When it comes to instruments, portability can be a double edged sword. Musicians appreciate the convenience of being able to take their instruments with them on the road wherever they go, not to mention the reduced cost of portable instruments. However, there is a stigma that these instruments sacrifice too much functionality and sound quality in favor of portability. With its new CT-X line of portable keyboards, Casio hopes to dispel that stigma entirely. The CT-X line consists of four models: CT-X700, CT-X800, CT-X3000 and CT-X5000.
“The CT-X models are 61-key portable keyboards with built-in speaker systems that provide hundreds of tones and rhythms in an affordable package. The concept was to raise the bar for how good a portable keyboard could sound, while retaining its value proposition,” said Rich Formidoni, product marketing manager for Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division. “Value has always been a cornerstone of the portable keyboard category, and the CT-X line represents the ultimate value: A series of portable keyboards that sound like instruments costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more.”
The reason CT-X models can deliver sound that’s comparable to non-portable keyboards is because of the series’ next-generation AiX (Acoustic and Intelligent multi-Expression) sound source. “The CT-X keyboards include a brand-new technology we call AiX, which allows for faster and more complex signal processing,” said Formidoni. “The AiX technology gives us eight times as much DSP processing capability as our previous-generation sound source. This means more power for processor-hungry effects like reverb and delay, which are crucial for players at any level. With AiX, we can also add more effects into the chain, such as guitar amplifier models, vintage phasers and flangers, rotary speaker emulation, and more. It also allows for more memory for the sample instruments themselves, allowing for more articulations and expressive nuances for acoustic and synth sounds alike.” He added, “Thanks to the AiX technology, the fidelity and complexity of the tones and rhythms is vastly improved. We now have room for larger samples with additional velocity layers, articulations and long, natural decays. This translates to authenticity. Tones and rhythms can be added to the CT-X3000 and CT-X5000, and users can customize the sounds as they see fit.”
The CT-X series also boasts some significant advances in sound delivery. “The amplifiers and speakers in the CT-X700, CT-X800 and CT-X3000 have all been improved dramatically,” explained Formidoni. “They sound crisp and clear throughout the entire volume and frequency ranges, without adding too much weight or depth to the chassis. The CT-X5000 has a very powerful 15×15-watt speaker system that takes that formula even further, allowing you to play confidently in a small venue without needing any additional amplification.”
The CT-X series also offers some additional features to allow musicians even more options for sound customization. “Tone Editing allows you to dig deeper into the sound you’re playing. You can modify things like attack and release time, filter cutoff and resonance, reverb and chorus depth, and additional effect parameters. This gets especially fun when playing with the CT-X’s library of analog synthesizer waveforms,” explained Formidoni. “The Phrase Pads allow you to record musical phrases and trigger them via front-panel buttons. They could be piano arpeggios, guitar strums, drum breaks, sound effects or just about anything else you can imagine. These are especially useful when performing a complex song that requires you to play many parts at once.” Tone Editing and Phrase Pad functionality are included in both the CT-X3000 and CT-X5000.
With its expanded feature set and upgraded sound source, Casio expects the CT-X line to reach an even wider audience than the company’s previous portable speaker models. “Typically, the target audience for portable keyboards such as CT-X includes young players, beginner-to-intermediate musicians and budget-minded players needing a portable solution for small gigs,” noted Formidoni. “That said, the CT-X’s biggest surprise is its sound quality, which will widen the audience to include more demanding musicians who still appreciate value. In our focus group tests during production, all the keyboard players to whom we showed the CT-X were blown away by the sound quality.”
Given the company’s excitement about this new series of keyboards, Casio is eager to work with retailers to market the CT-X line. “The CT-X line represents a big change in quality expectations for the portable keyboard category, with the same incredible value proposition for both our dealers and their customers,” said Formidoni. “One of the reasons our dealers love us is because we generate lots of content that makes it easy for them to get our instruments into their customers’ hands. They will have instant access to product videos, photos and other marketing resources via our online dealer portal at casiomusicportal.com.”
The CT-X700 carries an MSRP of $259.99, and is available now. The CT-X800 carries an MSRP of $299.99, and is also available now. The CT-X3000 and CT-X5000 have an MSRP of $419.99 and $799.99, respectively, and will both be available in March.