Casio PX-5S Review
Function: Stage Piano
What’s New: The last time I had a stage piano was probably 10 years ago…and it had a floppy drive, no MIDI capabilities and made helicopter sounds on patch 100. Needless to say I’ve since become more of a synth player myself, but after spending some time with the PX-5S, I’m thoroughly impressed with the new Casio stage piano.
Features: The PX-5S sports 88 hammer-action keys with 256 notes of polyphony. This upgraded sound engine is helpful when using the Hex-layers feature of layering up to 6 samples on one patch. Four knobs and six sliders can control a variety of internal effects when using the PX-5S as a standalone keyboard, and can be assigned to control almost anything inside the keyboard. All of the controls, including the pitch and mod-wheel are assignable via MIDI when using the piano as a controller. The PX-5S also includes a phrase sequencer and an arpeggiator, two features not normally found on stage pianos, but very useful when using the PX-5S as a MIDI controller. MIDI I/O and USB/MIDI connectors are included on the back panel of the stage piano, and can be used as a controller and a standalone device at the same time. The entire stage piano weighs in at just 24 pounds, (that’s under half the weight of a Yamaha Motif) and runs off an included power supply or 8 AA batteries. Last but not least, the PX-5S has a USB port to record your performance as a high quality .WAV file, and can even play back .WAV’s that you’ve previously recorded, or set up as a backing track for yourself.
Sound: The full 88-key, hammer-action keyboard is much more than a stage piano. Powered by Casio’s proprietary AiR sound engine, the factory sounds are deep, realistic, and very useable in any worship service. I tend to favor the more mellow piano samples, which the PX-5S nails exceptionally well, in addition to a few electric piano, harpsichord, and clavinet patches. As a standalone stage piano, the Casio offers plenty of control. Each knob and slider can be configured to control different parts of each sound, such as effects and EQ, or individual patch volume if you’re using more than one sound at a time. The PX-5S is divided into four zones, each of which can control a separate sound in the keyboard. When used as a MIDI controller, the USB to MIDI comes in handy when connecting straight to a computer and the different zones make controlling separate sounds easy and straightforward. The arpeggiator and phrase sequencer are great when used with MIDI synths to give instant motion to any sound. Both are easy to use and work at the touch of a button. The effects section is quite robust, including reverb, delay, EQ, compression, phaser, chorus, tremelo, auto pan, rotary, ring mod, pitch shifter, and many more. The reverb and delay are quite nice, and the master compressor gives a nice squeeze to the pianos. One of the nicest features of the PX-5S’s sound engine is the seamless transition when changing from patch to patch, meaning that when you change from say piano to strings, the piano does not stop sustaining until you let the keys go.
Feel: My favorite part of the keyboard hands down was the feel. The keys are (for lack of a better term) slightly grooved to give the feel of an old grand piano. The result is amazing for piano players, both the action and the keys feel like a grand piano. If you’re not used to the feel of real pianos the feel may feel strange at first, but my guess is you’ll come to love it. The action is great and my wrists never got tired playing it.
Bottom Line: The PX-5S is the perfect stage piano for the worship leader. The PX-5S offers a great solution for a piano-playing worship leader who wants a solid, easy-to-use stage piano and the flexibility to introduce MIDI sounds without using a dedicated controller. For the price, portability, features, and sound quality, you can’t go wrong with the PX-5S.
For more information about the PX-5S and other products by Casio, visit casio-usa.com.