We’re not sure what we were expecting when Casio started teasing a new keyboard late last year, but it wasn’t quite what we’ve got with the Casiotone CT-S1000V. This is billed as the first vocal synthesizer that can turn any text you give it into a musical phrase, which can then be played polyphonically on the keys.
Of course, we’ve seen this kind of thing in software before, but when it comes to hardware, vocal synthesis of this sort does feel like something new. Casio says that the technology behind it hasn’t been used before, while also adding that it doesn’t necessarily sound exactly like a human voice (which, to be fair, no vocal synthesis does at this point).
What you do get is convenience: there are 100 Lyric Tones built into the CT-S1000V, which are billed as phrases that are inspired by familiar songs. The real interest, though, lies in the companion Lyric Creator app; available for iOS and Android, this enables you to type in your own lyrics and then transmit them to the keyboard via USB. Text can be entered in either English or Japanese.
Phrases can be played in their entirety or one syllable at a time, with or without legato. You can also sequence phrases together to form complete songs.
On top of this, there are 22 vocalist types, covering the likes of talkboxes, processed choirs, robot voices, vocoders and whispered voices.
The CT-S1000V is also a fully-featured ‘standard’ home keyboard, offering 800 AiX-powered sounds and 64 voices of polyphony. On top of this you get 243 built-in rhythms, 150 arpeggiator patterns, effects, a metronome, a built-in recorder and basic sampling functionality.
The 61-note keyboard is velocity-sensitive, and there are three assignable controllers. Up top you’ll find stereo speakers, while connectivity comprises two pedal inputs, a mini-jack audio input, 1/4-inch stereo line outputs, and a mini-jack headphones output.
There’s also a USB-A port that can accommodate the supplied Bluetooth audio/MIDI dongle, and a second USB-B port for connection to your mobile device when you’re using the Lyric Creator app.
The CT-S1000V comes with a power supply and can also be powered for up to three hours from six AA batteries. If you’re happy to go without the vocal synthesis, you should check out the CT-S500, which is otherwise pretty much the same but priced lower.