New Year, New Piano: Dr Chris Stanbury looks at Casio’s brand new AP-270 and AP-470 Celviano digital pianos.
As we’re well into January, you might find your New Year’s resolutions might need a bit of help along the way by now. If buying a new digital piano was on the top of your list, I’d recommend you look at Casio’s new Celviano pianos.
Casio has gone through a huge renaissance recently, and a massive investment in research and development has produced some incredible products that have really caught the eyes (and ears) of the music industry. With this in mind, I was really interested to see what innovations Casio had put into the new 2017 range of AP series digital pianos. The previous range of Celvianos were so successful, surely no designer would want to change the winning formula?
At first glance though, it’s obvious that both instruments (the entry-level AP-270 and the larger AP-470) have been completely redesigned. Casio are definitely aiming high here: everything has a quality feel and even the ebony and ivory textures on the keys have been refined.
Casio say that the control panel has been completely redesigned following customer feedback. The whole panel has now been moved to the far left of the keyboard, giving both models a sleeker, premium look. It’s also possible to control these new Celviano models with the Chordana Play Piano app* (for iOS and Android), where you can select different sounds, record your performances and even read musical scores in PDF format.
Two New Concert Grand Piano Tones
Less obvious, but just as important, are the big improvements that Casio have made to the sound. I had the chance to hear the old models of Celviano next to these new instruments while I was at Casio’s head office, and the difference is huge.
Both the AP-270 and AP-470 now have two new Concert Grand Piano tones. Why two piano sounds? Well, the answer is in the variety and interest that it gives you as a performer. Grand Piano 1, a majestic European grand, is perfect for classical pieces, whilst the resonant sound of Grand Piano 2 is perfect for jazz and pop songs. Having two pianos for the price of one is brilliant - you’ll always find a tone that suits your style.
Whilst we’re talking about useful features for students, Casio’s Concert Play (available on both models) is definitely worth a mention. These are recordings of favourite classical pieces played by a real symphony orchestra which you can play along to thanks to the included piano score.
As well as being great fun, Concert Play really inspires you to improve your music reading skills and hone your abilities in playing along with an ensemble.
Usually, entry level digital pianos leave me rather uninspired, as most piano manufacturers use basic key mechanisms which don't feel as good to play as the more expensive models. With the Casio AP-270 however, this isn’t the case: the key action is the same as in larger instruments in the range. This makes the AP-270 fantastic value for money: you’re getting a premium key action that will support music learning for years to come, even up to the highest levels of performance. For me, this alone makes the AP-270 one of the best starter instruments available today and one that I would definitely recommend to students of all ages and abilities.
What more does the AP-470 offer?
Put simply, it’s an improved sound and some very useful extra features. When I moved on to the AP-470 after playing the AP-270, I immediately noticed that the piano tone seemed 'bigger'. Casio say this is for two reasons: the speaker system used is nearly three times more powerful than the AP-270, and this larger instrument also has extra string resonance (a computer recreation of all the extra harmonics that an acoustic piano produces) which gives it a warmer sound. The opening acoustic lid, which lifts up just like a grand piano, gives the instrument that extra finesse (not to mention a bigger spread of sound, too).
Also, there are some really useful extra features on the AP-470, such as the ability to customise the piano tone to your own taste. The best feature for me though was USB Audio, which means you can record your performance straight to USB memory stick as digital audio, ready to share with friends and family.
Overall, I was really impressed with both the AP-270 and AP-470. I was expecting some small improvements, but these two instruments represent a giant leap forward in terms of quality and value for money.