Casiotone review

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I'm going to be flying over to a neighboring Hawaiian island to meet up with my inlaws. There will definitely be some jamming. I'm thinking of getting the cheapest, simplest 61key board available. The Casiotone S300 is lightweight, has built-in speakers, can even be battery powered, and at $140, if one of the "baggage throwers" destroys it, no big loss.. I have no interest in the "phat beats" or retro attempts and 80s synths. This would be mostly piano/wurli/organ for sing-alongs... basically campfire stuff. Unfortunately, all of the videos and reviews of the thing don't really highlight it's basic meat-and-potato keyboard sounds. I figure in 2019, when a $3 iPhone app can sound better than a $4k workstation in the 90s, it's hard to imagine the sounds being too terrible, but I just don't know.

What do ya think?



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I got mine yesterday. Totally impressed with this board. You won’t mistake it for a Kurz or Nord, but it’s tons of fun. The keys have a sandpaperish feel, but there is velocity sensitivity and the pitch wheel is pretty sturdy. Sound set is surprisingly wide for the price. You’ll need a 1/8” to 1/4” adapter for external amplification, but there is a sustain pedal jack. I haven’t explored the USB capabilities, but I know this much: my grandson is going to be disappointed because I bought it for him, and it’s a keeper. Blame Mike Martin for packing so much coolness into this package.

Jake



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laugh

Alright! Thanks for the info. Sounds like a good idea then! I almost wish there was a 49key version, then I could possibly sneak it in carryon (my Seaboard Rise49 didn't raise any eyebrows for 2 international trips). This one will obviously need to be stowed, but I can just keep the shipping box, which is often fine for air travel. The Roland Go:Piano looked like another option, but at $350, I'd be a little more dubious about air travel... it also looks like it has a larger footprint. The Casiotone is so lightweight, I found Zzounds.com has Hawaii Shipping for only $15. I prefer Sweetwater, but their Alaska/Hawaii shipping (the two states I've lived in the past 20 years) is pretty high.


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Glad I could help. My Casio days started with a VL- Tone, and this board has a major fun factor that is similar. For the price point it’s decent: No triple strike pianos or Hammond clone wizardry, but way better than General MIDI . I think the premise here is the fun factor. No problem grabbing it by the handle, dragging it to my patio, and serenading the neighborhood through my Pignose amp, or noodling on it when stuck in traffic. It is a great tool for teaching beginners and even comes with a music rack.
I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Jake



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This is a case of Casio competing with itself!

The CT-S300 looks like a great form factor, and would be very inviting for younger folks to jump in. However, for just $20 more, in the same line, they have the LK-S250, with lighted keys! That's got to be entertaining and I've heard it's not strickly a gimmick, it can help the super beginning students. Plus, it has a mic in which the S300 doesn't, however it doesn't have a pitch bend wheel.

And then, for just $15 more, the CTX-700 is supposed be a hell of a board. It came out not long before the Casiotones, and got rave reviews for sound quality. Instead of the streamlined board like the S300, it looks more like one of the standard issue cheap Casio boards that've been around so long. ALOT of board for the money, with more sounds and capabilities, but it's also 2 pounds heavier and 3 1/2" deeper. It also has a mic in as well as a line in.

As much as I'd be inclined towards the CTX-700, the more capable and better sounding board (it might be good enough for a rehearsal), for your needs you might want to go with the S300 or LK-S250 for the cuteness and simplicity factor. Hell, it even has a built-in handle!



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Yeah, I suspect this is a case where different sub-divisions had different ideas, and they just went with all of them... I get having different levels in order to up-sell consumers, but in this case, the 3 higher lines each offer different competing features. Furthermore, the numbering systems don't scream "buy me, I'm better!"

In any case, the S300 looks like the right choice for what I need right now, don't really have use for a mic or lighted keys.



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Is there any sound in there that is inspiring? I have a Yamaha NP12. It‘s good for practicing when mobility is important, but very uninspiring to play - probably because ever sound apparently has only one velocity layer. Are there e.g. more layers for AP or EP in the S300?



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For Island jamming, I'll take the organic tone of a Melodica over any budget electronic keyboard.

I wish there were more 49-key options in the battery-powered genre. 49 keys is backpack-able and carryon-able, 61 keys much less so, and 49 keys works fine for 2-handed playing.



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Thanks for the quick response Martin. Yeah, a few drum patterns already help quite a bit with having fun with a quick jam or so. And it really looks quite sleek.



