I’m super excited to review the new Casio PX-870 digital piano, which has just been released in the US.
The PX-870 has replaced the previous PX-860 model, which means it’s now the flagship of the Privia series.
Sounds promising, doesn’t it?
To make things even more interesting, the PX-870 has numerous improvements over the previous model.
This includes a new 4-layer piano sound, redesigned speaker system and some other cool features that we’ll get to later.
I can’t wait to dive into the review to tell you about what the PX-870 is capable of.
The Casio PX-870 is a furniture-style digital piano with a full range of 88 keys and 3 piano pedals.
With its compact and stylish design, the piano will blend well with any home environment.
The depth of the piano is only 11.7 inches so you can easily fit it into tight spaces. At the same time, the PX-870 is quite heavy and weighs around 75.6 lbs (fully assembled).
The PX-870 comes in a large box with all the pieces inside (keyboard, base, music rest, etc.). The assembly is pretty straightforward, and the instructions are well-written, which helps a lot.
The only thing you’ll need is a screwdriver and about 30-45 minutes.
You’ll probably be able to assemble the entire thing on your own, but it would be much easier to put it all together having someone to help you out (considering the box weighs about 100 lbs).
Take a look at the table below to quickly compare the PX-870’s size to some other popular digital pianos:
Casio has slightly re-designed the cabinet, which now has fewer seams and is smaller in height.
Instead of an opening lid on top, the PX-870 has a long narrow speaker-grill, which is a part of a new 4-speaker sound projection system.
The piano comes with 3 pedals: sustain, soft and sostenuto.
The sustain pedal supports half-pedal operation, which means it responds even when you press the pedal part way down just like the damper pedal on an acoustic piano.
I like that Casio kept a pull-out keyboard cover, which protects the keys from dust and dirt.
The cabinet of the PX-870 is made of fiberboard (pressed wood) and has a nice wooden texture.
The piano is available in both black and white wood finishes.
The noticeable change over the PX-860 model is that the control elements have been relocated to the left side of the piano, which gives the piano a cleaner and less cluttered look.
There are 8 buttons for the main sounds (piano, e. piano) and functions (metronome, MIDI/audio recording) as well as a master volume knob.
The PX-870 has lots of other sounds, functions, and settings, which you can access by pressing one of the piano keys while holding the “Function” button.
There are little labels above the keys indicating what setting they change, so you don’t need to memorize all the combinations.
Unfortunately, there is no display on the piano to see the current settings.
But, whenever you change a setting you’ll hear a beep sound(s) according to the currently selected option (1, 2, 3 or 4 beeps), which helps you understand what setting is selected.
The PX-870 features Casio’s well-known Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II with 88 full-size keys.
The keyboard uses actual hammers to recreate the touch and feel of playing an acoustic piano. The weight of the keys is very close to that of an acoustic piano’s keys.
The PX-870 features an accurate triple-sensor key detection system, which allows for faster note repetition and provides a smooth and responsive playing experience.
The keyboard of the PX-870 is graded, meaning the keys are weighted differently, they feel heavier on the low-end and become progressively lighter on the high-end just like on an acoustic piano.
The keys are also touch-sensitive, which means the volume will change depending on how hard or soft you hit the keys.
The level of sensitivity can be adjusted to match your playing preferences. There are 3 preset touch-sensitivity settings you can choose from.
When the “Soft” setting is selected, the sound will not change too much when you hit the keys hard and soft.
The “Hard” setting provides much broader dynamic range from the very soft pianissimo to the thunderous fortissimo, so you’ll have to hit the keys hard to produce the loudest sound.
The “Medium” setting is set by default and seems the most natural to me.
You can also turn off the touch-sensitivity so that the volume will stay the same regardless of how hard or soft you play.
Another significant feature of the PX-870’s keyboard is the synthetic Ivory & Ebony key surfaces that absorb finger moisture and enhance control.
The PX-870 uses the Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source, which provides high-quality piano samples of a 9-foot grand piano.
An increased memory capacity and lossless audio compression allow for the rich sound with great accuracy, including the natural decay of notes, string resonance, etc.
But the most important thing is that the PX-870 comes with a new 4-layer piano tone, and man, it sounds fantastic.
The tone is very rich and smooth with natural decay. It’s just a pleasure to play.
