For years the high-end all-in-one portable digital piano portion of the market was occupied by only Roland, Kawai and Yamaha. With the release of the new Casio Privia PX-S5000, PX-S6000 and PX-S7000, Casio has officially entered the fray with their very own stage pianos.
Already we’ve gotten a ton of requests to compare the new Casio PX-S7000 vs Roland FP90X (which replaced the popular Roland FP-90), and, in some ways, it’s an unlikely comparison because despite occupying the same specific category, as there are actually some pretty big differences between these two pianos.
That said, there are definitely some interesting points of similarity as well, and since they are directly positioned against one another from a price standpoint, the speaker system, it’s definitely a worthwhile comparison.
Casio PX-S7000 vs Roland FP90X – Digital Piano Sound Comparison
Both pianos are of course 88-note weighted key action all-in-one units with high-quality sound engines directed towards offering a very authentic acoustic piano experience. That said, there’s a fundamental difference between how these two pianos generate their acoustic piano tone.
Sampling vs Modeling
The PX-S7000 is using a version of Casio’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR tone generator which is a sample-based engine, meaning it’s based on the recording of a real grand piano (or three in this case with three core grand piano samples). Calling it multi-dimensional means they’ve built this engine with more than just basic stereo samples. This is a high-quality engine through and through.
On the FP-90X, Roland is using the PureAcoustic tone generator which is a modeling-based engine for acoustic piano sounds (the non-acoustic piano presets are sample-based). With a modeling engine, the tone is generated in real time via a mathematical algorithm. As a result, the polyphony is limitless here on acoustic piano tones.
Both approaches to tone have their merits, and we have a number of videos and articles that go in-depth on this topic if you’re interested. Let’s now compare our musical observations to the core acoustic piano tones of each piano.
The PX-S7000’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source Observations
Starting with the PX-S7000, we have three high-quality grand piano samples here with the New York grand, which is not so secretly a sample of a Steinway Concert D concert grand, the Hamburg Grand (Hamburg Steinway D), and the Berlin grand, which is openly advertised as a sample of the C. Bechstein D282 grand piano due to the collaboration between Casio and C. Bechstein.
These samples were originally created for the Celviano Grand Hybrid line of premium home digital pianos. With the onboard speakers engaged, the Berlin grand is probably the best-matched tone to what the speakers naturally produce. The tone is rich, dynamic, and quite warm.
The FP-90X’s PureAcoustic Piano Modeling Engine Observations
The PureAcoustic engine offers a number of different acoustic piano presets, all with differently configured parameters of the over-arching algorithm. The default grand piano tone is very nice, as are some of the others, while some are not so convincing.
Being a modeling engine, Roland gives the users many parameters to edit and modify to customize the piano tone via the Piano Designer function, with access to things like lid, key-off noise, soundboard type, string resonance, hammer noise, duplex, full-scale, key-off resonance, cabinet resonance.
You get the same type of functionality over on the PX-S7000 via the Acoustic Simulator, it’s just not as extensive given the fact that we’re working with a sample-based engine instead. That said, you can still edit things like damper resonance, aliquot resonance, as well key-off resonance, and a Hall Simulator gives you access to different reverb engines.
Overall, both pianos are generating killer acoustic piano tones, and many people are going to have to split hairs to choose which one they think is better.
From a polyphony standpoint, you’ve got 256 notes worth of polyphony across all tones on the PX-S7000 digital piano. The FP-90X offers limitless polyphony on acoustic piano tones, and 256 notes across others such as electric piano tones, synths, etc.
There are 362 total sounds pre-loaded onto the FP-90X courtesy of the SuperNATURAL engine, 83 of which we can think of core sounds, with the remaining 279 being of the GMII variety. Navigating the last selection of sounds is simple and intuitive. Roland’s e-pianos are also a highlight, and the rotary speaker effect on organ tones is really nice.
Over on the PX-S7000, there’s an even 400 in total. Once you get into some of the more obscure sounds, the quality of the samples on the S7000 is consistently richer and more interesting than what the FP-90X has to offer.
The FP-90X is equipped with a truly formidable built-in speaker system boasting 60 watts of amplifier output power across 4 speakers (2 mains and 2 tweeters). There are going to be plenty of gig settings where the onboard speakers here will be totally sufficient without the need for additional amplification.
The PX-S7000 has 4 full-range 8-watt speakers for 32 watts of total power. While output power isn’t an exact barometer for a digital piano’s max volume potential, there’s no question that the FP-90X totally outpowers the S7000 in this regard.
That said, the S7000’s new 4-Way Spatial Sound System with side-enhancing diffusers is producing a much better sound than we would typically expect out of a 32-watt system. The new Piano Position Function allows you to optimize the speakers depending on how and where your S7000 is positioned,
So, we’re definitely dealing with two quality sets of speakers here, even if the 90X is the clear winner in terms of brute force.
Sound Comparison Wrap Up
To wrap up this sound section, in our view from a signal standpoint, you’ve got two very competitive instruments here. We really like what Casio has done with the acoustic piano sound, and bringing those excellent grand piano samples to a portable instrument is really nice to see. The non-acoustic piano tones are really great too.
Over on the FP-90X, you’re also getting a wonderful acoustic piano tone with quite a bit more in the way of speaker power and extra control over the tone. Our hats go off to both manufacturers here.
Keyboard Action Comparison
FP90X PHA50 Keyboard vs Casio’s Smart Hybrid Hammer Action Keyboard
The piano actions are probably the single biggest differences between these two pianos. Excluding the Kawai MP11SE (which arguably isn’t so much a portable instrument as it is a studio instrument), the FP-90X’s PHA50 action offers the longest pivot length of any action available in a portable digital piano and serves as an upgrade to the PHA-4.
