As a pianist and keyboardist with at least fourteen varying and glowing brands of 66 and 88 key-action-hammers, I am happy to finally review a high quality, priced-right pro instrument that is as easily mobile as an electric guitar. The Casio Privia PX-5S, at just 24 pounds is lightweight, the lightest 88 keyboard I have found in the market today. And remarkably, the counterpoise keyboard action feels and glides my fingers as well or better than keyboards costing considerably more. Casio Privia has created a resounding monster stage-friend for fingers, eyes and ears that demand keyboard performance excellence. But let’s not stop there.
Playing this inspiring and hyper-gliding instrument reminds me of getting behind my Yamaha baby grand piano with the difference being the master control over areas non digital keyboards can only dream about. The PX-5S action is solid and giving. The rich multitude of onboard voices, especially the piano voices, are simply, music to my ears and senses.
Of course on stage, any performer needs to be able to shape various tones, enveloping sounds and shift quickly between multiple instruments. For the PX-5S, I would describe its 4 knobs, 6 slider speed, melodic tones and share shifting lever dashboard in two words: fast and awesome!
Of course it goes without saying that the cosmetics, design and keyboard appointments of this black and white beauty is all about “beauty and the beast.” Beast for those who are smart enough to heartfully attack and contact the keys, levers and tones to tame and fame your “wanting more” audience. Contemplating and ripping such a brave and roaring animal on stage is what beauty, dreams and dream weaving is all about.
Want more? Incredible useful and hyper-fast features on the PX-5S include the slider, knobs, mod wheel and pedals which are all fully programmable. Your storage of created and or ready custom tones through settings are quick and so very useful and easy to flip through, amp-up on stage. The synthesizer filters are smooth as silk with mammoth, stage shaking bottom bass we surely recognize and love from the greater days of Emerson Lake & Palmer.
The PX-5S’s incredible price versus 88 keyboard competitors offers hundreds of incredible tones, phase sequencing, extensive and rich hands-on controls, hyper-fast onboard effects, some sampling and scaled and tri-sensor hammer weighted action. The advanced MIDI controller, coupled with a series of best of breed synth-growling tones and an 8 track sequencer allows the performer to trigger emotional riffs on demand, on command.
Two additional features you will really appreciate are first, the truly high definition sounds based upon Casio’s AiR (Accoustic and Intelligent Resonator). Second, the ability to audio direct to a USB thumb drive for pure, fast and easy digital post listening recording incorporation: the PX-5S delivers your own portable music studio during and after each and every private or public performance. The only area for improvement I can report, which can easily be accomplished and enhanced by Casio online, is the ease and product feature navigation guide within the instruction manual.
The PX-5S comes complete with 340 pre-set sounds featuring polyphony of up to 256 notes, offering any artist a full range of sounds and tone variations for a multitude of genres. The wide array of preset sounds also invites performers to reproduce new and familiar tonal variations. As a pianist my ears are especially drawn to the lasting and resonating reverberations of the PX-5S with crisp and clear grand pianos, distinctive electric piano sounds offering finger chops crescendos from the warm tones of the keys.
Just like my Yamaha baby grand piano, your ears and senses will enjoy the wide and ambient tonal character during and after your fingers leave the keys. And with the built in digital signal processor you will be able to apply effects like phasing, wah-wah, organ or instrument tremolo, and rotary simulation with up to four tones at once. The keyboard also features the smart ability to adjust and create EQ frequencies and envelope generation parameters such as attack, release, cutoff and resonance of the filters. Brings me back to my very first plug-play synthesizer the EML-101 where parameters were 100% manual but only changed through slow and mechanical intensive, especially on stage, plugs and cords.
Finally and very usefully, the external electronic musical instruments connected via the MIDI port can be mastered and controlled by the Privia PRO PX-5S. This turns the keyboardist into the “master” and “slave” on center stage and or inside the studio. I might add I love the reproductive Rhodes piano sound as well as the stimulating keyboard action for dedicated pianists allowing a sensed feeling and commanding touch range from legato to staccato to violin like pizzicato.
I highly recommend the Casio Privia PX-5S for both on stage and in studio performances. In this pianist/reviewers mind, heart and ears, at about $1,000 for Casio’s Privia PX-5S juxtaposed to other brands in market you cannot do or get better in overall performance, realistic presence in sound quality, fast multi-tasking and high speed keyboard throughput. Well done Casio, very well done.
Peter Weedfald is president of Gen One Ventures, author of Green Reign Leadershipship and a concert pianist