By Stephen Fortner
It’s hard to believe Casio’s Privia digital pianos have been around for two decades. Beginning with the PX-100 in 2003, the product line shifted the paradigm of digital pianos away from bulky, heavy, and expensive, and it did so with remarkable success. Each iteration of Privia upped the ante in terms of features and sound quality, with recent models such as the PX-S3000 and PX-S3100 cementing mainstream opinion of Casio as a maker of “serious” digital pianos. Now, the PX-S7000 takes the next logical step, but it’s more of a leap. The acoustic and electric piano sounds are nothing short of stellar, the features generous, the onboard speaker system quite capable, and the design something Charles and Ray Eames might have dreamt up. Compared to other Privia models, its mid-$2,000s price point is also a bump. Is the PX-S7000 for you? Let’s investigate.
Design and Assembly
The Privia PX-S7000 is meant to be shown off anywhere in a room, unlike many console-style digital pianos whose unglamorous backsides all but mandate placement against a wall. The open, four-legged stand has a mid-century modern look, with the pedal assembly’s swooping symmetrical tubes lending both physical and aesthetic support.
Assembly is easily accomplished by one person and simpler than the initial act of taking the parts out of the shipping box suggests. Once together, the stand is one of the sturdiest I’ve ever seen for a piano of this type, far more so than the two side panels of particle board and pedal cross-piece you get with many standalone digital pianos. Once assembled, the piano doesn’t bounce front-to-back or rock side-to-side, even when played hard. Not even a little. This goes a long way toward a convincing acoustic piano experience.
The main piano unit attaches to the central metal support beam with just four thumbwheels, and its underside is flat. This means that you could take the PX-S7000 off the stand for travel or live gigs if you wanted, even though this is not its main application.
Let’s talk colors. There’s white, black (accompanied by darker legs), and the one everybody has been buzzing about: “harmonious mustard.” Casio sent this finish for review, and I have to say that no image on a website does it justice. As Casio claims, it really does blend well with just about any décor and other colors in a room, drawing the eye without shouting its presence. I would not normally recommend spending $200 more for a color upgrade, but harmonious mustard makes the PX-S7000 even more chameleonic than it already is — it would look equally at home in the parlors of the families Crawley, Kardashian, and Jetson.
The clear plexiglass music rack slides into the rear panel via two pegs and sits solidly; no problem keeping one or several thick music books here. An optional matching piano stool is made in partnership with the Japanese designer label Crash Gate, though I did not receive one for review. Hidrau has also designed a bench to match the Privia PX-S7000, which can be purchased through select dealers of Casio products.
If you’re in a hurry, just read this: The PX-S7000 has the best feeling keyboard of any Casio Privia ever. It’s also competitive with actions in digital pianos costing much more.
Casio refers to this keyboard as the Smart Hybrid Hammer Action. A hybrid of what two things, exactly? The first is the physical construction, which includes textured keytops and real spruce key sides. I always start evaluating an action with the instrument’s power off. In that state, the PX-S7000 feels perceptibly more acoustic-piano-like than the PX-S3100 I also reviewed for Piano Buyer in 2022. Tapping repeatedly on a key, I felt something that could be escapement, probably due to the new counterweights. This action is also quiet. Playing irreverent glissandi with the palm of my hand produced no “clack,” just a soft pitter-patter.
The other half of the hybrid equation is Smart Scaling. This matches the velocity-sensitivity of the sound engine to each physical key. One result is a far more pronounced sense of grading — the action feeling heavier in the bass and becoming lighter as you ascend the keyboard — than the dimensions and weight of the PX-S7000 would allow by physical means alone. In short, the playing experience is uncannily like that of a grand piano. It’s not quite at the level of Kawai’s almost-actual-grand-piano action in the Nord Grand (now a $4,000 instrument), but subjectively, it feels closer to that than to anything I’ve experienced from Casio before or at the PX-S7000’s price point overall.
In the Keyboard menu accessed by the Function button, five overall sensitivity settings range from lightest to heaviest. My favorite setting for going from “Für Elise” to “Benny and the Jets” without tiring my hands out was “Heavy 1.” For my money, that’s the main virtue of the Smart Hybrid system: Find your preferred sensitivity setting, and any trade-off between nuance and headroom is minimal.
The PX-S7000 features a four-way listening system that can go beyond stereo with its pseudo-surround setting, which adds an increased sense of space. If you like to read specs, eight watts of amp power per speaker doesn’t seem generous. If you like to use your ears, this is as good as a digital piano this compact gets. The bass may be shy of thunderous, but it’s musical and credible — I heard nothing missing in the lower registers. The treble sparkles without being harsh.
It’s important to take advantage of the Piano Position setting to get the best from the internal speakers. This can be accessed in a menu or from one of the F1-F4 buttons and optimizes the speaker output for where the PX-S7000 is located in your room: against a wall, in the center, or on a tabletop (if detached from the stand); there’s also a “standard” option which I presume doesn’t change the signal at all. I mostly had the piano in the center of three different rooms, and the Center setting really did make a difference.
Note that the position settings and surround mode affect only the onboard speakers, not any external sound system that may be connected. (Reverb and other built-in effects will be heard through external speakers.)
