The digital piano was not the forerunner to the synthesizer; they both arrived at around the same time. The synthesizer in its original format was probably here first. This was in the mid-80s, and I am not including the Yamaha GS1 in this. While it was a digital piano, it was not a consumer product, and its price put it way out of reach.
Technology moved fast in the development of the keyboard. And, of course, we must also remember that electronic pianos have been around since the 50s. Ray Charles was a notable user. These things and further developments all added to the position we are in now.
In this Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack Review, we are going to look at is a descendant of those early machines.
A Long Road
It has been a long road to travel in 40 years, and there have been some notable achievements. The market did split into two, with some specializing in synthesizer technology, others on creating the piano sound. Some of the bigger companies, of course, did both.
The Big Guns
Of course, Yamaha leads the way both in numbers and in the quality of the big guns. But not far behind are Kawai, and then the likes of Korg and Roland. But there is another name we can add to that list.
A name that might surprise you. A name that we associate more with calculators and budget-priced gimmicky watches. That name is Casio.
From Calculators to Much More
Founded in 1946 in Japan, they were quick to produce innovative creations. Previous to the 50s, adding machines needed a cranking handle used to turn to complete the calculation. Casio designed and manufactured the first desk-size electronic calculator.
They probably realized at that moment that electronics could do most things. And it wasn’t long before they did, and the first electronic keyboards arrived. But, they had very little in common with the keyboard we are going to look at today.
Plenty of Criticism
Casio didn’t try to hide behind the fact that these early keyboards were toys, really. Small little keyboards with limited functions and a sound best described as not very good at all.
But too much criticism demonstrated no rational thinking at all. They weren’t supposed to be anything else. But it does make you wonder if any of the musicians who are household names today played their first tune on one. If so, it served a purpose that not many others can lay claim to. A cheap, easy-to-use introduction to music via a keyboard.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
These days times have changed a bit. Casio has moved into the world of the serious musician. This has been a huge change and development for them as a company.
As young people, we were used to seeing budget range watches with fancy gadgets, built-in calculators, and a small backlit screen. We were used to endless types of budget range calculators. Also, the small little keyboards for the eager little 5-year-olds and younger.
Still Cover The Whole Range
But now, they build some serious keyboards that put them in the same range as the medium-priced Yamaha, Roland, and Korg.
But they still produce the cost-effective instruments, the budget range equipment for those just starting. Or for those that can’t afford more expensive equipment. Both are important areas that some seem to ignore.
It is one of those products we are going to look at here. But it is not just a keyboard, as you will see. Let’s take a look at what it is all about.
Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack – Overview
This is a keyboard that has been designed to be flexible and gives you two options to use it. You can use it as a digital piano or as a MIDI controller.
We will look a bit closer at all the features. But, suffice to say, one of the most impressive features is the touch response keys with dual settings.
Plenty of Good Things Built-in
There are enough other good features to make this an interesting keyboard to consider. A pitch blending wheel lets you add some expression to your performance, and there are plenty of sounds and rhythms to experiment with, as we shall see.
There is also a feature Casio calls the Dance Music Mode. This is an addition that is interesting and great for the young starter. More on that later.
And as this is a keyboard “package,” there are plenty of extras which we shall look at closely. Let’s get on and look at all of these a little closer in this Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack Review.
There is nothing exceptional or ostentatious about the build. Although the inclusion of a built-in carrying handle at the top edge of the keyboard is an interesting idea. It is built from a reasonable quality plastic and measures 43.25 by 13 by 8.3 inches, and weighs 20 lbs. Making it one of the best portable keyboards you can buy.
There are 61 keys, and the controls are placed along the top, so they are easy to see and use. There is an LCD screen giving the current operational status. Also on the top are the built-in speakers.
Battery or Mains
As this keyboard is quite portable, it has been designed to run off both mains supply and battery power. An AD-E95100L AC adapter is included as part of the package.
It takes six AA batteries, and if you use alkaline, you get up to 20 hours of intermittent use or six hours non-stop playing. Meaning this is one of the best battery powered keyboards on the market.
There are some basic built-in speakers on the top, so you don’t need to connect it up to an amplifier. There is also a useful music stand that fits onto the rear. Quite a basic keyboard. But it suits what the beginner player needs and has everything they will require and a bit more.
61 keys that are slightly smaller than full-size keys. The width of a standard piano key is 23.5 mm. These keys are 21.5 mm in width.
If you are an adult learner or improver looking for a keyboard with full-size keys, this will not suit you. It is made for the young beginner, which is why the keys are slightly smaller to accommodate smaller fingers and reach.
One of the most impressive features
Ironically, these keys are quite impressive despite being smaller. They have a velocity-sensitive, touch-responsive action that allows you to control the dynamics of your playing.
This touch-responsive feature is a good addition. Without it, no matter how lightly and carefully you play, the notes would all have the same volume. As said, it provides control over the expression you put into your playing. Two sensitivity settings make this one of the most responsive beginner keyboards you can buy.