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"Ukelele of keyboards", as a Hawai resident, I both laugh and cry at that statement. I was just thinking of getting my brother-in-law an Uke for Christmas.

But I would agree a 49key version would be the ULTIMATE travel board. I find 4 octaves to be sufficient for low-key group jamming scenarios. 5octaves becomes suddenly another class in size and a bit unwieldily for packing. I think the problem is, too many young people aren't jamming with friends these days, they're sitting in their bat caves making "beats" instead of playing badly with others and getting better. If you've got a friend with a guitar and a bass, 4 octaves suddenly becomes enough for simple stuff. I'm an 88 man myself, and when playing with my bands I'll use every key, but at a jam session... whatever is available I'll be happy with.

Melodicas... I've got one, but they're awkward group instruments. They tend to dominate and they make poor rhythm instruments. Most of the time when jamming, I'm comping, which means percussion-based keyboard instrument for me. B3 if I'm setup right. I'm not going to pretend to be a good melodica player, and bad melodica is an unholy experience. There are a million options for smaller lead keyboard instruments (small accordions, melodicas, tiny mono synths), but not a lot of options for good rhythm instruments. That's what I'm after.



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And then, for just $15 more, the CTX-700 is supposed be a hell of a board. It came out not long before the Casiotones, and got rave reviews for sound quality. Instead of the streamlined board like the S300, it looks more like one of the standard issue cheap Casio boards that've been around so long. ALOT of board for the money, with more sounds and capabilities, but it's also 2 pounds heavier and 3 1/2" deeper. It also has a mic in as well as a line in.



That's what I have. I like it.... The plasticy keys squeak sometimes but I am just playing alone in my living room with it so I can ignore that. I've gotten a LOT of playing hours out of it and it holds up. Nice sounds too.

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Does the S-300 have the same Grand Piano 1 as the CTX-700 ?
Besides the new textured keys, what else is difference between their key actions in terms of spring response and resistance? Besides the textured keys, is the S-300 action improved over the CTX-700 action for piano?



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"Ukelele of keyboards", as a Hawai resident, I both laugh and cry at that statement. I was just thinking of getting my brother-in-law an Uke for Christmas.

But I would agree a 49key version would be the ULTIMATE travel board. I find 4 octaves to be sufficient for low-key group jamming scenarios. 5octaves becomes suddenly another class in size and a bit unwieldily for packing. I think the problem is, too many young people aren't jamming with friends these days, they're sitting in their bat caves making "beats" instead of playing badly with others and getting better. If you've got a friend with a guitar and a bass, 4 octaves suddenly becomes enough for simple stuff. I'm an 88 man myself, and when playing with my bands I'll use every key, but at a jam session... whatever is available I'll be happy with.

Melodicas... I've got one, but they're awkward group instruments. They tend to dominate and they make poor rhythm instruments. Most of the time when jamming, I'm comping, which means percussion-based keyboard instrument for me. B3 if I'm setup right. I'm not going to pretend to be a good melodica player, and bad melodica is an unholy experience. There are a million options for smaller lead keyboard instruments (small accordions, melodicas, tiny mono synths), but not a lot of options for good rhythm instruments. That's what I'm after.


Yes, 49 keys is the ideal travel size! I do find it very limiting, don't like playing on less than 61 notes if I can help it.

I play a Yamaha Pianica 37 note melodica in jams all the time. It has a large protective case, but I just throw it in my backpack, it wouldn't come close to fitting and I have a large backpack. From the little I know, it's the best value under $100 for a melodica, and has the reputation of being much more in tune than even some more expensive ones. It's pretty tough, even without a case its held up well over time. As a keyboard player and former flute player, I hit the ground running with it.

I often don't really like the sound of the melodica, you're getting alot of harmonica kind of sound up close to your ears. But put it on a mic with generous reverb, come into and away from the mic for control of volume, and it sounds wonderful.

Same with my Yamaha alto recorder, another backpack friendly instrument. I played a soprano recorder for years until I realized it's challenging to not be too loud and shrill for others. The alto recorder is slower to play than the soprano but has such a lovely tone and really comes to life in reverberant spaces or with reverb. Even without reverb it can sound pretty sweet.

It's nice to have at least 2 wind instruments to change things up!


