The Casio name is well-known in the digital piano industry. The company produced its first electric keyboard for the market in 1980, an innovation that while simple, also allowed musicians a newfound freedom to compose using sounds from a variety of instruments. The brand has come a long way in the digital keyboard market since its beginnings.
Casio offers a wide range of models to suit every level of player looking for a digital keyboard. For a beginner, the Casio Privia PX-160 fits the bill. It provides basic features a user would expect in any quality digital keyboard. However, it doesn’t offer some of the more advanced capabilities a professional musician would require, such as a stage digital piano. But for entry-level use and an affordable price point, this Casio model is definitely one to take into serious consideration.
Casio Privia PX-160 Basic Features
The Casio Privia PX-160 is a full-size keyboard. It has 88 keys and a plastic body. It is relatively sturdy and well-built, despite the fact that it is among the starter models in the Casio Privia line of digital pianos. The Casio Privia PX-160 replaces its predecessor, the PX-150.
In terms of features, the PX-160 offers a tri-sensor scaled hammer-action II keyboard, a Casio proprietary feature. In practical terms, this means several things for the player. The keyboard has a simulated ebony and ivory feel to the keys, rendering the digital keyboard more similar to an actual piano. With its three sensors, the keyboard provides fast and accurate responsiveness.
The core of the hammer-action is Casio’s “hammer response” feature. Hammers are the parts inside an acoustic piano that strike the strings to produce sound. In acoustic grand pianos, different sized hammers move at different speeds relative to the speed in which the player strikes the keys. Casio’s proprietary feature renders the PX-160 capable of taking this reality into consideration in a digital keyboard without actual physical hammers. This technology makes the Casio keyboard different from other similarly priced and structured models in the category.
Sound Quality and Available Sounds
Something else that is important to consider in a digital piano is the sound quality and output, as well as the technology the keyboard uses to produce and render sound. The Privia PX-160 has several features that allow this keyboard to deliver a relatively high-powered sound in an entry-level package.
Speaker wattage is one factor to take into consideration in a digital keyboard. This keyboard features two eight-watt speakers, which is a new feature for this model. The speaker system is designed so that it provides excellent sound not only to the front, like most digital pianos, but also ported to the back. This makes a difference if the keyboard is placed up against a wall, because it allows the sound to project back away from the wall and out towards the audience.
Something that most digital keyboard users rely upon are the range of sounds available on the keyboard. The Casio Privia PX-160 doesn't disappoint in this area. The new model includes a wide range of string ensemble sounds, giving composers lots of versatility. Another benefit of going with the Casio brand for this keyboard is that the brand has brought in some sounds from one of its award winning higher-end models, the PS-5X stage piano.
What Makes the Casio Privia PX-160 Unique?
The PX-160 has several features that make it unique and especially useful for teachers and students. It contains a “duet mode” that allows the keyboard to be split into two equal ranges. This means that a teacher and a student can play the keyboard simultaneously.
The special material used on the keys has an added benefit that is rare to find in a keyboard at this price point. The material actually absorbs sweat as the player uses the keys. This makes playing more comfortable, especially during long or intense lessons or playing sessions. Although this may seem like a small and insignificant detail, it makes a difference compared to other digital keyboards in the same price range. In fact, many of these small details add up to make the Casio Privia PX-160 superior to other keyboards in its same class.
The keyboard has a built-in metronome that makes it a good choice for learners or for teachers looking for a keyboard for their lessons. The keyboard also has a two-track recorder, so players can record and playback their sessions. This is an excellent feature for learners and teachers, helping students to hear where they can improve and allowing teachers to give students more accurate feedback.
Physical Specifications and Considerations
In terms of the physical size, this keyboard is a slim model, measuring only 11.5 inches deep. This makes it an excellent choice for reduced spaces. It has a standard 52-inch width and weighs 25.5 pounds. The weight in particular is less than average for a keyboard of this performance output, making it a great choice for portability.
The Casio Privia PX-160 doesn’t come with a stand. However, given its rather compact size, it can easily be placed on a table if needed. Another option is to purchase a stand as part of a bundle when purchasing the keyboard. This is something to take into consideration in terms of the overall keyboard budget, because adding a stand obviously does add to the overall cost of the set-up.
The keyboard comes in a few different color options. The case comes in standard black, white, or a light gold champagne tone. The keyboard body is elegantly designed and doesn’t look cheap or budget-priced, and it holds its own in terms of appearance among keyboards at higher price points.
Navigating the Control Panel
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to navigate complicated control panels on digital pianos, but not with the Casio Privia PX-160. This model provides an intuitive and straightforward control panel with a sleek design, making it easy for the player to locate features. The keyboard’s main settings and functions have their own buttons. These include volume and recording, as well as the metronome, putting these features within quick reach. Other features are available by pushing the “function” button. All in all, the control panel is easy to navigate, even for a beginning player.
