So, what’s the #casiopro range all about? Put simply, they’re stage instruments designed around one core value: playability. As well as producing some of the lightest pianos around, Casio have made sure that the way each model works is as smooth as possible, meaning there’s nothing between you and your performance.
If you’re wondering which of the range might be best for you, here’s my take on what each instrument can do.
PX-160 - If most of your time is playing straight piano, this is the instrument you need. Using Casio’s AiR technology, the PX-160 packs a huge sound into its 11.5kg case. In my experience, sound guys are always impressed with how the piano tone cuts through vocals, bass and drums without hardly any EQ. This is true of the other 17 tones also - EPs, Organs and String patches sound big and have plenty of bite.
PX-360 - Straight away, the big advantage of this model can be seen as soon as you switch it on: the 5.3 inch colour touch screen. This makes setting up sound layers, split points and effects so much quicker. The number of patches has increased to 550, giving you more variety of other sounds too. Fortunately, there’s a library system to save your favourite combinations when playing live.
I also use the USB Audio facility a lot - this means that I can cue wave audio files from USB whilst I’m playing, so if I’m on a solo gig or playing with a guitarist or singer, I can also use added tracks that I’ve prepared in the studio before. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can use USB Audio to make recordings to memory stick, and one neat feature of this is that the PX-360 will also record any other instruments that you connect to its audio input jacks too.
PX-5S - This marvel has a huge cult following all over the world. I’ve seen it used by literally hundreds of different bands, from worship groups to street bands (thanks to its battery power option, no doubt). Everybody loves it because it is shockingly light, at just 10.8kg! This reason alone probably makes it the most giggable stage piano ever made. Plus, Casio have added more knobs and sliders for great live control over your patches. Unique to this model is also a programmable arpeggiator, phrase sequencer and incredible MIDI control.
PX-560 - The grand master of the #casiopro range. Every time I take the PX-560 out, I’m amazed by what I can achieve with it. It’s actually two instruments in one, with the same piano engine as in Casio’s high-end digital pianos, and the incredible Hex Layer synth engine too made so easy to program thanks to the colour LCD display. When I first heard the 560, I was sold just on what you could do to the piano sound. As well as change the string resonance, damper noise, hammer response and all the other fine nuances that can make or break a piano track, I just loved how you could shape the tone and the effects by using the live control knobs. When I’m backing a singer with solo piano, I’ll assign Reverb, Mid EQ, and High EQ to one of each of the 3 knob controls, giving me easy access to match the piano tone to whatever style of vocals they’re going to use.
I’ve talked about Hex Layer synthesis in other blog posts, but I think it’s worth saying that, if you like programming your own patches, you must take a look at a PX-560. I use a lot of my own patches for when I play festivals or events where I’ll be covering a lot of different material. Thanks to the storage memory available, I can easily put a whole night’s worth of patches right where I need them, and these sounds range from some of the very best old-school EPs, combo organs and synths, right the way through to multi-layer, pitch-shifting pads that really shouldn’t be possible!