Review: Casio PX-830 Digital Piano
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-05-14)
It seems that every keyboard manufacturer makes at least a hundred other products, and Casio is no different in that respect, but itís been riding the same wave to success as Behringer, Sonus, and ZOOM have for years now. Casio makes good quality keyboards at very little cost. They arenít a budget brand, but buying one tends to leave you with the same good feeling as saving $1 at the grocery store for the red box of Macaroni and Cheese. Except here the difference isnít $1. Itís more like $500 and up. With that in mind, I requested a review unit of the PX-830, the flagship model of the Privia line. At $1,000 a piece, the PX-830 sits right in the middle of the price range for Casioís somewhat higher end Celviano line. Letís see what the PX-830 had to offer.
Taking the piano out of the box, I first noticed how well-packed the keyboard was. No messing around at all here; everything was held firmly in place with packing foam and double wrapped in plastic and polyethylene (I had to look up the name for that). Setup was a bit of a chore with about 2 hours of work involved, but Casio provides everything you need except for a phillips and a flathead screwdriver. There were simply a lot more screws and brackets necessary to hold everything together. Outside of a situation that requires disassembling and reassembling the keyboard regularly, this isnít a bad thing at all. In the end, it takes up very little space at 54Ē long by 30Ē high x 10 ĺĒ deep, and the wood grain on the test unit I received looked strikingly sharp in the deep black color. Once I got it set up I couldnít help but admire the profile of the unit for a minute or two; it just looks that good in a room. I finally pulled up a bench and began to experiment with Casioís latest in the Privia home piano line, the PX-830.
The very first thing that struck me when I turned the piano was the row of three solitary buttons where Iím much more used to a full dashboard array. It took a day of playing to get acclimated to the idea of pushing down the function button first and then pressing a key to change various parameters, but I got the hang of things. I still miss having a digital display to show me exactly where those parameters are at the moment instead of simply trying to remember that I left the brightness on level 2 and which key selects which type of chorus. I kept the manual close at hand during the test run because of this. On the other hand, the use of the keys as buttons makes the overall piano much smaller and far lighter than many others with half as many features as the PX-830, and practicing and playing at home doesnít suggest the need for any quick tone changes. At its worst, I found changing tones and parameters to be tedious, but not frustrating. I feel that if I had more time with the unit, I could have likely memorized most of the button presses just from regular use. Still, I wish Casio had included a shortcut key or a quick reference guide with the manual.
When I did play, however, I found that the tones I was getting were very good for the keyboardís $1,000 price tag. The piano modes (classic, modern, and variation) are a bit thin-sounding in the very low and very high registers, as though some of the midrange had been pulled out of them, but itís still a very clean sound, and the thinness becomes less noticeable when the keyboard is amplified. Oddly enough, the tones that most impressed me were the electric piano, jazz organ (a B-3 model), and bass sounds. The models sounded full and clean, and given the lack of physical hammers on the other side keys (which are only counterweighted), playing Wurlitzer and Hammond based sounds felt all the more natural and enjoyable on the PX-830. I couldnít stop playing with the Jazz Organ setting split with an upright bass (with or without the added cymbal), although doing so made me wish that I could adjust the split point where the Bass keys ended and the Organ keys started.
I also smiled when I noticed that using an outboard amplifier through the line outputs does not shut off the main speakers. I find it to be a great help to keep the main speakers as my own personal monitor in a live situation, such as in a church or a jazz lounge. Other features include an SD card port and a USB port for transferring MIDI files and recorded songs to and from the computer for playback. Setup for these is easy enough, and the piano recognized input and output from both sources with no trouble, although Casio did put together a long list of potential errors in the manual along with the way they are displayed in LED light sequences by the piano, should they occur. Transfer, playback, recording, and using the PX-830 as a MIDI controller went smoothly without any need for extra drivers or software. Simply plug it in, change a setting or two on the keyboard, and play. Well done on that front, Casio.
All in all, the PX-830 is the high end of the Privia line, and a decent piece of budget gear for $1,000. Iíd still recommend Casioís Celviano line over this if you have a little bit more space to spare, and theyíre right in the same price range as the PX-830. Although the Celviano keyboards are heavier, you get a full dashboard along with fully weighted hammer action keys, and the piano sounds are better enough to warrant a second look at them.
Keys to the heart:
- Great organ and electric piano tones
- Doesnít take up much space
- Easy MIDI, SD, and USB setup
- Using keys to change settings can be tedious; No quick reference guide
- Canít change the split point when using the Bass sounds
- Hokey string tones