Casio PX-S3100 Review: A Powerhouse in Disguise

Casio is most well-known for their electronics division, but their musical instrument division has gained a lot of traction over the years.

While they might not have the decades-long pedigree of Yamaha, they’ve carved a niche for themselves with their focus on technological innovation.

The star of today’s review is the PX-S3100, which is a refresh of the prior PX-S3000. Considering the overall positive reception to the original, we were interested to see how the new version holds up.

A lineup update barely 3 years into the release seems premature, and people who were early-adopters of the PX-S3000 might feel cheated. However, just know that the PX-S3100 is more of an incremental upgrade, rather than a total overhaul.

Casio PX-S3100 Specs

  • Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard with simulated ebony/ivory key textures
  • 88 full-size fully weighted keys
  • Touch Sensitivity (5 types, Off)
  • Sound: Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source
  • 192-note polyphony
  • 700 instrument sounds
  • Modes: Dual, Split
  • 3-track MIDI recorder, Audio Recorder (WAV, 16bit, 44.1kHz, stereo)
  • 200 Built-in Rhythms (6 chord input modes), Arpeggiator (100 types)
  • Pitch Bend Wheel, 2 Assignable Knobs
  • Fully editable DSP parameters (+100 presets), Reverb (8 types), Hall Simulator (4 types), Surround (2 types), Chorus (12 types)
  • Registration function (96 sets)
  • Acoustic Simulator (adjustable): String/Damper/Key Off Resonance, Damper Noise, Key On/Off Action Noise (4 levels, off), hammer response (non-adjustable)
  • Metronome, Transpose, Master Tuning
  • 17 Temperament Options
  • Speakers: 8W + 8W (two 16cm x 8cm oval speakers)
  • Connections: USB to Host (type B), USB to Device (type A), Bluetooth 5.0 (Audio only), Headphone jacks (2), Sustain Pedal jack, Line Out (R, L/Mono), Audio In (stereo mini jack), Expression Pedal/Assignable jack
  • W x D x H: 52” x 9.1” x 4” (132.2 x 23.2 x 10.2 cm)
  • 25.1 lbs (11.4 kg)
  • Release Date: October 2021

In this review, we’ll analyze the PX-S3100 in two key aspects. First, we’ll discuss whether it’s worth the purchase on its own rights, and whether it improves upon the original enough to make it a worthwhile consideration.

Below you can check the availability and current price of the Casio PX-S3100 in your region:

US: ( What Retailer to Buy From )
Sweetwater Guitar Center Amazon
UK & Europe:
Gear4music Thomann

Design

The ‘S’ in the PX-S naming scheme stands for ‘slim’, which is one of the key design pillars of the PX-S and CDP-S series. Both of these product lines were announced back in 2019, coinciding with the 15-year anniversary of Casio’s Privia lineup.

Casio designed these instruments to be the slimmest digital pianos you could find on the market, and the PX-S series still holds this throne 3 years on from its initial release.

At a glance, the PX-S3100 doesn’t seem to deviate too much from the base design of the PX-S1100. It is sleek, clean, and minimal.

However, to facilitate the incorporation of more features, the PX-S3100 adds a few extras to the mix.

The PX-S3100 is  52″ (L) x 9.1″ (W) x 4″ (H) and clocks in at 25.1 lbs (11.4 kg), a mild 0.4 lbs heavier than the PX-S1100. Impressively, Casio managed to keep the exact same dimensions as the PX-S1100 despite the multitude of additions.

It’s safe to say that the PX-S3100 remains one of the most portable digital pianos on the market. It is even lighter than some fully-fledged stage pianos, such as the Korg Grandstage (44 lbs) and the Yamaha CP88 (41 lbs).

These stage pianos don’t even come with speakers!

 

The only color option available for the PX-S3100 is black.

The front panel is spotless, with only the volume knob, logo and model name being immediately available. The controls only become visible once you power it up, the labels shining through the transparent glass surface.

Just know that this front panel is a fingerprint magnet. I had to give it a thorough wipe down with a microfibre cloth after concluding my playtest session.

Next, let’s discuss the feel of the controls.