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Does the S-300 have the same Grand Piano 1 as the CTX-700 ?
Besides the new textured keys, what else is difference between their key actions in terms of spring response and resistance? Besides the textured keys, is the S-300 action improved over the CTX-700 action for piano?


Cool, I was going to ask Mike about the action as well. Is it as good or better for organ / synth / piano / EPs than the Casiotones? Of course you're a company rep, so I'm only wondering what your personal preference is between these boards for different instrument types.


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I have a Casio CT-X3000 and it sounds great! I like the instruments on it.



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I just picked one up at my local dealer. When I walked in the door, they had LITERALLY just unpacked their first shipment and one was on the counter. I said, "I'll take that one, please!" and we were all shocked. I broke it out and jammed on it a bit. Halfway through I turned to them and said, "oh, by the way, I've decided to buy it, I'm just noodling!" They knocked $20 off because I did a funny impression of my band leader, who everyone knows in this town. I'm thoroughly impressed with the board as a whole for its price. The piano sounds are solid, the speakers are nice and loud, they've got some half-decent organs and synth tones. Their E Pianos are kind of un-recognizable (you can't really pick out a specific Wurli, Rhodes, DX7, etc) but quite workable... the one "FM Piano" they have sounds nothing like an FM Piano to my ears, but it's still pleasing. I didn't really bother going through all the noodly bells & whistles, that's not really what I got this for.

Compared to the Roland Go:Keys (obviously its main competitor). The two seem fairly similar. I didn't spend a lot of time with the Go:Keys, but the action was similar, though the texture of the Casio is superior. The Go:Keys has the edge on footprint, with ZERO bezel around the ends of the 61 keys, which I always prefer. The Casio has about 5cm on either end. However, the Casio is slightly shorter and has that nice handle. Go:Piano obviously has the edge, the action is NOTICEABLY better than the Go:Keys, and the piano sounds are superior to both. However, at almost 3x the price, the Casio totally wins on price point. The Go:Keys seems like a total dead-end now, only slightly cheaper than the Go:Piano while the Casiotone gives it a very serious run for its money. In the store I was worried that the hall reverb was built-in, but when I got it home, I quickly found how to shut it off or lower it down to a "Room" setting (there are about 8 settings in all). I tend to play pretty dry these days.

All-in-all a very serviceable travel keyboard. Ironically, the Piano sound absolutely CREAMS the piano on my Mojo61. However, locals have fallen in love with my organ (I've gotten into bubbling with the reggae crowd as of late), so I think I'll still break out the Mojo for most local jam sessions. I mostly bought it for the two trips I'm taking to big island to play with Alaskan friends. If I only use it for those two trips alone, it will be worth the money. Beyond that is just extra!

Thumbs up!



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Glad you joined the crowd. It truly is a blast.

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Does the S-300 have the same Grand Piano 1 as the CTX-700 ?
Besides the new textured keys, what else is difference between their key actions in terms of spring response and resistance? Besides the textured keys, is the S-300 action improved over the CTX-700 action for piano?


Cool, I was going to ask Mike about the action as well. Is it as good or better for organ / synth / piano / EPs than the Casiotones? Of course you're a company rep, so I'm only wondering what your personal preference is between these boards for different instrument types.


No it doesn't have the same sounds as the CT-X700. As for the action I'm really happy with it. I hope we'll see this action on other non-weighted Casio products moving forward, I prefer it to what we have on the CT-X series. It is quick and responsive, great for a variety sounds...quiet too.

Last edited by Mike Martin; 11/07/1903:03 PM.


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I'm finally seeing a move away from "thin key" front style, even on low-end boards. I think this is a VERY positive development. Thin keys (there's got to be a proper name, but I don't know it) without a front or side skirt, always strike me as more prone to breaking, as something could easily get wedged in and snap it off during transport. It also worries me that dirt and grime could get into the mechanics much more easily. I was surprised that both the Casiotone and Go:Keys had skirts. 10 years ago, you pretty much only saw that on weighted beds or waterfall organs.

Also, I think I just have a natural psychosomatic response towards thin keys, I know it's silly, but I just feel more at ease when playing with piano-style keys, maybe because I grew up playing acoustic.



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I feel the same way. Not sure why - maybe it‘s just psychology but maybe the feel is actually different?



Maybe? I dunno. Side skirt I do think you feel. If you're playing at the edge of the white keys, you can feel the edge of the next key. Front fall-off, I'm not so sure. Maybe the weighting would be different? But I dunno.


