Jul 25, 2017

REVIEW - Casio PX870 Digital Piano - RECOMMENDED

Front view of Casio PX870
🎹 REVIEW
- New 2018 Model Casio PX870 Privia 88-Key Electronic Digital Piano (internet discount price $999US). What does a top digital piano manufacturer do to improve an already popular model called the PX860 that has been out for quite awhile? Well...of course you try to make it even better, so the question is, did Casio do that to the new PX870 which is the replacement of the now discontinued PX860? In my opinion the answer is an overwhelming...YES...and I should know because I recently examined and played it. The PX870 has just been released in the US will likely sell out fast due to the big ugrades in this model and the fact it is the same price as the previous PX860. I would recommend you purchase a new PX870 rather than buy the older PX860, especially with both of them being the same price at $999US. 


🎹 Also, if after reading this review you want to get in on an unadvertised low introductory price for the new PX870 and have it reserved for you for immediate shipment before they are gone, then please contact me right away and I can help you. 😀   
  
side view of PX870
When it comes to new digital 88-key piano models near $1000US and up to $1500US, Yamaha and Roland came out with their newest models over 1 year ago and in my opinion those changes were overall very subtle with the exception of offering an iPad/Android app to control things on the piano in a more intuitive way, which is pretty cool. But as far as the piano playing and sound experience goes, the changes were somewhat minor. The brand new 2018 Casio PX870, available in both satin black and satin white at $999 internet discount price, retains some of its previous popular features from the PX860 such as having a back privacy panel on the cabinet, sliding key cover and compact size. But the PX870 model now has an improved piano sound sample which has been noticeably upgraded in realism and piano dynamic range & expression along with the larger sustain pedal decay volume & decay time having been obviously improved and lengthened which is a welcome change. On top of that the internal speaker system has also been upgraded in a way that projects the sound out of the piano in a more natural way which no other piano in this price range has done before. So for just $999US this new PX870 which was just released in the US, is quite impressive to me and the big winner in a furniture cabinet digital piano in this price range over any other brand or model as far as I am concerned, and I have played them all including this one already.

With regard to the Casio company, just about everyone knows that name for every day consumer electronic products such as calculators, watches, cash registers, projectors, electronic keyboards, and many other items for the last 60+ years. Casio of Japan is a large world-wide company which has the reputation for packing a lot of cutting edge technology into reliable low priced products that give you a "big bang" for the buck. With their home & pro digital pianos they do the same thing and it just keeps getting better every time they come out with a new model. Unlike Yamaha & Kawai, Casio does not produce regular acoustic pianos and unlike Roland they don't produce high priced electronic pro keyboards, guitars, drums, or other high end music gear. But what Casio does well in my opinion is make great innovative and competitive digital pianos for very low prices using the latest and greatest technology in a way that no other digital piano company has done so far under $1000. So when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck I can tell you right now that based on everything I have seen & heard the new 2018 Casio PX870 in its compact furniture cabinet will be a very hot product once it comes out approximately end of September...so it's definitely worth the wait. The PX860 is still being sold at many places because the PX870 just came out. But with the prices of the two models being the same I see very little reason to purchase a PX860 and instead I would recommend the PX870 would be the better option for sure.

Here are the top 7 differences between the previous PX860 and the new PX870:


1. The piano sound is better than the PX860 because the piano sound chip was upgraded to be even more natural like a real piano with better expression and more organic piano tonal elements than before. You can really tell the difference if listening to both models. Also there is one more acoustic piano sound added along with some of the non-piano instruments that have been re-voiced and improved for greater authenticity. The stereo strings, choirs, harpsichord, electric pianos, etc, really do sound good and are a joy to play especially as compared to other digital pianos in this price range.

2. The sustain pedal decay time has dramatically improved so that when you hold down the sustain-damper pedal you will hear more sustain volume and noticeably more sustain decay time than ever before and when that happens you get a more organic & natural piano sound particularly when playing legato and using more sustain pedaling. The notes of the piano sound mix together more evenly and produce a smoother and more balanced tonal expression across the entire 88 keys that was not able to be achieved on the previous PX860.