Unlike every other digital piano on the market, the PX-S series uses capacitive touch buttons. These are similar to what you’d get from modern smartphone screens, which means there are no physical buttons.

At its core, I like the idea behind this innovative design direction. The striking look of the PX-S series comes in large part due to the minimalist, clean user interface. Removing physical buttons certainly makes for a more memorable silhouette.

However, I’ve always been a proponent of physical controls, specifically because of the tactile feedback. While most of the buttons on the PX-S3100 come with visual/auditory feedback on a successful input, it’s no substitute for the satisfying click of physical buttons.

Bear this in mind if you’re a gigging musician. While I personally did not misclick during my playtests, it might be an issue for people who demand precision.

Thankfully, the volume knob is physical and solidly built at that. It includes a decent bit of resistance for detailed volume changes.

One major complaint I had with the PX-S1100 was the use of button/key combinations. Due to the limited controls, you needed to hold down modifier buttons while pressing the correct key (which mandates having the manual on-hand) to modify settings.

The PX-S3100 fixes this flaw with the inclusion of a 3-line LED screen, and some extra buttons dedicated to navigation, which results in a more convenient way to finetune the PX-S3100 to your tastes.

The backlit screen is perfectly fine in terms of readability, but I do think it could do with a bit more space to display more information. As it stands, you might need a bit of time to internalize the order of the settings.

I personally would have liked to see a more involved control scheme. If Casio included an encoder knob (like on the Roland JUNO-DS) or number pad (like the Yamaha PSR-E373), I’d be more inclined to use the PX-S3100’s features beyond its piano-emulation capabilities.

Overall, I like the design of the PX-S3100. It fixes a lot of my complaints with the PX-S1100 and is just an overall solid experience. Any instrument that can be used to its maximum potential without requiring a manual or app will always get kudos from me.

My main nitpicks really come down to one single aspect. The PX-S3100 is a very powerful instrument (see the Sounds and Features section to see my praise), but you need a bit of effort to access the more in-depth features.

This was not an issue back in 2019 when the PX-S3000 blew most of the similarly priced competition out of the water with its massive feature set. However, we’ve recently seen releases that aim squarely for the ‘feature-rich budget digital piano’ market, such as the excellent DGX-670.

Perhaps Casio’s insistence on pursuing the minimalist, clean design was a misstep. Adding an extra set of controls would have easily made the PX-S3100 more accessible, and a very valid choice for gigging musicians.

Regardless, none of these nitpicks change the fact that the PX-S3100’s achievements in terms of design. It looks great, it’s easy to use, and one of the most portable digital pianos on the market.

As we’ll soon see in the next sections, it is also an overall step up over the PX-S1100.

Keyboard

In general, Casio’s key actions have garnered fairly good reception over the years. Their Tri-Sensor Hammer Action keys, as featured on their prior flagship PX (non-S) were community favorites, being realistic despite the budget-friendly price tag.

In order to achieve the slim form factor of the PX-S series, Casio opted to use a completely redesigned key action, as the original Tri-Sensor Hammer Action was too bulky to fit in their desired dimensions.

Therefore, the Smart Scaled Hammer Action was born. This action is shrunk down to fit the PX-S series’ chassis, uses computational logic to negate the downsides of the miniaturized key action, and even manages to get away with using 2 sensors instead of the industry standard 3.

Let’s discuss how that works in practice.

Normally, when you press a key on a digital piano, the key passes through every sensor until it reaches the bottommost sensor, which indicates the conclusion of said keypress. Then, as you release the key, the upwards motion is detected by the preceding sensors.

With triple sensor setups, when a key passes through the middle sensor, it allows the piano samples to be retriggered, without requiring the keys to return to their original position. This is what makes trills and fast repetitions possible.

2-sensor actions are generally less responsive due to the lack of said middle sensor. However, Casio uses some software-side programming to estimate your current position, which is legitimately quite smart (hence the name).

Does it work? I’d say yes, as I didn’t notice any inconsistencies while playing, and the keys feel just as responsive as any other modern key action from competitors.

Even when deliberately playing phrases that would challenge older 2-sensor actions, it felt seamless.

In play, the action feels good. The keys themselves have a synthetic ivory and ebony texture that gives a good degree of grip during play. This is a nice feature for people with sweaty palms like me.

