01 Feb Casio PX-S3100, Casio PX-S1100 – REVIEW | 2023 Digital Pianos
By: Professor Tim
Casio PX-S3100 & Casio PX-S1100 REVIEW | The 2 Best portable 88-key digital pianos under $1000? – LOWER PRICES HERE | The newer Casio PX-S1100 at $699 price & PX-S3100 at $879 have set a new standard for portable digital pianos under $1000 in our opinion. So what makes these 2 new models so impressive and stand apart from all the rest in this price range under $1000?
To start off, there are a number of new features and functions not seen before in 88-key piano-weighted key-action digital pianos including being able to operate the pianos on just 6 AA batteries as well as regular electric power. That is a huge leap in this type of instrument because up til this point, only the smaller, very lightweight keyboards weighing somewhere between 8 lbs to 18 lbs with cheap lightweight “spring type” keys had battery capability and some of those only take the heavier D size batteries.
Having a full size fully piano weighted key action in an 88-key portable digital piano with AA battery power with 4 full hours of battery operation means that for the first time you can get a “real piano playing experience” anywhere you want to take them including to the beach, the park, the mountains, the lake, in your backyard, in your hotel room, in your vehicle, wherever you want to go is very impressive…and they sound great.
Also, these are the first 2 full digital pianos which have a “3D surround sound” internal speaker system which creates a sound environment that your ears will not believe, based on our experience playing with both of these models.
The “surround sound” technology in the PX-S1100 & PX-S3100 makes it sound like the piano has a lot more audio power and clarity than it would otherwise with 16 watts of stereo power going into 2 speakers. The sound you hear is full, clear, and surrounds the piano rather than just coming up from 2 speakers and not having as good of clarity or stereo separation.
So the surround sound technology is a big leap in a more natural acoustic piano playing experience for a portable digital piano under $1000 that no other manufacturer has. I will say that even with the new internal speaker system, in my opinion these models could use a bit more bass response. If you were wanting to get more bass then you could connect this model to external powered monitors for that extra bass and get even more volume.
Apart from all of that is the fact that both of these new models have Bluetooth wireless audio & MIDI connectivity which is very unusual in this price range for portable digital pianos. The wireless audio feature allows you to play your favorite audio MP3 or audio wav file songs from your digital music library in your external device through the PXS speaker system so that you can hear it through the surround sound piano speakers as well as through stereo headphones.
This allows you to play the piano along with your favorite songs and to be able to learn them either by ear or by music if you get the music for your songs. Or…you can just use the PXS pianos as a portable stereo speaker system to play your songs through wirelessly for listening enjoyment and connect to an iPad or Android device without need for a cable.The Bluetooth MIDI allows to to connect your piano to an external device like an iPad without the need for a cable. This makes the connection instant and very convenient.
Both pianos have a unique smooth flat top control panel showing absolutely no buttons, display screens, sliders or other buttons on the control panel while the piano is powered off. However, when either piano is powered on, then both pianos display “virtual touch senor buttons” which light up so that when you touch that virtual button it activates the function you have selected whether that be an instrument sound like a piano tone, a metronome, the recording function, the “surround sound” feature, or other functions in the PXS models.
The PX-S3100 has the addition of many more lighted LED touch sensor “virtual buttons” along with an easy to see larger LCD user display screen so you can see the names of each function your are selecting.
With the PX-S3100 powered off, you cannot even see the LCD display screen…it just pretty much disappears. The PX-S3100 does have a movable/digital pitch-bend wheel for bending instrument tones to make them sound more realistic such as clarinet, steel guitar, synth, etc…and that’s something you don’t find on many of these lower priced portable digital pianos.
There’s hundreds more very impressive features on the PX-S3100 the PX-S1100 does not have, so my favorite of the two models is the PX-S3100 by far because for only $200 more, it is definitely worth the upgrade, especially for longer term ownership.
Both models share the same piano weighted key key-action, piano pedal system, and primary stereo piano sampled sound and this is really the heart of these new pianos because without offering a very good piano playing experience, the rest of the features in these pianos don’t mean as much to me.
With my 40 plus years of teaching piano to thousands of students (I started when I was very young) as well as professionally playing acoustic grand pianos, upright pianos, digital pianos, organs, and guitars, I take the fundamentals of piano playing very seriously.
So when I first played these new PXS portable digital pianos I was impressed at how much I enjoyed playing the piano key action, the grand piano sound, and the pedaling in these instruments.
I really like the other top brands of digital pianos including Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, Korg, and a few others, but in these new Casio PXS models, for most people it will be difficult not to like them. The way the new key action feels when playing the keys is responsive and for most people they will like it very much. If you are out to play advanced classical music on these models then I would not recommend them because that’s not what they were designed for.You certainly can do that but there are better models for that kind of advanced music in my opinion
The natural resonance and fullness of the 192-polyphony stereo grand piano sound sample with all of it’s organic content and dynamic tonal range, and the beauty of the pedal sustain response and sustain volume along with brand new balanced and lengthy “pedal sustain-decay times” goes way beyond what Casio has offered in the past and I definitely enjoyed the more organic piano sound.