Although the PX-870 doesn’t have hundreds of sounds, each of its 19 tones sounds very authentic.
All pianos in Casio’s Privia Series share the same AiR Sound Source, but the PX-870 being the flagship has some unique features that other pianos (PX-160, PX-770) don’t offer.
Firstly, the PX-870 utilizes the String Resonance system, which simulates resonance for each of the 88 keys.
The thing is that when you play an acoustic piano, the sound it produces is not only associated with the keys you play but also with other closely related strings that resonate making the sound richer and fuller.
Moreover, on the PX-870 you’ll be able to adjust String Resonance to your taste.
You can choose out of 4 settings: Suppressed, Slightly suppressed, Reverberation, Strong reverberation.
Another unique feature on the PX-870 is called Lid Simulator, which simulates the sound changes associated with opening or closing the lid of a grand piano.
There are also 4 settings you can choose from: Lid closed, Lid opened slightly, Lid fully open, Lid removed.
The Key Off simulator (available exclusively on the PX-870) will change the tone of the sound according to how fast your fingers leave the keys so that slow key release will produce longer reverberation than fast key release.
Key-On and Key-Off action noises are another aspects of piano sound reproduced on the PX-870.
The Hammer Response setting will allow you to change the time deviation between when you play a note and it actually sounds.
You can further customize the sound by using various sound effects available on the piano, including reverberation and chorus.
The Hall Simulator feature will recreate the acoustics of playing in various performance venues, such as Dutch Church, Standard Hall, Berlin Hall, French Cathedral.
256-note polyphony is another thing that makes the PX-870 stand out from its competitors. In this price range, no digital piano offers that.
256-note polyphony is more than enough to play the most complex music pieces with fast passages and layer multiple sounds without running out of notes.
In fact, 128- or 192-note polyphony would also be enough in 99.9% of cases, but when it comes to polyphony, the more, the better.
And with 256 notes of polyphony you can play and progress for years to come without needing to upgrade.
The PX-870’s new 40W sound projection system consists of 4 speakers (2 x 12 cm + 2 x 4 cm) and allows the sound to come from different places of the instrument (top, under the keyboard, above the keys).
Such powerful speaker system can produce the sound almost as loud as that of a grand piano, providing a natural and realistic listening experience.
The piano offers an incredibly wide dynamic range from the very soft pianissimo to the loudest fortissimo, which digital pianos with less powerful speakers can’t offer.
The quality of the sound is also amazing.
The speakers are powerful enough to fill a big room, so you can throw little performances playing in front of your friends and family without using external speakers.
The PX-870 allows you to layer two different sounds so that they sound simultaneously. You can combine a piano tone with strings, electric piano with harp, or any other sounds you like.
The only sound you can’t use for layering is Bass (lower).
The volume balance between the sounds can be adjusted to achieve various effects.
Some digital pianos offer so-called “Split Mode” where you can divide the keyboard into two sections and play a different sound in each of them.
The PX-870 doesn’t have that, but when you select the Bass (Lower) tone it will automatically be assigned to the left side of the keyboard (low range) and you can choose any other sounds for the right side (high range).
So it works pretty much like a “Split Mode” except that the Bass is the only sound you can assign to the left side of the keyboard.
Another feature, I personally find very useful, is the “Duet Mode”.
What it does is splits the keyboard into two equal sections with the same octave ranges and two middle C as if two pianos were being used.
For example, a teacher can play some tunes on the left side of the keyboard, while a student can sit next to him or her and follow along on the right side of the keyboard playing the exact same notes at the same time.
The PX-870 comes with an amazing feature called Concert Play, which allows you to play along with actual recordings of a live orchestra.
I was quite impressed with how beautiful and realistic it sounds and wish the piano had more than just 10 tunes.
Before turning the orchestra part on, you can first practice the piano part of the Concert Play.
Each hand part can be practiced separately. You can play the left-hand part while listening to the playback of the right-hand part and vice versa.
The scores of the songs (piano part) can be found in the score book included with the piano.
The Music library of the PX-870 includes 60 songs.
You can listen to them, play along, and practice left and right-hand part independently.
Moreover, the piano allows you to load up to 10 MIDI songs (SMF format 0 or 1) into its internal memory and use them in the same way.
Recording and Playback
The recording function on the PX-870 allows you to record your performances right onboard.
