Introduction

Welcome to a video review and article on Casio’s Privia PX-160 digital piano, presented by Stu Harrison for Merriam Pianos. We’ll be discussing this high-value, entry-level piano that’s receiving use as a stage piano for professional musicians, as well as home-based starter instruments all around the world. It uses Casio’s Award-winning Tone Generator the multi-dimensional AiR proprietary sound source, which delivers realistic dynamic levels, improves upon Casio’s previous generation of tone generator, and triggered by the remarkable tri-sensor hammer-action keyboard. It squeezes out a 128-note polyphony for a sound quality that delivers a surprisingly powerful performance.

Casio Privia PX160 Review Video Transcription

Hi, everyone and welcome to another piano review. My name is Stu Harrison. We’re here at Merriam Pianos just outside of Toronto, Canada in our beautiful Oakville showroom today. And we are looking at Casio’s PX-160BK, a product that has been out on the market already for a couple of years, but quite frankly is still holding its own in a very, very competitive market and a competitive price range, that of the under $1,000 88-key digital piano keyboard category.

So we wanted to give you a freshened up 2019 perspective particularly on how it compares now to the new boys on the market, namely the Roland FP10, and the Yamaha P45 digital pianos. And just gives you another chance to hear what still is a great sounding, great value instrument for its price range. I know in Canada and the United States, this instrument floats around the $600 range.

Now, there are lots of things to like about what this still delivers in 2019 for its price. One of them has absolutely nothing to do with the functions or the keys or the instrument, which is the available keyboard stand (CS-67 stand) with the optional SP-33 pedal system. You can still get it just as a slab with a sustain pedal / damper pedal but for such a small increase in price, the keyboard stand + 3-pedal unit is almost a no-brainer. This is essentially a nice starter home digital, great for your son or daughter who might be considering their very first foray into piano lessons. They’re not too sure how serious they are and so you want to make sure that you keep your budget, you know, in line with reality until they really start to take off and become little Mozarts. Or maybe this is just for yourself to have at a cottage. You’ve already got a great instrument at home and you’re looking for something to have as a secondary instrument.

We’re going to be looking at the action. We’re going to be listening to the instrument. We’re going to be talking about the sounds that it has, and of course reviewing all of the features, both the basic and the more advanced features on this instrument, giving you a better look at home so that you could maybe do a bit of pre-shopping before heading out to showrooms. And as I said, right in the preamble, give you a little bit of perspective on how this compares in 2019 to the other items on the market. So once again, thank you for joining us. We’re going to get started right away.

Piano Action

When the Casio PX-160 digital piano came out, and this I think is going back two or three years at this point, there were several things about the key action that brought some innovation to the marketplace, you know, particularly for the price range. One of them was that they came with textured keys (both ebony and ivory) and the keys actually had a pretty decent hammer weight to it. When you feel the black keys on here, when you feel the white keys, the texture is very obvious. When nobody else was doing it, it was kind of a nice differentiator. Now that you’ve got players like Roland and Kawai that are starting to introduce texture on their keys at these lower price points as well, you know, the differentiation is no longer whether it has it or not, it’s what feels right to your fingertips. So you’re just gonna have to figure out for yourself what level of texture. Of all of them, the Casio has the most extreme texture on it, so there’s absolutely no doubt when you touch it, it is like, “Okay, yeah, it feels like there’s a woodgrain there. It feels like there’s, you know, some sort of, well, a texture on both the black and the white keys.”

The second thing is there’s a little more lateral motion in the key on the Casio PX 160 than what you might be used to getting in some of the more expensive ones. But I have to keep reminding people at home who are looking at this as an option in the $500, $600 range or maybe considering this as an alternative to going with a used one that was at one point more expensive, for the price range, the only other digital piano that really for my money competes with this would be the Roland FP10.

And I can’t tell you over the camera what’s going to be more satisfying for you. You really have to get into a showroom wherever you happen to be around the world and try these two instruments side by side. In fact, we’ve done a comparison video for you between the Roland FP10 and the PX160. You can find the link either in the playlist or in the description below, and that might be something you want to check out.

