Hands-On Review:CTK-7000 and WK-7500

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Once again, Casio reinvents the portable keyboard

By Mike Martin
Casio Director of Marketing


CTK-7000 and WK-7500

With over 30 years of electronic music instrument history, Casio has  likely touched more lives than any other keyboard manufacturer. Whether  used by a rank beginner just learning to play, or a music industry pro  writing a hit song, the Casio keyboard family has played a legendary  role in modern music. Since the release in 1980 of the landmark  Casiotone 201—Casio's very first instrument—Casio has continued to  create innovative and award-winning products like the remarkable PRIVIA  digital pianos.


This obsession with innovation is embodied in Casio's two newest  keyboards, the 61-key CTK-7000 and 76-key WK-7500. In a nutshell, there  are features in these two instruments that you simply do not associate  with "portable keyboards." No matter what level of musician you  currently are, you will want one of these new instruments for its  unbelievable combination of portability and pro-level features.  Skeptical? Read on.


Sound possibilities

For starters, the new CTK-7000 and WK-7500 each boast a total of 800  built-in tones, so no matter what style of music you play you'll find it  here. In addition to formidable stereo acoustic pianos, vintage  electric pianos, guitars, strings, basses, drums, and synths there's a  dazzling palette of band, orchestral, and world music choices. These  sounds can be combined with 100 effects presets including delay, phaser,  flanger, wah-wah, rotary, and more. Better yet, you can customize your  own envelope, filter, and LFO settings to create an endless variety of  individual sounds and then store up to 100 user tones as presets. This  is not your father's portable keyboard.


Gig ready

Performing live? No problem. The CTK-7000 and WK-7500 let you create splits, layers, or both simultaneously. You can then  store this combination of three tones as a registration for instant  recall on the gig. The 96 registration slots will let you cover any gig,  or save those magic sounds that define a new hit song. If you're a solo  performer, registrations can also recall rhythms, accompaniments, or an  entire song arrangement for you to play along with. And both  instruments feature piano-style Touch Response that re-creates the  experience of playing a grand piano.


Capture your creativity

We're not talking about a basic, two-track MIDI recorder here. The new CTK-7000 and WK-7500 both feature 17-track sequencers. With serious quantization, event  editing, punch-in and punch out, this sequencer will enable you to turn  out broadcast-ready professional tracks.


Question: Does 17 seem like an odd number of tracks? Answer: The  extra track is for recording chord changes, fill-ins, and variations  from the built-in arranger technology. With 250 rhythms to choose from  you'll be writing music with more speed and sophistication than ever  before. Once you're created your masterpiece you can save the song to an  SDHC card, or—and this is a breakthrough feature—save it as an audio  recording. You read that right. These new keyboards can mix-down  internally and save your new song or filmscore to an SDHC card as an  audio file. A free downloadable software package lets you take this file  and convert to a WAV file, so you can burn it to a CD, put it on you  favorite music player, or send it to your friends. Meanwhile, you can  audition your tracks through a 2-way, 4-speaker system that lets you  monitor your recording productions or performances. Making music and  sharing it has never been this easy or affordable. And there's more.


Sliders galore

You can't miss them, nine strategically placed sliders on the front  panel. Just hit the Drawbar Organ button and start playing. The sliders  work just like the drawbar controls on the original Hammond B3s. And all  the sliders, as well as rotary percussion controls, are right at your  fingertips. If you're the kind of musician who loves to dive deeper into  the sound, the edit mode gives you access to adjustable key click,  overdrive, rotary speaker speeds, and more. This is drawbar organ bliss.  These sliders can also be used to control all 32 channels of the  built-in mixer to create a stunning mix of your latest song with no  sacrifice in sound quality.


GPS not required

There is a lot of power here, but you'll have no problem navigating  the newly designed user interface. Tones and rhythms are divided into  categories. Simply select a category and spin the data wheel or use the ±  buttons to scroll through sounds and rhythms on the large graphic LCD  display.


Get connected

On the back panel you'll find 1/4" left and right outputs perfect for  connecting to your mixer, PA, or keyboard amp. There's also a 1/4" mono  input that can be used for mic or instrument input. You can even record  from this input allowing you to track vocals or any other instruments  directly to the SDHC card. There is a mini stereo input for connecting  an iPod or other MP3 player—perfect for practicing along with your  favorite song or using the built-in sampling features to capture hot  sounds.  Of course there is a 1/4" stereo headphone output if you're  writing or practicing late at night. And last but certainly not least,  there is a USB/MIDI port that's class-compliant, which means you don't  need drivers to use these keyboards with your favorite Mac or Windows PC  software.


The amazing bottom line

There have never been portable keyboards anything like the CTK-7000 and WK-7500.  Now you can truly write a hit song, play a stadium gig, or score a film  with a lightweight keyboard that anyone can afford. With an array of  features that rival a semi-pro studio, these are the instruments of the  near future. Pro and amateur musicians all over the world will soon be  making the next generation of music on these remarkable breakthrough  keyboards.