New Celviano Pianos from Casio

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Over recent years the quality of Casio’s digital pianos has gone from strength to strength – especially with respect to the home market. Casio’s Celviano range of home instruments, with traditional furniture-style cabinets, are designed to replicate the sound and feel of a real acoustic piano as closely as possible.

3 studio photos of the AP-750, AP-550, and AP-S450
Casio Celviano AP-750 (left), AP-550 (top), and AP-S450 (bottom)

Casio has unveiled three new models at NAMM 2024 (Anaheim, USA, 25-28 January 2024) — AP-750, AP-550, and AP-S450. Following the astounding success of the PX-S7000 digital piano, Casio’s designers have focused considerable attention on styling. These new models have beautiful clean lines and feature a high gloss front panel and key blocks with illuminating touch sensor controls.

The AP-750 and AP-550 incorporate Casio’s new Smart Hybrid Hammer Action Keyboard Celviano Edition, a refined version of the action found within the company’s award-winning Privia range.

The company highlights the fact that the AP keys, like those of some higher-end acoustic pianos, are made from fine-grained Austrian spruce rather than less dense coarse-grained wood. Although many will fail to appreciate this subtlety, spruce is tough and resilient to heavy wear, and does enhance the playing experience. Fine-grained wood is also more stable and allows for uniform weighting across the span of the keyboard.

Photo from above of the keyboard and control block of the Celviano AP-740
Casio Celviano AP-750

Casio has also introduced its new Visual Information Bar. This is a light strip that appears above the keys (see image below). It can be used as a visual metronome or to display playing strength or pedal depth, thus enabling pianists to perfect their fingering and pedal techniques.

Additions to the Celviano range

Until now, therewere six models in the Celviano range — AP-710, AP-700, AP-650, AP-470, AP-270, AP-260.

The AP-750 now joins the AP Series as the flagship piano. It features 39 built-in tones. These include the new Hamburg Grand, and the Berlin Grand (developed in collaboration with world-renowned piano maker C. Bechstein).

It also incorporates the new Grandphonic 4-channel sound system with 8 speakers. This allows the sound to be projected from both above and below to provide a true 3D-audio picture akin to that of an acoustic piano. The top lid also opens (AP-750 and AP-550) allowing the sound to project out and forward, again much like an acoustic upright.

Image showing Celviano AP-550 in a domestic living room.
Casio Celviano AP-550, with Visual Information Bar visible above the central keys

The Celviano AP-550 and AP-S450 both have a 2-channel/ 4 speaker system, with 26 tones including Hamburg Grand and New York Grand. The Celviano AP-S450 comes with Casio’s Smart Hybrid Hammer Action Keyboard allowing for a more compact design.

All three now incorporate the WU-BT10 Bluetooth adaptor facilitating a wireless connection to a smartphone or computer.

“These new Celviano digital pianos embody more than three decades of technology and design refinements, providing the organic experience of playing a traditional piano, with innovations and conveniences that make learning, educating and performing both enjoyable and inspiring.”

Stephen Schmidt, VP of Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division

We currently only have US prices and availability…
Celviano AP-750 (Black) $3,399 MSRP. Shipping March 2024.
Celviano AP-550 (Black, Rosewood, White) $2,999 MSRP. Shipping now.
Celviano AP-S450 (Black, Rosewood, White) $1,999 MSRP. Shipping now.

Websites: Casio US; Casio UK; Casio Europe; Casio International.


CASIO TALKING:

The following is a Q&A we had with Taiki Fukuhara, manager of Casio’s Strategic Planning Section, part of the company’s Global Strategic Planning Department. Here we get a detailed insight into the evolution of the Celviano range.

What is the rationale for having so many different models in the AP range? Doesn’t this just confuse the potential customer?

Our philosophy is to make music accessible and enjoyable for everyone. As we cater to users worldwide with varying skill levels and purposes for playing piano, we’ve noticed a growing diversity in user preferences. We understand that purchasing a musical instrument is an investment, so we offer a wide range of models and encourage users to carefully examine each model to find the one that perfectly suits their needs.