There are two ways you can record your performance with the PX-870.
The first option is MIDI recording, which is where MIDI data (sequence of notes, velocity, etc.) is being recorded and not the sound itself.
The piano allows you to record one 2-track song in its internal memory. You can listen to the playback of the recorded track while recording the other one.
For example, you can record each hand’s part on a separate track and then play both tracks back together as a single song or turn off one of the tracks to practice each hand’s part separately.
When you’re recording the second track, you can turn on the playback of the first one you’ve already recorded.
Since the PX-870 can only store one song, the next recording will delete all the previously recorded data.
To keep your recordings, you’ll have to save them to a flash drive and load them back into the instrument when you need them.
This way you can record as many songs as you like.
The second option is Audio (WAV) recording where will be capturing the actual sound of the instrument.
The PX-870 allows you to record your performances in WAV format (Linear PCM, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, Stereo) and save them to a flash drive without using any special tools or equipment.
You’ll then be able to play the recordings back on almost any smart device (laptop, portable music player, etc.), share it with your friends and burn it to a CD if you want.
Both formats Audio (WAV) and MIDI (SMF 0/1) can be played directly from a flash drive, which is very convenient.
Two new features we haven’t seen on Privia pianos before are the Headphone Mode and Volume Sync EQ.
The Headphone Mode optimizes the piano tone creating the spacious sound field of an acoustic piano and allows you to enjoy an immersive sound experience.
The Volume Sync EQ works similar to Yamaha’s Intelligent Acoustic Control.
The function balances the sound at low volume levels so that the notes in high and low registers are clear and natural.
The piano includes a metronome with adjustable tempo, time-signature, and volume.
Metronome is a very useful tool, which you can use to practice playing at a steady tempo and improve your time-keeping skills.
You can change the temperament of the instrument from the standard equal temperament to one of 16 temperaments available on the PX870.
While the ‘Equal Temperament’ system is what most of the modern instruments are tuned in, there are other so-called historical temperaments that are more suitable for playing classical pieces (Renaissance and Baroque periods), Arabic, Indian music, etc.
Transpose, Tuning, Octave shift
The PX-870 offers 3 functions that can be used to change the pitch of the instrument.
The Transpose function allows you to raise or lower the pitch of the entire keyboard in semitone increments.
For example, you can use this function to facilitate playing a song written in a difficult key, or you just want to hear a song in a different key without changing your fingering (playing the same keys).
The Tuning function allows you to adjust the pitch of the PX-870 in 0.1Hz steps from the standard A440 tuning.
It’s particularly useful when you need to match the pitch of another instrument or a singer.
Another option is to shift the pitch in octave units using the Octave Shift function.
The PX-870 is equipped with the following connectors:
Phone Standard Stereo jacks
On the front of the piano you’ll find two 1/4” stereo jacks that you can use to headphones and practice at any time of day and night without bothering others.
These jacks can also be used as Line Outs to connect the piano to external speakers, amplifiers, etc. if you want to get more powerful and higher-quality sound.
Line Out jacks
Unlike its predecessor, the PX-870 doesn’t have dedicated Line Out jacks.
USB to Host terminal
This USB type B port can be used to connect the PX-870 to a computer for exchanging MIDI data.
It means you can use the piano as a MIDI controller by sending MIDI data to music apps like GarageBand, FL Studio, Sonar running on your computer.
You can also transfer songs and files between the piano and the computer using this port.
An A-B USB cable needed to connect to a computer is not included with the piano and sold separately.
USB flash drive port
This USB type A port is used to plug a Flash drive into the piano to exchange files quickly and easily.
For example, you can load MIDI songs into the piano’s internal memory for playback or rehearsal.
Alternatively, you can play back both WAV and MIDI files directly from the flash drive without loading them into the piano’s flash memory.
And finally, you can save your own performances recorded with the instrument to the flash drive as well as load them back when needed.
Update: December 9, 2017
Casio has released the new version of Chordana app compatible with the newly released PX-870/PX-770 digital pianos and available for both iOS and Android devices.
With this app, you can control various settings of the instrument using an intuitive on-screen interface.
In addition, the app includes 198 built-in songs that you can practice at your own tempo, visually checking the keys you need to play next.
The great thing about the PX-870 is that there are not many accessories you’ll have to buy additionally.
