Casio PX-160 Review (2017) – Best Value For Money?

Casio Privia PX-160 Review

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the portable and affordable digital piano from Casio’s Privia line – the Casio PX-160.

Being the successor of the hugely popular PX-150 model, the PX-160 inherits many features from the previous model including the Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action  II and Multi-Dimensional AiR Sound Source.

At the same time, Casio took a step forward with the PX-160 having improved the weak sides of its predecessor and added some new features.

The speaker system has also been redesigned and sounds much better now.

  • Is the PX-160 worth the money? Who is this keyboard for? What are the alternatives?

We’ll try to answer all of these questions in this in-depth review.

Casio PX-160 Specs and Features

  • 88-key fully-weighted keyboard with simulated Ivory & Ebony keytops
  • Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II
  • Touch Sensitivity (3 types, Off)
  • Sound: Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source
  • 128-note polyphony
  • 18 instrument sounds (5 pianos)
  • 60 preset piano songs
  • Modes: Split (Low-range bass tone only), Dual, Duo (Duet Play)
  • Lesson Function (ability to practice each hand’s part separately)
  • 2-track MIDI recorder
  • Metronome, Transpose, Fine-tuning, Octave shift
  • Temperament: 17 types
  • Speakers: 8W + 8W (12cm x 2)
  • Connections: USB to Host, Headphone jacks (2), Line Out, Sustain jack
  • 132.2 x 29.3 x 14.1 cm (52” x 11.5” x 5.5”)
  • 11.1kg (24.5 lbs)
  • Street Price: $499
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturer’s warranty (extendable to 3 years after registration)

Design

The PX-160 is a very compact and lightweight digital piano with 88 hammer-action keys. It weighs only 25.5 lbs excluding stand (sold separately).

The width of the instrument is 52.0 inches, which is quite standard for full-range pianos.

Being one of the slimmest 88-key digital pianos, the PX-160 is only 11.5 inches deep. So it will perfectly fit in a small space and can be even placed on a table.

The instrument can truly be called as portable. Its size and weight allow you to take the piano to gigs, rehearsals, making the PX-160 a great option for on-the-go musicians.

The PX-160 doesn’t come with a stand. However, there are several bundles available on Amazon that offer the piano with a stand and some other optional accessories.

We’ll talk about accessories for the PX-160 in greater detail in the “Accessories” section.

Take a look at the table below to quickly compare the PX-160’s size to some other popular digital pianos:

 

The build quality is great, though the piano is made entirely of plastic. The materials feel nice to the touch and are of decent quality; they don’t feel cheap or anything.

The only thing is that the plastic casing of the PX-160 may not hold up very well during transportations. So, if you plan to take it out pretty often, you should consider buying a padded bag/case to prevent the keyboard from damage.

The piano is available in 3 colors: black, white and gold (champaign). The colors are not flashy, and all look contemporary and fresh.


Casio PX-160 Colors

The control panel of the piano is intuitive and easy to navigate.

There are dedicated buttons for the main settings and functions  (volume control, recording features, metronome, main piano sounds).

As for the rest of the functions and sound, you’ll need to press labeled piano keys while holding the “Function” button to access them.

Initially, you’ll have to use user manual to look up key combinations until you memorize them, but labels above the keys definitely simplify this process.

Some don’t like this way of navigating, and it really can be inconvenient, when you need to change a setting quickly when performing on stage, but at least this way the control panel remains simple and is not cluttered with lots of buttons.

Casio PX-160 Control Panel

A display would certainly improve the usability of the PX-160, but considering the price of the instrument I can’t ask for more.

Keyboard

The PX-160 has an 88-key fully weighted keyboard with the keys having the same size as regular piano keys.

The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II ensures you get a very realistic response of the keys and great dynamic range from the softest pianissimo to the loudest fortissimo with all gradations in between.