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I am very curious about the spring response and keybed of the of the new action. I look forward to trying it, and perhaps having it appear in the next version of the CT-X series.

By the way, which CTX model allows a user:
1: Turn off the EP effects ?
2: Use Audio Out and keep the Internal Speakers On?


Last edited by Jazz+; 11/09/1901:04 AM.


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Does the S-300 have the same Grand Piano 1 as the CTX-700 ?
Besides the new textured keys, what else is difference between their key actions in terms of spring response and resistance? Besides the textured keys, is the S-300 action improved over the CTX-700 action for piano?


Cool, I was going to ask Mike about the action as well. Is it as good or better for organ / synth / piano / EPs than the Casiotones? Of course you're a company rep, so I'm only wondering what your personal preference is between these boards for different instrument types.


No it doesn't have the same sounds as the CT-X700. As for the action I'm really happy with it. I hope we'll see this action on other non-weighted Casio products moving forward, I prefer it to what we have on the CT-X series. It is quick and responsive, great for a variety sounds...quiet too.

Thank You! AFAIK, most of the people who frequent this forum understand that the feel of the keybed is very subjective, so having an opinion, even while being a rep, is helpful.

I would imagine that the action on either of these lines are not that great for piano. Do you have a preference there? I imagine it'd be similar to the Numa Compact 2x, whether you're OK with it for it for piano would require playing it. Are the main piano sounds the same between these lines? I had a WK-7600 and a MZ-X500, and with both of those boards I was OK with the piano sounds, which was a surprise for me, esp with the 7600.


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I've had an ongoing quest for a "couch keyboard" and recently got a Black Friday deal on a CT-S300 ($115). I only had a couple days to play with it before I had carpal tunnel and orbital tunnel surgery yesterday but I thought give my initial impressions while I'm recovering.

Here are my couch keyboard requirements with some comments on how well the CT-S300 meets them:

- 4-5 octaves with full size velocity sensitive keys
For a keyboard in this class, I really like it. It's light but has some resistance in the travel that makes it OK for playing piano and e-piano. I concur with Mike's comments.

- built-in sounds good enough to practice songs, voicings, scales
I was slightly disappointed in the main piano sound based on my expectations from watching demo videos. The attacks are decent but short sustain in the mid-range bothered me a bit. Didn't have a lot of time with other sounds bit found an epiano that was fun to play. But overall plenty good enough for my couch practice.

- minimal footprint
It does have a couple extra inches width to accommodate a pitch wheel and I wiil take that as a trade-off. The depth is fine. As a bonus, I love the buuit-in handle which doubles as the mounting for the music stand. The overall build is quite good for this price level. It doesn't look or feel like a toy.

- light weight so I can place on lap
Acceptable at 7 pounds (8 with batteries)

- speakers loud enough for acoustic jams in a small area
The speakers seem fine for this purpose. Not super-high fidelity bit I've heard much worse at higher prices.

- usb-midi class compliant for easy integration with iPad
Worked with no hassle using standard USB to iPad lightning connector.

- power via AC or rechargeable batteries
Worked fine with 6 AA Energizer NI-MH batteries (even though Casio says you must use Panasonic eneloop)I did not used the recommended


One annoyance: I had the idea that I would put the iPad on the music stand, connect USB midi and then run iPad audio output back to audio input on keyboard so I could use those stereo speakers. This "works" but introduces lots of digital noise (affected by cable positioning, display changes,etc) I tried various things to see if it would help (different cables, using AC power instead of batteries) all to no avail. I'm not too optimistic since the User Manual basically says not to do this configuration (while not explainng why):

"When connecting a smart device to the Digital Keyboard, do not connect both a USB cable and an audio cable at the same time."

Overall I'm quite pleased for the price and think I will use this a lot while watching football, golf,etc. and on vacation.


Last edited by Sam Mullins; 12/11/1904:14 PM.


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One annoyance: I had the idea that I would put the iPad on the music stand, connect USB midi and then run iPad audio output back to audio input on keyboard so I could use those stereo speakers. This "works" but introduces lots of digital noise (affected by cable positioning, display changes,etc) I tried various things to see if it would help (different cables, using AC power instead of batteries) all to no avail. I'm not too optimistic since the User Manual basically says not to do this configuration (while not explainng why):

"When connecting a smart device to the Digital Keyboard, do not connect both a USB cable and an audio cable at the same time."

