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Review: Are Casio Home Pianos (AP-470) Worth Buying?

Review:

Casio Celviano AP-470

$1699 USD

At first glance, the features of the Celviano AP-470 look uncannily similar to Casio’s Privia PX-870. That is because the AP-470 is internally almost identical to a Privia PX-870 but with an additional grand piano sample, a traditional console cabinet & a fancier speaker design.

I am going to review the key-action, sound quality, various features, and functionalities of this home piano and demonstrate the onboard sounds in order to help you make a better buying decision.



Key Actions

The AP-470 comes with 88 full-size scaled hammer action keys.

Just like a traditional acoustic piano, the keys on the AP-470 have a heavier feel on the lower register and gradually become lighter on the higher octaves. To better suit your playing style and technique, Casio has provided 4 configurable hammer response curves. Each key incorporates 3 sensors that enable a sound to be produced continuously, even when the key has not fully returned to its resting position which is an important feature when playing quick repeated notes on the same key.


In my opinion, the AP-470 key action is good but Roland’s PHA-4 key action found on their recently released and similarly priced F701 is closer to a grand piano feel.

The Casio has a relatively lighter action though, which some may prefer. However, it would have been great if Casio had made their keys a little quieter and have lesser lateral movements. While it does not affect your playing, it can give a fussy pianist the perception that the keys are not as tightly built as they should be.


Both the black and white keytops of the AP-470 are heavily textured to simulate the grain of ebony and ivory.

This is great for those who live in the humid tropics and whose fingertips get sweaty after prolonged practice. These keys will give you confidence when you play faster musical passages. The little strip of red felt at the top of the keys mimics a traditional piano was a nice touch.

You can check out my recommendations if the keys are not your cup of tea. You can check out my beginner piano app as well as some beginners video courses and course materials available for you. Also, do check out this free 25 Piano lesson too.


Sound Quality

A big complaint from owners of previous generation Casio pianos is the short sample length resulting in a quick sound decay. Thankfully, the Casio AP-470 no longer suffers from this. The specification lists the AP-470 with 22 in-built tones. However, this is not entirely true as the actual number of samples is only 18.

The 2 grand piano samples on the AP-470 come in 3 different EQs - concert, bright & mellow and Casio counts each EQ variation as a new tone.

Regardless, 18 tones are significantly more than Yamaha’s similarly priced Arius YDP-164 which only comes with 10 tones.


The grand piano & electric piano samples using Casio’s AiR sound chip are above average, but the harpsichord, vibraphone, strings, and organ tones do not inspire you musically.

While the AP-470 has a key-off simulator, this is only applied to the grand piano tones. The harpsichord lacks realism without key-off sampling. It is no surprise that the grand piano sample also benefits from the configurable string resonance and damper noises.


With 256 notes of polyphony, the Casio AP-470 matches the Roland F701 but has an advantage over Yamaha’s similarly priced Arius piano which only comes with 192 note polyphony. Voices on the AP-470 can be layered and the layered volume mix can also be adjusted giving you the flexibility to sculpt the sound the way you want. However, when played in split mode, the only tone you get on the left side of the keyboard is an acoustic bass sound.


It would have been better if Casio gave the AP-470 the flexibility to assign any tone to the keyboard split which the similarly priced Roland F701 can do. It would have been nice if Casio included an electric bass tone for contemporary music too.


To tweak the tones to sound the way you want, the Casio AP-470 has chorus effects and a hall simulator which is a fancy marketing term for reverb effects.

There are unique DSP effects that are specifically applied to each tone, it would have been nice if Casio tells us what DSP effect is applied and gives us a way to turn DSP off or configure it, but that is not the case.


You can check out my recommendations if you require more sound samples or flexibility when adjusting your voices



Features

One of the selling points of the Casio AP-470 is the grand piano lid-simulator feature.

This is implemented in 2 ways. Firstly, the resonance of the grand piano sample can be configured electronically to sound like it is recorded with the grand piano lid open or close. Secondly, the AP-470 has a physical lid that you can lift open or close to shape the sound coming out from the speakers. The physical lid may look like a gimmick but it is not.


The AP-470 has 4 speakers driven by a pair of amplifiers with a total power of 40 watts. There are a total of 5 places the sound from the speakers is routed. You get a pair of speaker cut-outs below the piano, a pair of thin slits just above the keys, and a nice red speaker grille on top of the piano, covered by an articulating lid.

With the lid closed, the sound is noticeably more intimate and mellow. With the lid open, you get a spacious and brighter tone that is delivered directly to the pianists’ ears. Basic functions such as selecting tones and using the metronome are accessible via buttons and silk-screen labeled keys. Accessing all other features requires you to refer to the manual to figure out which keys correspond to a function.


Without an LCD screen, you have no way to tell which tone is selected, which effect is applied, if the keyboard has been transposed, etc. You get the point. Hopefully, the next Casio piano model will have an LCD screen like the one found on the similarly priced Roland F701.


While Casio has a mobile app that shows you all this information on the large screen of a tablet, the lack of wireless connectivity makes it inconvenient.

In this day and age, wireless bluetooth MIDI and bluetooth audio should be standard as it makes connecting a smartphone app to the piano more friction-free.


You can also check out my beginner piano app as well as some beginners video courses and course materials available for you. At the same time, you check out this free 25 Piano lesson as well.


The built-in 2 track MIDI recorder is basic but easy to use. What is more useful for most piano players is the USB audio recorder.

With this feature, you can conveniently record your performance directly onto a USB stick and carry your audio recordings everywhere with you.


There are two ¼” headphones jack and the hook for hanging your headphones which makes it very convenient for you to access them

The USB port for your USB stick is also conveniently located for easy access.

Here I have recommendations for speakers, headphones, microphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.


It would have been better if made the music rest feel more premium and with more tilt angles to suit pianists of different heights

The AP-470 is available in 3 different colors, black, oak, and white. This simulated wood laminate has a nice 3D textured grain compared to competing brands where the wood grain is just merely printed on.



Conclusion

Now, who is the Casio AP-470 for? If you want your digital piano to look like a traditional upright acoustic piano and portability is not an issue, the AP-470 is for you. If you are just starting out and do not want to spend too much money, the AP-470 is for you. If you do not often use many other voices besides the piano and electric piano sound, this digital piano is for you. If you like the nostalgic textured feel of real ivory and ebony keys, Casio has the most textured keys in the market. If you want a simulated directional sound projection of a grand piano lid, the Casio AP-470 is for you.


I hope you found my review of the Casio AP-470 useful. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest and most updated information and prices of Casio AP-470. Do also take a look at my other articles to find the best and most suited instrument for your personal need. Also, check out my Piano App and beginner keyboard course available for you




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