The Casio CT-X700 is a new installment in their long-running line of portable keyboards. The CT-X series is intended for musicians of all levels, featuring 61 full-size keys, 600 tones, built-in speakers, and more at a price that’s hard to beat.

IN THE BOX

I’m instantly feeling nostalgic upon unboxing the CT-X700, because most of my early experiences playing the piano took place on a portable Casio. Though many of Casio’s classic tones and features are still present, their portable line has evolved considerably in recent years.

The new full-size 61-key keybed offers an expanded range of dynamics. While the CT-X700’s touch isn't as expressive as most high-end MIDI controllers and workstations, it’s excellent for the value, and certainly outperforms many similarly priced keyboards. Below the keybed, each note is labeled by name and corresponding percussion instrument, a longtime feature of Casio’s portable keyboards. This is an extremely helpful feature for students who are still becoming familiar with the piano.

The CT-X700’s portability is one of its biggest selling points. Weighing slightly under 9.5 pounds, with built-in speakers and battery power to boot, you’ll have no trouble carrying or traveling with this keyboard. A power adapter is also included in the box.

On the back, you'll find all the necessary connectivity for a portable setup, including a stereo 1/4” out jack, the DC adapter jack, an 1/8” audio in jack, and a sustain pedal jack. The CT-X700 also doubles as a USB MIDI controller for immediate plug-and-play use with a computer, tablet or smartphone. For smartphone users, a convenient tray is included on the face of the keyboard.

CT-X700_Terminal

IN THE FIELD

A major feature of Casio’s CT-X line is the new "AiX Sound Source,” powering 600 tones with a wide variety of texture and sound. There are hits and misses throughout, which is customary with any massive sound bank, but the pianos and electric pianos sound especially good. The CT-X700 features several varieties of grand, upright, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and digital/FM pianos. I was also impressed by the clavinet patches, which resemble the various pickup pattern combinations found on an old Hohner D6.

Piano tones aside, the CT-X700’s digitally-oriented patches are the strongest. This especially holds true for its collection of synths, but there are also several strong options for strings. I’m also a fan of the large bank of world instruments. While exploring these patches on my old Casio keyboard fifteen years ago, I ended up discovering many instruments that young students aren’t typically exposed to in America. The CT-X series offers even more options. All in all, the series’ huge sound bank is a great tool, and should help pianists of all levels discover a multitude of tones and sounds.

For pros, the CT-X700 boasts a surprisingly robust bank of reverbs, chorus and EQ, enabling further customization of the built-in sounds. All the standard reverb options are present – rooms, halls, and plates – with several additional larger spaces like stadiums & cathedrals.

In addition to the AiX-powered tone bank, the CT-X700 features 195 preprogrammed rhythms with variations and fills, 110 song demos, and 50 practice exercises. Speaking from personal experience, these are all fantastic features to help young pianists expand their familiarity with the keyboard. Beginners can learn the demo songs in “easy mode,” and separate songs by hand, so the parts are more approachable. Coupled with left hand auto-accompaniment and right hand auto-harmonization, the CT-X700 has a wealth of features to help beginners build their confidence and proficiency.

CT-X700_R

STRENGTHS

Light and portable, built-in speakers, huge tone bank, multiple play-along tools for study and exploration, incredible value for the price.

LIMITATIONS

No pitch bend or mod wheel. Not as touch sensitive as some higher-end actions.

$175 street

http://www.casio.com

Cale Hawkins is a multi-instrumentalist and writer who has worked with Quincy Jones, Nate Ruess, Wyclef Jean, Bilal, Nikki Yanofsky and others. Find out more at www.calehawkins.com