The keys also feel surprisingly stable despite the reduced pivot length, which was something I didn’t expect given the size limitations. The PX-S3100 includes a ‘silent mechanism’, which dampens the noise when the keys bottom out, without adding a mushy floor.

No review of the PX-S series would be complete without bringing up the heated online ‘controversy’ with the keys. Specifically, the black keys are lighter than the white keys. Depending on your stance or preferences, this will either warrant a shrug, or a boycott.

We’ve already given our thoughts on the matter in our PX-S1100 review. Long story short, it’s not as bad as people make it seem.

While some might consider this a deal-breaker, I personally didn’t notice this too much during my playtest. Looking at the online discourse, it seems like people trained on acoustic pianos are more likely to dislike the PX-S series keybeds.

Just bear this in mind if you’re considering the PX-S3100.

In my own experience, the keys are a bit lighter than the competition, which requires a bit of getting used to. The difference in weight was not all that noticeable, although I did find that playing into the keys was more difficult due to the shorter pivot length.

Considering how divisive the PX-S series can be, I’ll leave you with the usual “try before you buy” recommendation. Personally, I think the PX-S3100 performs very well given the asking price.

There are certainly better keybeds out there, but given the constraints Casio had to work with, I’m quite satisfied with how the PX-S3100 turned out.

Sound

I will cover the sounds of the PX-S3100 from two perspectives.

First, we’ll compare it to the PX-S1100, identifying the differences that justify the higher asking price. Next, we’ll discuss the upgrades over the prior PX-S3000 model that it is replacing.

With regards to the first point, the PX-S3100 is clearly heads and shoulders above the PX-S1100, easily justifying its higher asking price.

The PX-S1100 came with the bare essentials, coming with an anemic 18 sounds. The piano sounds were good, but the rest of the sonic palette left a lot to be desired.

If you needed more variation, such as some organs or synths to round off your performances, you would be left wanting by the PX-S1100.

With the PX-S3100, Casio includes a total of 500 sounds, nearly 28 times more than its sibling product. Even if you strip out the General MIDI sounds included for compatibility reasons, there are still 341 tones from the Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR sound engine.

The Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR sound engine is a derivative of Casio’s non-slim Privia series and has a proven track record. The same sound engine is found on the PX-S1100, as well as the pre-refresh PX-S3000.

The PX-S3100 includes the following sound categories:

  • Acoustic Pianos
  • Electric pianos
  • Electric and Pipe Organs
  • Orchestral Instruments
  • Synthesized and Experimental Pads
  • Guitars
  • Basses
  • Synthesizer Leads
  • Ethnic Instruments
  • General MIDI tones

Piano Samples

Considering that this is a digital piano first and foremost, let’s start by discussing the main attraction, the piano tones.

The default concert grand is an unspecified model, though Casio refers to it as a ‘German concert grand’. Judging from the sonic profile, I’d guess that this is a sampled Steinway, delivering a balanced, larger-than-life tone.

In general, I found myself defaulting to the ‘Mellow’ version of this sound for general playing. It’s clean, and slots into most playstyles without being overbearing. It even manages to sit well alongside vocals without requiring any tweaking.

In comparison to the PX-S1100, I’d say the PX-S3100 has the slightest ever edge in its piano tone. When listening through headphones, the PX-S3100 seems to have the slightest bit more fidelity, though it could very well be a placebo effect.

Where the PX-S3100 clearly wins out is in variety. The PX-S3100’s 24 piano tones clearly beat out the PX-S1100’s measly 5.

Some of the sounds aren’t unique and clearly designed around the accompaniment features (such as the Octave Pianos, which are literally just the piano preset played in octaves), but there are still some gorgeous sounds, like the reverb-heavy Ambient Piano.

Similarly, the PX-S3100 has a minor edge in terms of sound quality compared to its predecessor, the PX-S3000, having cleaner highs and more detailed lows. Thanks to the updated samples, you’ll hear a bit less muddiness.

Do note that these upgrades are ultimately quite minor in the grand scheme of things. Most of these differences were not noticeable when listening through speakers. I could only hear these minute changes through my headphones.