The PX-S7000’s Smart Hybrid Hammer Action Keyboard by contrast has one of the shortest pivot lengths available in a portable digital piano. Surprisingly, in most playing settings and most repertoire, these actions don’t feel radically different necessarily, and the Smart Hybrid action stands up surprisingly well to the PHA50.
That said, pivot length is going to be a huge deal for certain players.
Why Pivot Length Matters
The situation where pivot length really starts to matter is when you’re playing outside of the normal zone on the keyboard. For beginner players, 99% of the time you’ll be playing on the same part of the keys and the shorter pivot length won’t matter at all.
For advanced classical players, on a semi-frequent basis, your fingers will be forced to play on other areas of the key, at which point you’ll notice the uneven weighting of the Smart Hybrid Action due to its short pivot length. In our opinion, this essentially disqualifies the Smart Hybrid Action for advanced classical players, though keeping in mind that not too many advanced classical players will be shopping in this category anyway.
Still, the PHA50 definitely offers more even weighting and a deeper level of control due to its extended pivot length.
Other Action Considerations
Both actions are really well cushioned, so there’s not a high level of unwanted mechanical noise coming off of either one. Both actions also feature wooden siding for improved durability, and this also helps imitate the feel of a grand piano action.
The PHA50 offers escapement and triple sensor key detection making it very accurate from a touch sensitivity standpoint, whereas Casio doesn’t disclose the sensor count on the Smart Hybrid Action leading us to believe that it’s probably not a triple sensor, and there isn’t any escapement.
In terms of the key surfaces, both actions offer a premium feeling of ivory and ebony texture, so that’s a big plus for both.
Features, Connectivity and Aesthetics
When it comes to the control interfaces, these instruments have taken a very different approach. Roland has gone with a highly tactile approach with an on-board equalizer with sliders like Yamaha introduced back in the day.
Many other features and functions like Modulation and Ambience are instantly accessible via a series of onboard buttons meaning you don’t have to menu dive to accomplish things, really showcasing the fact that the DP-90X is really built for on-the-fly live performance.
Over on the PX-S7000, you have a completely different approach where the overall aesthetic has definitely been given the top priority. The look is super clean, and Casio has made the decision not to clutter up the front panel with a whole bunch of buttons. Instead, most of your features, such as recording and playback are accessible via a touch-sensitive panel and the well-laid-out LCD menu.
You are also four assignable touch buttons and you can assign virtually anything to any one of these function keys. Overall, a cool approach that also offers tactile control without always having to menu dive. There’s also a pitch bend wheel which is missing from the FP-90X.
Connectivity – Audio In/Out, USB & MIDI
From a port standpoint, they both have 1/4-inch outputs, which is pretty much expected at this price point in a professional setting for connecting to amps, PA systems and mixers. Both pianos have USB A and B, a mic input (with adjustable mic volume knobs), and multiple pedal inputs for a three-pedal unit and expression pedal. Both pianos have dual headphone jacks, while the FP-90X also offers traditional 5-pin MIDI.
Both pianos have Bluetooth Audio and wireless MIDI, though this is courtesy of the free WU-BT10 adapter Casio includes in the box, just simply plug in the audio adaptor to the back of the piano.
This is super handy as it allows for quick compatibility with each manufacturer’s free apps for iOS and Android; the Roland Piano App (just replaced the clunky Piano Every Day App) and the Casio Music Space App. Both apps expand the functionality of these respective pianos, and allow you to remote control features of the instrument like the metronome, surround sound mode on the S7000, transpose, etc.
USB Audio Interface
One critical difference is the inclusion of a USB audio interface with the FP-90X. This replaces a two-way audio connection to a computer and allows you to do direct audio recording to a DAW without additional gear.
The PX-S7000 doesn’t have that, unfortunately, though it may not matter to the part of the market that the PX-S7000 is aimed at.
Aesthetics – Finish Options & Pedals
Both pianos are available with a choice of finishes. In the case of the FP-90X, your options are Black and White. The PX-S7000 offers these options as well, but it’s also available in a stunning yellow finish referred to as Harmonious Mustard that’s sure to turn heads and compliment a range of lifestyles.
The FP-90X is available with a triple pedal board (KPD-90) and stand (KSC-90) at an extra cost (it comes standard with the DP-10 damper pedal), while the PX-S7000 comes standard with the slick pedal unit and totally eye-catching wooden stand. This happens to one of the sturdiest keyboard stands we’ve ever seen!
We should also mention both pianos have floating 3 pedal unit options as well – the RPU-3 in the case of the FP-90X and the SP-34 for the S7000. Both pianos also come with a music stand or music rest.
Even though there’s a fair bit of intersection when comparing the Casio PX-S7000 vs Roland FP90X and their price points happen to be close together, generally speaking, we think these two pianos will ultimately appeal to two different audiences.
With the quality of the furniture and overall appearance, we think Casio is probably projecting that 90% or so of end users of the PX-S7000 will be looking for a stylish piano for the home.
The S7000 will appeal to a quality-seeking fashionable buyer who really wants great sound but knows they don’t need the best action on the planet.
The FP-90X is just simply a tank that is going to be a better overall fit for people seeking something for a variety of professional applications, and for those for whom the other FP-X series Roland digital pianos (FP-60X and FP-30X) just don’t cut it. A quick glance at a specs sheet and the owner’s manual really speaks to this.
The PHA50 action also happens to be one of the most capable key actions available in a digital piano.
Thanks for reading!