The sensor technology on here is decent and respectable, there’s a tri-sensor that puts its accuracy into the same range as the Roland FP10 / FP30, meaning that the key is measured at three points in it’s keystroke to ensure a proper ‘capture’ of the motion before it gets translated into sound. You are able to get a pretty nice dynamic range and a range of expression out of this instrument. Now, I think probably to protect the amplifiers and the speakers on here, you can almost hear a bit of a limiting or a compressing effect going on when you really, really punch it. You can feel that the sound sort of hits a bit of the ceiling, and so it plays tricks on your mind. You almost feel like the key itself is kind of hitting the bottom of the keyboard really hard. I don’t actually think that that’s what’s happening. I think that’s actually more of a digital limiting effect that’s happening.

Tone Engine and Piano Sound

Moving on to the sound and the features in the instrument. And I make mention of this in my Roland FP10 video, the fact that they’ve got all of your shortcut commands nicely and cleanly printed on the front, I really appreciate that because who likes looking through manuals to try and remember a function that you might only use every couple of weeks. There’s no way you’re going to memorize that unless you’ve got a photographic memory. So having it right there makes it easy, it makes it intuitive, and it limits the amount of frustration that you might have navigating some of the more complicated features of the instrument.

And then you’ve got your acoustic piano sounds (concert grand is the default), your electric piano sounds, and some of your other supporting sounds like your strings, harpsichord, string ensemble, and your pipe organ. You can tell, or at least it’s my impression, that Casio has spent the majority of time focusing on the acoustic grand piano sound and piano tones generally, which pairs with a nice reverb engine, and a polyphony of 128. You can hear some of the other ones don’t have quite the same gusto or quite the same focus or level of sophistication in the sound, but they’re still very much functional.

So you’ve got a function button right there, and then pretty much everything is laid out right in front of you. You’ve got sort of a number pad to drill in your tempo and metronome settings, transpose settings, sensitivity level adjustments, and some more advanced settings such as damper resonance and hammer response, as well as your music library select. That’s to playback some of the more popular classical music that it’s already got packed inside, either to play along with it or just listen to, just kind of a nice feature. All of this provided by the stellar 8w x 8w speaker system giving you with remarkably rich tone and projection.

There’s a duet mode which permits the instrument to be split into two equal-pitched sections, as well as a track recorder function which allows for some basic recording and playback.

Features, Ports, USB Connectivity

Now, in terms of other features, some of the most basic but most convenient would be the included music stand, the AC Adaptor, the ivory keys as we mentioned before, an octave shift function (really handy in duet mode particularly), and dual headphone output (stereo mini jacks on both, fyi). Also, you’ve got a USB port on the out so that you can send MIDI through USB to either a laptop, Mac, even an iPad, if you’ve got a hard connection there. One of the nicer things that I really, really appreciate that Casio has done here is they’ve actually got discreet audio outputs. So if you want to send quarter-inch left and right line outputs to an amplifier or to a stereo, you can do that without having the stereo mini headphone jack defeat all of your local sound production, which is really honestly annoying. I’m not sure why all manufacturers still have that happen without some sort of an option to manage that function. However, you don’t have to worry about it on there. You can still have the local speakers working and send this to an amplifier or a speaker, especially if you’re using this to gig with, which quite frankly if you’re looking for an inexpensive light instrument to do that, this isn’t totally off the map.

So to summarize, with the PX160 you’ve got an instrument that is still a worthy consideration in the price range. Just because the Roland FP10 digital piano is out now, it does not wipe this off the map. The PX160 still has its place in the industry. And quite frankly, if you go back to when this came out, this really spurred a lot of innovation from both Roland and Yamaha to produce an instrument that would properly compete with the Casio PX-160 in this price range. And so I think it’s done everybody a great service, the fact that the 160 was there in the first place and that it’s still going strong as a great instrument.

So my advice is if you’re thinking about $400 or $500, either for a used instrument or you were sort of in a Best Buy or a Costco and you’ve got something that you were somewhat compelled by in that price range, hold off on buying until you at least have a chance to get into your local dealer and try one or both of either the Casio PX160 or the Roland FP10. Those are definitely my two favorites for under the $1000 range.

Please let us know in the comments how you’ve enjoyed the video. Let me know what you’d like to hear more or less of next time, and of course, check out the rest of our channel for other digital piano reviews. Good luck with your shopping. Thank you so much for being with us today and we’ll see you next time. I’m Stu Harrison with Merriam Pianos.