Acoustic Simulator

One of the key features of the AiR sound engine is its hybrid sample/modeling system. In short, the sounds emitted by the PS-X3100 are not just based on the recordings of a mic’d up acoustic concert grand. Rather, it includes an aspect of software-based modeling.

This allows keyboardists to fine-tune the sounds down to the minute details. However, remember that the PX-S3100’s modeling isn’t as in-depth as its competitors. Kawai’s Virtual Technician and Roland’s Piano Designer still have the edge when it comes to customization.

The modifiable parameters on the PX-S3100 include the following:

  • String Resonance
  • Damper Resonance
  • Damper Noise
  • Key On Noise
  • Key Off Noise

This is very little to work with, but any degree of customization is welcome. One trick I wrote about in the PX-S1100 review was to emulate a far-mic’d setup by turning down the damper and key noises, and that is still applicable here.

However, I personally believe you’ll have more luck using one of the many presets instead, especially considering that presets like the ‘Ambient Piano’ achieve the desired effect way better than you can with limited fine-tuning.

I was a bit more lenient on the PX-S1100 due to the limitations regarding the control scheme. However, the PX-S3100 has much more controls, which would lend itself better to further customization possibilities.


Other Sounds

The non-piano sounds on the PX-S3100 are what I consider to be its best selling points.

The Electric Piano category includes both synthesized and amplified pianos. These include the usual suspects, such as Rhodes, Wurlitzers, Clavs, and Yamaha CP80s. Most of the presets here are great, and keyboardists will have a blast plowing through them.

(I just wish they were more descriptively named, needing to remember that I liked ‘Elec Piano 3’ just doesn’t feel intuitive.)

The Organ category covers your pipe and electric organs. These are surprisingly fun to use, especially given the lighter keybed of the PX-S3100. While I also enjoyed the same sounds on the PX-S1100, the tweakability of the PX-S3100 pushes the experience a step further.

One of my complaints on the PX-S1100 was the lack of variable rotary speaker rate. The PX-S3100 not only allows you to change the rate, it also allows you to assign said setting to the knobs on the side. This makes the PX-S3100 the more expressive instrument by far.

The Strings category covers most string-based instruments, ranging from full orchestras to individual parts. Most of the sounds are extremely rich and larger than life, which is great if you want a full sound, but not necessarily ideal for more controlled, muted songs.

Personally, I found it quite hard to ‘tame’ the orchestral strings. Even with EQ and carefully picked DSP effects, I still found these sounds a bit stronger than I’d like. If you’re like me, try going with the ‘slow strings’ presets instead, which add a soft attack to the sounds.

The Pad category is filled with hidden gems, including a ton of sustained sounds well-suited for forming the foundation of a song. There are also choir sounds here if you need a more ‘epic’ feel.

Finally, the Others category covers everything else, including guitars, brass, reeds, synthesizer sounds, ethnic instruments, drum sets, and General MIDI sounds for legacy purposes.

The Guitars are solid, though they can’t compare to real guitars by a long shot. The electric guitars are definitely better than the acoustics, and you can get a lot of mileage by customizing your amplifier setups through the DSP effects.

I won’t claim to be an expert on Brass, Reeds and Ethnic instruments, but they were good enough for my tastes. I personally feel that Roland’s take on Brass sounds is still the best in terms of expressivity. Here, you’re locked into the specific articulation of your preset.

With the Synth sounds, Casio has a solid selection of mainstays. Most of these cover a good range of use cases, but I found them to be ‘sterile’, lacking the edge and character you’d expect from most other manufacturers.

Finally, there’s the drum kits. Most of these sound good, covering genres like jazz, rock, and electronic styles. These come with decent pressure sensitivity and can be fun to play around with. However, these will likely be used through the accompaniment section.


Effects

The effects section on the PX-S3100 is very sophisticated, especially when you compare it to the PX-S1100’s minimalist FX section, which is limited to 3 standard effects. The PX-S3100’s effects are split into the Sound Mode section and the DSP Effects unit.

Sound Mode

This section is simple, and covers the Hall Simulator/Reverb and Surround effect.

The Hall Simulator and Reverb effects both affect how a sound would propagate in a real space. The Hall Simulator simulates how a piano would sit in a concert hall, and includes 4 specially recreated areas.

