The Casio PX-S1000 was a groundbreaking instrument with an incredibly small, highly portable battery-operated frame that still managed to deliver great sound and a weighted 88-key action.
Today, we’re going to be unboxing and taking a look at its brand new Privia digital piano replacement – the Casio PX-S1100. The PX-S3000 also received an update with the new PX-S3100 so we’ll be looking forward to exploring that instrument as well.
The Casio Privia PX-S1000 was a massive seller, especially during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 when it was impossible to keep in stock, so we’re very excited to see what Casio has in store for us with the new PX-S1100.
Casio PX-S1100 – Background
The PX-S1100 had been on the market for at least four or five months in different parts of the world, but because of supply chain issues, and the fact that the minute that we made it available for presale all of our allotted units got preordered, it took a while before we had a unit we could open up and check out.
When we first got the news reports about this new model, the main emphasis in the marketing literature had to do with a speaker system redesign, so that’s one of the things we’re most interested in exploring.
They’ve also included a free Bluetooth adapter that gives the PX-S1100 both Bluetooth MIDI and Audio, and this is a nice upgrade as the PX-S1000 had Bluetooth Audio but oddly, no wireless MIDI.
Let’s get this opened up and see what it’s all about.
First Impressions – PX-S1000 Comparisons
With the PX-S1100 out of the box and plastic wrap, we’ve got it hooked up and wirelessly connected to a smartphone with Casio’s Chordana Play app fired up.
And there are a few things we can tell you right off the bat. With the S1000, the sound was somewhat underwhelming when you didn’t have the Hall Simulator or any of the Surround Sound modes engaged. With the S1100 even without any of those special modes engaged, the acoustic piano sound is very enjoyable to play.
As we mentioned above, Casio has indicated that the speaker box configuration has been changed. Specifically, they’ve changed the material that the tweeters are made of, and they’ve also managed to improve the bass response. This is immediately coming through with the noticeably improved default grand piano tone without any other sound modes on.
The output power remains the same with a pair of 8-watt amplifiers for a total of 16 watts of power. This is really impressive given that the S1100 is such a portable digital piano.
In fact, the overall sound quality paired with the slimness and lightness of the frame is really what makes the S1100 a complete standout in the market.
The S1100 is often compared to the Roland FP-10, but the onboard speaker performance here totally outdoes the FP-10. Of course, the appeal of the FP10 is the action, but the Roland FP-30X costs quite a bit more than the S1100 if you’re looking for really good speaker performance.
As we also mentioned above, the expanded Bluetooth functionality is very nice to see. Now, they didn’t actually change the circuitry and instead are simply including a Bluetooth dongle in the box at no extra charge.
Simply plug it in and your S1100 is now Bluetooth MIDI and Audio enabled.
Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source
Casio has brought back the same version of the AiR sound source and its strong 192 notes of polyphony. This is easily one of the best sound engines available in the class, and the new speaker array is definitely able to coax more out of it.
Chordana Play App
Get your S1100 linked up with the smart device of your choice and via the Chordana Play App, you’re given the ability to remotely control the S1100.
Inside the app, you can edit the DSP effects, Surround Mode and the Hall Simulator which is your reverb engine, consisting of settings like Opera Hall, Berlin Hall and British Stadium.
You’ll mostly be applying these effects and settings to acoustic piano sounds, and you’re also given an Acoustic Simulator with access to parameters like string resonance, damper resonance, damper noise, and key on and key off action. This is really well pulled off and gives the user a lot of control, plus, you can also save your setting preferences for quick recall later.
In total, the Casio PX-S1100 has 18 built-in preset sounds. There’s a handful of built-in acoustic piano sounds, but the default grand piano sound is definitely the best of the bunch.
From there we get into the electric piano, and Casio always does a great job with their Fender Rhodes patches. Organs, strings, and a couple of other tones complete the offering which is very strong overall.
In terms of functionality, the PX-S1100 is definitely on the basic side. The PX-S3100 is available for a few hundred dollars more and greatly expands the functionality on top of the same basic framework if you’re looking for something more arranger. Alternatively, the less expensive CDP-S350 is also quite feature-heavy and costs less than the S1100, though the piano experience is not as authentic.
On the PX-S1100 we have a basic MIDI and Audio recorder, but it’s actually not bad. You can record straight to a USB key and isolate right or left-hand parts for playback. These days onboard MIDI recorders are kind of an antique function for most people because even MIDI recorder apps available in iOS and Android app stores for free are better equipped.
There are 60 built-in songs preloaded here with the option to add 10 of your own. From a feature standpoint, the PX-S1100 isn’t really doing anything different from the PX-S1000.
Digital Piano Action
Casio has brought back the Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II which was first introduced in the PX-S1000. This action has received quite a bit of dialogue and discussion online for a variety of reasons.
One point of conversation has been the keytops as they are highly textured, as opposed to say the GHS action featured in the Yamaha P-125 and P-45. People who are prone to sweaty hands when playing will love this action because this texture is very absorptive.
The weighted keys are not particularly heavy, nor are they light, sitting comfortably somewhere in the middle, fairly comparable with the weighting of the Kawai RHCII action used in the ES110 and soon-to-be ES120.
For a piano as slim as this and that you can operate with battery power (8X AA batteries), this is a really solid action overall, even if there are some valid criticisms.
What are those criticisms? Mainly, they center around the fact that given how compact this action is, the pivot length is quite short. Casio made a conscious effort to produce a super compact action to accommodate the incredibly slim case.
The result is that the keys are not evenly weighted from the top to the bottom. Now, this isn’t really going to be a factor for beginner or even most intermediate players, but it is certainly noticeable to more advanced players and those with ample acoustic piano experience.
So, we would let that be the barometer, if you’ve got lots of acoustic piano experience, perhaps this action wouldn’t be ideal. If you’re a beginner or hobbyist you shouldn’t have any issues.
Connectivity + Odds & Ends
The PX-S1100 is very solid from a connectivity point. In addition to the Bluetooth functionality we’ve already covered, the other great feature when considering the price point is the inclusion of discreet 1/4” line outs (L/MONO, R). This critical connector port makes the S1100 a totally viable instrument for gigging.
The S1100 is also equipped with a stereo mini line in, USB Type A and B, dual headphone jacks, a port for a single damper pedal (comes with a basic switch sustain pedal), a port for the optional 3-pedal unit and of course a spot for a cabled power supply.
A totally useable music stand ships with the S1100, and it’s also available in three finishes – Black, White and even a stylish Red.
Standards like a metronome, transpose, and split are all of course covered as well.
Thanks very much for joining us for our first look at the new Casio PX-S1100. Ultimately, while it looks like the S1100 won’t be a radical leap forward from its predecessor, it meaningfully improves on the sound and adds Bluetooth MIDI while keeping everything that made the PX-S1000 one of the best digital pianos in the class.