As a working jazz pianist in New York City, I never developed the technical savvy for electronics that many of my friends possess. I’m rather set in my musical ways, and I prefer to work mostly with acoustic instruments. So trying to find an affordable, portable keyboard with a convincing acoustic piano sound has been quite a challenge for me. That's why the new Casio Privia PX-S1000 is perhaps the most impressive keyboard I’ve ever played.

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Overview

I used to think that in order to get an authentic piano sound, I would have pay a large sum for a heavy keyboard by some of the more well-known instrument manufacturers. So I was shocked at how close Casio's new Privia PX-S1000 sounds and feels like a real acoustic piano. Its scaled hammer action has key surfaces textured with simulated ebony and ivory for an even greater level of piano authenticity, plus it has five touch sensitivity levels that can be adjusted to an individual's playing style. Weighing-in at just 24.7 pounds (Casio calls it the world’s slimmest digital piano), the Privia PX-S1000 is an incredibly portable instrument, especially when paired with the optional SC-800 carrying case. I can even imagine carrying it to gigs like a backpack, which is great for traveling to shows on the crowded NYC subway!

Connections

The PX-S1000's back panel includes a USB port, an audio (stereo mini-jack) port,  two 1/4 inch outputs, (stereo and mono). And while it is bundled with a sustain pedal, it also is compatible with Casio's SP-34 3 Pedal Sustain pedal to better simulate its acoustic counterpart. The PX-S1000's front panel also features two stereo mini-jack headphone ports. Power is supplied via the included AC adapter, or optionally by using six AA batteries that provide up to four hours of operation

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Sounds and Controls

When you look down at the PX-S1000's sleek top panel, you see only a power button and a volume knob. The rest of the top panel contains touch-sensitive controls that save space and unnecessary clutter. The Privia PX-S1000 contains 18 different "bread and butter" sounds, including numerous acoustic pianos, Rhodes and Wurlitzer-type electric pianos, vibes, string patches, organs, harpsichord, and acoustic bass. You can also layer and split these sounds. Digging into the sound bank, I found myself returning to the "Jazz Piano" patch often, as it reminded me of the classic piano sound on Bill Evan' seminal solo album Alone. The ’60s E Piano’ sounds like a Wurly with a built-in tremolo and I can see it working great in a variety of settings. For me, the various acoustic piano sounds like "Grand Piano Concert," "Bright," "Mellow," "Rock" and "Jazz" are the real stars here - they can cover any conceivable musical context when an authentic acoustic piano sound is needed. The PX-S1000 utilizes Casio’s AIR Sound Source, which creates realistic piano tones, an expressive touch, and even features damper and string resonance effects. I was even surprised by the richness of the two included string patches.

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Extras

The Privia PX-S1000 also includes a built-in metronome, plus a two-track MIDI recorder that can store one song on-board. The included "duet mode" feature splits the keyboard into two equal pitch ranges, which is great for educators teaching on one instrument. Casio has also linked the PX-S1000 with their exclusive Chordana Play app (available on Google Play or Apple's iTunes Store), which allows uses to adjust all of the PX-S1000's parameters remotely. It has 50 built-in songs with which you can practice. You can also download MIDI files for other songs to play along with. The PX-S1000's also features on-board stereo speakers that are so powerful I can imagine not needing a separate amplifier at many of my NYC jazz gigs. Lastly, the PX-S1000 lets you pair the speaker system through Bluetooth so you can play along with your favorite recordings. 

Bottom Line

Every working pianist in a metropolitan area where space and portability are paramount should try Casio's Privia PX-S1000 for themselves. From its realistic piano sound and touch, to its extreme portability and modern connectivity, the PX-S1000 covers all the bases. At $600 street it's a steal, and it convinced an acoustic piano purist like me of the wonders of digital instruments. I highly recommend it!

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PROS

Realistic acoustic piano tone and touch. Slim, portable footprint. Affordable. The Casio PX-S1000 wins Keyboard's Key Buy award for its outstanding value.

CONS

None to speak of at this price! 

Casio Privia PX-S1000 - $599.99 street

www.casiomusicgear.com

Alex Minasian is a New York-based jazz pianist who has performed with Little Jimmy Scott, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Little Anthony and the Imperials and Billy Vera. Find out more at alexminasian.com