Meanwhile, the Reverb unit achieves a similar effect, but focuses on more generalized algorithms based on mathematical calculations.

The hall simulator includes the 4 following algorithms:

  • Y. Club
  • Opera Hall
  • Berlin Hall
  • British Stadium

The reverb unit includes the following algorithms:

  • 4 room reverbs
  • 3 halls
  • 1 stadium

Most sounds come with a default hall simulator or reverb on by default. Each algorithm or hall also comes with a tweakable intensity, ranging from 0 to 42, giving you further customization possibilities.

The Surround effect simulates virtual surround, aiming to make the speaker outputs feel wider than you’d expect from a stereo speaker system. The actual effect is quite subtle, but there is a definite difference in terms of sonic width.


DSP Effects

This section is the hidden gem of the PX-S3100. While the PX-S1100 shipped with just a simple chorus unit, the PX-S3100 comes with a whole slew of heavily editable, and powerful digital signal processing (DSP) chains.

Examples of the included effects include compressors, EQs, amplifier simulators, cabinet simulators, rotary speaker emulations, and guitar FX pedal emulations. Each effect also comes with multiple tweakable parameters, giving you even more sound-shaping capabilities.

It would be impossible to cover all the different effects in the context of this review. In short, these effects are awesome, letting you modify a basic sound, such as a synth saw and giving it a new lease on life.

To use the DSP modules, you simply choose between the preset modules, and design a ‘DSP chain’. The chains are only limited by the PX-S3100’s available processing power, denoted by the number of available DSP slots.

My main complaint about the DSP effects section is how it can be fiddlesome to tweak. While most effects have a huge degree of customizability, tweaking them with the arrow buttons is extremely cumbersome.

Thankfully, you can assign certain parameters to the 2 knobs to the left of your keys, This enables the integration of on-the-fly setting changes into your performances.


Speakers

The PX-S3100 comes with stereo 8W speakers, the same kind on the PX-S1100.

One of the upgrades delivered with the new PX-S3100 over the PX-S3000 is the upgraded speaker system.

The differences come in the form of the redesigned speaker cones, which Casio claims to provide a more accurate response across the entire frequency spectrum.

In practice, there is certainly a slight improvement over the original PX-S3000, though it isn’t immediately noticeable. The original PX-S3000 was solid, but it tended to be a bit muddy when you pushed it hard.

The new model has a much higher threshold before the muddiness kicks in. Unfortunately, Casio was unable to completely remove this gripe.

Though, this is completely understandable given the size and wattage constraints. I’d recommend an external amp/cab combo if you’re gigging.

If you’re already an owner of the PX-S3000, I wouldn’t run out to get this upgrade just for the speakers. I only managed to determine the difference because I had the two models for a side-by-side comparison.

Note that the speakers are back-firing, so you’ll preferably be placing this against a wall to get the best effect.


Polyphony

Casio PX-S1100 Polyphony

What is Polyphony?
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 at once.

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

Furthermore, using the sustain pedal, sound effects (Reverb, Chorus), dual-mode (layering), and even the metronome ticking sound takes 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 the backing track.

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

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

It’s desirable to have at least 64 notes of polyphony.

The PX-S3100 has 192 notes of maximum polyphony. This is perfectly sufficient for playing songs, even when using voices in layered mode.

When using accompaniment mode, a portion of the polyphony gets assigned to the rhythms and backing track. 192 notes doesn’t sound like a lot, but you should be fine, as I didn’t encounter any issues when playing.


Summary on Sounds

The PX-S3100’s tone library and DSP section are its strongest aspect.

At this price point, you generally expect the absolute minimum in terms of a sonic palette. These are digital pianos after all, the focus is naturally going to be on the sampled concert grands.

However, Casio went above and beyond, including a sound set that’s more suited for an arranger keyboard than a standard digital piano.

These aren’t just holdovers from Casio’s budget CT series either, as they’re much more hi-fi than any preset from those pianos.

While not every preset is the cream of the crop, there are definitely more winners here than losers. Even for the sounds that lack polish, they can serve as solid foundations to build upon.