Unlike semi-weighted keyboards, which use springs to add weight to the keys, this keyboard is fully-weighted and uses actual hammers that simulate the response of the hammer striking the strings. So the feel of the key action is realistic and similar to an acoustic piano.

Casio PX-160 Keyboard

The keys are made of plastic and finished with material that simulates the Ebony & Ivory feel. It gives you an excellent grip and prevents fingers from slipping off the keys when they become moist.

The keyboard is velocity-sensitive. Just like hammers striking the strings affect the sound volume on an acoustic piano, the triple sensor system on the PX-160 detects the velocity of each key press, changing the volume and timbre accordingly.

The harder (faster) you play the keys, the louder the sound.

In settings, you can adjust the level of touch sensitivity (3 preset levels) or turn it off completely. When touch sensitivity is turned off, the piano will produce the same volume regardless of how hard or soft you press the keys.

The keyboard of the PX-160 is graded, simulating the characteristic of an acoustic piano where high-register keys are lighter weighted and easier to press than low-register keys.

Casio PX-160 Keyboard Action

 

The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II is one of the best keyboard actions on the market under $1000.

To my fingers, it feels more authentic and nicer to play than Yamaha’s GHS action, which uses 2-sensor technology and doesn’t have “ivory/ebony feel keys”.

Sound

The PX-160 utilizes Casio’s well-known Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source with some significant improvements over the previous version.

Firstly, the capacity of the memory that stores sampled sounds has been increased by three times, which allows you to hear even small nuances of the grand piano sound due to the higher-quality samples.

Secondly, the Morphing AiR Sound Source uses lossless audio compression, reproducing the sound without distortion unlike lossy formats like MP3, AAC etc.

Casio PX-160 Air Sound

 

  • There are 18 instrument sounds that you can play:
  • 5 Grand pianos (concert, modern, classic, mellow, bright)
  • 4 Electric pianos
  • 2 Etrings
  • 5 Organs (including electric organs)
  • Harpsichord
  • Bass (Lower)

 

Having additional sounds is a great feature, but the most important thing in a digital piano is, of course, piano sound.

Each of the five grand piano sounds on the PX-160 is high-quality stereo sampled sound of a real grand piano. Each tone has slightly different timbre, so you’ll be able to pick the one that suits your taste best.

To me, the main “Concert Grand” tone sounds the most natural, though all five tones are great and very close to an acoustic instrument.

Below you can listen to the Demo Song for the PX-160’s Concert Grand sound:

  • You can further customize the sound of the PX-160 using various sound effects:

The Reverb effect makes the notes you play resonate more, recreating the acoustic environment of different places. There are 4 variations of reverb to choose from: Room, Small Hall, Large Hall, Stadium.

The Chorus effect makes the sound louder and richer as if several similar sounds are playing at once. There are also 4 different choruses available: Light, Medium, Deep, and Flanger (whooshing effect).

Brilliance of the sound can also be adjusted, making the instrument sound brighter and harder or mellower and softer.

Polyphony

What is Polyphony?

The polyphony is the number of notes a digital piano can produce at the same time.

Most of the contemporary digital pianos are equipped with 64, 128, 192 or 256-note polyphony.

You may wonder how it is possible to have 32, 64, or even 128 notes playing at the same time, if there are only 88 keys and we never play them all together.

First of all, many of today’s digital pianos use stereo samples, which sometimes require two notes for each key played.

Another thing is that the use of the sustain pedal, sound effects (Reverb, Chorus), Dual mode (layering) and even the metronome tick sound take up additional notes of polyphony.

For example, when you depress the sustain pedal, the earliest played notes continue to sound while you’re adding new ones and the piano needs more memory to keep all the notes sounding.

Another example of polyphony consumption is when you’re playing along with a song playback (can also be your own recorded performance) or auto-accompaniment.

In this case, the piano will need polyphony not only for the notes you’re playing but also for a backing track.