3. The speaker projection system has changed on the PX870. The former PX860 had a hinged lid where part of the lid could be propped up so the piano sound could come out of the piano top. That was a very good idea but the down-side was that with the lid propped open, you could not rest any music, music lamp, or any other items on the piano top because they would fall off. Casio designed a new speaker projection system that allows the piano sound to come up and out of the piano top without the need of a lid. There is a brand new speaker system in the piano that diverts part of the piano sound up and out through a long but narrow speaker grill that goes the length of the piano top and is inset and flush with the top. It's located more towards the back top of the piano. The piano sound is also projected forward through speakers in the piano. In this way there is better sound disbursement and top remains closed so it has a sleeker look, no more hinged lid like the previous model that could potentially break, and you can put things on the piano top without those items sliding off because of the previous models' partially raised and tilted lid. These are very well designed improvements that upgrades this new model in a noticeable way.

4. The synthetic ivory white keys have been re-textured with a new material that brings the touch/feel of the keys even closer to that of the popular natural ivory acoustic pianos of past years...a noticeable improvement with a smoother feel.

5. The headphone experience has been improved over the PX860 with new "headphone mode" with improved electronics that creates a more realistic stereo listening environment when using any good stereo headphones

6. A Volume Sync system has been added to the PX870 which allows the piano to have better low frequency response when playing the piano at lower volumes which is a good thing. This type of electronics has been available in digital pianos before but not in this price range.

7. The cabinet has been upgraded to look better with fewer seams in the case and the control panel buttons have been re-positioned to the left side of the keyboard to make the piano look simpler in design and less cluttered than before so the cabinet itself looks more streamlined and "piano-like." Also the physical cabinet assembly process is more intuitive than ever with cabinet parts able to be connected more easily.

Beyond the actual piano differences between the PX860 and new PX870, Casio is also developing an iOS/Android app for the new PX870 which will allow the piano to be connected to the app for further control and features. I don't know any specifics about the app yet but from what I understand it should be available by later this year 2017. This will likely be a very cool thing especially if you have a tablet device at home and enjoy using it.

As far as the the rest of the piano goes, and especially with the key action, Casio has kept their popular 3-sensor per key-weighted-graded piano style key action in the PX870 which was also in the former PX860. I believe they're doing this because so many people who owned the PX860 really liked the key weight, balance, and movement of that key action so it has not changed. When it comes to shopping for a new digital piano, the key action should be considered the most important part of the decision making process for most people including piano students. Personally I like the Casio key action better than any other cabinet piano under $1000 and it feels like an acoustic piano in a number of ways. Be aware that no digital piano in this price range actually feels exactly like a real acoustic piano, but this one comes pretty close and for most people, including advanced players you can take your music pretty far on this new piano.

closeup of PX870
Another interesting feature Casio has created is their new reverb settings call Hall Simulation effects which gives the stereo acoustic piano sound more spacious effects such as you would hear in a large concert hall or church where there is natural echo that occurs when playing an instrument. There is a variety of different "Hall Effects" you can choose from and they really are impressive because you don't normally find this kind of feature on a digital piano in this price range. It adds to the sonic presence of the acoustic piano sounds and can make the piano more enjoyable to play. I have heard these kinds of effects before in other higher priced digital instruments and they can add to the realism of piano playing, but these effects are not always necessary or appropriate especially with some pop or jazz. But overall it does make a huge difference

A big advantage not offered on other digital pianos in this price range is the 256-note polyphony piano sound processing technology.  More polyphony note processing power helps to keep notes from electronically dropping out when playing difficult & musically complex passages along with being able to layer two sounds together and using the damper pedal without note dropout when playing multiple notes together at the same time. Also, like many name brand digital pianos including Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland, the PX870 offers the "half-damper" pedal sustain feature with pedal resonance effect which helps recreate the real acoustic piano pedaling  damper/sustain sound for more intermediate to advanced piano music. For those students and recreational players who are at a more beginner skill level, they will have something to grow into instead of grow out of, and because of this your piano teacher (assuming you have one) will be happy too.

