Casio has been teasing their new keyboard with an “Are You Ready?” campaign and now the CT-S1000V is here, it’s weird, fun and innovatively vocal about it.
We’ve gotten used to ignoring Casio because while they’ve done some cool stuff in the past (CZ synths) and we all probably cut our keyboarding teeth on some form of auto-accompaniment Casiotone machine, their current range of home keyboards feel a bit naff. Which is more a problem of perception and music technology snobbery than it is anything to do with the quality of their gear.
So, I wasn’t expecting too much from the Casio “Are You Ready?” mystery synth. We’d already seen the AiX Sound Source engine in their other products and failed to appreciate it so what could they possibly come up with that was new exciting? Well, I’m happy to say that Casio pulled out of the bag something we’ve not seen before – Innovative Vocal Synthesis.
The CT-S1000V comes loaded with a revolutionary vocal synthesis technology that lets your keyboard sing to any lyrics you want to punch into it. Before you get too excited it’s important to note that this is in a vocodering, electronic style rather than Adele or our dear departed Meatloaf (RIP). But even so you can type lyrics into an iOS or Android app and then the keyboard will synthesise them into speech that you can play as phrases or split into syllables across notes. You can literally play a vocal line on this keyboard.
The vocal synthesis is only one aspect of the CT-S1000V. It also has all the rhythmic and backing goodness that Casio home keyboards have always had. If you haven’t played one in a while you might be surprised how great the sounds are and how fabulous and fun the backing is. While it may not inspire your next track of dark electronic vibes it’s the sort of thing that’s enormously fun and rewarding to play along to. It was a Technics home keyboard that saved me from hating piano lessons when I was a kid and so I can appreciate the enjoyment that this sort of machine can bring.
It has over 800 sounds including classics from the VL, VZ and CZ synths, 243 full-accompaniment Rhythms, a 6-track MIDI recorder, DSP effects and it’s also a sampler. It can run on batteries, has stereo speakers built-in and can do audio and MIDI over Bluetooth. You can even strap on a guitar strap if you feel so inclined.
The front panel is not very exciting with only a couple of assignable knobs, a modulation knob and a pitch wheel. There’s going to have to be a lot of menu diving via the screen and data knob which is a shame. But the price of the whole thing is only £429 which could make it a very affordable workstation keyboard.
Unconvinced? Well, see how infectious you find Benn Jordan’s enthusiasm for it in his video review below.