When you reach the polyphony cap, the piano starts to drop the earliest played notes to free up memory for the new ones, which in turn affects the sound and its fullness.

You’ll hardly ever need all the 192 or 256 voices of polyphony at a time, but there are cases when you can reach 64 or even 128 note limit, especially if you like to layer several sounds and create multi-track recordings.

So it’s very desirable to have at least 64 notes of polyphony.

The 128-note polyphony of the PX-160 ensures that you’ll hear all the notes you play without the most recently played notes being cut off.

And since the PX-160 allows you to record songs consisting of two tracks only, the 128-note polyphony is more than enough even if you’re playing along with a two-track recording.

Speakers

Some of the PX-150’s (predecessor of PX-160) owners complained about its weak sub-quality speakers, calling them very mediocre. The users had to plug in headphones to get good sound quality.

But, it’s another story with the PX-160.

Casio PX-160 Speakers

The piano features 2 x 12cm built-in speakers (8W + 8W amp) and you can tell right away that the sound of the speakers has been considerably improved.

The speakers produce clear and detailed sound with nice resonance, which I find much more satisfying than what was on the PX-150.

The speakers are loud enough to comfortably play at small to medium spaces without using an external amplifier.

For bigger performances you’d defitely need an external amplifier/PA system to get more powerful sound.

To get the best quality sound and to catch every nuance of your performance you may want to use a pair of high-quality headphones. Plus, others won’t be able to hear your playing.

Features

The PX-160 doesn’t have lots of fancy features and add-ons for music production and entertainment.

At the same time, it has all the essential features including a 2-track MIDI recorder, Dual and Duo Modes, Metronome, Transpose function, etc.

Modes

When the “Bass” sound is selected, the keyboard automatically splits into two parts.

The bass sound will be assigned to the left section of the keyboard (left hand), and you can assign any other sound to the right-hand section.

It basically works as Yamaha’s Split Mode except there is only one sound (Bass) that you can assign to the left-hand section and the split point cannot be shifted.

Casio PX-160 Split Mode

Layer Mode. Not only can you play 18 different instrument sounds, but you can also layer two different sounds so that they sound at the same time.

Just select two sounds you want to layer, and what you’ll hear is two sounds playing simultaneously each time you stroke a key.

For example, you can get a very nice sound putting piano over strings, or just try whatever combinations you like, using your creativity.

Using the Duo Mode two people can play the keyboard together in the same pitch ranges and at the same time.

Duet mode splits the keyboard into two identical parts with equal pitch ranges on each side so that two players can sit side by side and play the same notes at the same time

The duet mode comes in very useful for learning.

For example, a teacher can sit next to a student and play some tunes, and the student can follow along, playing the same melody on the other side of the keyboard.

Built-in Songs

The PX-160 comes with 60 built-in songs. You can play back all of them in a sequence (1st to 60th) or choose a particular song to play.

Not only can you play every song back, but you can also play along with the songs, change the playback tempo and practice to play left and right hand parts separately.

For example, you can turn off the right-hand part and practice this part while the left-hand part will be played automatically (playback) and vice versa.

Apart from the 60 built-in songs, Music library allows you to load up to 10 User Songs into the instrument.

There are lots of websites out there where you can download songs in MIDI for free and then transfer them to the piano using the USB connection.

 Recording and Playback

The PX-160 is capable of multi-track MIDI recording of your performances, which you can then play back at any time.

Casio PX-160 Recording

The recording consists of up to two tracks. Once you’ve recorded the first track, you can play it back while recording the other one.

After you’ve recorded two tracks, you can either play them back together or turn off one of the tracks to practice that part.

For example, you can record the left-hand part on track one and the right-hand part on track two and then turn off one of the tracks to practice each hand’s part separately.

The instrument will allow you to record only one song; the next recording will delete all the previously recorded data.

To avoid data loss, you can transfer the recorded song to your computer and then copy it back to the instrument when you need it (for playback, practice session).

