If you’re looking for a great digital piano that’s also fairly portable, then you’re very likely going to benefit from this Casio PX-S1100 vs Roland FP-30X comparison. We had the chance to get some hands on experience with both pianos, so in this article, we’ll share our thoughts on both instruments and help you come to a conclusion as to which one best fits your needs.
Casio PX-S1100 vs Roland FP-30X – FIrst Impressions
Let’s begin by discussion the Casio PX-S1100. The first thing that really jumps out to me is how sleek and shiny it is. Not a surprise considering the front of the instrument is a black glass panel. I can just imagine the future fingerprints, but it does look nice. It’s very minimalistic in design, with only a power button and a volume knob visible before being powered on. Once powered on, a row of white-lit function sensor-type buttons appears, as you can see below:
As for the Roland, it’s not shiny, but it is pretty sleek and definitely gives off a cool, retro vibe that I kind of like. Just like the Casio, it is very minimalistic in design with only a row of buttons to its left. Unlike the Casio though, the Roland’s function buttons are tactile instead of sensors, made of clear plastic except for the function and record buttons, which are blue and red.
Now, it just might be a personal thing, but I do not like volume knobs. I feel like they don’t give you nearly as much control and accuracy as a slider would. The Roland’s volume control is slightly better than a knob, with individual buttons for volume up and volume down. Now, right away, I can just picture myself frantically mashing them as quickly as possible to get to the volume level I need, which while not ideal, is still better than the Casio’s knob, with the added bonus of not leaving greasy finger smudges all over the control panel.
So, for those reasons, and because I really dig the retro look of the Roland, I’m going to give this round to the Roland FP-30X.
- Winner: Roland
Below, please enjoy some of the best selling digital pianos currently available on the market today, and see how they compare to the Casio PX-S1100 and Roland FP-30X.
|1) Yamaha P-515|
|2) Casio PX-S3100|
|3) Casio PX-870|
|4) Roland FP-E50|
|5) Roland FP-30X|
Comparing the Sound
This is, without question, the most important category when you are selecting a piano (at least to me). Practicing piano is hard work, and to get the most enjoyment and productivity you can out of it, it has to sound good and be something you love hearing.
If the piano you buy doesn’t sound good, then why would you want to play it? And who would want to listen? So, just be aware that I am going to be pretty critical in this category.
Let’s begin with the speaker systems of both instruments.
Both instruments are equipped with two speakers, one on each side. The Casio is set up pretty nicely in this regard, with two 8W speakers on the back of the piano for plenty of sound.
And while Roland made the somewhat questionable decision of putting its speakers underneath the instrument, it doesn’t make as much of a difference as I thought, because the speakers are a much louder 11W. And it’s 11W worth of a really great sound.
Not that the Casio sounds bad, it’s just that the Roland is really that good. Retailing at $799, the Roland FP-30X is a deliberate upgrade from its predecessor, the Roland FP-30. The processor was really what Roland was aiming to improve with this upgrade and they’ve done a great job of it. The extra power of this instrument allows for more complexity in its tone, thus allowing its voices and effects to sound much more natural. Worth noting, too, are the very cool and convincing harpsichord and old-timey saloon piano voices on the Roland!
And as said earlier, while the Casio’s voices aren’t bad—the Casio retails for $699, so you can’t possibly expect all of the same bells and whistles of an instrument like the Roland, which sells at a slightly higher price point.
I’m going to have to give this round to the Roland.
- Winner: Roland
How Does the Piano Touch Compare?
The second most important category in an instrument, at least to me, is a piano’s touch. The touch and responsiveness in a digital piano are extremely important if someone is to develop good playing technique. The piano you choose needs to have weighted keys and keys that respond to soft and hard strikes; in short, it needs to play like a piano.
Because learning to play the right notes is only half of the process; the other half is learning how to play those right notes. Learning on an instrument with lousy touch is robbing yourself of the opportunity to develop your skills and create technical, dynamic, and beautiful music.
So let’s begin with the key action for the Casio PX-S1100. First, let’s examine the keys themselves, as Casio really did a great job with texturing the instrument’s keys (below).
Look at that. Beautiful. And a joy to play on. Casio has developed a pretty sophisticated Smart Scaled Hammer Action system for their pianos that gives the keys a nice weight to them. But while they are definitely responsive, I feel like the Casio’s action is a bit on the light side; the keys come down just a little bit too easily for my taste.
On the other side of the aisle, the Roland FP-30X uses Roland’s PHA4 Standard action, which is the lowest-end key action that Roland uses for its digital pianos.
And still, even their Standard system out-specs anything else at this price point. The Roland feels very much like a piano, more so than the Casio. The keys are heavier at the bass end and lighter at the higher end—very responsive and nicely weighted.
I’ve got to give this round to the Roland.
- Winner: Roland
If you’re looking for a portable digital piano, then there’s a good chance you might need one to gig with. And if that’s the case, you’re in luck, as both the Casio PX-S1100 and Roland FP-30X are portable and full of enough features to satisfy your gigging needs.
With that said, you’ll probably want to make sure you purchase a X-stand for your piano (below):
They’re not too expensive or heavy and they are completely adjustable, letting you play your keyboard at whatever height you’d like.
