Casio Music have quietly taken over the world…
When it comes to hearing the name of a certain Japanese manufacturer, it is easy to make a quick association with calculators and watches – correction, industry-leading calculators and watches. However, Casio Digital Pianos have come a long way since the early days of Casio keyboards from back in the day – yours truly cut his teeth on a Casio SA-20, which I still have to this day!
Brief History of Casio
Although Casio was established as Kashio Seisakuko by Tadao Kashio in 1946, the Casio Computer Co., Ltd. was formed later in 1957. Along with his three younger brothers Toshio, Kazuo, and Yukio, they went on to revolutionize the world with the Model 14-A all-electric compact calculator. Though it might not seem groundbreaking at first glance, it was the start of a pioneering journey that runs through the company to this day.
The Casio creed is “creativity and contribution”, and it expresses the company’s commitment to contributing to society by offering original, useful products that no other company can. By putting Innovative functionality at the heart of their products, their vision is to make everyday life easier and more enjoyable, as well as furthering the potential of society as a whole.
They even have a Charter for Creativity that underpins the design of every product. Therefore, nothing is churned out for the sake of it, if it doesn’t benefit the greater good then it simply isn’t good enough.
Since the Model 14-A, Casio has gone on to become a household name through their calculators, musical keyboards, watches, and now, digital pianos.
Casio Musical Instruments
As noted above, Casio doesn’t stumble into industries and their expertise in the world of musical instruments goes back to 1980, with the release of the Casiotone 201 electronic keyboard. Designed to be easy to use and fun to play, the Casiotone 201 reproduced sounds of piano, organ, and even guitar.
Thereafter followed the CZ-101 in 1984, a digital synthesizer with Phase Distortion (PD) that offered limited programming capabilities with an 8-stage envelope design to modify digital waveforms. There were full-size keyboard versions including the CZ-1000 and the later CZ-3000 and CZ-5000, which highlighted Casio’s future intent to push the envelope – no pun intended – with regard to synthesis and their product design.
Casio CELVIANO Digital Pianos
Believe it or not the Casio CELVIANO Digital Piano range was established as far back as 1991. The CELVIANO AP-7 featuring the AP sound source. Over the years Casio have refined their craft to improve upon the CELVIANO range design, feature set, and tech specs compared to the competition.
Casio CELVIANO Premium Grand Hybrid Pianos
The Casio CELVIANO Premium Grand Hybrid Pianos are amongst the finest instruments in the world, not least because they were designed in collaboration with C. Bechstein. With over 300 years of piano building history behind them, C. Bechstein is well placed to assert their authority when it comes to how a piano should feel, respond, and sound. C. Bechstein pianos were used in the recordings of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Elton John’s “Your Song”, and used by artists including The Beatles, Lou Reed, and David Bowie to name but a few.
Upholding their tradition for high-quality craftsmanship is paramount to the Berlin-based piano manufacturer, and C. Bechstein did not enter into an agreement to partner with Casio lightly. However, the partnership far exceeded expectations and each model proudly bears a plate stating, “Developed in collaboration with C. Bechstein” alongside the C. Bechstein seal.
The marriage of Casio’s expertise in digital technology and C. Bechstein’s unwavering principles in peerless piano design has resulted in award-winning modern instruments that the most discerning of composers, concert pianists, and piano teachers can’t get enough of.
“Key” to the CELVIANO Premium Grand Hybrid’s Success
Adhering to traditional design, the Natural Grand Hammer Action keyboard boasts full-length, wooden keys made using the highest quality Austrian spruce (as used on C. Bechstein Acoustic Pianos). Each one is carefully selected, dried, machined and finished to precise standards, ensuring a feel that mirrors an acoustic piano.
To achieve the peerless responsiveness of a grand piano, CASIO painstakingly researched the characteristics of traditional instrument designs. The result is a newly developed hybrid mechanism that utilises the same dimensions and proportions as a grand piano. Lift the lid on the piano and you’ll see that the Grand Hybrids use real hammers that rise and fall when keys are played, affording the exact response of a concert grand.
