When I’m talking about beginner keyboard pianos, Casio is a name that’s always part of the conversation. This time, I’m looking at the CDP-S150, a cheap 88-key stage piano with scaled hammer-action keys. It’s lightweight, slimline, and doesn’t break the bank; let’s see what it has to offer.
About the author
- 88 weighted keys
- 64-note polyphony
- built-in speakers
- 10 voices
- headphone jack
- Chordana Play
Final verdict on the Casio CDP-S150
The Casio CDP-S150 is one of the best keyboard pianos under $500. It has arguably the best scaled hammer-action keys in the price range, and it’s straightforward to use.
There are other instruments at a similar price that do some things better, but few offer the overall value of the CDP-S150. It sounds very good, it feels even better, and it’s definitely a keyboard that will help learners develop their skills.
What I like
- Realistic piano feel.
- Great concert grand sound.
- Built-in recorder.
- Chordana Play app.
- Outstanding value for money.
- Ideal for beginners.
What I don’t like
- Limited number of voices.
- Only one headphone jack.
Note: Newer model
The CDP-S150 keyboard piano has been discontinued by Casio. The new CDP-S160 comes with some minor enhancements. Read the full Casio CDP-S160 review for more information on the successor.
It’s about quality, not quantity, with the Casio CDP-S150. There are 10 built-in voices, including multiple acoustic pianos, electric pianos, strings, harpsichord, and pipe/jazz organ.
The flagship sound is the stereo concert grand piano. In comparison with similar keyboards, this flagship piano voice is one of the best. It’s expressive, detailed, articulate, and dynamic. If it lacks in any area, it’s the low-end; it’s not bad at all; it just lacks the depth/richness of some others.
The other acoustic pianos, Mellow and Bright, are very good for ballads, pop, rock, etc. Overall, there’s very little to complain about with the acoustic pianos.
Now, getting to the electric pianos, they are good, but I’d like to see more variation between them. There isn’t a proper Fender Rhodes tone as such, not one with enough bite anyway. The remaining tones are really nice, particularly the harpsichord. But, often with budget keyboard pianos, the sound quality is pretty similar once you get past the acoustic/electric pianos.
The CDP-S150 has a max polyphony of 64 notes; not incredibly high, but enough for any beginner.
The Casio CDP-S150 has a pair of 4.7″ speakers powered by dual 8 W amplifiers. Obviously, this speaker system will not be the most powerful, but that’s not hugely important when playing at home, which is what the CDP-S150 does best. What does matter most is the clarity, and in that regard, the speakers perform very well.
If there is any slight complaint, it would be the positioning of the speakers. In order to maintain the slim design of the CDP-S150, the speakers are on the back panel rather than the top. That’s great for the image, but ideally, you don’t want the sound projecting away from the player.
It’s not a significant complaint, so it shouldn’t be a deciding factor for potential buyers.
Straight away, you can see I have given a very high score here, and that may surprise you, given the price of the CDP-S150. However, the low price is why it gets such a high score.
Just to be clear, it doesn’t feel as good as high-end weighted keyboard pianos, and I may even give them a lower score. But, to get this kind of feel from such a cheap instrument is outstanding.
The CDP-S150 has scaled hammer-action keys, which means the keys get lighter from bass to treble. The variation in weight from low to high notes makes for a more authentic piano experience.
The benefit of feeling more like a real piano is that you can play with far greater expression and dynamic range. It gets the best out of the CDP-S150 voices, and it’s fantastic for beginners building good technique.
Casio’s CDP-S150 is a pretty straightforward instrument, which means it doesn’t have a lot of features. But that’s part of its appeal; it has what you need and not what you don’t.
There are a couple of different keyboard modes, which are Layer mode and Duet mode.
Layer mode allows you to layer two voices to create a new sound. From the onboard voices, piano and strings would be the most obvious choice. But, piano and harpsichord or electric piano and jazz organ would work well, too.
Duet mode is a feature that I talk about all the time. It creates two identical playing zones across the keyboard for side-by-side student/teacher practice. It offers a far more intuitive way for students and teachers to interact.
The built-in effects are reverb (10 types) and chorus (four types). OK, it’s not the most versatile selection, but they work well with the available sounds.
As players develop, they will realize that the same reverb won’t suit every sound, and that’s where the 10 types come in handy. Some will provide a long tail, some shorter, but enough to take the harshness of a sound, like a harpsichord, for example.
Chordana Play app
Most digital piano manufacturers have some kind of app that works with their keyboards, whether it’s educational or purely for remote control over settings. Casio’s Chordana app is one of the best, especially for beginners. It offers a wide range of features that include displaying musical scores and MIDI notes, removing melodies for play along, and much more.
I typically mention this feature only in beginner keyboard pianos. Whether practicing scales, Beethoven, or Rihanna, a metronome will help you keep perfect time.
The built-in recorder is fairly basic; it lets you record one song, up to 2500 notes. However, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the numbers here and think of it more as a practice aide. It’s a handy feature that helps you monitor your progress and address any problem areas.
Critical listening is one of the most valuable exercises that any beginner can practice; otherwise, it’s hard to improve.
There are two demo songs on the CDP-S150 and far more on the Chordana app.
I consider the CDP-S150 to be one of the best keyboards for learners because it’s so easy to use. It has a simple design and layout with no unnecessary features, making it easy to navigate as a complete newbie.
It’s also slim and lightweight enough to quickly move it around the house if your practice is disturbing anyone. You don’t even need to be close to a power outlet as you have optional battery power.
I could start to find some negatives if I talked about more advanced use, like gigging or recording, but that’s not how the CDP-S150 should be used. Overall, as a beginner piano, it’s almost flawless in use.
The build quality is as you’d expect from a cheap, lightweight keyboard piano. The CDP-S150 weighs just 23.1 lbs (without batteries), so you can imagine it’s not made from the most robust material in the world.
There are probably only two or three keyboard pianos in the under $500 range that surprise me with excellent build quality; the CDP-S150 isn’t one of them. With that said, it’s not one of the worst either; it sits right on average for the price range.
No big surprises here either, but all of the basics are covered. You get a single 1/8″ audio input and 1/8″ audio output (phones) and USB type-B. There are two pedal inputs, one 1/4″ (damper), and one 7-pin connector. SP-3 damper pedal included.
Compared to other keyboard pianos
There are more excellent cheap keyboard pianos available than you might expect. Here are a few that I think you should check out.
Casio CDP-S150 vs Yamaha P71
The P71 is an Amazon exclusive, and it’s essentially a rebranded P-45, which has been a solid choice for years. I prefer the CDP-S150, but if you like Yamaha’s grand piano sound, the P71 could be perfect.
Casio CDP-S150 vs Alesis Prestige
In my opinion, the Alesis Prestige is the best cheap keyboard piano available right now, and it beats the CDP-S150 on sound quality and overall features.
Casio CDP-S150 vs Alesis Recital Pro
The Recital Pro is an excellent choice if you want something a little cheaper. It has hammer-action keys, but they aren’t scaled/graded, so it doesn’t match the CDP-S150 for a realistic feel.
Who is the Casio CDP-S150 best suited for?
The Casio CDP-S150 is perfect for complete beginners and anyone not yet at the intermediate stage.
Note: The CDP-S150 is discontinued and is out of stock in most places, so be sure to check out its successor here.