The PX870 is upgraded in big noticeable ways over its competition such as Yamaha in this price range. Although no digital piano that I know of actually sounds exactly like a real acoustic grand piano (I play real acoustic grand pianos and know what I'm talking about), the new PX870 gives you the definite impression that you are playing a real acoustic piano more than other brands and models do in this price range in my opinion. The dynamic range tonal change when playing the keys softly or with greater force is noticeably wider than Yamaha and allows for a greater range of musical expression. This is especially important if you are taking lessons from a good teacher or you are at a higher playing skill level. The sonic quality of the Casio's new piano sound especially going through its new speaker projection system in the top of the piano is very impressive across the entire keyboard and is something which can be enjoyed no matter what type of music you play.  If you are able to spend more money and/or are at a higher playing skill level (or want to be), then there are certainly other digital pianos to consider in a higher price range

Front view of white PX870
Casio has included in the new PX870 another popular feature from the prior model PX860 which is a music library that consists of 10 orchestra classical songs (plus more you can download from an internet site) which you can play along with using the piano sounds from the piano. The 10 songs are in an audio wav format (recorded from an actual live orchestra) and it sounds just like a real recording of the instruments as you would have on a regular CD. The 10 songs are standard classical music and although they are fun to play along with and do sound good, you would need to be able to read music (or play by ear) and play along at the song skill level so that you could interact with the music properly. You can slow down the songs a bit which is helpful for learning, mute either right or left hand sound to playalong with and also do a few other things with the orchestra accompaniment which are helpful for learning. It's a very cool feature and sounds good but there are only the 10 built-in songs available which are all in the classical category. You pretty much have to know how to read music at a bit more advanced sight reading level  for those songs to play them accurately, but you can also just play along by ear and have some fun doing it that way.

picture of left control panel of PX870
Another impressive feature that Casio has included in the PX870 is "wav file" audio recording like they had in the previous model. This features allows you to record yourself as an audio recording (CD quality) and save it to a USB flashdrive in the piano. Then you can take that recording in the flashdrive and play it back on the piano and also plug the flash drive into your computer and play it back there. You can also email that song to your friends and relatives so they can hear it on their computer just as you played it. Nice feature to impress your friends and relatives and you can convert that file to MP3 on your computer for posting on social media sites. Beyond that, you can import that music into computer music programs for music education, composing, song arranging, etc for further musical interaction. Another very useful recording and playback feature is the 2-track left & right hand MIDI recorder. This feature enables the student of player to record their left and right hand parts independently from each other and then you can play either part back and play the other part live along with it. This is just like a teacher would do it playing one hand while the student plays the other hand. Now you can do the same thing all by yourself and slow down playback tempo while practicing your parts...very cool.

PX870 piano top with speaker grill
As I mentioned earlier, the new Casio PX870 "piano top" audio projection system is a very innovative feature not found on any digital piano I know of under $1000 (see pic on left). The piano sounds can rise out of the top of the piano at all times through a special top speaker system with sound coming through a speaker grill at the top back portion of the cabinet going the length of the piano top (see left pic)  rather than be on a hinged lid like the previous model. This allows for a continual projection of the piano coming out of the piano like a grand piano would do through its open lid. The downside of the previous model hinged lid is that you needed to prop it open on an angle and then could not rest anything on the top of the piano like a music lamp, sheet music, or other objects because they would fall off. Also the extra sound could only be heard by the "player" and not coming up into the room. In my opinion this new sound projection speaker system gives the player and listener a more realistic piano playing and listening experience. The internal 40 watt 4-speaker sound system is heard more like a baby grand would be with the top opened up. The overall sound on this model can be quite loud and resonate so there is no need to attach external speakers to this piano in my opinion and the volume and quality of sound from the piano will easily fill up a big room.

PX870 pic of lower front portion of piano
Other features of this new piano include split & layering of instrument tones, an adjustable digital metronome for rhythm & timing training, key touch sensitivity adjustments to personalize your playing, duet keyboard function allowing for two people to play at the same time, and other useful features including two stereo headphone jacks for two pairs of headphones so you and another person can have private practice. One thing I was disappointed about on the PX870 is that right front side of piano it does not have something that the former PX860 did have and that feature is the audio line output jacks. This type of connectivity can be important if you want to connect your piano to an external sound system but still be able to hear the piano internal speakers at the same time. You can connect an external sound system to one of the PX870 stereo headphone jacks and output the sound that way and it works fine. But when you do that then the internal speakers no longer work and you cannot monitor the sound through the piano speakers. The only reason a manufacturer would take a feature off the piano like this one is to save money. Maybe few owners of the past model took advantage of the audio output jacks so Casio thought they would save money on the new PX870 model and take those parts off. I for one don't like that but my guess is that Casio used that "savings" and put it into some of the new features of this new PX870. Oh well I guess you can't have everything and the fact is that in this price range the other top manufacturers don't offer this feature either.