Performance-ready speaker system
To ensure that the sound of the piano matches the sumptuous playing feel, Casio conducted exhaustive research in collaboration with C. Bechstein to produce their Grand Speaker System II. Featuring all-new components, the newly developed system optimises the dynamic range for the chosen volume of the piano, guaranteeing a breath-taking sound every time you perform.
The Grand Acoustic 2 system is home to an innovative six-speaker layout that maximises projection. The richness of the bass tones paired with the clarity across the midrange and treble frequencies ensure that the Grand Hybrids truly sing. As you adjust the volume, each speaker automatically optimises to ensure the perfect balance of sound output that you’d expect from a meticulously maintained piano.
Absolute personal control
The newly developed EQ options allow the utmost flexibility for recording and large-scale performance. You can choose to either maintain the pure sound of the six-speaker system when connecting line or headphone outputs or instead hear the sound from the speakers exactly as it’s being delivered to the line outputs sans EQ.
You can also elect to disable the speaker system altogether even without any headphones connected, which is useful for where the line outputs are used to connect to student headphones. See, Casio think of everything!
In addition, the new Pedal Simulator affords greater control over the damper pedal for a more realistic recreation of an acoustic piano mechanism.
A Prestigious trio of European grand pianos in one
Every Grand Hybrid possesses the ability to emulate the sound of three prestigious European grand pianos: Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna.
Berlin Grand offers a balanced, elegant sound, which is perfect for playing Impressionistic music.
Hamburg Grand offers a brilliant, rich sound, which is favoured for its depth and range of expression.
Vienna Grand offers an enviable low range infused with a warm tone the suits both soft and vigorous playing with aplomb.
If you need further proof then here’s Kateryna Titova performing Beethoven’s “Sonata No.14, Op. 27 no.2, Movement 3” on the Casio CELVIANO Grand Hybrid GP-510.
Feature-packed performance enhancements
Stepping aside from the actual build quality for a moment. The Premium Grand Hybrids are endowed with a range of features that could only be available on a digital piano. These are Concert Play, Hall Simulator, Scene Memories, and USB Audio Record and Playback.
Concert Play allows you to command an entire symphony orchestra thanks to an expandable library of popular classical pieces to play along to. The orchestral library is taken from recordings of Japan’s prestigious NHK Symphony Orchestra. You can deftly hone the volume of your piano in comparison to the orchestra so you sit perfectly balanced in the mix. You can also do this when playing along with the built-in Song Library.
Hall Simulator recreates the sounds of twelve different iconic concert halls including Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium, and the former Notre Dame Cathedral. You can easily adjust the simulation based on player and listener position, which adjusts the Reverb Simulation accordingly. The effect is remarkable and accurately matches the aural perspective of both performer and listener.
Scene Memories (Available on the GP-510 only)
The Grand Hybrid GP-510 allows you to record and save Scene Memories, which allows you to save and recall your preferred settings including Tone selection, split/layer, Concert Hall, effects and much more. As well as that, there are many preset Scenes to choose from. For example, choose the “Debussy” Scene and you’ll be presented with a faithful representation of his favourite piano, complete with appropriate resonance settings, in a concert hall matching his preference, etc. A stroke of genius befitting of the man himself!
USB Audio Record and Playback
A feature across many a digital piano but a useful addition nonetheless, all Grand Hybrids allow you to make audio recordings of your performances, as well as playback commercially-available backing tracks via USB stick.
Easy to read display
Thanks to the high-contrast display on the Grand Hybrids – all down to the inverted colour scheme -, you can easily keep track of what is going on. The backlit design emphasises brightness of the text displayed to ensure that menus can be read at distance or wide angles.
Casio Digital Pianos at Dawsons Music
Head to Dawsons Music to check out the Casio CELVIANO Premium Grand Hybrid models.
Jon has a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons Music Web Team before progressing into his current role as Content Manager. Favourite things: My LTD MH-400NT, a decent brew, and Ron Swanson.