Overall I'm quite pleased for the price and think I will use this a lot while watching football, golf,etc. and on vacation.



Just a follow-up: After doing a web search, this appears to be a problem that is not unique to CT-S300. Many keyboards appear to exhibit this behavior in this configuration (Keyboard USB MIDI Out -> iPad, iPad audio out -> Keyboard audio in)..often referred to as "USB ground loop". I see that Mike Martin commented on a Casio forum that this as a general problem of the technologies involved, not necessarily a problem with a particular keyboard, i.e. it stems from the fact that USB is not grounded.


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Just a follow-up: After doing a web search, this appears to be a problem that is not unique to CT-S300. Many keyboards appear to exhibit this behavior in this configuration (Keyboard USB MIDI Out -> iPad, iPad audio out -> Keyboard audio in)..often referred to as "USB ground loop". I see that Mike Martin commented on a Casio forum that this as a general problem of the technologies involved, not necessarily a problem with a particular keyboard, i.e. it stems from the fact that USB is not grounded.


To be more accurate, the problem is the fact that USB is not isolated (the way 5-pin MIDI is, for example). Can be solved with one of these: USB Ground Loop Isolator

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What is it?

While it’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that high-end synths sit at the centre of the keyboard universe, the truth is that ‘home electronic keyboards’ and beginner digital pianos represent a much larger portion of the market. 

Casio and its Casiotone brand are synonymous with this sector - indeed, they have been for the past four decades - and the CT-S1 is laser-targeted at the first-time buyer.

We should say immediately that this is no toy, though. In fact, the CT-S1 (available in black, white or - our pick of the bunch - red) is best thought of as a mini digital piano, albeit one with a much larger range of tones (61 are included in total).

Light and compact - and, undeniably, plastic - the CT-S1 can be powered by six AA batteries or the included mains adapter. Casio has certainly concerned itself with portability here; there’s built-in carry handle, and you can even attach a guitar strap so that the keyboard can become a quasi keytar.

The top panel includes a pair of 2.5W speakers that are covered in attractive fabric mesh, while connectivity includes a mini headphone/audio output, an audio input, a micro USB port for connection to a computer or other device, and a full-size USB port that can host the optional MIDI/audio Bluetooth dongle. A pedal jack input is included, too - you’ll most likely plug a sustain pedal in here.

There are 61 full-size, touch-sensitive keys that have a semi-weighted action, and you can adjust the touch response to suit your playing style.

Tone-wise, the piano is the headline act, but the unassuming top panel also contains dedicated sound selection buttons for two electric pianos, organ, ‘keyboard’ (the default is a harpsichord), synth and the mysterious ‘others’.

You can cycle through variations on each tone with repeated presses of the aptly named Tone Variation button, or select further tones (listed in the manual but not on the unit itself) with a combination of button and note presses. It’s possible to layer tones, too, and adjust the relative volume of the layers.

Other features include a MIDI song recorder, 24 types of reverb, EQ presets and a ‘surround’ feature for the built-in speakers (this doesn’t do anything when you’re using headphones). You can shift octaves, transpose and finetune the keyboard, and even select from alternate tuning presets.

Fortunately, your favourite setup can be saved for easy recall later on, as can your favourite tones.

Performance & Verdict

It might have a very competitive price tag, but any fears  that the Casiotone CT-S1 is a ‘cheap’ keyboard are dispelled the moment you start playing it.

Right from the off, the tones are impressive, with the default stage piano being immensely playable and easily good enough to perform with.

It’s the same story with the vintage keyboards, organs, synths, strings and other sounds - you even get some classics from Casio’s older VL-Tone, CT, CZ and VZ synths.

We’re not going to run you through every tone that’s included, but we’re happy to report that Casio’s AiX sound engine really delivers the goods, providing pretty much everything you need and very little of what you don’t.

The keyboard itself is equally impressive. No, it doesn’t have a weighted hammer action, but it is smooth and reliable, and the velocity-sensitivity is something you won’t find on some cheaper models. If you’re at all serious about learning to play, it’s worth paying the extra to get it.

Also consider

Yamaha Piaggero NP-12
Another decent option if you're looking for a piano-style entry-level keyboard, the NP-12 is lightweight and portable, and sounds great.

Roland GO:KEYS
Roland's take on the portable keyboard concept features 61 keys, more than 500 sounds, onboard Bluetooth and a Loop Mix feature.

