Casio have a great ability to market their keyboards to the general instrument-buying public. Their strategy has kept them in business as instrument specialists.
With the CTKVK3 PAK they have tried to attract the buyer who doesn’t want to find out that there are a whole lot of accessories that they haven’t budgeted for and will be needing in order to make the instrument functional.
The bundle pack includes the power supply as well as a keyboard stand. The inclusive pack still manages to come in at around $200 and the accessories, if bought on their own, would at least sell for $60.
As far as the actual keyboard goes, this 61-key variety is a standard entry level type keyboard and Casio have been making these for almost as long as they have been in the calculator business.
The keyboard, itself, is the CTK-2080 – the entry level instrument in the CTK range. It offers multi-functionality and includes many different sounds as well as accompaniment and sampling features. This keyboard is especially suited to first-timers who want to be exposed to the world of music.
With over 400 different sounds that are digitally generated, the keyboard offers a great range of options to use for different musical situations. The tones offer a reasonably realistic quality, but vary in authenticity and generally the more electronic sounds are better than those trying to match natural acoustic instruments.
The selection allows users to experiment with many different tones and create musical interest for many performances.
Alongside the tones there are effects which can also be adjusted to various levels to adjust the sounds, so a fair amount of individual tailoring of the sound can be done. The keyboard also allows for the creation of your own tones through the sampling feature, thereby making for an unlimited number of sounds to be used.
Casio have definitely made their sounds a little more varied and realistic and this gives the instrument a little more credibility as an instrument and not a toy.
With 61 keys at regular piano key size, the keyboard looks like a real piano, but has typical one touch response keys. This means that the keys are not weighted and all respond equally over the range of the keyboard, without any graded action.
The keys respond easily and have some sensitivity to pressure but this is limited. It does however give some flexibility in being able to express music with some dynamic versatility, so one is able to play both loud and soft.
The keyboard also offers a range of digital touch settings to adjust the keyboard’s response to a more sensitive response to the pressure and the range of dynamic (from soft to loud) that the pressure on the keys will respond to.
This really gives users the ability to set the keyboard according to their own playing style. Don’t expect the versatility offered by an acoustic instrument though.
The regular size keys means that users are able to make the change to more advanced instruments or proper acoustic pianos without having to compensate for spacing between keys.
- Features: Polyphonic, Portable, MIDI Interface, Built-In Speakers, Built-In Metronome, LCD Display, Teaching Facility, Sampling
- Effects: Reverb, Sustain, Pitch Bend, Transpose
- Voice Pads: assignable pads for use in performances
- Metronome: beat and tempo settings
- Input Type: Stereo Mini
- Output Type: USB 2.0, Midi
- Display: LCD
- Body Material: Plastic
- Number of Keys: 61
- Number of Tones: 400
- Number of Accompaniments: 150
- Maximum Polyphony: 48-Note Maximum Polyphony
- Number of Demo Songs: 110
- Speaker Size:0 cm.
- Includes: Stand, AC Power Adapter, Music Rest, Music Book, USB cable
- Dimensions:64 ” H x 37.25 ” W x 12.07 ” D
- Weight:5 Lb.
- Warranty Description: 1 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty
The keyboard comes with a large range of features including 400 tones, effects settings, sampling, accompaniment, metronome, teaching facility, pitch bending, preset rhythms, built in songs and more.
The keyboard offers a range of accompaniment styles (150 in all) that allow beginner musicians a large variety of options to make their playing sound more professional. Different fingering options allow for different chord types. The accompaniment volume can also be adjusted individually allowing for customized performance levels.
The teaching facility allows users to work through a range of on-board songs (110 in all) that teach the basics of music reading and execution. The ability to break songs into small sections and to learn good fingering techniques gives users a progressive approach to improving their skills. Pieces can also be broken up into learning the left and right hand separately.
The sampling feature and voice pad settings allow users to record short sound clips and add a range of new tones or effects which can be assigned to voice pad buttons to include in performances.
Midi and USB ports allow for connection to a range of other devices, both computers and other instruments. The expansion pack includes a stand and power pack as well as connection cables such as USB.
The size of the keys, matching that of a real piano makes it a good beginner keyboard to learn on, as the user will immediately be getting their hands used to the spacing of a real instrument.
The keyboard teaching facility provides students with a large variety of songs from beginner to mid-level repertoire and the instrument demonstrates how the song should sound, shows the fingering on the screen as well as the notes that should be played and allows the user to break the song into small sections and slow it down until the skills are mastered.
A student who is willing to spend some time with the teaching function can learn to play reasonably well even if they have never been taught before.
The accompaniment options give a great range of rhythmic and musical interest to help beginners learn to play along to different styles and add complexity to their musical performances.
Connectivity to other devices makes it a useful instrument to explore the use of recording software and gives the user options to save data onto memory devices and perform along with other instruments or computer software.
The on-board metronome allows for individual setting of the number of beats per measure and this means that users can play along to music in any number of time signatures. The large number of demo songs gives users a fitting musical introduction to general beginner and intermediate piano playing.
With only 61 keys students very quickly run out of keys as they advance in their playing abilities, especially when more bass support is needed and the low notes aren’t available.
The limited pressure sensitivity does give the keyboard a slightly odd response to pressure sensitivity and those that are used to a real piano may find this a little off-putting.
The keyboard is also very light and would benefit from a clamp that attaches it to the stand, as it moves about a little and can be knocked off the stand if one is not careful.
The limited polyphony of 48 notes can also present some loss of note sustainability for more advanced playing. The keyboard also doesn’t have a recording facility and layering or split functions. This means that one cannot put voices together and create more complex sounds or record performances for playback.
However connectivity to other devices does make it possible to use track-recording software to perform these functions together with the keyboard.
The sounds would also benefit from a range of other effects, e.g. chorus and brightness settings, which are not available on this model. The small speakers also make the keyboard sound a little “tinny” and it would definitely benefit by being plugged into a small amplifier.
Being an expansion pack, I was surprised that Casio do not include a sustain pedal in the pack. It would be one of my first choices for an expansion inclusion and it is not there. I think this reflects poorly on the saleability of the pack as a whole. Most users will want the use of a pedal within a day or two of using the instrument.
As far as 61-key keyboards go this keyboard together with its expansion extras does offer excellent value for money and a full range of facilities that introduce users to the world of digital instruments and their functions. While there are some glaring features that are not available, one must bear in mind that it is an entry-level instrument.
By far its most endearing feature is the teaching facility and for younger users it is an ideal starting instrument to expose them to the delights of musical expression. Casio have developed an advanced teaching tool that allows users a high level of control over how they learn.
The instrument will provide many hours of musical creativity and the great thing is that this instrument doesn’t feel gimmicky. Users can be assured of a fulfilling musical experience with this easy to use instrument that comes in at a very reasonable price.