Grand Piano Sounds
The marquee piano sounds (Casio calls instrument sounds "Tones") in the PX-S7000 number nine: standard, bright, and mellow versions of “HG,” “NY,” and “BN” grand pianos, respectively. Casio doesn’t name names, but these suffixes likely refer to Hamburg Steinway, New York Steinway, and the Bechstein grand Casio sampled when they officially collaborated with C. Bechstein for the woefully underrated Celviano Grand Hybrid.
These are the best grand piano Tones I have ever heard out of a Casio product; they punch at the weight of instruments costing twice as much or more. That’s an instrument-reviewer cliché, but what can I say? It’s true here. Not to take anything away from the onboard speakers, but I fully uncovered this only when I plugged the PX-S7000 into some high-end studio monitors (thank you Casio for the grownup pair of 1/4-inch line outputs). Holy moley! In each note, let alone when I combined them into harmonies, there’s a density of audio substance at work that’s so immersive as to help me forget I was playing an electronic instrument. As for the gremlins that can plague sampled pianos — such as phase issues, audible velocity layer breaks, or audible loop points as a note decays — I did not hear any.
The PX-S7000 incorporates the latest iteration of Casio’s “Acoustic Simulator,” which adds details based on the physics of acoustic pianos: string, damper, and aliquot resonances; key mechanism noises; and the like. These are a “season to taste” affair in my opinion, and at any rate, I didn’t dive deeply into them because the default Tones sounded so good, I was too busy playing — just as if I were seated at a concert grand piano. A category called “Best Hit Pianos” contains a number of distinct personalities. If you’re in search of a Beatles-esque studio upright or more heavily processed piano, this is where you’ll find it.
Electric Piano and Other Sounds
Rock and soul players like me will appreciate the huge variety of Rhodes and Wurly Tones, all of which are realistic, responsive, and evocative. Often, effects are added and Tones named to suggest a given hit song or artist, e.g., “Storm Rider EP” or “Dark Side EP.” Across the board, these Tones live up to their names.
Acoustic pianos, electric pianos, and “others” have their own quick-access buttons on the right side of the panel, and that last one covers literally everything else, divided into logical categories such as organs, strings, guitars, choirs, and so on. The sound quality is on par with what I would expect from a mid-market portable personal keyboard, which is to say not mind-blowing but not bad at all and far superior to “General MIDI” grade. I loved the 1970s-style synth strings in the Synth Pad category and the overall big attitude of the Synth Leads, and everyone is sure to find their own gems.
What’s notable here is how many non-piano Tones there are: well over 300 after subtracting all acoustic piano Tones. I’ve played $2,500 digital pianos that might offer a couple dozen such sounds at most.
Controls and User Interface
The PX-S7000 goes minimal on physical controls, favoring what I’ve come to call the “Enterprise D” interface: a touch panel with virtual buttons illuminated from beneath the surface and invisible with the power off. Physical controls include the power button, a large volume knob, and four performance controllers on the left cheek: a pitch-bend wheel, a square “control” button (usually applying vibrato or other modulation but re-assignable), and two assignable “EX” buttons.
Notable are the F1-F4 buttons. In the main display, you can select groups of functions appropriate to different musical tasks: playing piano, tweaking the onboard speakers, recording songs, splitting and/or layering sounds on the keyboard, and much more. Yes, you can assemble custom function groups. You can program a button to quickly access virtually any setting for which you’d normally have to navigate through menus.
The main dial acts as both a data wheel and cursor diamond, depending on whether you trace your finger around its circumference or simply press one of the four compass points. Generally, you’d do the latter to navigate to a given area (e.g., Tones versus function groups for the F1-F4 buttons), then the former to scroll through options/values within that area. (Alternately, touching the Enter button displays those options/values as a list.) In theory, this is slick and futuristic. In practice, it can be fiddly; I found myself pressing when I meant to rotate, and vice-versa more than I’d like. At the PX-S7000’s price, I’d prefer a physical control such as a clicky version of the volume knob, which I think could be added without marring the design aesthetic.
You can split and/or layer the keyboard using the default settings for the F3 and F4 buttons. The PX-S7000 can play a single Tone in the left-hand part plus a layer of two Tones in the right. When split and/or layer is active, a bracket appears around the F3 and/or F4 texts in the display. The obligatory upright bass plus ride cymbal is indeed among the first few left-hand options!
Twenty drum patterns are on offer, including one in 5/4 time a la Brubeck. What you won’t find, however, is full auto-accompaniment or “arranger” functionality, that is, the sort of virtual backing band that follows the player’s left-hand chords. This is curious because the PX-S3100 and its predecessor, the PX-S3000, do have this. That said, the PX-S7000 is fully multi-timbral, meaning that it can play up to 16 instrument sounds at once if controlled by an external sequencer such as a DAW program.
A 1/4-inch microphone input lets you sing through the PX-S7000’s sound system and add an effect — actually a trio of effects — to the microphone.
