The Score Magazine July 2017 issue - Page 36

Casio Privia PX-350M The original Privia was the answer to many pianists’ prayers: the first (and for some time the only) serious 88-key digital piano at an unprecedented price and weighing only 25 pounds. This made it a catalyst for increased competition in the under-a-grand piano market: 128-voice polyphony graded and weighted keyboard actions, and ample supplemental sounds are pretty standard these days. What does Casio do to up the ante? For the latest Privia, the PX-350M, they plunged their resources into a piano playing experience so improved... it’s astonishing. Piano Sound and Feel Compared to the previous flagship Privia (the PX-330), Casio has tripled the sample size of the main piano sound. They’ve also adjusted the key sensors such that there’s a lot more going on than what you may be used to from a digital stage piano. For one, the keys transmit high-resolution MIDI to the internal sound engine (as well as any external software that can interpret it), so instead of 127 possible velocity values, there are 16,256. On a graded keyboard, the hammers are (or seem to be) heavier and slower in the lower range, just like on a real piano, and they get gradually lighter as you ascend. The PX- 350M has this, and also something called Hammer Response, an algorithm that accounts for the time it takes for the heavier hammers to hit the strings at a given MIDI velocity. Also, the key surfaces have a prominent texture that gives your fingers grip, wicks away moisture, and makes it hard to go back to stage pianos that don’t have it. 34 The Score Magazine highonscore.com The PX-350M has sustain resonance, which simulates the sound of all the strings vibrating in sympathy with actually- played notes when the damper pedal is down. Check out presets like “Grand Piano Dolce,” which dials in resonance like you would reverb or chorus. The effect is magical. Casio also touts AIR (Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator), their digital strategy for interpolating between the four velocity-switched sample levels. It works. You get smoother dynamics, finer control, and longer samples with barely noticeable loops. Slam down an octave near the bottom and it growls away for what seems like forever. Bottom line: You have to engage the same level of mental and kinesthetic concentration that you would if playing an acoustic grand. Once you do, you have a very expressive instrument at your fingertips. Other Sounds and Features What Casio didn’t do was tamper with the already robust feature array of the previous deluxe Privia, the PX-330. For the Rs. 8000 bump up from the PX-160 (which features the same piano sound), you get 250 sounds, a 17-track sequencer that records and plays MIDI files via driver-free USB2, a programmable drum machine with 180 rhythms, auto- accompaniment, and auto-harmony—the latter two with a bit of cheese factor but darned fun nonetheless. There are cushy Rhodes simulations, a nasty little Wurly that’s the go-to EP on anything funky, Clavs that cut, and a serviceable smattering of orga ̸9܁ѡA`4ɔ)ȵݥѕɕɥэͽ䁑մͽչ̸)Q̽̀ݥѠѠѥɥ