It’s worth noting that many detractors of the PX-S3100 (due to the controversial keys) still begrudgingly admit that the sounds are great. Now that’s a glowing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.

Features

In terms of features, the PX-S3100 comes with most of the usual suspects, though it also includes enhanced Bluetooth functionality, courtesy of a complimentary Bluetooth module.


Functions

These are a few of the workhorse functions available on the PX-S3100.

You can also modify these settings using Casio’s Chordana Play control application, accessible via your Bluetooth-linked smartphone.

These are a few notable settings:

  • STRETCH TUNING – A complaint many had with the original PX-S3000. You can now disable stretch tuning!
  • METRONOME – Plays a steady rhythm for practice purposes, tempo and time signature can be set.
  • TRANSPOSITION – Changes the notes triggered by each key, in a range of 12 semitones up and down.
  • OCTAVE SHIFTING – Changing the octaves of individual parts when using split or layer mode.
  • TEMPERAMENT – Includes 17 different preset tunings.

Modes

The PX-S3100 includes 3 playing modes: Layer, Split, and Duo Mode.

Layer mode triggers two sounds simultaneously with each key press. A common use case is to layer strings with the piano to get a rich, ballad-style tone.

Split mode allows users to split the keyboard into separate left- and right-hand sections, each with a different tone preset. The split point is user-definable. Unlike with the PX-S1100, you are not limited to bass tones for the left hand.

Finally, there is Duo Mode, which splits the keyboard into two sections with the same octave range. This is designed for in-person teaching sessions, where a teacher sits alongside their students for demonstrations.


Auto Accompaniment

This is another aspect where the PX-S3100 excels. The auto accompaniment features transform the PX-S3100 from a basic digital piano into a more fully-featured arranger keyboard.

With the accompaniment mode activated, a backing track will be played, with the rhythm section following along with your left-hand chords.

You can also spice things up beyond just having a simple drum track, as the PX-S3100 includes intros, 2 variations of a groove, fills, and an outro.

This essentially allows you to perform as a one-man-band.

The 200 built-in rhythms and presets cover a wide range of genres, including your obligatory pop, rock and ballad styles. However, it also includes more unique selections, such as jazz, latin and dance rhythms.

The PX-S3100’s auto accompaniment features are conveniently accessible via buttons on the front panel. If you prefer to keep your hands near the keys, you can also assign the rhythm variations to lesser-used low-register keys.

Even if you’re not into the whole auto-accompaniment concept, you can still use these rhythms as a substitute for the metronome by limiting the auto accompaniment to just the rhythm parts, which is super simple thanks to the dedicated toggle button.

For people considering the PX-S3100 for keyboard courses, the PX-S3100 includes the “Finger On Bass” left-hand tracking mode, which is necessary for higher levels of accompaniment keyboard courses.


Arpeggiator

If you’re unfamiliar with arranger keyboards, you might not know what an arpeggiator is, as they’re not that common on typical digital pianos.

An arpeggiator essentially converts your keypresses into more elaborate patterns that play in a loop. In its most basic form, an arpeggiator can repeatedly trigger the notes of a chord in upwards order. This is often used to make synthesizer presets sound more involved and ethereal.

You can also use arpeggiators to emulate the playing styles of a certain instrument.

For example, you can use one of the PX-S3100’s 100 patterns to simulate the strumming effect of harps and guitars or recreate the sprawling soundscapes of new-age style synthesizers.


Auto Harmonize

Auto Harmonize is another rarity with digital pianos. This is a feature that allows right-hand melodies to be automatically harmonized with melodically pleasing notes.

This leverages the PX-S3100’s chord tracking capabilities to ensure that the harmonizations are always in key.

Some of the included harmonization modes include 5th harmonies, octaves, and even full chords. Note that the arpeggiator and auto harmonization are exclusive, you can only engage one of the two at a given time.


Song Recording and Playback

The PX-S3100 comes with 6 built-in demo songs to showcase its piano sounds. However, you can also record your own songs with the recorder function. The PX-S3100 supports both audio and MIDI-based recording.

MIDI recording is more flexible, and gives you the opportunity to change things after the initial recording. This process is known as overdubbing. Each MIDI song can have up to 3 tracks each, comprising a total 30,000 notes.

