Casio CT-S1 Review

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7.5
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While we wish the polyphony was higher and quality was a bit better the price is (certainly!) right for this little portable keyboard. The Casio CT-S1 will serve complete beginners well, but probably won’t last you years and years due to the light and somewhat cheaper build. On the plus side, the model is extremely portable and has a good variety of tones for the price. But we couldn’t rate it above a C because of the unweighted key and all-around key feel. 

$268.00

While we wish the polyphony was higher and quality was a bit better the price is (certainly!) right for this little portable keyboard. The Casio CT-S1 will serve complete beginners well, but probably won’t last you years and years due to the light and somewhat cheaper build. On the plus side, the model is extremely portable and has a good variety of tones for the price. But we couldn’t rate it above a C because of the unweighted key and all-around key feel. 

CT-S1: Overview

Casio CT-S1 review

The Casio CT-S1 is a 61-key portable keyboard designed with beginning players in mind. It first came out this past year (2023), and some packages include an upgraded (piano-style) sustain pedal. The abbreviation ‘CT’ stands for the Casiotone line, which has slim and modern yet very economical models as a whole. For about $200 you can get this battery-powered instrument with 61 tones inside.

According to the manufacturer, the CT-S1 is the spiritual successor of the original Casiotone.

“In 1980, the original Casiotone CT-201 allowed anyone to make music, regardless of skill level or budget. With the CT-S1, its spiritual successor, we’ve raised our own bar. The Casiotone CT-S1 is a great-sounding, stylish, ultra-portable keyboard designed for anyone to enjoy playing. Its incredible sound quality makes it an ideal musical partner for beginners and seasoned players alike, and its sleek, portable design makes it fun to play anytime, anywhere.” -Casio (Amazon.com)

Features

Stereo Grand and 60 More Tones

The CT-S1’s most well-loved sound is probably the stereo grand, but you can also find other basics like strings, organs, synths, and different types of pianos inside of the AiX sound source. There are both Casio basic tones and Advanced Tones inside. Some of the sounds have been taken from other Casio models and series, like their CZ series, VL series, and VZ series sounds. The CT-S1 includes vintage keyboard tones as well. 

Some specific sounds inside include:

  • Tape Flute
  • Stage Piano
  • Dynamic Piano
  • Piano Pad
  • Guitar Pad
  • Piano and Bass Split
  • Phaser E. Piano
  • Clavi
  • AMP 60’s E.Piano
  • Dyno E. Piano
  • Digital E. Piano
  • Dynamic Organ
  • Jazz Organ
  • V. Organ
  • Synth Brass
  • Synth Strings
  • Saw Lead
  • Magni Synth Pad

Controls

I was surprised to see how much control you have over the sound in the Casio CT-S1. There is an onboard EQ, effects like reverb and delay, and also, the option to change temperaments. Most all adjustments can be made using the ‘Function’ button located on the right side of the instrument. 

Onboard Recorder

The 1-track recorder lets you capture ideas that can you flesh out later. While it’s not a lot of space to work with, I was surprised to see this button onboard at all- As a writer, it really does comes in handy.

High-Quality Speakers

The speakers inside of the CT-S1 boast a lot of clarity and have a rich bass. They are small but quality- and are enough for a beginner who is just playing in a smaller room for themselves. 

Casio Chordana

The Casio CT-S1 is compatible with the Chordana Play App. This free software can make full scores from MIDI files, change the tempos of songs, transpose songs…and of course, connect to smart devices and pianos, and show the piano roll. While it can be buggy at times, it is an engaging way to get beginners learning and comes with Casio pianos. 

Other Features:

  • Octave shift function
  • Bluetooth
  • Optional Strap attachment (so you can wear the instrument)
  • Includes 24 types of reverb

Specifications

Casio CT-S1 review

  • Weight: 9.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 36.6 x 10.2 x 3.3 (inches)
  • Keyboard type: Electronic

Who is it suitable for?

Casio’s CT-S1 is best suited for entry-level pianists who aren’t yet ready for a large economic commitment. The CT-S1 also makes for a nice backup/travel piano for those who are often on the go. This model could be used to perform for medium-sized groups, as long as you had external amplification. But as a whole, the Casio CT-S1 is best for those just getting their feet wet.

