Casio was founded in Japan in 1946. They have come a long way since then. Up until the 1950s, there had been adding machines. To get it to perform its calculations, you usually had to crank a handle. Casio produced the first desk size calculator, and the Casio Computer Company was born in that instant. They quickly realized they had the expertise in-house to produce just about anything electronic.
But then they got musical…
It didn’t take long for the first electronic keyboards to arrive. Casio would be the first to admit they were children’s toys, really. Nothing at all like the Casio workstation keyboard we are going to look at in this Casio WK7600 Review.
They were heavily criticized at the time for producing these small, almost hand-held mini-keyboards that sounded terrible. But we wonder how many to-be musicians took their first musical steps with one. We wouldn’t be surprised if it was quite a few.
As young people, we remember the name of Casio, meaning cheap watches and calculators. They were just there in the cheaper shops and some jewelers. Not really taken seriously by most. Not an up-market product at all. We think there are probably some who still think that but times have changed,
And how they have changed…
They still produce their budget ranges of just about everything. But now they have entered the world of the serious musician. The player who wants quality, performance, sound, and facility in their equipment. We are going from a Casio keyboard that might have 49 or 61 keys to a 76-key professional instrument.
Some things, though haven’t changed. Casio equipment and products have always been affordable and cost-effective. Some things don’t change. How will the Casio workstation keyboard shape up? Let’s take a look.
If you are expecting a cheap keyboard that has the ‘toy’ feel about it, you are going to be very disappointed. This is a very serious keyboard, indeed. In fact, this is much more than just a keyboard. It is what in today’s’ world is described as a workstation – a 76-key keyboard workstation.
As we shall see, it has over 800 tones, built-in DSP effects, and its own mixer. Full editing facilities and its own built-in amplifier and speakers. More on this later.
When considering just how much has been put into this Casio workstation keyboard, it is quite staggering. What is in there that is so special? You’re about to learn all about it.
When you buy a Casio keyboard, there will always be the good and the not so good to consider. There aren’t too many negatives with this keyboard. But it is one of their flagship models so you might expect certain things. Some of them have been excluded. These are purely a cost-cutting exercise. The investment has gone in the sounds it makes and the onboard features. The external trimmings they have missed out. I suppose you can’t argue with that.
It is built to be lightweight and easily transportable. It is just 18.3 pounds in weight, which is remarkably light. Casio proudly announces that it is ‘stage-ready,’ and there are many aspects of this keyboard where we would agree. But there is no carrying bag nor stand. The stand we accept, you find very few that have them included. But if it is going to gigs, it will need some sort of bag or case.
It is a full-width build at 50 inches, a height of 8 inches, and a depth of 18 inches. And can be operated on either the enclosed mains lead or by batteries. It takes 6 ‘DD’ batteries, and has a sustain pedal connection, the pedal being an optional extra.
It has a built-in amp and two speakers, but they only push out a maximum of 7 watts. They are just for home practice, not for any live situation.
It does have a tough and sturdy build. It is constructed from good quality plastic material. This particular item is made in China. No real complaints about the build quality. It is built to last and has an attractive layout of the many controls.
This is where it gets interesting. This section is really going to be where shall we start? For a keyboard to describe itself as a workstation, it has to show some impressive features.
This keyboard has a very comprehensive range of tones and sounds. In fact, it has over eight hundred of them. Each of the sounds can be edited to achieve exactly the sound you are looking for.
This list of instrument sounds includes pianos, electric pianos, and orchestral instruments. There are also synthesizers and acoustic instruments. There are more than fifty different organ sounds. On your control panel is slider like drawbars to control organ sounds. More on this later in the controls section.
There are 260 presets of rhythms that include virtually every genre and style. You have the option to create up to 100 of your own drum patterns to keep. If you want an accompaniment to go with your playing, you can choose. You have the option of anything from a full virtual band or just have a drummer.
There is a 17 track sequencer to help you create and prepare your own music and edit the sounds. A 32 channel mixer gives you control over what you are playing or creating can sound. The song you have created and mixed can then be saved to an SDHC card.
You can save it as an audio recording. The wide range of DSP effects will add the final touches as you prepare performance level work.
The keyboard offers a decent polyphony range of 64 notes. Not as high as the very best keyboards but enough to make sure there won’t be any notes missing.
There should be enough sounds and options there to keep you occupied for a while.
Now we are not saying that all the sounds produced are world-class. They are not. A great majority of them are very good, though, and as instrument simulations do the job. That job is to create a near lifelike sound, not an exact replica. Leave that to Yamaha and the cost of their top of the range keyboards. But there is more than enough inside this keyboard to justifiably call it a workstation.
It has everything required to do what you would expect a good quality workstation can do. And then it does a little bit more.
If there is what some see as a downside to a keyboard packed with technology, then this could be it. The controls. Quite daunting even at third and fourth glance, there is just so much of it. It is not possible here to take you through everything, just maybe mention a few items of interest.
So let’s, first of all, go back to the sliders we mentioned earlier. The majority of the controls look similar to what you might see on other keyboards. One big difference is the nine sliders placed right at the center.
