Anyone familiar with our website and YouTube channel knows we do a ton of piano reviews, and in particular, we love comparing competitive models in the marketplace. We realized very recently that there’s a very obvious comparison we’ve missed up to now – the Casio PX S3100 vs Roland FP30X
While in the past Casio may have been viewed as not being a serious competitor to Roland, that’s no longer, with Casio making serious strides in just about every part of the market, from beginner instruments to the high-end.
And when it comes to these two pianos, we’re looking at two 88-key weighted action, highly portable digital pianos offering a great acoustic piano experience, equally ready for home use or gigging, and they also happen to be priced very closely together.
Without further ado, let’s get into our comparison of these two great digital pianos.
Casio PX S3100 vs Roland FP30X – Background
The PX-S3100 and its little brother the PX-S1100 are among the lightest and slimmest 88-key weighted action digital pianos currently available at a mere 25 lbs.
The idea here with the Privia PX series was to maximize portability, and they’ve also given the S3100 a battery-operated option (8x AA batteries) to further cement the portability. The 3100 is very much geared towards performers who need a highly portable gig-worthy instrument that also happens to be fairly inexpensive considering the market as a whole.
The 3100 is packed with a large complement of sounds with 700 in total, plus 200 auto-accompaniment rhythms and some assignable knobs on the front panel. The piano sound is very high quality, and the action is more than serviceable.
Roland FP-30X Overview
The FP-30X is the follow-up to the successful FP-30 and is held by many to be the best value option in the price point due to its high-quality sound engine, class-leading action, and excellent speaker system.
While it doesn’t have the same breadth of sounds or onboard accompaniment, it’s still very much a gig-ready instrument, primarily aimed at users who will mainly be using acoustic piano, electric piano and organ sounds.
With this little bit of background out of the way, let’s move on to a discussion of everything sound-related on these two instruments.
Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Engine
The default Concert Grand Piano piano tone loaded onto the PX-S3100 is actually the Hamburg sample from their GP-310 and 510 series. Casio isn’t really advertising this in their marketing literature, but we have confirmed with them directly that this is in fact the case.
Of course, we are working with a slightly downgraded DSP and some of the digital audio conversion processes are not as high fidelity, but the core sample is nonetheless the Hamburg grand, coming at us via Casio’s Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR sound engine.
The piano tone is very dynamic, and there’s a broad range of timbre available depending on how hard or soft you happen to be playing. Grand piano sounds in this price range have historically lacked in this area, so it’s very nice to see what Casio has managed to come up with here.
There’s a fair bit of editing capability available onboard through the Sound Mode function and Acoustic Simulator beyond things like hall simulator reverb (string resonance, brilliance, damper resonance etc.) though it’s even better on the free Casio Music Space app (replaces the beloved Chordana Play app).
The PX-S3100 has a solid polyphony count at 192 notes in total. This should be plenty for most use cases outside of some complex arranging work, though a stage piano like the S3100 likely isn’t the right instrument if that’s what you intend on doing anyway.
In terms of other sound presets, there are actually some other nice piano tones aside from the core grand piano sound out of the S3100’s large sound bank of 700 strong.
There are 42 E. Piano sounds, 42 organ sounds, 30 string and orchestral-type sounds, and 58 synths/pads, and these makeup what would be considered the core tones of the instrument.
There are about 500 additional including guitars, woodwinds and brass, and many of these consist of the general MIDI-2 sound bank. Navigating the large selection of sounds is much easier on the app just a heads up.
The PX-S3100’s sound comes at you via dual 8-watt speakers. These speakers received some tweaks from what was used in the PX-S3000 with regard to the cone design and the coating that goes on the cones.
The goal here was to improve the speaker clarity and having played them side by side, we can tell that they’ve definitely been successful in this regard.
Generally speaking, for an instrument so physically light, this is a pretty impressive speaker system that doesn’t sound too underpowered compared to the FP-30X’s stronger amplifier. The FP-30X does have more presence, but this might have to do with the speaker design itself rather than the amp power.
Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano Sound
Like the Casio, the FP-30X has a very dynamic tone with lots of variation in the more subtle, lower dynamic range and the fortissimo range where things really brighten up.
The FP-30X features the new BMC sound chip (as does the FP-60X and FP-90X), and this massively increased the fidelity and sound processing from what the Roland FP-30 was capable of, even though it’s the same SuperNATURAL sound engine.
The character is quite different from the S3100, and it’s definitely not fair to call one better than the other, so you’ll definitely want to hear them back to back to see which one you happen to connect with.
You can also edit the tone here too, but it has to be done via the Piano Designer app as there isn’t a way to do so onboard. Ambience, as well as certain e-piano effects like modulation, can also be adjusted.
The FP-30X has a very powerful 256-note polyphony, which is literally double what the FP-30 offered.
Functionally, the extra polyphony here over the S3100 isn’t probably going to make a difference, but it does speak to the FP-30X’s sheer processing power.
The FP-30X has a much smaller stable of built-in tones with 56 in total. That said, the entire GM2 bank is accessible via the app, and we would go as far as to say that for anybody who wants to extract maximum value out of the FP30X, you should absolutely be checking out the Roland Piano App (replaces the Piano Every Day App) since it unlocks so much more functionality.
The e-piano options are fairly parallel in comparison to the PX-S3100, though the patches themselves are different. The same can be said about the synthesizers, and the organs have an optional rotary speaker effect which is quite nice.
