The 61-key Casio CT-S1 is a popular choice amongst beginners looking for their first keyboard. It’s a reminder of why the original Casiotone keyboards were so successful. In this review, we will find out why it’s so popular and weigh up the good with the bad.
Our verdict on the Casio CT-S1
The Casio CT-S1 is an outstanding first keyboard for anyone. It has some great features, including some authentic built-in effects. More importantly, it sounds fantastic for the price, and very few can offer more value for money.
The Casio CT-S1 isn’t the best-sounding keyboard in its class. The Yamaha NP-12 beats it for grand pianos and the more expensive Roland Go:Keys potentially outdoes it, too.
What we need to make clear is that it’s a close call, and the Casio CT-S1 is one of just a few exceptional keyboards at this price.
There are 61 sounds in total, which is more than enough for any beginner. The core sounds are the acoustic pianos, and they are fantastic. You get multiple variations of acoustic piano voices, ranging from darker, richer tones to brighter, modern tones.
What surprised us more was how good the other sounds are, especially the electric pianos and synths. The Rhodes and Wurly-style sounds have a lot of bite and are great for comping.
The Casio CT-S1 comes with two 5.1″ speakers, each powered by a 2.5 W amplifier.
So, on the size and power of the speaker system, it’s about average for the price point, perhaps slightly ahead.
However, it doesn’t really matter if the speakers aren’t too powerful on a beginner keyboard. All that matters is that they deliver clear sound, and these ones do. That’s one significant improvement from the Casiotone keyboards of years ago.
The other thing we like is the design; it’s simple and not intrusive. The speaker bar is smooth; there are no chunky, outdated, in-your-face speaker grills.
The CT-S1 has 61 velocity-sensitive keys. The keys aren’t weighted and have a very light action. That’s not an issue for this kind of keyboard, but if you’re hoping for a realistic piano feel, you won’t find it here.
For keyboards and digital pianos with the best realistic feel, check out this article here.
What you do get are extremely responsive keys. Even without the weight, the different levels of touch sensitivity are enough to allow for dynamic playing.
Overall, maybe not the best we’ve felt at this price, but not far from it.
The Casio CT-S1 isn’t packed with over-the-top features. But, it’s got everything a learner needs and a little bit more.
The built-in 1-track recorder has an internal memory capable of capturing up to 40,000 notes. That should be more than enough for anything that the average learner is playing.
We say this a lot, but having a built-in recorder is so beneficial. As a beginner, it’s easy to assume you are doing something right when it’s actually wrong.
With no critical listening, those mistakes become habits that are very hard to correct down the line.
Virtual concert halls
One of the reasons that the grand pianos sound so good on the CT-S1 is that they are rendered in virtual concert halls.
You have a few concert halls to choose from, each adding its own unique acoustics to the piano.
Chordana Play app
Casio’s Chordana Play app is one of the best around when it comes to free content for beginners.
It comes with 50 play-along with songs and the option to upload any MIDI file. The app makes learning fun and easy with notation and piano rolls.
You can even use the app to loop audio or change key. It’s an ideal practice companion.
The CT-S1 comes with 37 built-in effects in total, which is quite a lot. The effect types included are Reverb, Chorus, Delay, DSP, and Master EQ.
This keyboard comes with a 9.5 V DC power adapter, but you can make it even more portable with battery power (six AA batteries).
Optional Bluetooth adapter
We would be much happier if Bluetooth come as standard, but it’s an optional extra right now.
The Casio CT-S1 has a nice linear layout, with all buttons in a row under the speaker bar. There is a function button that is used in combination with others to trigger various functions. Other than that, it’s as straightforward as can be.
It’s at its best as a practice keyboard at home, and it’s very light, so moving it around the house won’t be a problem, even for younger kids.
As we said above, it can be battery-powered, so you can easily take it anywhere with you.
Like one or two other beginner keyboards, the CT-S1 has the potential to act as a rehearsal keyboard for a more advanced player. We aren’t suggesting you should buy it for that purpose, but it does sound good enough to be a reliable, lightweight substitute.
To be fair, the build quality of keyboards in this price range is typically pretty similar.
So, in that sense, there are no red flags or major complaints.
The buttons feel nice enough, not a premium feel, but nice. The controls are all pretty flat too, so there’s not much risk of them breaking off.
What sets it apart from most beginner keyboards is the design. It’s very sleek and smooth-looking, especially with the full-length speaker bar.
Connectivity is fairly limited with the CT-S1.
It comes with an 1/8″ AUX audio input, which is a nice touch, considering Bluetooth is an optional extra. The headphone jack is also 1/8″, and that’s a slight disappointment as 1/4″ would have been better.
You do get one 1/4″ connection for a sustain pedal.
Beyond that, you have two types of USB: Type A and Micro-B.
Compared to other keyboards
Casio’s CT-S1 is one of the most popular beginner keyboards on the market right now. But here are a few more that we think you should check out.
Casio CT-S1 vs. Yamaha NP-12
For us, the Yamaha Piaggero NP-12 is the best beginner keyboard around just now. The CT-S1 isn’t far behind, so it’s worth checking out both.
Casio CT-S1 vs. Roland Go:Keys
We rate the CT-S1 higher, but the Roland Go:Keys is such a fun keyboard. If you want something different, with a focus on production/songwriting, check it out.
Casio CT-S1 vs. Yamaha PSR-E373
The PSR-E373 is a feature-rich portable arranger keyboard. It’s a lovely keyboard, but for complete beginners, the Casio CT-S1 is better.
Who is the Casio CT-S1 best suited for?
Kids and beginners who want a professional look and sound on a budget.
- Excellent sound quality.
- Nice design.
- Chordana Play app.
- Built-in effects.
- 1/4″ headphone jack would be better.