The instrument section of Casio has been around for a long time, as anyone has dealt with it music as a child farting an SK-1 knows. However, the company is mostly known for entry-level digital pianos that get the job done but don't offer much in the way of modern conveniences. In recent years, Casio has been dipping its toes into the waters of top instruments such as the Privia PX-S7000.
The latest Privia entry is a significant leap from most entry-level pianos. This is a serious instrument for serious players, with that four-speaker system, 88 fantastic-feeling hybrid hammer-action keys, lots of high-tech bells and whistles, and most importantly, access to three realistic-sounding piano models, along with 400 other organs. Oh, and it has a hefty $2.400 price tag to match.
That's all well and good, but let's talk about why I really decided to set this thing apart from the myriad of other digital pianos out there — it's absolutely gorgeous. It hits that sweet spot between a musical instrument and a high quality piece of furniture. I fell in love pretty much instantly when I saw it online. I wasn't able to test it earlier as my options here in Minnesota are limited when it comes to testing synths and digital instruments, so I did. My plan was to return the thing if it was a lemon, but as you can see, it's still there. It's not a lemon. Maybe it's strawberry? These are beautiful.
I had just moved into a mostly bare new house and had an entire house to fill for the first time in my life. I wanted something to tie the living room together and I don't really understand visual art, so I went with what I know: expensive musical instruments. It did the trick. It looks amazing sitting there and almost makes up for the lack of wall art.
The piano itself has elegant spruce sides and comes with an elegant and sturdy beech wood base. There's also a nice three-pedal unit that fits near the bottom, providing yet another feature that makes this digital piano feel, well, not so digital. It only weighs 60 pounds, so it was easy for me to try different positions on the go without wrecking my back. Real pianos weigh hundreds, even thousands of pounds — I've ruined enough friendships in my life by asking people to help me move them, thank you very much.
I ended up with the black model, although it is also available in white and “harmonious mustard”. Personally, I think the mustard is the more attractive option, but the flashy paint adds another $200 to the price. I'm financially irresponsible, but I have my limits too. However, I still crave that warm and luscious yellow.
The Privia PX-S7000 isn't just a conversation piece, it sounds and sounds an awful lot like playing the real thing. The three basic piano models are great, but digital representation of classical instruments is nothing new. This instrument combines these outstanding piano models with a realistic-sounding speaker system and a keyhole that is incredibly satisfying to play.
The key fob feels great, with a textured surface on each key reminiscent of, you guessed it, a real piano. There is a proprietary technology here, called Smart Hybrid Hammer Action, but I don't really understand the details. All I know is that the keys bounce nicely and do their part to maintain the illusion that you are playing an analog instrument. There is one gravity on keystrokes and a very satisfying click as each press returns to its resting position. It's just fun to play. (Though I'm not exactly Rachmaninoff. I'm more Paul McCartney.)
Another proprietary system, Casio's Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source, helps increase the fun factor by adding a bit of damping, string and proper reverb with every tap. This technology is based on the sound engine from the even more expensive Celviano range of digital pianos, so it's nice to see it appear in a cheaper model. There's also some counterweight and damping voodoo under the hood. This is the closest I've ever felt to the "real thing" with a digital instrument, although I haven't spent any time with ultra-high quality digital pianos as a point of comparison. But I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing real pianos, starting in my grandmother's den.
When I play the Privia SX-7000, it sounds like the tones are coming from everywhere at once, thanks to the four-speaker surround sound system. They really put me in the center of the action, and believe it or not, that makes me play better, especially when compared to Caveman trash on a MIDI controller.
The main interests here are the three piano models, but this is a digital instrument of it 2023, so there's some high-tech fun to be had. Casio has introduced a new feature that combines analog piano sounds and electric sounds with on-board effects to recreate the atmosphere of classic songs. For example, you can tap away on a piano that sounds like John Lennon's I imagineof the Queen Bohemian Rhapsody, Stevie Wonder's Superstition and dozens more. There's even a microphone input and 25 vocal effect options for sing-longs. I have used both with excellent results. Starting with a famous piano sound helps me get ideas for songs, and plugging in a mic lets me hear my vocals at a decent volume without having to emote like Whitney Houston during her last key change I will love you forever.
All modern digital pianos have a few hundred extra sounds for those times when you want to hear a mean-sounding bass, and the Privia is no different. There are 400 sounds to choose from, ranging from good to barely okay. All the usual bases are covered here, from heavy synthetic pads to drum kits and woodwinds. None of these sounds are really earth-shattering, but they can help generate ideas at a short distance. If I'm recording, however, I prefer a virtual instrument with more control options.
One modern convenience I enjoy is the included Bluetooth adapter. This is only for incoming sounds, but it's still pretty cool. I have spent many hours streaming music from my phone to the piano and playing along with it. It is an effective way to learn new songs.
The piano integrates with a Casio app that offers piano lessons and the like, which I haven't tried because I like to learn my own way. The app also displays PDF scores on your phone or tablet for you to play with, although I haven't experimented with this feature much because I (ducks) can't read music.
The extra features are great — it is 2023, after all — but the Privia SX-7000's real offering is threefold: it looks great, it sounds great, and feels like playing a real piano. It's also very expensive, costing around $2.400, so this isn't for the casual hobbyist. I bought this fully expecting to regret my purchase, but that regret never came. Instead, I feel a spark of joy whenever I see it sitting there, beckoning me to play I imagine until I'm blue in the face.