The PX-S7000 performs both MIDI and audio recording. MIDI recording happens in Song Mode, which supports two tracks: solo and system. The system track is best for a main or accompaniment part and can include playback of the drum patterns as well as anything you played on the keys. You could then add a melody using the solo track or use the solo track by itself to record a conventional two-handed piano piece.
Audio recording creates a stereo WAV file (at 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution, the same as a CD) based on everything coming through the output of the piano: your real-time playing, the drum pattern, and your voice if a mic is plugged in as well as any Mic FX you have applied. Ideally, this is done to a connected USB stick, but if the PX-S7000’s memory is entirely clear, it can handle 18 minutes of recording time internally. It can also play back WAV and MP3 files from an attached USB drive, and the audio menu includes a center-cancel option for karaoke.
Duet mode splits the keyboard into two identical pitch ranges, allowing a student and teacher to sit side by side and play the same notes.
The F1-F4 buttons can also access Registrations, which are saved setups of the entire state of the instrument: the Tone(s), split and/or layer, mic effects, the Acoustic Simulator, surround and position settings, what the pedals and assignable buttons do — basically everything.
Rounding out the feature set are a metronome that can handle odd time signatures thanks to 1-beat through 9-beat settings, and an arpeggiator offering a host of patterns. The arpeggiator can be active for any or all of the upper 1, upper 2, and lower keyboard parts.
The Privia PX-S7000 is both a long-needed reimagining of what a contemporary digital piano should be and a Goldilocks in terms of value for money. The industrial design overall, and the physical sturdiness of the stand and pedal assembly, slay every other slab-piano-integrated-stand combination out there, with no close seconds.
More importantly, the PX-S7000 truly has it where it counts for piano performance and enjoyment: excellent sounds and keyboard feel first, followed by a well-rounded but not overwrought suite of educational and entertainment features.
In my opinion, the PX-7000’s unique value proposition is its crossover appeal. It has more than enough substance to delight veteran pianists and committed learners, yet it attracts just about anyone. I’ve seen far costlier instruments, festooned with blinking buttons, a touchscreen, and huge speaker systems, elicit “That’s cool but I’m not a musician” from the casually curious. I’ve seen the PX-S7000 inspire those same people to think, “I’m not a musician yet.”
Bluetooth and Music Space App
Via the included Bluetooth dongle, which plugs into the USB-A port on the rear panel, you can stream audio from a smart device (such as a song to play along with) or transmit and receive MIDI to and from a device that conforms to Bluetooth low-energy standards. The main thing you’ll probably use Bluetooth for, though, is to connect to the Casio Music Space app. This app pairs with the PX-S7000 and other Casio instruments, displaying the features relevant to the instrument you have on the main screen.
Piano Remote Control
This screen accesses different areas of control over all functions and operations of the PX-S7000. Anything you can do by tapping buttons and accessing submenus on the piano itself, you can likely do more conveniently and quickly via the app.
This lets you play along with the songs in your device’s music library. The biggest deal is the ability to change pitch without changing tempo, and vice versa — ideal for learning a song or transposing it to your vocal range. You can even set loop points to make a passage play repeatedly so you can learn it. The Cancel Melody and Cancel Accompaniment functions make the Music Player a practice and karaoke powerhouse. Note that songs need to reside in the permanently purchased part of your music library.
This displays complete musical scores for Casio Music Space’s trove of built-in songs, as well as imported PDFs:
How many scores? Eight categories focus on composers and suites of skill-building exercises. The emphasis is solidly on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.
Select a song — up pops the score, and the PX-S7000 enters Song mode. Press Play, and the song plays through the piano’s speakers. The vast song library is stored in the app, not the piano, though a song can be transferred into one of the piano’s user song slots.
There’s no bouncing ball to follow, though Score Viewer will scroll or turn pages when playback reaches the end of the last measures visible onscreen. Swiping and pinch-zooming work, and a further Settings page supports turning pages with a connected pedal.
Drawing on the same song library as Score Viewer, Piano Roll offers a game-learning mode in which notes fall toward the keyboard.
Songs in Piano Roll are rated for difficulty, and divided into Piano and Keyboard tabs, which are meant for 88-key and 61-key instruments, respectively. Though the Keyboard songs are functional on the PX-S7000, you’d mainly stick with the Piano songs.
Live Concert Simulator
This provides adjustable ambient sounds of a variety of playing environments from concert halls and jazz clubs to being at a river or beach. You can also trigger applause and other sound events (Fig. 5). Usefully, from Live Concert Simulator you can directly access Music Player and its Melody Cancel function.
This area has two functions. A history of every Music Player session ensures you always have an answer to the question, “Now, what was that cool piece I was learning the other day?” Then, there are very informative, well-written descriptions of all the songs in Music Player.
Clicking the question mark icon at the top right of any Music Space screen loads a mobile browser page containing a tutorial on that screen. The implementation is excellent, relieving the player of searching through a user guide or watching a 15-minute video to find the desired morsel of information.
Stephen Fortner has been a keyboardist since early childhood, and has played professionally since age 14. He was the technical editor of Keyboard magazine from 2006 to 2009, and its editor-in-chief from 2009 through 2015. He has since founded Fortner Media, a content-strategy firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.