Before we get into our Casio WK-245 Review, let’s consider that Casio was essentially a family-owned business established soon after the end of the Second World War in Tokyo. The Casio we know today didn’t really come into existence until 1957. That year saw the production of what was essentially the world’s first calculator that sat on a desk. It was through that invention that the Casio Computer Company was formed.
That is what we see today in Casio’s products. It looks all very unremarkable to us today, but in those days, it was viewed as near miraculous. We had calculating machines in accountant’s offices everywhere, but they were hand-operated. Keying in numbers on a large metal machine and then turning a handle to get a result.
The origins had come in 1949 when they had attended a business show and were impressed by what were the first electronic calculating machines. They came away, and being electronics trained themselves began to develop their calculator.
It was a fairly short step to then develop and pursue this technology into other areas. To them, nothing was out of bounds. As the technologies were reduced in size, it opened even more ‘computer-based’ product options. Of course, they weren’t really computers, but this was a fledgling world. A world where the telephone was still something extraordinary to most people, Casio products signaled the dawning of the ‘age of the machines.’
Those of us of a certain age remember our first digital watches and pocket calculators. Even watches with calculators that you couldn’t use because the keys were too small. Most of them were or inspired by Casio. The shops were full of these budget, fun almost ‘toy-like’ products.
The Japanese, if nothing else, are supremely creative, and they recognized this technology could be applied everywhere. There were other possibilities, and small keyboards began to appear. Little things, again toy-like in appearance and function and sound. Very few skills needed to make any meaningful sound.
And oh didn’t the crusty old bores complain. Not a musical instrument, not this, not that…yawn. Casio never claimed it was. But, dear old crusty musical instrument manufacturers and musicians, here is something for you. They introduced a whole new generation to the prospect of playing an instrument. By the thousands. That is something you never did!
Some of the great musicians of the age to come knocked out their first keyboard tunes on these things. Yes, some of them were toys. So what?
It is a bit different today though, Sixty years later, this company, at times ridiculed, produce some quality instruments. Some are even played by the musician off-spring of those who criticized them. Excuse us while we conceal a wry grin.
Casio still makes its budget, ‘toy-like’ instruments. It is good that they do, but they also work at the serious end. This is one of those serious instruments. The Casio WK-245 is a Casio keyboard, that for them, is a bit of an adventure. They are better known for smaller sized pianos and keyboards, but this model has 76 keys. And of course, being Casio, it is at a very affordable price.
Have you a child or anyone who has a small keyboard and wants to take that giant leap? Then the Casio WK-245 is the perfect instrument. Let’s take a closer look and see what a new breed of Casio keyboard looks like. Before we start, though, we must say that this isn’t really a keyboard. But, no need to worry, you’re about to learn all about it. Then you can make your own mind up…
The Casio WK-245can hardly be described as either a minimalist or basic piano. On first viewing, the controls take center stage, especially the LCD display located at the center. But let’s not focus on the controls initially. More on this later.
The piano itself is nicely laid out with nothing that particularly stands out as being different. It has 76 standard-sized keys.
The body is made from a tough plastic, which many pianos, even in higher price ranges, are. It has a pleasant design with rounded corners and the frame below the keys. There is nothing clever about the design. It is basic and simple and made to fulfill a function.
As with the body, the actual keys are also plastic. At this price point, that is perfectly acceptable even though there are some who might be critical. If you want better materials, you will have to pay more. Significantly more than this model. This is designed as an entry-level instrument at an affordable price. It is as simple as that.
It’s quite portable and not what you would call heavy at 23 pounds. It is what you might expect size-wise at 50 x 7 x 18 inches. It is therefore movable and won’t take up too much room. This is just a keyboard, so there are no large stands to make room for. It can sit on a table or a small stand and be quite secure. It will operate either on AC power or on batteries.
It looks more daunting than it actually is. The center of attention is the backlit LCD. This gives you up to date information on what the keyboard is doing. Also, what operations are being used and what sounds are being produced. It gives you the notation of what is being played. It is, as we previously said, backlit, so is still readable in dimmed lighting.
Although at first sight keyboards like this can appear complex, you soon get used to where everything is. You will use certain functions more than others; that is natural. And you will very quickly learn where they are. Others you will acquire as and when you require them.
Everything is well labeled and described and easy to read. A plus point to the controls is that they are well grouped in terms of their use. But also they are not spread out along the full width of the keyboard. This is an important design feature that works well — keeping all the controls and options within easy visual reach.
Built-in is an enormous amount of sounds and options, but we shall deal with those later.
We think so. It is not a cheap build and feels quite sturdy. Like all such instruments, care should be taken when handling it and positioning it. It is nicely designed and very functional. And whilst the control panel looks complex at first, it is well designed and efficiently laid out.
It comes with a music stand, but it is a little flimsy. Made of quite thin plastic, care should be taken. When used with music books, the pages can sometimes obscure the control panel. It has a built-in amplifier and speakers to allow it to operate as a stand-alone instrument with no need for extra equipment.
It also has a headphone socket. When using the headphones, it deactivates the speakers. There are built-in extra connections, and there is a USB MIDI that doesn’t need the installation of drivers. This will connect up your Windows or Mac laptop. Casio seems to have thought of most things.