The S1 in Action 

Check out this all-playing, no-talking extended demo by Casio Music UK to get a better feel for the sounds of this instrument.

Brazilian pianist Sergio Britto recorded a video on the CT-S1- You can check it out here, in his song which was created with the model’s placid piano tones and synth sounds. 

Buyer Reviews

As a whole, Amazon buyers were really pleased with this little instrument. The instrument has a 4.7/5 star average review on Amazon.com. Here’s what some of the customers were happy with:

  • It’s portable 
  • Has many capabilities
  • The keys feel a bit textured
  • It looks sleek, retro
  • Streamlined and simple- so it is easy to use

Constructive reviews from others included the following: 

  • There isn’t any graded hammer action- so it’s difficult to learn classical technique
  • The build quality could be better
  • The piano didn’t work with one buyer’s version of MAC so they had to return it
  • The speakers could stand to be more powerful 
  • Some didn’t like the key feel (spongy, mushy)

As a MAC user, I was disappointed to see that others had trouble with the compatibility- Usually musical instruments are plug-and-play, especially with MACs.  

Pros and Cons

Casio CT-S1 review

Pros

  • While it doesn’t feel pro is certainly feels better than some of the other older cheap CT models
  • Class-compliant (USB/MIDI)
  • It has a recorder
  • The speakers have a lot of bass 
  • Economical (comes at a great price for the value)
  • Has an eye-catching (Dare I say Nord-like?!) red color
  • Great for beginners
  • Made by a reputable brand 
  • You can wear it
  • The tones are pretty good for the price, and there is a nice variety
  • Optional battery power (6xAA)
  • The keybed has a tiny bit of weight for being labeled as unweighted

Then it comes to the CT-S1, the price commitment is right for a lot of folks getting an instrument just to test the waters with. I also think it’s pretty neat that you can affix a guitar strap onto the CT-S1 and wear it on stage. Although I’m now sure how I’d personally fair with that, as I’ve always played my pianos/keyboards flat! 

Side note: There is a bit of a misconception on some reviews online- Some people are stating that the CT-S1 is only battery-powered, but this is incorrect, as it does come with a DC power supply cord.

Cons

  • Speakers aren’t very powerful
  • Not many tones
  • Smaller than a full-sized piano
  • You will outgrow it more quickly than a lot of $500+ models (in my personal opinion)
  • No power supply cord- Runs on batteries only
  • Costs extra to get the sustain pedal
  • I’m not sure how long it will hold up for
  • No LED screen onboard, so the tones may be difficult to navigate for some users
  • Keyfeel could be better
  • Not very ideal for classical players 
  • A bit toyish overall 
  • No dance music mode like some of the other Casios
  • Only 1 onboard song (other CT-models have a nice handful)

One of the biggest complaints about this instrument is that the speakers aren’t very powerful. Despite the maker having optimized the speakers for more ‘umph’ in the bass, the breadth of sound/the lack of loudness in this model is going to be a deal breaker for many. The sound that comes out of the speakers is clear, but it isn’t particularly loud considering that it’s only got 5 watts of juice total. 

So, my main two cons are: While the CT-S1 makes a fine piano to play around with or plug into your computer, the speakers are truly a bit weak, and the key feel leaves something to be desired- but then again, this is a very cheap little keyboard, so I didn’t have a ton of expectations for it. 

I had hoped that the polyphony would have been higher, though, and I’m not sure how long the piano will last- probably not years and years. Luckily it’s higher than some of the other Casio tones, which only have 48 notes. 

Another con is that you can actually get other Casiotones with more features inside- for a bit of a lower price (see our comparable instruments list below for more details). 

Personally, I didn’t expect an LED screen for the price, but I know that some beginners have had issues with being able to navigate finding tones without one. 

Comparable Instruments 

  • For more tones try: CT-S300 or CT-S400
  • For an even more economical model try: CT-S200
  • For a different brand, beginner instrument try: The YPT 270 

Other CT-S1 Package options

You can also get the CT-S1 in a package with the pedal, or a C1 in a package with an adapter (both on Amazon).  