And then there are the speakers, which - we’ll admit - sound far better than we thought they would, even at higher volumes. There’s little or no evidence of distortion; in fact, if you connect up a smartphone (either via the audio input or Bluetooth adapter) they’re good enough to be used for music listening, too. You can, of course, play along with any steamed- or wired-in audio - a very welcome feature.

In fact, the more time you spend with the CT-S1, the more you realise what a well-thought-out keyboard it is. Need a metronome? You’ve got one. Want to record yourself playing? One button press is all it takes. You even get a music stand, though not one that looks particularly attractive or feels like it could take an awful amount of weight.

If you were being picky, you could also argue that the super-straightforward interface makes discovering all of the CT-S1’s features a little tricky. There’s no display, and the minimalist design means that there can be a lot of combined button-key pressing. You’ll definitely need to consult the manual from time to time.

It should be said, though, that if you just want to do the basics - ie, sit down and play - the CT-S1 is about as easy to use as you could hope for.

As such, if you’re someone who prioritises both sound and playability, this is pretty much the perfect beginners’ keyboard, and also one that more seasoned players might consider if they’re looking for something super-portable that they can take anywhere (though the lack of 1/4-inch L/R audio outputs might irritate you if you want to hook up to a PA).

It’s a big thumbs-up from us, then - it may have been around for more than 40 years, but with products like this coming to market, the Casiotone brand seems stronger than ever.

Hands-on demos

Jeremy See

MusicPlayer Network

Casio

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 93.0 (W) × 25.8 (D) × 8.3 (H) cm 
  • Weight: Approximately 4.5 kg (Excluding batteries)
  • Keys: 61 semi-weighted with three levels of touch response
  • Polyphony: 64 
  • Number of Voices: 61
  • Effects: Reverb (24 types, Tone, Off); Chorus (built into tones); Delay (built into tones); DSP (built into some tones); Master Equalizer (10 presets)
  • Other features: Metronome, MIDI recorder
  • Speakers: 13 cm × 6 cm (oval) × 2 (Output: 2.5 W + 2.5 W)
  • Power Supply: 9.5V DC
  • Connectivity: PHONES/OUTPUT jack: Stereo mini jack (3.5 mm); AUDIO IN jack: Stereo mini jack (3.5 mm) (Input impedance: 10 kΩ; Input sensitivity: 200 mV); USB TO HOST port: micro-B; USB TO DEVICE port: Type A; PEDAL jack: Standard jack (6.3 mm) (pedal sustain, sostenuto, soft, metronome)
  • Contact: Casio    

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

Sours: https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/casio-casiotone-ct-s1
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Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes

Casio is a master of the portable keyboard. The original Casiotone keyboards we all over the 1980s giving us bedroom musicians our first affordable electronic sound source. It was all pre-programmed beats and automatic accompaniment but we lapped it up before moving on to more grown-up synthesizers or giving in to the allure of the guitar. Casiotone is back for a new generation of keyboard plonkers with the battery-powered CT-S200, S300 and the LK-S250.

Casiotone

In the realms of starter keyboard, Casio has it covered. The Casiotone revival is simple, unfussy and yet elegant and useful. Your kids are never going to learn to play by fiddling with your modular or complex synthesizers – they need sounds, rhythms, built-in speakers and a carry handle – Casio has nailed it.

They all have 61 full-sized keys, built-in speakers and a headphone socket. They have 400 tones inside and 122 rhythms. There’s a dance music mode to make it easy to create and remix EDM style tracks. You can trigger drum loops, basslines, synth parts and effects all from the keyboard. They have an LCD display for selecting sounds and an input for playing along to a music-playing device.

The LK-S250 has light-up keys as part of their easy learning system. There are 60 built-in songs and voice-guided lessons. It also has a microphone input so you can sing along through some of the effects.

Casiotone LK-S250

Casiotone LK-S250

The CT-S200 and CT-S300 are pretty similar, in fact going through the specs online I can’t really find a difference. There’s also a mention of the CT-S100 but there’s no information on that. Some of the detail on the website contradicts some of the taglines… so who knows?

Anyway, suffice to say that these are cool, good-sized entry-level keyboards for the budding musician in your house. At between $109 and $159 they are very good value. Casio’s App and easy learning system offers a comprehensive way to learn to play and the light-up keys on the LK-S250 are all the rage at the moment.