Which feature do you think is the most important in the new range of Celvianos? And what features are most asked for by your clients?

The most crucial aspect of the new range of Celviano is undoubtedly the fundamental performance as a musical instrument, focusing primarily on sound and touch. We’ve dedicated significant effort to perfecting these essential elements. However, recognizing that some individuals may not be drawn to or fully enjoy traditional pianos for various reasons, we’ve taken additional steps to make classical piano more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. We’ve introduced a collection of special tones, innovative features, and expandable connectivity options in the new AP series. We believe these additions will attract a wider range of customers to the piano and foster a deeper appreciation of its fundamental performance as an instrument.

Casio achieved considerable success with the PX-S7000, which was largely due to its original styling. Do you think that other home instruments would benefit from a similar innovative approach to their appearance? Home console digital pianos generally tend to all look much the same, and the styling of the PX-S7000 suggests people are looking for something different?

While the success of the PX-S7000 can be partially attributed to its original styling, it’s important to note that its main purpose extends beyond mere aesthetics. Rather than focusing solely on stylish design, the PX-S7000 represents Casio’s vision of introducing “a new lifestyle with a piano” to individuals who may not traditionally be drawn to pianos. This includes considerations beyond appearance, such as music genre, tone variation, and the role of the piano in users’ own lives.

Casio PX-S7000 digital piano

In contrast, the Celviano series targets the standard cabinet-type digital piano market, where a more traditional appearance is preferred to convey the essence of a grand piano. Therefore, it maintains a traditional aesthetic inherited from grand pianos, but at the same time, it incorporates additional features to differentiate itself within the mainstream digital piano market. The Visual Information Bar is a notable example of such features.

In conclusion, Casio’s Privia series targets a different market segment, and the distinct design approach is one of its differentiation strategies. The success of the PX-S7000 suggests the potential for a new market segment beyond traditional-style cabinet digital pianos, which Casio is likely to further develop and segment in the future.

How do you see the Celviano range developing over the next 10 years?

As long as grand pianos continue to exist, the Celviano and other traditional cabinet-type digital pianos will keep evolving, primarily by enhancing the precise reproduction of a grand piano’s sound and touch. However, as electronic technology advances, it’s likely that we’ll eventually reach a peak in what can be significantly improved for the end users in terms of replicating the grand piano experience. At that point, the differentiation factor will shift from the accuracy of sound and touch reproduction to offering more unique and distinctive values.

The Celviano line is committed to deepening its current direction by providing unique value within the traditional market, guided by our concept of “Redefining Tradition and Innovation.” We anticipate that the evolution of the Celviano range will continue to push the boundaries of replicating the traditional piano experience and introduce innovative features that distinguish our instruments in a crowded marketplace.

The new wave of keyboards/actions seem to have reached optimum performance. Can these be improved?

While the new wave of keyboards and actions may seem to have reached optimum performance, there is still significant room for improvement. While current mechanisms can replicate the physical characteristics of a grand piano, touch feeling is not solely determined by physical mechanisms in digital pianos. Instead, it’s strongly influenced by how the sound responds to a player’s key operation. Therefore, advancements in digital controlling technology of sound sources will continue to evolve.

Moreover, there is ample opportunity to make keyboards more flexible in size, design, and touch adjustment. This includes exploring innovations that allow for greater customization and adaptability to individual player preferences. In essence, the evolution of keyboards for digital pianos is an ongoing journey without an endpoint, fueled by perpetual innovation and the continuous emergence of creative ideas.

Can AI become an increasingly important element and if so how? Perhaps in the supporting tuition software?

Yes, as time progresses, AI is naturally poised to become an increasingly important element, particularly in musical instruments. It will play a significant role in customization for user preferences in tone, sound, playability, user interface, and more. Beyond personalization, AI will enable proactive proposals for user experiences. This technology has the potential to revolutionize how people enjoy music and other content, thereby changing the roles of musicians, creators, and musical instruments themselves. The rapid advancements in AI are leading us toward a future that extends beyond our current imagination.



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