Casio PX-S1100 vs Roland FP-10 | Digital Piano Review & Demo Comparison

When the Roland FP10 digital piano hit the market a few years back it was almost instantly dubbed a ‘category killer’ due to its high-quality piano sound, and most importantly, due to the presence of the Roland PHA4 action.

The Casio PX-S1000 quickly became a great challenger due to its own unique value proposition (while the PX-S3000 was a huge hit in the next price point up), and the Casio Privia PX-S1100 seems poised to keep the battle going.

With that in mind, we’ll be comparing these two super popular, value-packed entry-level portable digital pianos that happen to remain among the most interesting match-ups in the class.

Let’s get into it.

Casio PX-S1100 vs Roland FP10 – Background

Casio PX-S1100 Digital Piano
Casio PX-S1100 Digital Piano

The PX-S1100 arrived fairly recently with the PX-S3100 Privia digital piano so we’ve been putting it through its paces and comparing it to other popular models in the same price range and class. We recently compared it to the Yamaha P-125 which was a very interesting look, so the Roland FP10 is next on our list.

This is also undoubtedly an interesting comparison, especially since the focus of these two instruments is a little bit different. Where the Roland FP10 is very much offered as an inexpensive practice instrument with a great tone and action but stripped-down features, the PX-S1100 is a little bit more versatile, and with discreet line outputs plus battery operation and a super slim cabinet, the S1100 is more equipped to serve as a gigging piano.

This is the general orientation of each of these pianos – the FP10 is very piano-centric, while the S1100 is more versatile and capable of being used as a gigging piano. With that important distinction out of the way, let’s get into the sound.

Digital Piano Sound Comparison

An enjoyable sound is so critical to the enjoyment of just about any instrument. If you can’t connect with an instrument’s sound, it’s going to be tough to connect with the instrument as a whole. When it comes to pianos, a weighted key action is also quite critical, and some would argue it’s actually more critical, but we’ll start here by comparing everything sound related between these two pianos.
When considering the best digital piano tone generators on instruments available for under $1,000 CAD, we’re looking at two of the most sophisticated options in the class here, especially with regard to the acoustic piano sound.

Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano Sound Engine

The FP10 is equipped with Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine. While this is a somewhat stripped-down version of the engine and does not possess the new higher-powered BMC chip featured in the FP-X instruments, this is still a very good sound engine with expressive sound.

In fact, even though the FP10 isn’t supposed to have compatibility with Roland’s piano designer, at least at the time of this review we’re still able to connect the FP-10 to the Piano Designer and access all sorts of parameters that are lurking under the hood of Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano engine.

With Piano Designer, you’re able to edit things like the lid height, damper resonance, string resonance, hammer noise and more.

Polyphony isn’t crazy, but it’s solid at 96 notes. Considering that the FP-10 is built for solo piano playing, 96 notes is more than enough.

Casio’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source

Casio PX-S 1100 Sound Engine
Casio PX-S 1100 Sound Engine

The PX-S1100bk is equipped with Casio’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source, and this has consistently been a well-reviewed since it first started appearing in Casio models a few years ago.

Via the new Casio Music App for iOS and Android, which replaces the Chordana Play App, you’re also able to edit various sound-related parameters. The S1100 also offers onboard control of Hall Simulators (reverbs) and a Surround Sound feature.

Polyphony is quite robust here at 192 notes meaning the S1100 is powerful enough to get into some serious layering and even arranging.

How does the Playing Experience Compare?

The default grand piano sound on the S1100 is very dynamic (much more dynamic than is typical in this class), and you have a lot of variety in terms of the tonal palette, from soft to loud.

The musical experience is also quite nice over on the FP-10, but we are hearing more tonal variety on the S1100. The dynamic range is also very nice on the FP-10, but again, we’d give the nod to the S1100 here overall as well.

To harken back to our first point regarding the importance of a good sound for one’s enjoyment of a given instrument, both pianos get a thumbs up here, whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced player.

Onboard Speaker System

One big surprise when getting these two digital pianos side by side was how well the FP-10 speakers actually stack up against the S1100.

The S1100 is using a dual downward-facing system with 16 watts of amplifier power and a pair of tone ports so your ear can get some direct sound.

The FP-10 is also using a downward-facing dual speaker system, but with no tone ports and only 12 watts of power. That being said, in some ways, we think the FP-10 is actually producing more bass response despite its lower-rated power output.

There is definitely a little bit more clarity and detail coming out of the S1100, but in terms of the overall depth of sound, the FP-10 more than holds its own.

Other Sounds

In terms of the non-acoustic piano sounds, we have a similar quantity of total presets here 15 on the FP-10 and 18 on the PX-S1100.

All of the basic tones that you’ll need in any basic professional setting or even to have some fun with at home are covered, such as electric pianos, organs, strings and synths.

In general, the FP-10’s non-piano sounds are a little bit stronger across the board, especially with regard to the organ sound, but overall the total offerings here are quite similar.

Sound Wrap Up

When it comes to the core piano sound, as we often say at Merriam Pianos, it’s going to come down to a matter of personal preference. That said, we are hearing more tonal variety out of the S1100, and a slightly greater dynamic range.

The speaker trade-off is a better bass presence on the FP-10 despite less amplifier power, but slightly better clarity and overall detail on the S1100.