CT-S300 and CT-S400

Many buyers found that models like the S300 and S400 were worth saving up for, and ended up returning the CT-S1 in exchange for one of the above. The CT-S300 is around the same price- sometimes even less actually- than the CT-S1, and has about 600 or so more tones onboard. Similarly, the CT-S400 has 600 tones onboard…making both the portable arranger models have more bang for their buck.

CT-S200

At just $139.00 this 61-key portable piano is even more economical than the one we reviewed today. It has a total of 40 tones, 60 songs, and 77 rhythms, which is certainly enough to get you started. It also has dance music patterns, which the CT-S1 lacks.

For beginner models of other brands, check out Yamaha’s YTP-270– It has hundreds of tones, and some really nice learning tools onboard. 

It’s also worth noting that instruments like the Casio Privias and Casio Celvianos are much more complicated than this one– for intermediate players, that might mean these lines are a better fit. But for beginners, a more straightforward approach with a bare-bones keyboard like the CT-S1 might be what they need to get started. For more comparisons of the CT-S1 to other Casio products, I’d recommend checking out this page.

Quick View 

Keys 61 keys
Touch sensitivity  Yes: Touch response keybed (3 types of touch sensitivity, off)
Sounds 61 tones
Recording capabilities  USB/MIDI
Metronome Yes
Polyphony  64 notes of polyphony
Speakers Yes: 2 x 5.1 inch speakers, 2.5 watts each
Headphones Yes: 1 x ⅛ inch input
Accessories User manual
Price point  $220

Famous Musicians Who Use Casio

Tommy Bolan (of the Richie Ramone Band) plays on a PX-S1000- and has even remarked on how much he loves the ‘candy-apple red’ of the instrument. Other Casio artists include singer-songwriter April Rose Gabrielli, pop artist Julia Gartha, and country artist Josh Charles. 

CT-S1: Conclusion

Thanks so much for sticking around until the end of this Casio CT-S1 review! In conclusion, the S1 is an economical, portable piano with a small number of sounds– and a nice option for those who are just getting started with the piano. I love how new the model is (so you can be confident in the updates made to it) and the price is absolutely unbeatable. While the keybed will never feel close to a pro instrument, having an instrument is better than not having one. Plus, Casio’s name has years of manufacturing behind it, so you can be confident that you’re getting what it says you’re getting. I can’t say the same for many of the off-brand models that are all over Amazon. 

Music quote of the week: 

Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” -Sergei Rachmaninoff 

7.5Expert Score
Casio CT-S1 Review While we wish the polyphony was higher and quality was a bit better the price is (certainly!) right for this little portable keyboard. The Casio CT-S1 will serve complete beginners well, but probably won’t last you years and years due to the light and somewhat cheaper build. On the plus side, the model is extremely portable and has a good variety of tones for the price. But we couldn’t rate it above a C because of the unweighted key and all-around key feel.
PROS
  • While it doesn’t feel pro is certainly feels better than some of the other older cheap CT models
  • Class-compliant (USB/MIDI)
  • It has a recorder
  • The speakers have a lot of bass
  • Economical (comes at a great price for the value)
  • Has an eye-catching (Dare I say Nord-like?!) red color
  • Great for beginners
  • Made by a reputable brand
  • You can wear it
  • The tones are pretty good for the price, and there is a nice variety
  • Optional battery power (6xAA)
  • The keybed has a tiny bit of weight for being labeled as unweighted
CONS
  • Speakers aren’t very powerful
  • Not many tones
  • Smaller than a full-sized piano
  • You will outgrow it more quickly than a lot of $500+ models (in my personal opinion)
  • No power supply cord- Runs on batteries only
  • Costs extra to get the sustain pedal
  • I’m not sure how long it will hold up for
  • No LED screen onboard, so the tones may be difficult to navigate for some users
  • Keyfeel could be better
  • Not very ideal for classical players
  • A bit toyish overall
  • No dance music mode like some of the other Casios
  • Only 1 onboard song (other CT-models have a nice handful)

Videos: Casio CT-S1 Review

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