The MIDI data can then be modified in an external program, such as a digital audio workstation.

Alternatively, you can use the audio recorder, which records audio as 16 bit, 44.1 kHz stereo WAV files. This lacks the flexibility of MIDI recordings, but you do get studio-ready sound quality of the built-in samples directly.

As you might expect, you can take advantage of the PX-S3100’s accompaniment features whilst recording, including the rhythms and backing tracks alongside your own playing. This is available on both the recording modes.

There is limited song storage on the onboard memory, but you can also save your songs onto a USB drive.


Bluetooth Connectivity

The PX-S3100 doesn’t come with Bluetooth functionality built-in to the chassis, but every purchase now comes with the WU-BT10 Wireless MIDI and Audio Adaptor, which was previously only available as a separate purchase if you wanted Bluetooth MIDI functionality.

It seems a bit cumbersome to have an external adapter, as needs to be slotted into the USB Type A jack on the back panel. However, it’s still nice to get as a bonus, especially since it enhances the PX-S3100’s functionality.

The Bluetooth connection supports both audio and MIDI. This means you can let the PX-S3100 function as an external Bluetooth speaker, while also allowing you to work with supported applications, such as Garageband.


Chordana Play

The Chordana Play app is the companion app for the PX-S3100 that can be used to control the PX-S3100 via your Android or iOS smart device.

The app connects through Bluetooth and is a seamless experience from the get-go. The app worked fine on my smartphone without the need for much tinkering.

The app also has 3.9 stars on the Google Play Store, which is quite high compared to other apps of its ilk.

In our PX-S1100 review, I complained about the control scheme which relied heavily on button/key combinations and considered the Chordana Play app to be an essential component to the overall PX-S1100 experience.

With the PX-S3100’s much-improved control scheme, the app is no longer a necessity and only serves to supplement the experience.

In addition to being an alternative to the front panel controls, you can also use the Chordana Play app for performances. You can switch between presets (especially those with complicated DSP/split setups) much easier using the app, and you can also manage your saved songs without needing to wrestle with the small screen.

Connectivity

Apart from the previously discussed Bluetooth connectivity, the PX-S3100 also includes your standard set of connectivity options, allowing it to be integrated into a live or studio-based environment.

For headphone use, the PX-S3100 includes two 1/8″  headphone jacks on the front of the unit, located to the left of the keys.

This allows two people to listen to the output simultaneously.

To use the PX-S3100 with external speakers or amplifiers, the PX-S3100 includes stereo 1/4″ line outputs. If a mono signal is desired, the left output can also double as a mono output.

To connect conventional sustain pedals, there is a 1/4″ damper pedal jack on the rear. This is also where you’ll plug in the included SP-3 damper pedal.

For compatible triple pedal units, such as Casio’s own SP-34, you will be using the proprietary pedal unit jack instead.

If you want to use an expression pedal with the PX-S3100, a conventional 1/4″ assignable pedal jack is also included.

For the included WU-BT10 Wireless MIDI and Audio adaptor, you’ll use the rear USB Type A port, which enables the Bluetooth-based functionality. This port also allows you to connect a USB drive, letting you save recorded songs.

Finally, there is a USB Type B port, which lets the PX-S3100 communicate with a host computer. If you’re a recording artist who needs a MIDI controller, the PX-S3100 will work nicely.

Unfortunately, the PX-S3100 does not include USB audio support, so you need an external audio interface if you want to work with the onboard samples.

In terms of connectivity, I’d say the PX-S3100 ticks most of the boxes. Unless you absolutely require top-of-the-line features such as balanced XLR outs or USB audio support, the PX-S3100 should be all you need.

Accessories

The default PX-S3100 package comes with the following accessories:

  • Owner’s manual
  • Music rest
  • SP-3 damper pedal
  • AC adaptor
  • WU-BT10 Bluetooth Adapter

We’ll include the mandatory disclaimer to check that the AC adapter voltages match your local mains. If you end up purchasing the PX-S3100 from an overseas dealer, you might be at the risk of shorting out your brand new instrument if you’re not cautious.

This set of accessories is all you really need to get started. However, we do recommend a few additional purchases to improve your overall experience.


