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While we’ve been raving about the explosion in the synth market these past few years, the world of digital pianos has seemingly been flying under our radar. But now, with increasingly solid entries into the world of digital pianos from the likes of Yamaha, Nord, Casio and more, it’s time we re-assess the state of the stage piano market.
We recently got sent the new Privia PX-S3000 from Casio, and here are our first impressions. For starters, it does involve a screen and menus system, which admittedly we’ve not been huge fans of in the past. For stage pianos, we prefer knob or button-per function types of controls. After all, if we wanted to go menu-diving, we’d be using a synth. But, we must say, the new PX-S3000 is dead-simple to use, even for menu-averse reactionaries like us. The screen is super easy to read in all lighting conditions and moving between piano sounds is as easy as using the touchscreen on your phone. In fact, the touch controls aren’t even apparent until you power the unit on, so it retains a super-sleek appearance until you give it power.
So, how does it feel? Well, it does have a textured keybed, which we must say takes a bit of getting used to. At first, it felt a bit odd, and rather unlike traditional piano keys or weighted action keybeds on comparable units. Your mileage may vary, but we’re not sure this feel will be to every player’s liking. Compared to the Yamaha digital piano we review elsewhere in this issue, we must give the nod to Yamaha for better replicating the feel of a genuine acoustic piano. That all said, it’s not bad by any stretch, just different. Weighting is good (and the scaling is a nice touch), and the overall action will be acceptable for all but the most discerning players. For stage and studio, this should get the job done nicely, and because it’s a full 88 keys, you can actually play proper piano parts, not stifled by a synth’s lower octave count.▼ Article continues below ▼
Sound-wise, you’re in good hands. Acoustic piano, organs, strings, pads and electric piano sounds are fairly convincing, and in a proper mix, you’d be hard-pressed to pick them apart from the real deal. In fact, the grand piano sound (the one you’ll likely gravitate towards first), faithfully recreates mechanical oddities you’d hear in a real instrument, as well as hammers striking metal when it comes to the e. piano tones (both tines and reeds). Nice jobs – those are the sort of nuances that we’re excited to be getting in 2019. The only real disappointment is the cheap feeling pedal that’s included, but you’ll likely already have a good one you’ll want to use in its place. Not a deal breaker.
For under $800, Casio is providing convincing sounds, an 88-key spread, and solid feeling keybed that’ll be at home in your studio or on your next tour. The pitch wheel is a nice bonus, and means that over USB, you can have this double as your master MIDI controller when it comes time to fire up the DAW. The onboard speakers are OK for practice, but you’ll want to use proper line outs for professional use.
All in all, a solidly built unit that earns our recommendation.
easy to use menus/screen, solid keybed, good sounds
cheap pedal, no stand.