You can couple this new acoustic type piano playing experience with all these new proprietary functions and features in a 24 lb cabinet (lightest of all 88-key portable digital pianos) measuring only 52″ wide, 9″ deep, and 4″ high, and you have all the things that make these 2 new pianos a huge “home run” going further than I imagined they would go…particularly for their low prices. I just cannot find much to complain about.
Also, when you connect either the PX-S1100 or PX-S3100 to an external sound system or small monitors in your home or outside in a bigger space (as I previously mentioned), then both of these models can sound like actual grand pianos…it’s that good when connected to good external powered speakers.
I will say there is one possible caveat to this piano and that is there may be a few people out there who have an issue with the key weight and response time on the black keys as compared to the white keys. Also, the static touch weight of the white keys could be an issue as you are playing much further back on them such as when you are playing flats or sharps or within chords that are flats or sharps.
The static touch weight (how much finger force it takes to press down the keys) of the black keys towards the fronts (tips) of those keys is somewhat lighter and takes less force to press down on the those keys as opposed to doing that on the white keys.
Also as you push your fingers towards the back of the keys (more so on the white keys) then it takes noticeably more finger force to press down the keys in those positions as opposed to pressing down the keys near the tips of the keys. Black & white key disparity in weight when pressing down on the keys does exist on real upright pianos, only they all vary just a bit from one another depending on brand and model.
Normally the black keys on other digital pianos and acoustic pianos can be heavier than the white keys (takes more force to press them down) instead of lighter so the difference between those keys usually depends on the the piano itself and grand pianos have the most balanced moving keys over any other type of piano.
The reason these particular key weight/key movement differences exists is because of the compact nature of this model. Casio had to make compromises and the key action weight and movement was one of them. The question is, is this a problem? My answer would be “no” for most people. I can play it fine and don’t personally have issues with the new key actions and I know a lot of very accomplished players who own these models, play them often, and like them a lot including the key action.
If your goal is to play piano in a more exact classical fashion like a real acoustic piano and you are very particular about it and playing piano is what you mainly want to do and you want to get to an advanced classical level, then maybe these 2 pianos are not for you. But if you play music recreationally then I believe you will like the overall weight and responsiveness of both the black & white keys and enjoy playing music on these models.
Be aware that there are some fairly advanced classical players out there who play on and really like the PXS models and don’t seem to have issues playing on them and making great music. Casio makes some amazing products other than digital pianos as everyone knows and Casio definitely is a leader in technology as for digital pianos go and have been for a number of decades so they definitely are not new at it.
Both models also offer an optional portable triple-pedal unit which allows you to easily connect it directly to the piano and be able to have and use all three traditional piano pedal functions including soft, sostentuto, and sustain with full half-damper recognition, all in one lightweight and inexpensive unit. That’s really a very big deal because otherwise an optional triple pedal unit could only be purchased as a triple pedal-bar which has to be connected to a an optional furniture stand for the piano.
So with this new portable triple pedal unit, Casio is again leading the way in practical accessories as well. Having this optional item is a good thing as you grow in your piano playing abilities and become a better player, but in the meantime you can still use the single plastic sustain pedal that comes with the piano which should be enough to get you by for some time while you are a beginning student.
Finally, Casio has developed a proprietary app for controlling nearly all functions of the piano and that is called “Casio Music Space” which was formerly called “Chordana.” As far as I am concerned, this app is indispensable in being able to operate and utilize functions and features of both models, especially the PX-S3100, that make it more intuitive and easier to enjoy the PXS models in ways that you cannot do as easily without the app.
I put it on my iPad and using my iPad color touch screen display with all these easy to read and easy to use features just made the experience that much better…and the app also does some very cool things above and beyond what the pianos themselves can do…and it’s great for all ages.
The PX-S1100 and PX-S3100 appear to be extremely well designed, cool looking, super lightweight, portable, and flexible digital pianos in ways I have not seen before, especially in this price range. Although some other brands offer some good models under $1000, it’s going to be difficult for them to compete with these Casio portable digital pianos until the other companies “catch up to them,” and that may be awhile based on what I have seen out there so far.
Now it’s up to you to decide what brand and model you want out there of the major brands, and if you choose Casio, then are willing to spend the extra $200 to get the more advanced PX-S3100 which offers a lot more acoustic piano variety, 700 instrument sounds including pro quality acoustic guitars, Spanish classical guitars, vintage electric pianos, organs, string symphonies, 200 high quality drum rhythm patterns and additional accompaniments, and so much more.
In our opinion, going up to the PX-S3100 is a no-brainer, especially if you plan to keep it for awhile. As always we can help you order one for LESS MONEY THAN AMAZON & INTERNET PRICES along with free shipping, no tax, brand new, with new factory warranty.
* Want a detailed, more in-depth review of the PX-S1100? Go to the following link to our other digital piano review site: Casio PX-S1100 Detailed Review
* Want a detailed, more in-depth review of the PX-S3100? Go to the following link to our other digital piano review site: Casio PX-S3100 Detailed Review