In this case, you can record as many songs as you want.

  • It’s actually very useful to be able to listen back to your performance to get some interesting insights and make some corrections/improvements if needed. I used to do it a lot with my students.

Transpose, Tuning, Octave Shift

The piano offers various functions to adjust the pitch of the keyboard to match another instrument or vocalist, facilitate playing song written in a “difficult” key, etc.

The transpose function allows you to raise or lower the pitch of the entire keyboard in semitone steps.

Using this function you can, for example, play a song in a different key without actually learning how to play it in a new key.

Alternatively, you use transpose to play a song in a different “easier” key (less black keys) and yet hear the song in the original key.

Casio PX-160 Transpose, Octave Shift

The octave shift function changes the pitch of the keyboard in octave units.

So, for example, when you play the middle C what you’ll hear is the tenor C or soprano C or other Cs on the keyboard depending on how many octaves are shifted.

It’s also possible to fine tune the pitch of the PX-160 using the fine tuning function. You can raise or lower the pitch of the entire keyboard in 0.1Hz steps from the standard pitch of A4 key = 440Hz.

Another great thing about the PX-160 is that it allows you to change its standard “Equal Temperament” tuning to one of 16 different temperaments better suited for playing certain styles of music (Indian, Arabian, classical).

 

The feature is normally available on much higher-priced pianos so I was quite surprised that the PX-160 also has it.

Other Functions

A metronome is an excellent tool that you can use to practice timing and steady tempo.

The PX-160 allows you to adjust tempo, the number of beats per measure and volume of the metronome to suit your needs.

The PX-160 is also equipped with the Auto Power Off function, which will prevent unnecessary power consumption and automatically turn off the instrument after about 4 hours of no operation.

Operation lock is another useful feature that when enabled will protect against unintentional button operation.

Connectivity

On the front of the PX-160, you’ll find two headphone mini-jacks (1/8″ or 3.5mm). So you can plug in two pairs of headphones simultaneously, which is particularly useful when playing in duet.

The rear panel of the instrument includes the following connectors:

USB (type B). This port is used to connect the PX-160 to a computer. All you need is an A to B USB cable that you’ll have to buy additionally.

Thanks to the “Plug and Play” technology you don’t need to download and install any drivers on your Mac or Windows computer, which is very convenient.

Once you’ve connected the piano to a computer, you can transfer your recorded performances from the PX-160’s internal memory to the computer and load MIDI (up to 10 songs) into the instrument.

This connection will also allow you to effectively use the PX-160 as a MIDI controller.

There is a wide variety of music software (GarageBand, Musescore, FlowKey, etc.), which will significantly expand the capabilities of the PX-160 in many different ways (recording, editing, composing, learning, etc.)

Casio PX-160 Connectors

Line Out R, L/Mono. Line out jack can be used to connect the piano to various external devices including external amplifiers, PA systems, mixers, etc. For example, for bigger performances, you’ll most probably need an external amplifier for boosting the sound volume.

Sustain pedal jack. This jack  is used to plug in the supplied SP-3 pedal or any other sustain pedal with ¼” plug. There is also a pedal connector on the bottom of the PX-160 used to connect the instrument to optionally available 3- pedal unit (Casio SP-33).

Casio PX-160 SP-3 Footswitch

The keyboard does not have Midi In/Out ports, but you still can exchange MIDI data via USB connection.

Accessories

  • The PX-160 comes with the following accessories:
  • AC Power Adapter (with cord)
  • Music Rest
  • Sustain Footswitch (SP-3)
  • Owner’s manual

Stand

The PX-160 doesn’t come with a stand of any kind. The piano is compact enough to put on a table or a desk but it’s not very convenient, and you’d probably want to have a dedicated stand for the instrument.

Casio offers the CS-67P furniture-style stand designed for the PX-160 and some other models from Privia line. The CS-67P is pretty sturdy and would be a great choice if you want your keyboard to be stationary and don’t plan to move it around much.