Lastly, while the range of sounds is pretty close on both the FP-10 and S1100, the non-piano tones are slightly better on the FP10.

Digital Piano Action Comparison

Roland PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action
Roland PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action

Roland’s PHA4 Standard Keyboard Action

Given that the FP-10 has been out for several years now, there are people that might be thinking that the FP-10 is yesterday’s news and doesn’t currently stack up to some of the newer models from the likes of Casio, Kawai, or even Roland itself with the newer FP-30X.

Here’s the big reason why this would be sorely mistaken and why the FP-10 is still 100% relevant – the presence of the PHA4 action. Roland uses this action in many of their digital pianos right up to about the $2,000 price point, so the fact that it can be had in the FP-10 for significantly less money is huge.

This is a very capable and well-regarded action with triple sensor key detection, escapement and textured key tops- features generally not seen on actions available at this price point. The piano touch sensitivity is also adjustable to accommodate different playing styles.

If action is your top priority, you simply can’t beat the PHA-4 action at this price point, and this alone makes the FP-10 an extremely compelling option for many.

Casio’s Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard

Looking over at the S1100’s Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard, we certainly have some nice things to say about this action as well. The mechanical key action sound is actually a bit quieter on this action compared to the PHA4, and this is probably due to an increased level of key cushioning.

Now, it’s important to note that this is a very compact action, and this was a conscious choice by Casio in order to accommodate the incredibly slim cabinet of the PX-S1100. Basically, this means they had to shorten the pivot length below the norm to fit the action into such a slim case.

This also means that the Smart Scaled action is using a dual sensor, and does not feature any escapement. While there is a nice texture on the keys, all in all, the PHA4 action is undoubtedly a better key action, both on paper and in practice.

That said, we would still put the Smart Scaled action ahead of some others in the class, such as Yamaha’s GHS action (featured in the Yamaha P-45 and P-125) and Korg’s Natural Weighted Hammer Action.

Action Wrap Up

The action question here really comes down to this; if you’re already a fairly advanced player or intend to become one, the PHA4 is going to be a much more suitable choice as it behaves much more like a real acoustic piano action.

The Smart Scaled action is going to be just fine for beginner and intermediate players, but getting into more advanced classical repertoire will be difficult, and the differences between it and an acoustic piano action are more pronounced.

Features/Connectivity

There are some important differences between these two instruments when it comes to extended functions and accessory options, to the point that some of these functions could be a huge determining factor as to which action will be a better choice for you.

Casio PX-S1100 Features, Connectivity & Accessories

Casio PX-S1100 Connectivity
Casio PX-S1100 Connectivity

A huge selling feature of the PX-S1100 is the ability for it to run entirely on battery power. As opposed to a cabled power supply, simply plug in 8 AA batteries and you’re off to the races. Combined with its weight coming in at under 25 lbs and the incredible flexibility this instrument is capable of really starts to emerge.

The S1100 is also shipping with the WU-BT10 Bluetooth Adapter which gives the S1100 wireless MIDI connectivity and audio capability, meaning you can use your S1100 as a sound source by streaming audio directly from your smart device.

The connectivity is rounded out with dual headphone jacks, USB Type A and B, plus an audio line in, not to mention the ever-important 1/4” line out which means the S1100 is truly a gig-ready instrument and can also easily connect to an audio interface.

The S1100 ships with a music stand and very basic switch sustain pedal, but we’d recommend upgrading to at least the SP10 damper pedal, but there’s also the option to go with the SP34 3-pedal unit as well, and the CS68 designer keyboard stand.

Standards like a MIDI recorder, audio recorder, metronome, transpose, split and some built-in songs are all covered.

Roland FP10 Features, Connectivity & Accessories

The FP-10, like most digital pianos, does not offer a battery-powered option, though it is also quite portable at 27 lbs. If battery power is a factor for you then obviously this is a big consideration.

The connectors are similar with built-in Bluetooth Connectivity covering MIDI (there’s compatibility with Roland’s Piano Partner) but no Bluetooth Audio, USB Type A and B (use this to connect to a DAW) and a single headphone output, but the FP-10 does not have any discreet line output jacks. This makes it tough to sell the FP-10 as a legit gigging option.

The FP-10 also ships with a music rest and basic footswitch pedal that we would recommend upgrading to the Roland DP-10 damper pedal with half-pedalling capability. It however does not offer any triple pedal compatibility, so if that’s a critical feature for you, the FP-10 is out. Roland does however make their nice KSCFP10 designer stand available.

The same standards like a metronome, transpose, split, twin piano mode and some built-in songs are present here.

Closing Thoughts

When we take everything in, what we’ve got with the Roland FP10 is a great-sounding and great-feeling digital piano with convenient Bluetooth MIDI. If you’re primarily focused on recreating the feeling of a real piano with an instrument with very accurate MIDI output, such as in a studio situation where you need a good MIDI controller, the FP-10 is simply unbeatable for the price given the PHA4 action.

If you’re looking for something a little bit more well-rounded and gig ready, or if you’re specifically after something that offers battery operation, the PX-S1100 is probably your better bet.

In any case, we’ve got two great 88-key digital pianos here with differing sets of specs sure to be great options for many piano shoppers.

Thanks for reading!