2019 is an exciting year for the digital piano industry, especially for beginners and buyers on a budget. The Casio Privia PX-160 was a great value choice and I had recommended it many times in the past. However, facing newer models with similar price, the PX-160 might not get my recommendations that often any more. If you are looking at digital pianos around $500, continue with this review and see if the PX-160 is right for you in 2019.
If I’m buying the PX-160, it would not be for its look. The whole instrument is made of plastic and it feels plastic. Not that it’s not well-built, but aesthetic wise, it doesn’t look premium.
I’m not a big fan of all those curves on the PX-160 either. They make the instrument look less modern and sleek.
My biggest issue with the PX-160 is the exposed key board on each side. It is a strange design decision and I think it makes the model look like a toy.
There are three colors to choose from. The classical black, modern white and gold.
The music rest included in the PX-160 is a solid one. It doesn’t have that hollowed design of many budget digital pianos. It’s wide enough to display any kind of score book you have. And it’s tall enough to prevent printed sheet from folding itself over the edge.
The music rest is detachable and you can easily put it away when not in use. On the PX-160, it is sloped backwards to provide the best viewing angle.
However, due to the sloping and positioning of the music rest, it extends beyond the back end of the instrument. When you have the PX-160 set up again a wall, it’s impossible to attach the music rest.
Like many budget models, the PX-160 has a simple control panel. There’s the power button, a volume knob and a few quick access buttons. Most settings and functions will require a combination of the function button and one of the piano keys.
Both the buttons and the piano keys are well labeled. With a bit of practice, you can quickly find the settings you need without too much hassle.
I always prefer a volume slider than a knob. The volume control on the PX-160 is also not marked, which for me is quite annoying. I often have different volume levels set to headphone and speakers. I’d prefer some markings to help me quickly switch between them.
The keyboard on the PX-160 is plastic. It is well-built and pretty solid. There is red velvet at the end of the keys to give it a classical look.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the gap between black and white keys are quite large, significantly larger than other models on the market. Some users have reported that their finger nails got caught in the gap. While that hasn’t happened to me yet, I can see how it’s possible.
Size & Weight
The Casio PX-160 is a truly portable digital piano. It’s small and lightweight.
In fact, it’s one of the lightest digital piano on the market right now.
It weighs about 11.6 kg (25.5 lbs).
The dimensions of the PX-160 are 132 x 29 x 14 cm (52″ x 11.5″ x 5.6″)
The Casio PX-160 has a full range of 88 keys. Each key is weighted with actual hammer and the weight is individually calculated to simulate the feel of an acoustic concert grand.
It uses Casio’s famous Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II, which is the best key action Casio has to offer.
This action can also be found on Casio’s premium models, such as the flagship PX-870. I have always been a fan of Casio’s practice. Unlike many other brands, Casio does not reserve its best key action only to expensive models.
As the best key action from Casio, you get many useful features on the PX-160. The keys are plastic with synthetic Ivory/Ebony to help with grip and absorb moisture. There are three sensors to measure key movement and velocity. It also makes repetition fast and easy.
Overall, the Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II is among the best key actions of this price range.
Another aspect Casio doesn’t cut back on lower level models are the sound engine. Here again, you are getting the same sound engine on the PX-160 as the flagship PX-870.
The PX-160 uses Casio’s Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source. It records acoustic concert grand pianos at multiple levels to capture as many details as possible.
This current version of the sound engine is equipped with a three times larger memory to extend the sampling duration. The samples are then stored in lossless compression format.
The sound engine also includes Hammer Response, Damper Noise and Damper Resonance.
Overall the sound of the PX-160 is rich in details and has a wide range of dynamics.
The Casio Privia PX-160 has two 8 watt speakers. Sound quality is clear and rich.
They are loud enough to fill a medium-sized room. For larger venues, external speakers/monitors are recommended.
Being the entry level model, the PX-160 does not have many fancy features. It focuses on the most important aspects, the key action and the sound engine. These two combined already worth more than its price.
To provide even more value, the PX-160 has a multi-track internal recorder. You can record your performance with click of a button and even layer one piece on top of another. The maximum polyphony of the PX-160 is 128 notes.
Here are some other features that you might find useful.
- Sound (18 total):
- Grand pianos x 5
- Electric pianos x 4
- Pipe organs x 4
- Strings x 2
- Polyphony: 128
- Key sensitivity: 3 levels + off
- Reverb settings:
- Small Hall
- Large Hall
- Chorus effects:
- Dual mode: two instrument sound simultaneously
- Split mode: split the keyboard to two different instruments
- Duet mode: divide the keyboard into two identical halfs
- Internal recording:
- MIDI: 1 song up to 2 tracks
- USB to Host
- LINE OUT (L/MONO, R)
- Headphones x 2
The PX-160 comes with a music rest, sustain pedal and a power cable.
The sustain pedal is a binary foot switch that can only detect on/off. It does not support half pedaling. This might be just fine for beginners but as your skills progress, you will find pedaling more and more important.
There are two optional pedal units to choose from. One is the three pedal unit SP-33. The other is a one pedal unit SP-20.
Stand and bench are not included in the package, although there are many bundle deals you can find on Amazon.
A good pair of headphones is always recommended for any digital piano.
If you want to fully utilize the great sound engine on the PX-160, an external monitor would be a nice choice.
WHO IT’S FOR
The Casio PX-160 is the entry level model from the Privia product line. It is aimed at beginners or pianists with a tight budget. Gigging musicians can also benefit from its compact size and lightweight.