Now both instruments are the same size and shape and both come with removable music stands, so it will not be difficult to toss your digital keyboard in the trunk of your car (buy it a case, please). But at over 32 pounds, you’re going to build up some serious muscle lugging around that Roland.
The Casio, on the other hand, weighs in at under 25 pounds. Which would you rather carry across a parking lot or up a flight of stairs on a regular basis? And though I do give the Roland some portability points — it is portable, no matter how heavy it is — where it really falls to the Casio is in its dependence on a wall outlet.
Yes, in order to play this piano, the Roland must be plugged into the wall. Conversely, the Casio can operate anywhere you’d like it to for up to 4 hours using 6 AA batteries. So, if gigging is your thing, then you’d better invest in some extension cords because you’re going to need them.
Also, keep in mind that the Roland FP-30X has its speakers on the bottom of the instrument. So you will definitely want to buy a keyboard stand for any gigging you do because placing your Roland on a table may muffle your speakers.
- Winner: Casio
Sorry, Casio fans. Just when things were swinging your way, we’ve come to what really sets the Roland apart from the Casio: The features. For an instrument that’s $100 more, it should come as no surprise that the Roland has many more features than the Casio does.
But let’s start with what both instruments can do.
Functions: Both the Casio and the Roland can do very useful things like play in split layer, allowing the user to program a different voice for each side of the piano. Very nice for duets and accompaniment. Both instruments can also play in dual-layer, which is programming the instrument to play two voices at once when a key is pressed.
A function I definitely enjoy is duet mode, which splits the piano in half, with each half using the same octaves. This is extremely useful for duets and something that just can’t be done with a regular acoustic piano.
Voices and Effects: Now we’ve come to the voices and effects, which are usually why pianists decide to get a digital piano in the first place. While both instruments offer cool effects like reverb (imitating the echo one would hear when playing in a concert hall) and damper resonance (the sound your piano makes when the pedal is lifted), the Roland’s more powerful processor just makes them sound better. There are more of them too, such as ambience and brilliance for the organ voices.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Roland also has much more natural-sounding voices than the Casio does. Twice as many of them too; 56 to Casio’s 18.
Data: The Roland keeps on punching in terms of data.
That increased processor power makes things like recording and song storage a breeze. A song file can have about 700,000 notes on the Roland, which is a substantially long piece.
The Casio, on the other hand, just doesn’t have it. While it can record songs, there just isn’t much space to save them, so you’ll have to use a USB or record directly into a DAW (digital audio workstation) if you want to record.
You can also connect a Roland to a USB or a DAW, so Casio is not alone in that.
Connections: The Roland wins in this category too.
Both instruments can be used with headphones, which is great for practicing at night (and for your marriage and relationship with your neighbors). The connections are in front too for very easy access, as seen here on the Casio.
Both can be fit with a sustain pedal as well that plugs in via a port in the back just like the Roland shows you here.
And both instruments come with a compatible app (Chordana for Casio and Roland Piano App for Roland) to provide you with added control, extra downloadable material, and more functionality. They aren’t necessary, but they do come in pretty handy, especially if you’re gigging.
Though I’m not a huge fan of the fact that the Roland app comes with the following disclaimer:
*Support for the app may be terminated without prior notice.
Uh … ok? But did I mention that you can use your Roland’s speakers to play music from your computer or phone via Bluetooth? Because you totally can. That might make up for that. The Casio can also be equipped with Bluetooth connectivity too, you’ll just have to spend a little extra to buy an adapter.
User Interface: Casio has been taking a bit of a beating in the features category, but they’ll get a little reprieve here. Only because both instruments’ user interfaces are a little awkward.
With the Casio, most of the functionality’s weirdness comes from the fact that its buttons are touch sensors under a glass panel. The function buttons don’t display until the instrument is on, and the buttons are not tactile, causing you to mispress half the time and smudge up the panel. It’s also very difficult to see what you’re doing. Navigating your functions takes a steep learning curve, forcing you to tap the glass and spin the knob until you’ve got the function or voice you want. You won’t know if you’ve done it correctly either unless you’re using the app or you tap out a few notes to test it. Very frustrating.
And while the Roland is a little easier, it’s still got a bit of a learning curve to it as well. There aren’t many buttons, so you’ll have to memorize the combinations in order to get to your functions.
To be fair, Roland has labeled the most popular functions on the keys so that they’re easier to find, but still, it takes some practice.
And the volume buttons … did I mention how they are just two keys? You’ll have to get used to tapping a button several times to get the volume level you want. Frustrating. But at least it doesn’t have a knob.
- Winner: Roland
Casio PX-S1100 or Roland FP-30X: Who Ya Got?
So, we reach the end of the article and I am pleased to announce that the winner of our Casio PX-S1100 vs Roland FP-30X is: the Roland FP-30X!
The Roland, while at just a bit higher of a price point than the Casio, is an instrument that’s built for an advancing musician. There is plenty about it that a beginner will love, but in the Roland FP-30X, we start to see many features that advanced musicians and studio artists are looking for too and, in my book, that makes the Roland the superior instrument today.
- If this article helped you, please “like” our Digital Piano Review Guide Facebook page!