Fig. 7 It’s hard to believe this keyboard weighs only 15 pounds, but it does.
It can’t make up its mind what it is . . . which is a good thing.
Synthesizer? ROMpler? Workstation? Songwriting tool? One-man-band keyboard for the local Holidome? Soundtrack generator? Live performance keyboard for people so hip they mock people who think Casio is unhip? Answer: All of the above. This is one of those headscratchers where first you wonder how they fit all that stuff in there, then you wonder who at Casio will get fired for setting the price.
WHAT IT IS
The CTK-7000 (Figure 7) is the 61- key version of the semi-weighted, 76-key WK-7500, but the feature set for both is identical. There are 800 onboard tones, 64 notes of polyphony, and 250 rhythm patterns built in, but the rear panel gives clues about what’s going on here: 1/4" dynamic mic in, 1/4" instrument in, 1/8" jack stereo line in, 1/4" stereo headphone out, 1/4" left and right outs, 1/4" sustain/ assignable pedal jack, and USB port for cross-platform audio/ MIDI data transfer.
At heart, the CTK-7000 is an arranger keyboard. There, I said it. But this isn’t just for playing “Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” although I suppose you could if you wanted. For songwriting, you have instant backing tracks that make it easier to come up with melody lines and lyrics; I use arranger keyboards to do soundtrack beds in genres where I don’t normally go. (Don’t tell anyone.) They can also give you ideas at the press of a button.
Two words: 15 pounds. Three more: Batteries or AC. Four more: Two built-in speakers. Yes, you can take it to the beach, or on top of a mountain, and hear what you’re playing on speakers or headphones. Furthermore, you don’t have to bring along a control surface, as there are nine sliders for realtime control— specifically, mixing sequencer tracks or playing with the organ sounds’ virtual drawbars. By the way, if you crave 76 keys, the WK- 7500 weighs only 19 pounds.
The CTK-7000 can record your mic or instrument input along with the sequencer’s backing tracks to an SD or SDHC card (2 to 32GB), so if you do hit songwriting pay dirt, you can catch that inspiration fast. The sequencer is no slouch, either: 16 tracks, along with a system track for recording style and chord changes if that’s your thing. Nor are you limited to recording, as there are multiple editing options—including event note editing down to individual notes—and a decent-sized backlit LCD (Figure 8), along with a transparent operating system, to facilitate tweaking.
Fig. 8 The larger-than-expected display makes navigation relatively easy.
A second 8-track pattern sequencer lets you create patterns (with six sections—intro, end, variations, etc.) if you want to go one better than a drum machine backing and do custom arrangements.
Go ahead, make your Casio/ arranger keyboard/built-in speaker jokes. They’ll be funny until you actually get your hands on one of these. No, it’s not necessarily going to replace a big-bucks workstation, but the amount of performance capabilities packed into a keyboard at this price and weight is further proof that as long as you’re not buying food, gasoline, clothes, or an education, your dollar can still go pretty far these days.
Exceptional value. Full sequencer. Can record audio and backing tracks to SD card. Mic and instrument inputs. Built-in speakers. Light weight. Can be batterypowered. Versatile collection of sounds.
No physical MIDI connectors (but USB over MIDI). No aftertouch. Mod button instead of mod wheel.
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