top left view of PX870
It is important to note that the PX870 (like the former PX860) piano does not have built-in drum rhythms, automatic chords, music styles, hundreds of instrument sounds, multi-track General MIDI song playback, LCD display screen, or other so-called "bells & whistles) that can be useful to some people  (such as is on the Casio PX780 $899US internet price), but it was not designed to be that way. The PX870 is focused primarily on the piano playing experience and is a very impressive piano for its price in that way whether you are a beginner student or advanced player. If you want some additional interactive features for the PX870 you can easily connect to an iPad and experience some very cool interactive piano educational & fun technology that way which both adults and children will enjoy. I use that feature (iPad apps) all the time in my teaching studio and my students love it and it helps motivates them to want to "practice" and that's normally a challenge for some students to do:).

full front view of piano with key cover close
pic of left side control panelThis digital piano has a big, loud, bold piano sound which can replace a regular upright piano along with enough digital features to make the learning and piano playing experience fun and gratifying for most people seeking a quality instrument in a low price range. Speaking of low prices, in the distant past I would have also recommended that people consider buying a good used acoustic or digital piano instead of a new one. However, the digital pianos out now like the Casio PX870 are so improved and relatively inexpensive that it makes buying a used acoustic or digital piano almost a non-issue in my opinion, and I play & own acoustic pianos in my studio. Plus, you take a risk when you buy a used piano because it is purchased "as is" and you get no factory warranty. There are always risks buying anything used because there are no guarantees they will work properly or stay in tune for very long assuming it's an acoustic piano (yearly tunings are expensive). So do yourself a favor, if you are looking to keep the price near or below $1000US price range, other than cabinet design which is always a subjective choice, as far as piano playing goes, in my experienced opinion the new Casio PX870 is a clear winner in this price range for a furniture cabinet piano that is reliable and comes with a 3 year factory warranty and also has great sound, very nice piano key action, good pedaling functions, and enough extra features to keep you busy for many years. Please contact me right away if you want to order a new PX870 during an introductory sale happening now at a special low price before the initial shipment is sold out.

picture of Casio Privia PX780
* I also recommend the Casio PX780 digital piano ($899 internet price and yes it has a noticeably similar model number as the new PX870) as I believe it's one of the best buys of 2017 in the under $1000 price range for a digital piano which has many more "bells & whistles." This is because it has the same key action movement and internal 40 watt audio power as the PX870 (but not the same speaker projection system), and also as I said, it has many more useful features (some people call them "bells & whistles") for educational purposes and fun. Instead of 256-note upgraded polyphony memory chip found in the PX870 which certainly offers a great piano sound with more organic acoustic elements than the PX780 (along with the sound lid projection system), the PX780 has a 128-note polyphony piano memory chip which is more than sufficient for many people, but with many more useful digital features and functions. I recommend you read my review of the PX780 at the following link to find out more about it: Casio PX780 Review

If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

4 comments:

  1. Hello Tim, thanks for such an amazing review. I am between the Casio PX870 vs Kawai KDP90?. The main two features I am looking for include a realistic key action and sound. Which one would you recommend for a beginner? Thanks a lot. JC.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am very interested in this Casio! I have a Kawai es110 now and am wanting something in a cabinet with more volume and fullness in sound. I do have a question however. I am aware of the price difference but am wanting to compare the px870 with the Yamaha ydp163, another model I am currently interested in. The Yamaha certainly does look prettier but will it sound better? Thanks for your help.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Tim. Do you know if the panel lock is persistent, i.e. will remain in effect after a power-cycle? This turns out to be an important feature for me. I have a 4-year-old son who will be distracted with the buttons. The Kawai ES-8 has persistent panel lock, but a lot of others will lose the lock after a power-cycle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. no, that feature needs to re-selected when the unit is powered up again. Maybe Casio will upgrade that function at a later date but I don't know.

    ReplyDelete