How Does It Play?
Let us remind ourselves that we are looking at an entry-level keyboard with the Casio WK-245. It is designed for either a complete beginner or an improver. But it has enough onboard to satisfy a more experienced player. The price is set accordingly, so if you are expecting it to play like a concert grand piano, it’s probably time to move on.
It has 76 keys, which we have mentioned that are touch-responsive. The sound does alternate between loud and soft, depending on how hard you strike them. For this level of piano, pressure-based keys are a very good inclusion. The keys are the full width of ⅞”, so there have been no cutbacks that will affect the way it plays. Some manufacturers reduce the width of the keys to save costs.
There are some design features that you would find on more expensive models that have not been included with this Casio keyboard. The keys are not hammer-graded or weighted, which is the major difference between this and the next level of piano up. However, this doesn’t seem to affect the style of play, particularly. To play, it feels nice and smooth along the length of the keyboard.
It is fitted with more basic functions, though. Included is a layering function. This is a nice addition, especially for the starter or improver. It allows you to combine two instruments together, creating a great effect. The piano with strings especially gives a great sound.
A Split function is also included that effectively cuts the keyboard in half. Two people can then play in the same octaves. Ideal for teaching purposes.
We feel that it plays quite well. It doesn’t feel like an expensive piano. It wouldn’t do. But it is a far better playing experience than most other keyboards in this price range. For the price point, then Casio has done a good job.
How Does It Sound?
There are two aspects of this keyboard to consider when considering the Sound. It wouldn’t be fair to put them all under the same banner. Let’s talk about the piano sound first.
The quality of the sound of the piano settings is what we might best call adequate. There is a range of pianos ranging from full concert grands in stereo through to uprights. And while none of them are particularly breathtaking, they suffice. We weren’t expecting too much more if we are, to be honest, but they do offer a variety of different piano sounds.
They do sound a lot better when played through an external amp and speaker system or through headphones. The quality of the onboard system is not very good at all. Therefore, it doesn’t do the piano sounds justice. Nevertheless, as we say, the piano sound is just adequate. If you remember that this is a budget level keyboard, you won’t be disappointed.
Polyphony is limited to just 48 notes, which is quite a bit less than the really high-level models. Having said that, this instrument is for starters and improvers. It is not built for the speed and the complexities of intense classical pieces by the likes of Chopin, Stravinsky, or Liszt. On any reasonable piece even played by experienced musicians, 48 polyphony will not cause note dropouts.
Moving away from the piano to the other sounds that are included, which is where it really does get rather interesting. There are over six hundred built-in sounds across a range of instruments and musical styles. These include a full range from the orchestral or groups of orchestral instruments.
They are nicely sampled. Very basic possibly, but they still give a representation of the instrument. In some cases, a very good representation. Overall the sounds they produce are good considering this is a budget instrument.
There are also 180 preset rhythms laid out in patterns that cover just about every genre. Added to this, a music library that includes over 150 songs.
We do think that is quite enough to be getting on with, but Casio takes all this a stage further. In our opening, we made the remark that we didn’t think was really a keyboard. It isn’t just a keyboard. It is a complete workstation.
Built-in is a recording facility that will allow you to record five different songs, each with six separate tracks. That will allow the budding songwriters to sit down in front of this keyboard and create. It also has its own sampling system to save any unique sounds you may create.
A built-in microphone is included as well for vocals, and if you want to add actual guitars and bass audio, you can. It transforms itself into a studio full of musicians, and if you want to add some effects like reverbs or delays, it is all there.
For a starter, there are lessons that you can follow that increase in grades as you progress. There is very little they haven’t included.
Casio WK-245 Pros & Cons
- A superb choice for the beginner or early improver.
- Well built.
- Simple to navigate.
- Easy and fun to play.
- A vast number of sounds and rhythms.
- Complete workstation.
- In-built amplifier and speakers let the sound quality down, far better if you use headphones or an external keyboard amplifier or PA system.
- Polyphony is low, but OK for a beginner.
Other Casio Options
We have reviewed a vast number of Casio Keyboards on the site over the years, so the best bet, if you’re looking for other Casio options, is to do a search of the site. However, our reviews of Casio PX350, the Casio WK7600, the Casio Privia PX 870 Digital Piano review, the Casio CGP 700BK review, the Casio PX560BE review, and the Casio CTK 2550 review may well be of interest.
What Do We Think?
The philosophy of this Casio keyboard or workstation, call it what you will, is a throwback to the days of the watches we saw. Let’s pack as much tech in as we possibly can. With this keyboard, they have certainly done that.
It is an instrument that suits players at a variety of levels. It certainly suits the experienced musician. There is enough onboard for them to create music and even save it. To experiment with sounds and instruments. To play some Mozart or Chopin. Maybe even take to gigs.
For the improver, lots of fun things to get your head around as they develop and for the starter a world of musical adventure that opens up before them. There are also some lessons to help them improve.
This keyboard does more than just make sounds and give you a piano. It gives you a reason to turn it on because it is fun to use. We can’t think of a better recommendation for an instrument.
It is not of the quality of the expensive machines; You don’t expect that. But for the price point, you will not find a better equipped and sounding keyboard. The Casio WK-245 is a great buy.