Technical notes index

CASIO CTK-6000 REVIEW


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            CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

2. OVERVIEW

3. TONES

4. AUTO-ACCOMPANIMENT

5. SEQUENCER

6. ARPEGGIATOR AND PRESETS

7. OTHER FACILITIES & CONCLUSION

OTHER FACILITIES & CONCLUSION

There are some more facilities I've not yet touched on. On the back, in addition to the headphones output, pedal jack and SD card slot, there are left and right outputs for hi-fi or P.A. ( inch jacks,), and a 3.5mm audio input jack for connecting another sound source (though this is simply for playing through, not recording, and there is no independent level control).

There is also a USB socket for connecting to a Mac or PC: you can save songs and data to the computer using Casio's Data Manager (download here), and also transmit key data to a MIDI program so you can use the keyboard to play it - this is plug-and-play with GarageBand; Windows users may need to download the MIDI driver (near the bottom of this page).

The 'Function' button gives you access to various settings - among other settings you can:

  • Fine-tune the overall keyboard pitch
  • Turn the touch-sensitivity off or alter it
  • Change the pedal function from the default Sustain to Sostenuto, Soft or Rhythm stop/start
  • Change the pitch bend range from the default 2 semitones to 1 to 12 semitones
  • Change the Arpeggiator to play when the keys are released rather than when they are down
  • Change the Arpeggiator speed and which half of the keyboard it reacts to
  • Adjust overall or accompaniment volume
  • Format the memory card (you should do this before first use)
  • Set the keyboard to remember the previous setup when powered up (default is to start from scratch, though of course it retains memory contents)
  • Return the keyboard to factory settings

Conclusion

(This was written in 2012, since then Casio have released an updated but broadly similar model, the CTK-6200.)

Keyboards in general range from cheap toys with miniature keys and few facilities, through full-sized keyboards with no touch control, keyboards with touch control, then with more facilities (as here) at around 200+. then upwards to very expensive professional level keyboards ultimately at several thousand pounds. This Casio is positioned as a mid-level keyboard, its main competition being the Yamaha PSR-e423. I've not had a chance to try the latter, so I shall never know whether it would have been a better purchase: possibly the tones and auto-accompaniments are better, but the increased price and size were a negative consideration. (The CTK-7000 was a temptation, but apart from a microphone input and increased sequencer facilities it mainly offers an extra 100 or so drawbar organ sounds, with slider controls to vary them, so at 300 odd it wasn't worth it for me.)

The Casio is, it has to be said, quite remarkable value at the (2012) target price of 200 (some vendors are selling it a good deal dearer so it's worth shopping around: I got mine from Amazon). There are an extraordinary number of facilities, and a wide range of sounds: though some could do with improvement. The control layout and general appearance is good and very neat looking, and I prefer it to Yamaha's attempt at styling (their cheaper keyboards may sound good but they look even worse). Some users have commented that it's not particularly solidly built: it seems to me to be fine for home use but perhaps it may not be up to being bounced around by a band for stage use - you do rather need something heavy duty for that.

In use, it's for the most part comfortable, and easy to master the basics though some of the more advanced facilities to require more effort. The use of auto-accompaniments means that people with limited playing skills (or declining skills like mine) can enjoy attractive results while within their capabilities: the accompaniments themselves range from good to, occasionally, somewhat tacky, and if you are principally interested in jazz their number is a bit limited, so that your performances all end up sounding much the same. If you're into pop (and as I say, I'm not) there is a good range.

The manual (which you can download from here if you wish to pre-purchase peruse it) is for the most part clearly written; the list of tones, rhythms and presets is included on a separate large sheet (with rather small print) which is going to get creased after a time - it's also available from the same download page, but only as a large sized PDF which most people won't be able to print (and it's locked so you can't copy from it - I ended up taking screen shots of bits of it and printing them). Casio really need to make these lists available online in a basic paper size so that people can print spares.

One could always wish for extra facilities - a small drum pad for inserting the odd sting while playing would be nice, for example, or a handful of  buttons to store favourite tones for quick access - but inevitably this sort of thing would push the price up. As said, for the price the facilities are very good - only a few years back this level of complexity would have been horrendously expensive.

So I have very few adverse criticisms of it, and on the whole I'm very pleased with its behaviour and the results I've been able to achieve.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Casio.