Casio Privia PX-320 Washington DC

Casio has introduced a line of portable, weighted-action keyboards that set a new standard for affordable digital pianos. These are real musical instruments, they have built-in speakers so you could enjoy them anywhere, and they cost quite a bit less than you thought possible.

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Casio Privia PX-320

Inevitably, styles changed, and the mini-keyboard was relegated to Best Buys, Radio Shacks, and the bedrooms of nine-year-olds. However, five years ago, Casio introduced a line of portable, weighted-action keyboards that set a new standard for affordable digital pianos. These were real musical instruments, they had built-in speakers so you could enjoy them anywhere, and they cost quite a bit less than you thought possible. So when Casio shipped me their brand new PX-320, the current flagship of the Privia line, my expectations were high.

OVERVIEW

I can humbly assert that if you enjoy playing the piano, you will get a tremendous blast out of the PX-320. The bottom line here is that Casio has managed to capture that elusive combination of touch and sampling that says, “Play me!” to your fingers. There are keyboards out there for twice the price that don’t get the ergonomics of keyboard delight down as well as this axe does. In fact, if that’s all you need to make you happy, you can pick up the PX-320’s little brother — the PX-120 — for a mere five hundred bucks. I’d strongly urge you to pop for the PX-320, though. You get a lot of musicmaking here for the extra two bills.

For starters: The PX-320 packs 202 sounds with a sufficiently giggable array of acoustic and electric pianos, rock and jazz organs, mallets, drums, and the complete General MIDI palette of orchestral, band, and world instruments and cartoon-like special effects. There’s also the de riguer little drum machine, featuring 70 preset patterns, each with its own assortment of fills, the two-track sequencer, the USB MIDI implementation, and a couple of things that Casio didn’t have to include — such as line inputs for a mic or guitar — that make you wonder, “Why doesn’t everybody do this?”

SOUNDS

I monitored the PX-320 in the studio through Tannoy Reveal and TOA 280ME monitors as well as the internal speakers. Later, I played jazz gigs on it through Barbetta 41C and an older Gallien-Krueger keyboard amp. In all cases, the primary piano sound was musical and pleasing across the entire 88-key range. When I A/B’ed it with Synthogy’s Ivory (yes, this is grossly unfair, but wait and see what I discovered) it sounded slightly compressed and bottom-heavy, but I found this artificial boost made the piano sound robust and authentic coming through the onboard speakers and my combo amps. I heard someone else playing the PX-320 from another room, and it sounded like an excellent recording of a live performance.

There’s a Rhodes-like stage piano, a Dyno-My-Piano bell-like patch, and a Wurly that sits up and spits when you spank it. The Rotary Rock organs would cover nicely for an eight-bar solo or work all night in a honky-tonk, while the Jazz Organ will cover you when you feel like Jimmy Smith-ing. Okay, it doesn’t make you sound like Jimmy Smith, but it’s a successful attempt at imitating a jazz organ, and will cover you when you feel like blowing on “Oleo.” In addition, the whole General M...

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