The FP-30X also uses a dual speaker system, but in this case, we’re working with dual 11-watt speakers for 22 watts of total power.
As I said, in terms of overall loudness, we’re not really noticing a huge difference between the 30X and S3100 as we mentioned above.
There is a greater bass presence and fullness of sound from the 30X’s onboard speakers, and this is partially due to the 30X’s larger frame and larger speaker boxes.
Casio’s Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard
The difference in actions between these two instruments is pretty substantial. On the PX-S3100, we have the Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard which was originally introduced with the PX-S1100 and PX-S3100. Due to the super slim frame of the PX-S series pianos, Casio needed to produce a compact action with a shortened key stick to fit inside of the small frame.
So, while the Smart Scaled action is certainly weighted, it does not behave the same way as an acoustic piano action in certain situations due to that shorter key stick – an acoustic piano key has a much longer pivot length. This means that the difference in pressure when playing the very front of the key versus the back of the key is much more pronounced on this Smart Scaled action.
If you’re playing the keys inside of the regular zone, the weighting of the keys is now fairly normal, but if you’ll be getting into material that is a little more complex with some difficult chords, this action could be a bit challenging. The S3100 is also using a less advanced dual sensor and there’s no escapement simulation, though it does however have textured keytops.
Now of course, Casio isn’t directing the S3100 at the high-end classical piano crowd anyway, but it is important to note. In reality, the S3100 is focused on a crowd that wants a weighted action experience and all of the other perks the S3100 has to offer with the need for a faithful acoustic piano recreation in terms of the touch.
Roland’s PHA4 Standard Keyboard Action
Over on the FP-30X, we have Roland’s tried and true PHA-4 Standard Hammer Action Keyboard, which is an action we’ve talked about a ton on our YouTube channel and in the blog. This action can be found throughout several Roland digital pianos in the lower half of Roland’s lineup, and unlike Casio with their Smart Scaled action, Roland is trying to replicate an acoustic piano key action.
As a result, the pivot length is longer, so the weighting feels a lot more in line with a small grand piano. In fact, the PHA-4 action has a slightly heavier key compared to the average upright piano.
It’s equipped with a triple sensor so the touch sensitivity is very good, and it’s got escapement and ivory feel key tops. The 30X is often touted as the top key action in the price range, and with specs like this, it’s easy to see why.
The failure rates on both actions are extraordinarily low, so from a build quality standpoint, we think they’re fairly in line.
It really just comes down to the fact that the 30X is going to better accommodate folks with acoustic piano playing experience, while the S3100 is more suited to those unconcerned about that.
Auto-accompaniment is something Casio knows a lot about as they make a number of really great arranger keyboards. The 3100 has 200 built-in rhythms and a very high-quality auto arranger, given the price and the fact that it’s been wedged in with this stage piano format.
Everything is easy to use, and it’s available right onboard so you don’t need to use the app necessarily. And frankly, you’ll probably be surprised at the quality of some of these accompaniment sounds.
The FP-30X alternatively doesn’t offer any onboard accompaniment, however, this feature becomes available when using the Roland Piano app for iOS and Android. The rhythms and accompaniment sounds are also really good, but the selection is a few dozen as opposed to 200 like the S3100.
Both pianos offer a full complement of Bluetooth connectivity with both Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio available. This makes accessing apps like Apple’s Garageband and extended functions great on both pianos, though we do recommend using a cabled connection on the S3100 when using the arranger functions due to a slight delay with the Bluetooth.
Bluetooth Audio is very nice as it allows you to stream music from a smart device directly through the piano’s built-in speakers, whether for playing along with or listening.
One other thing to note, in the case of the S3100, Bluetooth is enabled via the WU-BT10 adapter which Casio includes in the box at no extra cost.
In terms of other connectors, these two pianos have a very similar overall offering. Both pianos have discreet 1/4” output jacks (L/MONO, R), USB Type A and B, a sustain pedal input, an input for an optional triple pedal unit, and dual headphone outputs.
Where they diverge is that the S3100 has a second pedal input for an expression pedal, as well as a stereo mini line in.
Both pianos have the same complement of basic features that you could expect on any digital piano such as a metronome, split, layer, twin piano (duet mode) and transpose. Both pianos also have onboard MIDI recording and audio recording (with playback), and you can extract WAV files via a USB key.
Something unique to the FP-30X is that it comes equipped with a built-in USB audio interface. In fact, the 30X is one of the few digital pianos in this price range to offer this feature, which is going to be very useful to anyone looking to work with a DAW as the built-in capabilities cut down on unnecessary gear.
Both pianos come standard with an owner’s manual, power supply, music rest and basic switch pedal in the box, though we would recommend upgrading to a more substantial damper pedal in the case of each instrument.
As optional upgrades, both are compatible with designer keyboard stands, triple pedal boards or floating triple pedals.
The Roland accessories are the KDP-70 pedalboard and KSC-70 stand, while the Casio stand is called the CS-68, and SP-34 pedalboard.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this comparison of two really solid portable 88-key digital pianos. While the PX-S3100 has a clear advantage in terms of the quantity of sounds and onboard accompaniment, the FP-30X boasts a decidedly better key action and its own blend of great features.
For folks looking for an instrument as close to an acoustic piano as possible, the FP-30X probably gets the nod here. For folks looking for a more versatile yet affordable stage piano for gigging with the option to run on battery power, the S3100 seems like the stronger pick.
Thanks for reading!