We have seen that this keyboard is part of a package. So let’s take a closer look at what is included.
Samson HP30 Stereo Headphones
To be fair, you wouldn’t put Samson in the same bracket as some of the better-known headphones. But, having said that, these are more than adequate. They are a decent set of headphones that might be called cost-effective but still produce a reasonable sound.
They have a closed-back design with a headband that is fully adjustable and fit any user. And to add to the comfort level, they are very lightweight. They have full-range 40mm drivers and offer a good frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. They will not only work with this keyboard, but you can use them with your MP3 or other media players.
One of the things that some people don’t like about smaller keyboards for beginners is you must use them on a table. That can have its own set of problems at times. With this keyboard package, you get a decent-quality keyboard stand.
Easy To Use
Apart from stability, there are two important things about a keyboard stand.
- It must be adjustable to fit a range of instruments.
- It needs to be easy and quick to adjust.
This stand has a bullet-nose knob you pull for adjusting the height of the stand. It can be set in one of five positions. The width is also adjustable if you want to use it with a wider keyboard.
eMedia Starter Piano and Keyboard Lessons
This is an excellent addition to a great keyboard package for beginners. The eMedia Piano and Keyboard lessons for the starter carry over 50 sessions. They take you through all the basic aspects of playing. These include:
- Your hand position.
- Understanding and reading notes.
- Understanding time signatures.
- Playing the black keys.
The lessons are conducted through video demonstrations, and there are plenty of songs to learn and exercises. And just to round off this package, Casio includes an AC power adapter, a sustain pedal, and a six-foot USB cable.
As I said earlier, the controls are well-positioned on the top of the keyboard and are easy to recognize and use. They include an LCD. There is a useful “My Setup” button that will recall your favorite settings and sounds.
There is a class-compliant USB port that will connect up to PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Through this, you can connect up to Chordana Play for online lessons and tutorials.
It has MIDI connectivity, which is useful to have for studio applications. It also allows you to use this keyboard as a MIDI controller. As a result, it’s one of the most versatile MIDI keyboards you can find.
How Does It Play
We have already talked about some of the features that add to the playability. The keys react nicely due to the velocity-sensitive controls. They will aid the young player in what happens when you play with a soft and then hard action.
And the pitch blend wheel offers even more control over the expression. Easy to play, with slightly smaller keys, it is one of the best first keyboards for new musicians.
How Does It Sound
The sound is best described as acceptable. It isn’t going to compete with keyboard sounds that cost ten times more. But for the beginner it is good. It has plenty of additions to create your own sounds.
There are over 400 tones and 77 rhythms that give you plenty of choices. And add on what you can do with the pitch bend wheel, and it becomes even more interesting. To add just a little bit more realism to the sounds, there are ten different types of reverb. However, there is no facility for layering tones or splitting the keyboard.
The built-in speakers will give you a reasonable level of volume and again produce an adequate sound. Or you can play quietly and use the headphones where you can expect the sound reproduction to be somewhat better.
Dance Music Mode
The final feature we should take a look at is the Dance Music Mode I mentioned earlier. Using this, you can add an extra 50 rhythms. You can select a style that will trigger basslines and drum loops, as well as synth sounds and more. A great addition for those that might be feeling creative.
Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack Review – Pros and Cons
- Can be used as a synthesizer or MIDI controller.
- 61 touch-sensitive keys.
- Solid build.
- Over 400 tones and 77 rhythms.
- Dance Music Mode.
- Ten reverb sounds.
- Pitch Bend Wheel.
- Keyboard Stand.
- Battery for Mains use, AC adapter included.
- USB cable.
- Sustain pedal.
- 50 online lessons as part of the package.
- Easy to use controls with LCD.
- Built-in speakers and amplifier.
- Cost-Effective price point.
- Easy to use carrying handle.
- You cannot layer tones.
- No keyboard split facility.
- Smaller keys are only suitable for young starters.
- Some may find it too basic.
Looking for a Great Keyboard or Digital Piano?
We can help. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Digital Pianos, the Best Yamaha Digital Pianos, the Best Kawai Digital Piano, the Best Digital Pianos For Under $1000, and the Best Digital Pianos for Under $500 you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, the Best 88-Key Keyboards, the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys, the Best Digital Grand Piano, the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners, or the Best Cheap Keyboard Piano currently on the market.
Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack Review – Conclusion
All things considered, this is an excellent buy for a starter’s first keyboard, providing they are teenage or under. It has a decent quality of build and plenty of features.
The keyboard playing action is excellent, and there are plenty of tones and rhythms to work with. The lessons are an added bonus as part of a very good extras package.
At this price point, you may struggle to find better value for money than the Casio CT-S300 61-Key Premium Keyboard Pack.
Until next time, let your music play.