Pedal

The complementary SP-3 damper pedal is a switch-style pedal, which is serviceable, but definitely not for everyone. If you want a classic, more conventional pedal shape, or if you require soft and sostenuto support, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Casio SP-3 (included)

Casio recommends the SP-34 as an optional add-on, which is the matching triple pedal set up for the PX-S series. The SP-34 is very comfortable, and surprisingly solid despite its compact design.

All that said, I don’t consider it an absolute necessity. While it will definitely make the PX-S3100 feel more premium overall, it is quite expensive.

Instead, I would recommend getting a single damper pedal that supports half-dampering, which is a relatively affordable upgrade that can improve your experience. Thankfully, any generic pedal should work thanks to the universal pedal jack.

Casio’s own variant is the SP20, which is a decent alternative that feels better built than the included SP-3, though I personally think it’s a bit too light, and also lacks half-pedaling support.

Instead, I would recommend investing in something like Korg’s DS-1H, which is a workhorse damper pedal that has all the necessary features, while also integrating well with the PX-S3100’s compact form factor.


Expression Pedal

Expression pedals are far from necessary, especially for people who simply want to use the PX-S3100 as a simple piano. However, if you want to add some extra expression (hence the name) to the mix, an expression pedal is indispensable.

For example, if you wanted to add volume swells to pads or string ensemble patches, an expression pedal lets you do so without removing your hands from the keys.

While it is possible to do so with the assignable knobs, gigging musicians will definitely appreciate having this as an extra option.


Stand

The PX-S3100 comes with a matching wooden stand, the CS-68 as recommended on the product page.

The minimalist design of the CS-68 works well with the sleek chassis of the PX-S3100. If you want to have the PX-S3100 be a centerpiece in a room, the CS-68 is the way to go.

You could also opt to go with any generic X- or Z-stand. With its compact size, the PX-S3100 should work with anything, though I would try to ensure that the width of the stand and the PX-S3100 matches up.


Headphones

Casio PX-S1100 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 headphones will provide a clearer and more detailed sound compared to the onboard speakers.

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

Summary

Pros
  • One of the most versatile portable digital pianos
  • Extremely lightweight and compact
  • Arranger keyboard-style features
  • Massive sound library
  • Great connectivity
Cons
  • Key action is divisive
  • Speakers do suffer from the compact size
  • Glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet

The PX-S3100 was a fun instrument to review. While it is ultimately just an incremental upgrade over the original PX-S3000, the original is still one of the most feature-packed instruments on the market.

If you already own the PX-S3000, the PX-S3100 is a terrible value proposition. The small number of upgrades you get does not justify the price of a brand new instrument.

Similarly, if you were on the fence about the PX-S3000 (or someone who disliked the keys), the PX-S3100 won’t change your mind. You’re ultimately getting the same underlying instrument. The changes are welcome but do not fix any of the gripes one might have with the original instrument.

However, if you’re in the market for a new digital piano, I’d recommend considering the PX-S3100. While it doesn’t change much about the original PX-S3000, the original has such a strong foundation that our positive review still stands.

The new additions to the PX-S3100’s arsenal are what I consider to be modernization steps. Bluetooth support is included right out of the box, and the slightly improved sound quality is always welcome. All of this also comes in a compact package that beats out dedicated stage pianos.

Of course, the PX-S3100 isn’t perfect.

The small form factor naturally results in some compromises. The keys are noticeably lighter, the frequency response of the speakers leaves a bit to be desired, and the control scheme feels like it focused a bit too much on style over substance.

I’m quite alright with a few cut corners here and there, as they don’t tarnish the otherwise excellent package that is the PX-S3100. Whether or not this applies to you will depend on your personal preferences.

If you do find yourself intrigued by the PX-S3100, do test the keys out in person (or leverage the return periods of online marketplaces). The keys are so divisive within the community that you absolutely need to get a feel for them.

Overall, I like the PX-S3100. It takes the PX-S1100’s innovative chassis, and adds in a ton of extras that bring it beyond what you’d expect from a typical digital piano. Add its budget-friendly price tag to the mix, and you end up with a digital piano that leaves very little to complain about.