They take center stage, and one of their uses is that they are used in a similar way to drawbars on an organ. In fact, that is exactly what they do. They control the sound of over fifty organs that this keyboard provides. Harmonic overtones can be changed to produce a tapestry of organ sounds. They will even give you that rotating sound of a Leslie cabinet.
The level of detail that can be achieved is quite staggering. Going deep into edit mode, you can even change the sound of the key click — also, the speed of speaker sound rotation and the overdrive that gives it a dirty edge.
We say one of the functions of the sliders because they also give you control over panning, gain, and effects if you are using the onboard mixer.
There are some common ideas, of course…
Splits and Layers are available. These can be used either separately or together and can be saved as a setting for later use. Pitch bend is also a useful addition, as is Modulation, which is not always included on keyboards.
The USB allows it to be used with Mac, Windows, and iOS devices and computers without any need to download drivers.
The display screen located centrally gives you an up to date status of what is being used and with what parameters. At each end are the onboard speakers. The rest of the controls relate to sounds, effect, and the features of the keyboard. Need we say there will be quite a learning curve to go through. But it is going to be fun.
Some might call them extras; we prefer to call them necessities. Built-in is a transposer for key and note changes and also a metronome. An important inclusion for everyone, but especially those that might be new to the piano or other keyboards. There is a USB-MIDI port.
A keyboard workstation is often used as the first port of call for the creative people with their songwriting. It is a great tool for that process. The WK7600 Casio workstation keyboard has all you need in that respect. You can create and play and experiment with sounds and rhythms at the push of a button. Then when you need to leave it for a while, save it on the built-in six-track recorder.
One of the real advantages of this keyboard is its design idea. It is not only for the experienced musician or songwriter. It has extras that suit the beginner and those that play for fun at home. There is a library of over 100 songs that can be learned using the ‘Step up’ lesson program. This also shows the correct finger patterns and notations.
We have already mentioned the built-in speakers. Not powerful and not with the greatest sound they will be suited to use at home. There is a headphone socket for private playing. When used, it will deactivate the speakers. The back panel houses various external connection options. ¼” left and right outputs and microphone and instrument inputs and a stereo in and SD and SDHC ports.
How Does It Play
It has been given a touch-sensitive keyboard with 76 keys. They are piano-style keys with graded hammer action, but they are not weighted. They are velocity-sensitive, which means they will react to your playing style. If you need to emphasize a phrase and play harder, the sound will be louder. The touch sensitivity has three settings and can be turned off.
It has a nice easy playing action. If you are expecting an acoustic grand piano action, you won’t get it with this Casio. In fact, you will need to put another naught behind the price point to have that. And that only from the very top manufacturers like Yamaha or Kawai.
It plays nicely and comfortably; that is all that needs to be said.
How Does It Sound
If you are expecting a top-level sampled sound for every one of the 820 sounds, you will be disappointed. This is a keyboard workstation that provides you with some basic sounds and some very good ones. It gives you the option to edit the sounds in a variety of ways and to use a lot of internal features.
The sound is very good, and it comes with a variety of playing options to help you develop. For a writer, it is a brilliant instrument. The sounds are close enough to the real thing to give you the feel of it. That is important in the early creative stages.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay_glnG0QuU[/embed]
Some good, some not so good…
We think though that whilst the piano and orchestral sounds are quite good, the acoustic and guitar lacks a lot. But at the other end, the organ sounds, especially with the Leslie rotary, are excellent.
You have 10 reverbs, five chorus options, and an array of other well-known special effects to lift the sound even further. Overall we are impressed with the sounds onboard and at this price point, very impressed.
More Casio Options
Over the years we have reviewed a large number of Casio keyboards, so it’s best to search the site if you’re looking for a particular model. But if you just fancy a more general look, then check out our reviews of the Casio PX350, the Casio Privia PX 870 Digital Piano review, the Casio PX560BE review, the Casio CGP 700BK review, and the Casio CTK 2550 review.
Casio WK7600 Pros & Cons
- Massive selection of sounds and rhythms.
- Superb piano and organ sounds.
- 17 track sequencer and six-track recorder.
- Excellent control features.
- Suitable for a beginner right up to a more experienced player.
- Very affordable, considering what you get.
- Not suitable for live use.
- Some of the sounds, such as the guitar, are not very good.
We are aware that Casio does not often get many plus points for the quality of their keyboard sounds. However, this Casio workstation keyboard breaks through that barrier, especially with its piano and organ sounds. These two instrument’s sounds really do excel. The control and the editing facilities onboard are excellent, as are the recording and even some basic mixing options.
If you are looking for a keyboard for a beginner or an improver, even up to an experienced player, this fits the bill. It covers every level very well and will provide a lot of opportunities. If you want a workstation to carry around on which you can create your music, that is another box ticked. Everything you need is onboard. Or maybe just for home, where it also provides everything you will need.
In our view, it probably isn’t a gigging keyboard, though, in some environments, it will be fine. Smaller venues with a more laid back music style would be perfect.
This Casio WK7600 Review has thrown up a little gem. And one at a great price point. It must be one of the best and most cost-effective keyboards on the market.
The WK7600 Casio workstation keyboard is a winner in our book.