More information

by Robin Vincent

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Sours: https://www.gearnews.com/casiotone-is-making-music-fun-again/
Casiotone CT-S300 Tones, Rhythms \u0026 Features Review

Casiotone CT-S300 REVIEW

For those of us of a certain age, the name Casiotone evokes either one of two emotions: fevered nostalgia or…well, perhaps a slight chuckle. I get it, but for me, the nostalgia wins out. A Casio keyboard, for good or bad, was one of the first instruments I ever used to pluck out a few notes. It was magic, in a time where no such magic existed for me. Being older now, I’m fortunate enough to own a Moog, and ARP, even a Mellotron in my personal keyboard arsenal (not bad for a guitar player).

But those old Casio keyboards hold a certain place in my heart. Which is why, when we met with the folks from Casio at NAMM this past year, and they showed us around their new Casiotone models (in addition to some of their higher-end digital pianos), a little part of me started to warm up inside.

▼ Article continues below ▼

Cut to a few months later, and the Casiotone CT-S300 showed up at the office.

So, let’s dig in.

For starters, those chuckles I spoke about earlier are largely due to Casio’s supposed placed in the cheese-tastic hall of fame of 80’s synth sounds. And sure, to some degree, that’s one way to look at it. For affordable keyboards back in the day, you were obviously going to be limited in the on-board sounds, waveforms and polyphony options. And to that end, having played a few vintage Casio keyboards recently, I must say they do actually hold up fairly well, all things considered. Sure, they’re no Prophet or Minimoog or (gasp) DX-7, but they were never designed to be. And those looking to add an authentic vintage sound to their more modern synth lineups might just want to check one out, if only to add some 80’s fun to the mix. But we’re straying from the matter at hand…

If you go in with the right expectations, you might be very pleasantly surprised with the new Casiotone lineup. We certainly were with the CT-S300 that we got ahold of. For starters, the keybed is very playable. It’s the standard plastic key action you’ll find on a lot of synths and MIDI controllers in this price range, so no surprises there. Although we do appreciate non-teeny-tiny miniature keys for once. One surprise we weren’t prepared for, however, was the pitch wheel – a very nice addition that makes note performance much more expressive than Casiotones from days of yore. Even more impressive is that you’ve got a few options for touch sensitivity, meaning you could use this as a MIDI controller with velocity, in addition to the included sound sets.

Speaking of which, there are a TON of on-board sounds to play around with. Thankfully, navigation is pretty simple, even for menu-diving haters like us. A big, giant wheel sits in the middle of the panel and allows super-easy access to all the sounds and parameters. The small LCD screen is easy to read, even if it is limited in the number of character and rows it can display. In fact, everything about navigating this keyboard is easy, just like the old days, because you’ve only got a few buttons and controls to fiddle about with. In some ways, this is actually refreshing coming off a deep-dive with some of KORG’s more recent offerings.

The sounds are where the new Casiotone lineup really shines. In addition to some surprisingly usable synth sounds, you get access to a whole host of great piano sounds, pads and other instruments that you’re not gonna find on a lot of comparable digital synths. If you want to add some basic electric piano to your mix, you’d normally have to find some DAW plug. Which is fine, except sometimes you just want an instrument to handle the job, and the Yamaha Reface CP is about twice the price with way fewer sounds, smaller keys and no wheel. The Casiotone also provides an impressive 48-note polyphony and a 5-octave keybed, two more octaves than the Reface line and most other synths you might be considering.

You’ve got two adequate built-in speakers, which can of course be bypassed with an audio output to your mixer, powered speakers or audio interface, as well as MIDI control over USB. Would we have preferred to have real 5-pin MIDI ins and outs? Sure, but at this price, we’re not gonna nitpick. Especially considering you can power it with batteries and the entire unit weighs next to nothing, so you can take it practically anywhere with no hassle.

So, what’s our verdict? For $150, it’s almost silly not to pick one up for fun. Snobby synth-heads may snicker at the Casio name, but I think this retro-flavored initiative is one way the modern-day Casio is addressing some of the inaccurate views the public maybe still hold on the quality of their older products. If there is an image problem with Casio keyboards, this is one giant step in the right direction to squelch some of that past snobbery.

PROS:

inexpensive, good selection of sounds, portable, decent keybed

CONS:

no traditional MIDI I/O

STREET PRICE:

$149

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Sours: https://performermag.com/best-instruments/best-music-keyboards-synth/casiotone-ct-s300-review/

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CASIO Casiotone CT-S300 - REVIEW

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