If you are already experienced in piano play and have a larger budget, there are many better choices on the market. Meanwhile, if you are interested in many different voices, mixing your own piece of music or even karaoke, the PX-160 is not your best choice.
The Casio Privia PX-160 might not be the best digital piano on the market. But it certainly offers amazing value to customers.
You don’t sacrifice key action and sound engine when you go cheap with Casio. The PX-160 has a great key action and sound engine.
I would say the PX-160 is still worth its price in 2019 but an extra $100 would get you a much better digital piano.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Casio PX-160 vs. Casio PX S1000
The brand new 2019 PX S1000 from Casio is about $100 more expensive than the PX-160. But the extra dollars are definitely worth it.
The PX S1000 is significantly slimmer and lighter than the PX-160. It also look a least once decade younger. The control panel and the overall design of the PX S1000 makes the PX-160 look last century.
The Smart Scaled Hammer Action on the PX S1000 is not only smaller but also surprisingly more authentic than the key action on the PX-160. Despite the fact that the new action only has two sensors, it offers more control and expressiveness.
The sound of the S1000 is also better. It has a new set of sample with much more details and nuances to re-create the best piano sound Casio can offer.
Not only is the PX S1000 slimmers and lighter, it is packed with a lot more features than the PX-160. The S1000 has Bluetooth, more polyphony number and battery power capability.
Overall, the Casio PX S1000 would be my choice of budget digital piano in 2019. The PX-160 still delivers but does show its age in comparison.
For more details about the Casio PX S1000, click here for my full review.
Casio PX-160 vs. Yamaha P45
Another entry level digital piano is the Yamaha P45. It is slightly cheaper than the PX-160. But the P45 also lacks many important features.
The Yamaha P45 is equipped with Yamaha GHS key action. This is a two sensor key action compares to PX-160’s three sensors. The Yamaha GHS also does not have synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops.
The keys on the PX-160 are slightly noisier than the P45. But overall, the key action of the PX-160 feels more authentic and responsive than the P45.
The Casio PX-160 also has a larger polyphony of 128 compares to the P45’s 64. It also has 8 more instrument voices than the P45.
Another important difference is the internal recording function. The Yamaha P45 does not have any internal recording capability.
The Casio PX-160 is about $50 more expensive than the Yamaha P45. What you will get for that $50 is also significant and worth it. If you have the budget, the PX-160 is in my opinion a better choice than the P45.
For more details about the Yamaha P45, click here for my full review.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this review. And if you happen to have some experience with the Casio PX-160, please share with us in the comment below.
Are they available in the UK?
Did a quick search and I couldn’t find this model from major retailers in UK. I’d recommend you check the newer and better model PX-S1000. That one is definitely available in UK.
I own the Casio px160 for about 2 years.
I agree that key action and sound quality are the most important factors when choosing a digital piano. In this price range one cannot get a better piano than the px 160. I did a lot of research before I bought it. And in my opinion it not only the best piano in its price range but even superior to pianos that cost some bucks more. You gave the Casio px 160 a lower grade than the Kawai ES110 only because you didn’t like the casio design. Why?
I use the px160 for gigging with a rock band and gigging by myself. It does the job. Of course something like Casio PX 560 or Kawai ES8 or roland FP 90 is better piano. But for its price range I prefer the PX 160.
One question if I may, between the 3, PX 560, ES8 and the FP 90 for gigging what you will recommend?
The Casio PX 160 has great value and I do highly recommend it. The reason it gets a lower score than the ES110 is that the key action on the ES110 is slightly more authentic to my feel. Key actions are of course very subjective matter. You might like the touch on the PX 160 more.
As to which is better, it really depends on the musical need of your gigs. The Kawai ES8 and the FP 90 are relatively more focused on piano play while the Casio PX 560 is a hybrid of digital piano and arranger. In the end of my ES8 review, there is a comparison between the two.
Thanks for this comprehensive review of the Casio Privia PX-160 digital piano. It seems this piano is budget friendly and has the qualities and price that wold suit my nephew who is just starting out learning to play on one of these instruments. I agree i’s not the best looking model, but I think in the black colour it doesn’t look too bad. I like that it has a solid music rest. the 2 8 watt speakers as you note, should give a clear and rich sound. I’ll send your article to my nephew.
Hi Ann, welcome and thanks for your comment. The PX-160 would be great for your nephew to start the journey of playing the piano.
I also prefer the black version. 🙂
This is an excellent review man. I like music and sometimes I even play a piano. What I like the most is that it is not expensive at all and anyone who enjoy playing will buy it for sure. My bro is a professional pianist and I am sure that he would like to try this awesome instrument.
Hi Daniel, Thanks for dropping by and leave your comment. The PX-160 is indeed very affordable and thus making piano more accessible to people. It would be a great first piano to learn the instrument. However, if your brother is a professional pianist, this entry model might be lacking for him. If he’s looking for a digital piano, ask him to check my best digital pianos of the year post and hopefully he’ll find the right one.
Hey Wei! Thanks for taking the time to write this in depth and informative review. I really like this digital keyboard and always though of Casio as a great brand. I like that this is beginner friendly and lightweight which makes it easy to move around. I have a small space so there’s always lots of moving around of things. I was just wondering, what is polyphony?
Hi Marlinda, welcome back. Glad to see you again here. I think the PX-160 is a solid choice for you.
Polyphony is the number of notes that can be produced by a digital piano at the same time. Usually you can find 64, 128, 192, 256 notes of polyphony. Needless to say, the higher the number, the better. There is a section on my best digital piano of the year post that I explained in details what a polyphony is. Take a look if needed.