Keep in mind that the keyboard with the stand weighs around 46 lbs.


casio px-160 stand

For more mobility, you should consider more portable X-type stands , which are often adjustable and collapsible.

It’s a very convenient solution as you’ll be able to quickly remove the keyboard from the stand and move it to another place or put it away when not in use.

X-type stands are also perfect for on-the-go musicians who need something that would easily fit into a car for transport.

Sustain Pedal


Casio PX-160 Sustain Pedal

The piano comes with the Casio SP-3 sustain pedal, but frankly, the look and feel of this plastic footswitch is not what you’d expect from a real piano pedal.

I recommend taking a look at something more substantial and realistic. The M-Audio SP-2 is a classic example of a piano-style chrome pedal with authentic feel and durable construection. Moreover, it’s fairly affordable.

Another option would be the Pro Bundle, which includes not only the Casio CS-67Ps stand but also the Casio SP33 triple pedal board (assembled to the stand). The SP33 board can also be bought separately.

Casio PX-160 Review Summary

Case

As I mentioned, the PX-160 is compact and light enough to take it out to gigs and on trips. However, the plastic casing of the PX-160 may be damaged during often transportations.

So if you plan to move the keyboard around from time to time, I’d recommend having a padded keyboard bag for more convenient and safe transportation.

There are tens of options when it comes to gig bags and protective cases. Casio actually offers its branded PRIVCASE Privia case, which fits the PX-160 perfectly and the price is pretty affordable.

Casio PX-160 Privia Case

There is  a wide selection of other great keyboad bags on Amazon; just don’t forget to check if the PX-160 will fit into the bag before buying it.

Headphones

Casio PX-160 Headphones

Headphones come in very handy when you want to practice in private, focusing solely on your playing and not disturbing others nearby.

Moreover, a good pair of piano headphones will provide clear and detailed sound that onboard speakers cannot offer.

Check out this guide to learn how to choose the best-sounding headphones for your digital piano.

In most cases the headphones included with Amazon bundles are cheap and don’t offer great sound quality and comfort.

Summary

Casio PX-160 Review Summary

 

 

When it comes to entry-level digital pianos, Casio knows its business. The PX-160 is one of the best options you can get in the 450-550$ price range.

It’s for anyone who wants an instrument that feels and sounds very close to an acoustic piano, but at the same time portable and affordable. The piano would be a great choice for both beginners and more experienced players.

The fully-weighted keys with simulated Ivory & Ebony keytops provide a highly realistic and natural feel much like an acoustic piano, which is perfect for students who plan to eventually switch to an acoustic piano.

You won’t find hundreds of sounds, sound effects and extra features on the PX-160 as it was designed primarily to deliver high-quality piano sound and provide you with a natural piano touch response.

Nevertheless, the piano is equipped with a decent amount of features, and I can’t say something is missing from the PX-160.

The piano will enable you to play 18 different sounds, record and play back your performances, layer sounds, play in a duet mode, exchange MIDI data via USB and more.

You get a great bang for the buck, considering that the price is under 500$.

Alternatives

The Casio PX-160  falls into the ~500$ price range and below I’ve listed the 4 main competitors to this keyboard.

Casio PX-160 vs  Casio PX-770 (Full Review)

Casio PX-160 vs Casio PX-770

The Casio PX-770 is the next model up in the Privia line and has just been released in the US.

While the piano is quite similar to the PX-160, it has several significant advantages.

Firstly, the PX-770 is from the new x70 Privia generation and comes with some new improvements that aren’t available on the PX-160.

This includes an upgraded piano tone (sounds amazing), hammer response feature and an additional tone.

Another major advantage of the PX-770 is that it comes with an integral stand and three piano pedals, which means you don’t need to buy them separately as in case of the PX-160.