This will allow you save some good money.
In fact, buying an optional furniture stand and a triple pedal unit, which most manufacturers offer for their portable pianos, will cost you about 200$.
But you don’t have to worry about these additional costs with the PX-870.
The piano has a cabinet, so there is no need to purchase a stand. It also comes with 3 piano-style pedals so again no need for spending extra money on that.
However, some accessories you’ll still have to buy additionally. I’m talking about headphones and a bench.
As for the bench , it’s actually not that difficult to find a good one: check photos, reviews and see if it fits your budget.
Headphones come in very handy when you want to practice in private, focusing solely on your playing and not disturbing others nearby.
Moreover, a good pair of piano headphones will provide clear and detailed sound that onboard speakers cannot offer.
Check out this guide to learn how to choose the best-sounding headphones for your digital piano.
If piano is your main focus, the PX-870 is the first instrument to consider under 1000$.
Casio has made a number of considerable improvements over the PX-860 (which is a very capable piano by the way) and provides you with the best technology in the industry that is normally available only on much higher-priced pianos.
The PX-870 is the most advanced piano in the Privia series in terms of piano playing.
It utilizes high-quality samples of a concert grand piano and reproduces the finest details of piano sound including string resonance, damper resonance, key on/off action noise, etc., which makes it sound truly authentic.
The Tri-sensor Hammer Action Keyboard II with graded velocity-sensitive keys, triple sensor detection system and simulated Ivory & Ebony keytops provides responsive and realistic feel.
To make things even better, Casio has equipped the PX-870 with a 40W sound system consisting of 4 speakers, which allows for a full, powerful sound and impressive dynamic range that portable keyboards can’t offer.
I almost forgot about the staggering 256-note polyphony normally seen on 2000$+ pianos.
The PX-870 has also got some fun and useful features to play around with.
Beginners will benefit from the Lesson mode, where you can play along with one of the 60 built-in songs as well as mute one hand’s part to practice.
More experienced players will enjoy using the Concert Play feature, which allows you to play one of the 10 different tunes along with an orchestra accompaniment.
Great recording capabilities are another important plus of the PX-870.
The piano can record and play back songs in both WAV (audio) and MIDI format, which is very convenient and allows you to record, store and share your performances in a matter of a few button presses.
As for the cons…
Well, the most obvious one is probably that the PX-870 is not very portable and requires two people to move it around.
Another thing is that you won’t find hundreds of sounds, accompaniment styles, rhythms or 10-track recorder on the PX-870.
Instead, the instrument focuses on providing the closest to an acoustic piano sound and touch.
And if you feel that 19 built-in sounds and 2-track recorder are not enough for you and you want some more “bells and whistles”, I’d recommend taking a look at the Casio CGP-700 or the Yamaha DGX-660 .
And in the next section, we’re going to talk about the competitors and what they have to offer compared to the PX-870.
Casio PX-870 vs Casio PX-770 (Full Review)
The PX-770 was announced at the Summer NAMM 2017 together with the PX-870. Like its bigger brother, the PX-770 comes with some new features and upgrades.
In particular, the piano has a new 4-layer piano sound and a resigned cabinet with control elements on the left side, just like the PX-870.
With that said, the cabinet of the PX-870 looks neater due to its solid back panel, which hides the chords.
When it comes to features and functions, the pianos are pretty similar.
The pianos share the same keyboard action and have the same set of sounds.
At the same time, the PX-870 has a number of extra features that aren’t available on the PX-770.
First of all, despite the fact that the pianos use the same AiR sound source and have the same instrument sounds, the PX-870 adds an extra layer of realism to the piano sound by reproducing Damper Resonance, String Resonance and Key On/Off action noise.
Plus, it has a Lid Simulator, Key Off Simulator, and Hammer Response feature.
The PX-770, on the other hand, only offers Damper Resonance and Hammer Response simulator.
It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, and these are pretty subtle nuances in the piano’s tone, but it does make the PX-870 sound more authentic and “acoustic-like” than the PX-770.
The PX-870 also has more polyphony memory (256 vs 128 notes) and more powerful and sophisticated speaker system.
The PX-770 has two 8W speakers, while the PX-870 boasts 40W 4-speaker sound projection system.
In practice, the difference is not very sagnificant, but the PX-870 definitely sounds fuller, louder and offers a wider range of dynamics.
