CTK-6000 is one of Casio's best boards yet

(ShackMan | Posted 2011-07-22)

CTK-6000 is one of Casio's best boards yet

I have to say, the Casio CTK-6000 was a bugger to write about. Unless some lightning bolt of inspiration strikes, I usually make a list of pro's and con's with plenty of material on each side, draft up some six pages of streaming consciousness, and then pare it down to two pages of the helpful important stuff. I figured from the beginning that, having read Keyboard's review (and planning to mention some things they didn't) on the CTK-7000 and WK-7500, and, well, considering the fact that this is the lower model after all...Well, it should be a piece of cake. I drafted up my pro's and con's list...three times. This was all I ever came up with on the 'con' side:

  • Soft action might not be perfect for everyone (also in Keyboard magazine's review)
  • Missed the sliders from 7000 model when mixing
  • Wanted a drum roll and timpani roll sound on the drumset models
  • Missed the instrument input jack from 7000 model
Now, you might say, “Sure, James, that's plenty there!” But this was everything. I normally can come up with a solid 15 or 20 critiques with most boards and then break it down to the important bits, but this was it. And really, to break it down, the 'action' isn't a problem so much as a matter of preference, and two of those are just a matter of deciding whether or not the price difference is worth it for the higher model. As for the drum roll and timpani roll sounds, I was honestly flabbergasted that keyboards with so many sounds would not include them.

So here are my reasons why I think the CTK and WK series are some of Casio's best work to date.

Of course, there's my usual stand-by with Casio: “The quality and amount of sounds you get for the money is great!” which should sound like a broken record to some of my regulars at this point. Yes, even the drawbar organ rocked, and I should add that with the simple button-action on these boards it made the drawbar organ sounds an absolute blast to play with (I may have forgotten to eat lunch at one point). I will extend this to the rhythm and accompaniment generators for the CTK-6000 as well. Sure some of them are a bit on the cheesy side, but I was especially impressed with some of the world music sounds. Casio did their research on those. Making my own rhythms was just as easy. If I wanted to change what happens when I hit the 'Variation 1' button on the board, I would simply go into the Rhythm Editor, press that button, and edit away. Equally appreciated were various odd-meter rhythms to add to the already vast set.

The Auto-Accompaniment and Auto-Harmonizer were both well-programmed, and I liked having the ability to determine how each feature would recognize my playing and determine what to play from there instead of having one setting. Features included playing the full chord, color tones, or a novelty Casio Chord design that simply involved playing adjacent scalar tones to decide the function of the chord in Auto-Accompaniment. With the Auto Harmonizer I was able to find an accompaniment function that worked for me easily.

Playing with all of this consistently left me grateful to the 32GB SD-card support. Casio's interface allows live keys, auto-accompaniment, user-rhythms, and sequenced pre-recorded sections all to be put down in the same track and printed out to a file format of your choice, like Mp3 or WAV. Of course those who want to do even further tweaking can always switch the card over to their computer and dump the tracks straight into whatever recording software you may use, easy as pie.

As I did the rest of this review, I found one other small problem. The buttons on the keyboard are rubber, so you can't just feel the click and keep going. I found that using this board live, I was forced to watch the screen sometimes to make sure I had made the patch change or whatever I was trying to do. Granted, this board isn't trying to be a stage piano as well, but it would be nice to be able to feel a little more comfortable using it live. The pitch bend/modulation and tonewheel were absolutely fine.

When it comes down to it, I have to measure the success of a keyboard in whether or not it succeeds at what it's trying to do. In this case, Casio has built some Wonder-boards in the CTK and WK series, and as Workstations they're absolutely top-notch for the price. I've had the CTK-6000 for well over a month now while doing this review, and I'm delighted to say that I'm keeping it. It will be a useful tool in the years to come for composing while touring, sketching ideas, playing with orchestral parts, adding live percussion effects and ethnic instruments, and so much more. You know what? I'll probably still use it live, because, in case you've missed it the last few times I've said it, it sounds pretty darn good...

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