Moreover, due to a bigger keyboard-block, the PX-770 sounds deeper and more resonant than the PX-160 even though the keyboards share the same 2 x 12cm (8W+ 8W) speakers.

It’s also worth mentioning that the PX-770 has more instrument sounds (19 vs 18) and an amazing feature called “Concert Play”.

The only PX-160’s advantage over the PX-770 is, of course, its portability and dedicated Line Out jacks, which makes it a much more suitable instrument for gigs.

At the same time, if you’re going to use the instrument only at home, the PX-770 will probably be a better option, considering you’d spend about the same amount of money on the PX-160 if bought with the extra stand and three pedal unit.

Casio PX-160 vs  Yamaha P-45 (Full Review)

Casio PX-160 vs Yamaha P-45The P45 is the most affordable digital piano in the Yamaha’s Portable line.

The piano is about 50$ cheaper than the PX-160. Amazon also offers the Yamaha P71 (Amazon-Exclusive), which is exactly the same keyboard as the P-45, but the price is 50$ cheaper (100$ cheaper than the Casio PX-160).

Compared to the Casio keyboard, the P45 (P71) lacks an onboard MIDI recorder and Split Mode.

Moreover, the piano has only 64 notes of polyphony and 10 built-in sounds compared to the 128 notes of polyphony and 18 built-in sounds on the PX-160.

From the sound perspective, the PX-160 sounds slightly richer and brighter than the P45, partly because of the its more powerful speakers and arguably better samples.

Casio PX-160 vs  Yamaha P-115 (Full Review)

Casio PX-160 vs Yamaha P-115

The P115 is the middle model between the P45 and the P255 in Yamaha’s Portable line.

Thanks to the Pure CF Sound Engine and 192-note polyphony the keyboard provides a very realistic and natural Grand Piano sound.

To my ears, the P115 sounds a little more realistic and clear than the PX-160, but if you have a possibily to compare the instruments side by side you better do because sound is a very subjective thing.

Check out the video below to compare how the instruments sound side by side:

It’s also worth mentioning that both the P45 and the P115 share the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard action, which is a bit lighter than PX-160’s Tri-sensor Hammer action and doesn’t have synthetic Ivory & Ebony keytops.

At the same time, GHS tends to be a bit less noisy than Casio’s action.

As for the rest of the features, the Yamaha P115 is pretty much similar to the Casio PX-160. It also has a 2-track MIDI recorder, Dual/ Duo/Split Mode, Transpose function, 50 preset songs, etc.

Casio PX-160 vs  Korg B1 (Full Review)

Casio PX-160 vs Korg B1

The B1 is Korg’s entry level digital piano with a sleek desing and a bare minimum of features.

The piano appears to be a strong competitor to the Casio and Yamaha keyboards.

It’s is equipped with the NH (Natural Weighted Hammer) keyboard action, which feels quite similar to Yamaha’s GHS action.

But unlike the PX-160’s action it doesn’t have synthetic Ivory & Ebony keytops.

The sound is produced using Korg’s propitery PCM stereo sampling technology and enhanced by powerful 18W speakers with Motional Feedback (MFB) technology.

The B1 is a very straightforward keyboard with only 8 built-in sounds and a basic set of features.

Unlike its competitors, the piano doesn’t have Dual/Split Mode or a MIDI recorder.

So is the Korg B1 really worth the money?

Well, yes it has some limitations when it comes to recording, connectivity and other features.

But if you’re looking for a truly simple digital piano with a natural sound and feel, and the lack of extra features is not a problem for you, then the B1 is an excellent option to consider.

You might also like:

If after reading this review you still have doubts about what instrument to choose, please take a look at the Ultimate Buying Guide as well as some other popular articles listed below:

4 Comments

  1. Dave June 7, 2018
  2. Chris Carvell August 13, 2018
  3. Rik November 30, 2018
    • Lucas Welter Lucas Welter December 8, 2018

Leave a Reply

shares