Hands-On Review:CTK-7000 and WK-7500
Once again, Casio reinvents the portable keyboard
By Mike Martin
Casio Director of Marketing
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.
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.
Performing live? No problem. Theand 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 newand 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.
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.
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 theand . 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.