Casio unveils CTK and WK workstation keyboards

(ShackMan | Posted 2011-01-13)

Casio unveils CTK and WK workstation keyboards

Casio returned to Winter NAMM this year and after three years brought some welcome updates to the WK and CTK line of keyboard/workstations. The new WK-6500 and CTK-6000 (replacing the WK-500 and CTK-5000, respectively) and the WK-7500 and CTK-7000 represent further developments in Casio's continued mission to give the public professional keyboards on a budget. The updates and new features represent a whole new dimension in music production at home, and at between $300 and $600 MSRP (roughly $200 to $450 street) they're a solid value for any musician looking to start or expand his home studio. For those attending Winter NAMM in Anaheim, check out booth #6776 for the full scoop. For those who don't have that opportunity or just really want to hear my opinions on Casio's new boards, read on.

So here's the skinny on what's new and updated, all translated out of Casio's advertisement-ese. First off, both the CTK-6000 and CTK-7000 feature 61 touch response keys, while the WK-6500 and WK-7500 feature 76 piano-style keys, a step up in feel from the CTK line. From there the features are largely the same between the lower CTK and WK models as opposed to the higher models.

The new additions found in the WK-6500 and CTK-6000 include new tones and rhythms, a larger backlit LCD display and a new 17 track sequencer with editing tools for creating new sounds and music composition. Equipped with rhythms from over 200 different styles of music from around the world and 670 tones to play to them, the 6000 series is already a major improvement over Casio's older models. Throw in a five song, 12,000 note sequencer with event editing and quantizing capability, a backlit graphic LCD screen to make editing easier, as well as the ability to plug in outside instruments through MIDI, stereo line in, or microphone input. Last but not least, the 6000 series features 36 registration presets for live performance.

The WK-7500 for your viewing pleasure...

Now, of course the 7000's include all that and a little extra. For starters, you can more than double the storage space of the sequencer to 30,000 notes, and give it the ability to do punch in/out editing on top of the aforementioned features. Enjoy 800 tones and 250 rhythms (as opposed to 670 tones and 200 rhythms) with which to record. An important new feature not to be overlooked on the 7000's is the addition of an SDHC slot for audio recording through the microphone, stereo or additional instrument inputs. There are also sliders added that can control both the mixer and act as drawbars in organ mode. Save and edit up to 96 registrations for live performance. All this is made to fit on a much larger backlit LCD screen.

Overall, I think the features are very competitive in the price range. All four boards are very much geared toward the sequencer, the sampler, the composer, and the person who just wants to explore music-making and get a chance to put something down on CD. They still have a performance mode as well, making them a great selection for those who have had experience with keyboards before and want to get into something more without having to clear space in your house or your wallet for a digital grand piano (and portability is a sweet plus).

On the topic of Casio as a whole corporation, I've tried many of their pianos in the past (and owned several). I continue to say that they are reliable, have an easy-to-play feel, and have a particularly superb sound that can give keyboards well above their own price range a run for the customer's money. I won't hesitate to say that these keyboards are sure to be nothing less. The fact that Casio manages to combine all these features into one lightweight, portable, and cheap unit keeps them a very viable force in today's market where, in many ways, value is king.

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