Review: 6 reasons why the CT-S400 is the best of the whole lineup.
Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Casio has been actively milking its nostalgic 1980s Casiotone brand name by releasing no less than 9 Casiotone models in the past 24 months. With model names such as CT-S100, CT-S195, CT-S200, CT-S300, LK-S250, CT-S1, CT-S400, CT-S410 & LK-S450, it is confusing trying to decide which is the best Casiotone portable keyboard for you.
Even more so when there’s just a mere $10 difference between certain models. However, there is one model which stands out making it the best amongst all. I will be giving you 6 reasons why the CT-S400 is the best value for money Casiotone you should buy among the entire Casiotone lineup right now.
The earlier Casiotone models such as the CT-S100/200/300 had a lower quality key action. These keyboards are cheaper and some sacrifices had to be made and one such sacrifice is the key action.
However, CT-S400 comes with an upgraded touch-sensitive key action which it shares with the CT-S1 & the LK-S450. This action and keybed are also superior to Casio’s CT-X700 & CT-X800 keyboards. The new key action has a better velocity curve allowing you to better control the tonal expression.
The key action on the CT-S400 also feels noticeably more premium, sounds quieter, and doesn’t have the overly artificial springiness that earlier Casiotone key beds have. The keytops are also more subtly textured and are closer to how real ebony & ivory look.
It is regrettable that the CT-S400 doesn't have the felt strip at the top of the keys that the CT-S1 has.
There are 2 different sound engines used in the Casiotones. The older AHL sound engine used on earlier Casiotones is beginning to show its age. The tone quality just pales in comparison to Casio’s newer AiX sound chip.
The Casio CT-S400 uses the newer AiX sound engine and has a higher note polyphony. Making it possible to process larger more detailed samples and can handle more advanced digital signal processing. All of which were lacking in earlier Casiotones.
The more powerful AiX sound engine also supports dual voice layering and voice splits across the keyboard which is lacking on the CT-S100, CT-S300 & CT-S200.
Tones and Rhythms
The CT-S400 has 600 high-quality onboard tones. This is 50% more tones than the 400 tones found on earlier Casiotones. The CT-S400 also has a staggering 250% more onboard rhythm accompaniments compared to the CT-S100, CT-S200 & CT-S300.
These additional tones and rhythms aren’t just perfunctory. The tones sound richer, more detailed, more nuanced, and the rhythm accompaniment patterns are significantly better programmed. It will take some tweaking to make the earlier Casiotones sound good, but most of the CT-S400 tones sound amazing right out of the box.
The user interface of earlier Casiotones was quite a pain to navigate through.
You had to scroll through hundreds of sounds & rhythms to get to the tone & accompaniment you wanted. This became so frustrating and 3rd parties, seeing the demand, started developing apps to make tone selection on the earlier Casiotones easier.
Thankfully, Casio noted their customers’ feedback and the Casiotone CT-S400 now sports a large and legible backlit LCD screen that makes accessing various functions a lot more intuitive.
Tones are now grouped into categories and you can quickly jump to the corresponding category for quick tone selection.
The new LCD display is context-aware and will assign the appropriate functions to the buttons below the LCD screen. The earlier Casiotone CT-S100, CT-S200 & CT-S300 didn’t allow you to save any user settings. This means you have to set up voices & rhythms from scratch for each song you want to play. The CT-S400 solves this by allowing you to save up to 32 user registrations for quick recall.
Keyboard players often connect their keyboard to their smartphone or iPad to take advantage of the many music learning apps available. The previous Casiotones had only a USB MIDI port and required a wire connection.
The Casiotone CT-S400 can be used with an optional Bluetooth adaptor for wireless MIDI as well as wireless Bluetooth audio streaming from your smart devices to the keyboard’s onboard speakers.
This is a great improvement as audio streaming on earlier Casio keyboards required an auxiliary cable.
The CT-S400 comes with pins for attaching a guitar strap.
With a guitar strap attached, you can carry your CT-S400 everywhere. The lightweight and portable design, coupled with being able to operate the keyboard with standard AA batteries.
This makes the newer Casiotones one of the easiest to bring with you anywhere compared to every other 61-key keyboard out there right now.
I hope that this review of the Casiotone CT-S400 has been useful for you. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest updates and prices of the CT-S400 If this keyboard is not for you, do look at the other articles in this blog to find your ideal instrument.