SA-46 – Best Casio Keyboard for Kids
Now, we won’t try to convince you that this is the best Casio keyboard overall, but it is a fantastic option for those who are looking for something that doesn’t take up much space. The miniature design has some pretty basic features, and two main uses. It is good for children who want to take their first steps into keyboard, and it can also double up as a MIDI controller.
Naturally, one of the key advantages is the fact that it is so small and can easily be put away in a kids drawer or taken in the car on a journey, plus, don’t worry about your little one making loads of noise, you can use headphones to ensure that practice is quiet.
It only has an 8 note polyphony so they won’t be playing anything complex. It also has five fun drum pads and 50 tracks inbuilt to learn and play along with.
Obviously, it is hard to compare this model to the other Casio keyboard/piano models due to the fact that it is a more portable and child-oriented product, but for those who just want to get something to feed their kid’s hobby and test whether they will want to continue the hobby in the future, this could be a decent option.
5. Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard – Most Tones
This is another 61-key keyboard that is relatively portable and a good “all-rounder”. Though it costs a little bit more than some of the other models on the list, it does have a key benefit, the fact that it offers a huge number of sounds. 600 tones can be utilized as well as 195 rhythms built into this keyboard, meaning it is one of the best options for those who wish to write songs and experiment with new tones.
It has similar features to the other 61-key models in the range including the USB-MIDI connection, a smartphone shelf and a music rest included. It also has a backlit LCD display to help you with your controls.
As this is a portable keyboard, it can be used with either AA batteries or an AC adapter.
For access to loads of sounds while you are on the go, this is hard to beat. However, if you are using a Casio keyboard in the studio, keep in mind the fact that you might have access to a lot of sounds via your DAW or other virtual instruments, so it may be best to use these rather than spend the extra money. That said, this is a durable keyboard with all the features we’ve come to expect from Casio.
As you can see from our list, the Casio range is huge. From tiny little “toy” pianos for children to some seriously good imitations of acoustic pianos, you can find the model that is most suitable for you. There is no doubt that Casio is one of the top-selling brands on the market and the reason for this is that they offer loads of quality and in many cases great affordability. There’s something for everyone within the range.