Another feature missing on the PX-770 is an audio recorder.
You can still create 2-track MIDI recordings, but to record the actual sound of the piano (WAV format), you’ll have to use some additional equipment and software.
And last but not the least, the PX-770 doesn’t come with a USB to Device port, which means you won’t be able to record your performances directly onto a USB drive.
You can only transfer the recordings from the internal memory using the USB to Host terminal.
Moreover, the lack of this port makes it impossible to play back audio (WAV) files from the Flash drive.
That’s pretty much it when it comes to differences between the PX-870 and the PX-770.
It’s only for you to decide whether those extra features worth paying an extra 300$ for the PX-870.
Casio PX-870 vs Casio PX-780
First of all, don’t be confused by the model number, the PX-780 is an older model (than the PX-770) and was presented in 2013 along with the PX-850 and the PX-750 (now discounted).
So why are we even comparing these two pianos from different generations?
Well, even though the Casio PX-780 was released a while ago, it’s still a very popular piano in Casio arsenal, which offers some features that the PX-870 and PX-770 don’t have.
To begin with, the PX-780 is a much more versatile instrument.
It features 250 built-in tones, 180 accompaniment patterns, and 300 music presets that will provide you with an optimal tone, rhythm, cord according to the music genre you choose.
So you get much more than just a few pianos and organs as in case of the PX-870/PX-770.
The PX-780 is also equipped with a 17-track MIDI recorder, which allows you to create complex multi-layered tunes right onboard.
Audio recording is also available with this model.
Finally, the PX-780 offers additional connectors including MIDI In/Out, Line Out and Line In jacks + all the connectors the PX-870 has.
The pianos share the same keyboard, the same sound source (AiR) and speakers with the same power output (40W).
However, if we’re talking about piano playing experience, the PX-870 is still a better option.
The PX-870’s upgraded piano tone enhanced by Damper & String Resonance simulation, Key Off simulation, Key On/Off action noise and Lid Simulator does sound closer to the real thing.
From the above, the PX-780 offers only Damper Resonance and Hammer response feature. The PX-870 also has more polyphony (256 vs 128 notes).
Wrapping up, I think it’s not too difficult to decide between these two.
Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-143 (Full Review)
The main competitor from Yamaha is probably a mid-range model of the Arius line – the YDP-143.
The piano is about 100$ more expensive than the PX-870 so let’s find out whether it’s worth the extra spend.
The YDP-143 has replaced the previous YDP-142 model (in 2016) and comes in a traditional furniture-style cabinet (3 colors available) with 3 piano pedals.
At the heart of the YDP-143 is Yamaha’s famous Pure SF sound engine that provides you with an amazingly realistic piano sound sampled from the Yamaha CFIIIS 9′ Concert Grand.
The sound is delivered via 2 oval (12 cm x 6 cm) speakers with two 6W amplifiers.
It’s actually enough to fill a room, but the PX-870 with its 4 speakers and 40W amplifiers is a winner here.
And I’m talking not only about the volume; the PX-870 has a deeper and more rounded sound at a medium volume.
When it comes to piano sound itself, I wouldn’t say that the PX-870 sounds better, that’s really a matter of personal taste.
Both pianos sound very good and you’ll hardly find something better sounding in this price range.
What the YDP-143 doesn’t give you compared to the Casio is the ability to control various aspects of sound like resonance, damper noise, key on/off noise, etc.
The polyphony memory is also higher on the PX-870 (256 notes) while the YDP-143 has 192 notes.
It’s not that critical, and 192 notes are more than enough in most cases, but I said earlier the more polyphony you have, the better.
Now let’s talk about the keyboard of the YDP-143.
The YDP-143 features the Graded Hammer Action keyboard with 88 touch-sensitive keys.
And again I prefer the Casio’s Hammer Action Keyboard II, which feels more authentic to my fingers.
The keyboard uses triple-sensor detection system (allows for faster note repetition) and has simulated Ivory & Ebony keytops.
The Yamaha uses two sensors and has conventional glossy keys (only the black ones have a matte finish).
As for the features, the YDP-143 is pretty basic: metronome, transpose function, Dual/Duo modes, 50 preset songs, 2-track MIDI recorder and that’s pretty much it.
No accompaniment function, no audio recording and no USB flash drive port.