One of the benefits of this simplified control panel layout is that it makes the keyboard appear clean and uncluttered. However, one possible drawback to this set-up is that players will have to look up specific functions to access them through the function button. This could be time consuming in the beginning. Once a player gains familiarity with the keyboard, however, the functions are likely to become easier to access without having to look them up.
This keyboard offers two headphone mini-jacks, sized 3.5mm, which makes it especially useful when two people are playing simultaneously. Two pairs of headphones can be plugged into the keyboard at the same time. The keyboard also boasts a USB port, allowing it to be attached to a computer directly. It utilizes plug and play technology, so the user doesn’t have to download any special software to connect the keyboard to the computer. Connecting to a computer lets the user transfer recorded digital performances to the computer’s memory, freeing up space on the keyboard’s memory.
Although this keyboard is considered relatively entry-level, it isn’t the most economical option in the Casio line. There are a few other models that come in lower in price than the PX-160. The PX-160 Privia series is priced at $499.99. This is not inclusive of additional accessories that a player may wish to add, including a stand, a bench, or a three-pedal. Keep in mind, however, that this is a full-size keyboard. Lower-priced models may not have the full 88-key layout.
Some of Casio’s main competitors in this market include Yamaha and Korg. Yamaha offers several models that are comparable to the Casio Privia PX-160. One such model is the Yamaha P-45. This is an affordable portable keyboard that could be seen as an alternative to the PX-160. In this head-to-head comparison, however, the Casio slightly edges out the Yamaha P-45. The Casio offers more built-in sounds (18 compared to the Yamaha P-45’s 10), as well as more notes of polyphony (129 to the Yamaha’s 64). The Yamaha doesn’t have an onboard recorder or split mode. Since the Yamaha P-45 only costs about $50 less than the Casio Privia PX-160, the savings aren’t worth what a player loses in terms of features.
Another possible alternative is Korg’s entry-level model, the B1. It doesn’t have the special ebony and ivory key feel that the Casio model offers, but it does have natural hammer-weighted key action. The price point is similar to the PX-160 Privia series. However, it only has eight built-in sounds and it doesn’t include a MIDI recorder or split mode. Once again, the Casio Privia PX-160 outpaces the competition on features at the same price point.
In terms of its own brand, Casio does offer some alternatives that are similar to the PX-160 Privia line. For example, the Casio PX-770 is just above this keyboard in terms of the brand’s Privia line. Since it is higher up the line than the PX-160, it offers several features that this keyboard doesn’t have. One of these is that it comes with an integrated stand and pedals. That may or may not be important depending on what a player may already own or wish to purchase. The PX-160 is more portable than the PX-770, based on its smaller size and lighter weight.
What Players Are Saying
When it comes to actually trying out the digital piano, players have been impressed with the performance of this keyboard. Players like the quality sound and attention to detail of the keyboard’s features. The sound is quite similar to an acoustic piano, which makes the playing experience feel very authentic. The keys are fully weighted, which also adds to the authenticity of the playing experience, allowing players to almost forget that they are using a digital piano. Players report a full and rich sound that is surprising for a keyboard in this price range.
Although the keyboard has a lot of features that naturally lend it to being an excellent choice for beginners, learners, and teachers who wish to provide a digital keyboard for their students to practice on, that doesn’t mean this keyboard should be shunned by more advanced players. The high level of quality in the features, sound output, and functionality of this keyboard also make it a delight to play for those who may not be looking for a so-called entry-level digital keyboard. Although this keyboard isn’t billed as stage quality, advanced players may be surprised by its performance nonetheless.
What We Think
All in all, the Casio Privia PX-160 exceeds most expectations for a digital piano at this price point. It offers beginners and learners an excellent instrument to start on. It offers teachers a high-quality experience for their students. And for more advanced players, it still provides a wide range of performance features that produce surprising results for a keyboard designed primarily for excellent functionality rather than stage quality.
Players should keep in mind that the keyboard comes as a stand-alone purchase and doesn’t include any accessories, such as a stand, a bench, or pedals. Depending on what a player already owns, this may or may not affect the purchasing decision. However, for beginners just getting started out, the cost of these additional accessories should be taken into account in the overall budget. There are several bundles available for the Casio Privia PX-160, making it more economical to purchase the keyboard and the needed accessories in one package.
Casio is a well-trusted name in the digital piano sector. The nearest competitors at this price point and feature range don’t actually come up to the same level of performance in terms of sound quality and performance. That being the case, the Casio Privia PX-160 is a solid choice for those with a budget of $500 for their digital piano purchase.