Purchasing the 'right' audio equipment can often be an expensive exercise. It quickly gets more expensive if what you purchase does not adequately meet your needs. This page points out some of the (to be honest, unexpected) shortcomings of the Casio WK-7500 (and WK-7600) Workstation Keyboard.
If you are looking to purchase a Workstation Keyboard, the following table of Capabilities (and/or lack thereof) for the Casio WK-7500 (and WK-7600) may hopefully save you both time and money.
|RECORDING / INPUT|
|Record Audio (Wave File) To SD CARD||YES||This is actually a very qualified yes.
All output from the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 (Song Sequencer and Live Playing) plus anything coming through the inputs (Mic, Instrument, Line and/or External MIDI) will be recorded and saved to a stereo wave file.
NOTE: In practice this is essentially a 'live' recording or dump-all to Wave file process. Basically this feature (if that's what you'd call it) is only useful for knocking up a quick and dirty one-shot song demo. It has absolutely no value as a real recording tool.
|Record Audio (Wave File) To Song Sequencer||NO||Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 Song Sequencer Stores MIDI Data Only. A serious omission.|
|Record MIDI Input to Song Sequencer||NO||Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 Song Sequencer Accepts ONLY Keyboard Input. Another omission. that leaves you wondering what planet the designers live on.|
|Assign MIDI File to Song Sequencer Track||NO||There is no provision available to load MIDI file(s) into Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 Song Sequencer tracks. Ditto previous remark about designers' planet of residence.|
|Song Sequencer Recording Modes||2||1. Live Recording (real-time input from keyboard) with Quantization
2. Step Recording (manual input, one note at a time).
|RECORDING USER RHYTHM TRACKS with the PATTERN SEQUENCER|
|Pattern Sequencer Recording Modes||2||
Recording into the WK-7500 / WK-7600 Pattern Sequencer is quite simply cumbersome. Available options are:
With user defined Tempo and Time Signature. Tap-in Tempo available.
|User Rhythm Pattern Lengths||1 - 16||From 1 to 16 bars maximum.|
|User Pattern Sequencer Tracks||99||Can Record and Store 99 User Rhythms with optional Auto Accompaniment.
Rhythm tracks can be created from scratch or from existing Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 rhythms (except Intro, Fill and Ending parts) or any existing User rhythms.
|Pattern Sequencer Channels per Track||8||
Pattern Sequencer tracks are divided into 8 channels:
Where Bass and Chord 1 through 5 are either Casio WK-750 / WK-76000 Tones or User Tones that are used for the (optional) Auto Accompaniment function.
|Record External MIDI Input to Pattern Sequencer||NO||Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 Pattern Sequencer Accepts ONLY Keyboard Input or Step Recording and/or editing.|
|PLAY BACK / OUTPUT|
|Play Back Audio (Wave File) from SD Card||YES||However this is an Independent Operation that cannot be carried out in conjunction with the Song Sequencer.
You can play along to the Wave file but not record what you are playing while the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is in Audio Play mode.
|Play Back MIDI File from SD Card||YES||However this is an Independent Operation that cannot be carried out in conjunction with the Song Sequencer.
You can play along to the MIDI file but not record what you are playing while the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is in Card mode.
|Play MIDI Data From an External Source
(e.g. Laptop or PC)
|YES||However this data cannot be recorded into a Song Sequencer or Pattern Sequencer track.
By default incoming MIDI will be heard in whatever General MIDI voice it was created in (not the currently selected WK-7500 voice).
By entering Song Sequencer mode it is possible to assign an internal (WK-7500 / WK-7600) voice/tone to the incoming MIDI. Again, recording the incoming MIDI is not possible.
|Song Sequencer Tracks||17||16 MIDI Tracks plus 1 System Track
Tracks can be edited individually. Track Merge is available, along with Copy, Cut & Paste operations allowing MIDI data to be exchanged between tracks.
|Digital Mixer Channels
with DSP (Digital Signal Processor)
|17||16 MIDI Tracks plus 1 MIDI System Track.
A somewhat basic Digital Mixer with Vol, Pan, Chorus, DSP Effects, Reverb (Post DSP), with Noise Gate and optional Auto-Level for Analogue Inputs, Master Vol, Master Pan - allowing the creation of a Stereo Mix which can be saved as a stereo Wave file or output via the two Line Out jacks.
There is no EQ facility within the mixer.
To export audio from each individual channel of the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 to a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) or a Digital Multi-track Recorder would require saving each channel (instrument track) as a separate stereo audio (Wave) file. The system will store only 5 of these 'Song Files' files, so at some point files will need to be moved to an SD Card if more than 5 are to be created. The resulting files could then be loaded into a Software DAW or Digital Multi-track Recorder for further editing, comprehensive mix-down and final mastering.
Using the Line Outputs on a per track basis is not recommended because the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 can send but not receive MIDI Sync data. E.g. it's not possible to sync the WK-7500 / WK-7600 to a DAW or Digital Multi-track Recorder via MIDI.
By using the saved Wave file approach (mentioned above) at least each track of a given song will have identical length and importantly, never leave the digital domain. Thereby avoiding the 'Digital to Analogue to Digital' conversion process.
If you accept the limitations, or if they don't matter for your applications, then the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is a truly good beast.
The positives of the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 are many ...
Only some highlights are mentioned below because there are already a heap of YouTube videos singing the praises of this keyboard. The main point of this page was to provide some balance and a reality check for those who might be interested.
- Excellent touch response, as one would expect from Casio.
- 800 built-in Tones/Voices (820 for the WK-7600) that are fully editable and the facility to save/store 100 User Tones. Fully editable DSP (Digital Signal Processing) for each Tone (Chorus, Delay, Reverb, Flanging, Filtering, Tremolo and more).
- Plus there is a reasonably good Drawbar organ section for those who love those old Hammond Organ with a Leslie speaker sounds. The organ sounds are great and the Leslie speaker effect is nicely reproduced in the stereo output. However the drawbar sliders modify the sound in (very noticeable) steps which is totally not like a real drawbar organ.
- The Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is not unlike having several hundred instruments in a box at your finger tips (some admittedly more 'realistic' than others). All you need to do is work out how to play the keyboard (for example, using the pitch control wheel) to get the right nuances to make it sound something like the real instrument.
- An excellent array of pre-programmed rhythms (each with Intro, Fill and Ending variations) ranging from your standard western rhythms to more exotic Asian, African and South American styles.
- The Drum section provides just about every percussive sound you can imagine from real to synth instruments.
- And of course, you can use the WK-7500 / WK-7600 as a (rather basic) workstation to record and then mix down to stereo, no less than 16 MIDI tracks. Sadly, you can't include a wave file, like a guitar track to work with as a foundation for a song or record incoming MIDI data. A 'not so small' oversight on the part of Casio.
The 76 key Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is a great keyboard for its price range, with an extensive collection of Tones and Rhythms built in. It has recording features that some keyboard players may find a use for and it can be used as an input console for a PC based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Though not as a Control Surface.
However, given that the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 is Casio's top-of-the-line 'Workstation Keyboard' and can't record even a single Wave file into the Song Sequencer or record any incoming MIDI to a Song Sequencer track ... this is really stretching the definition of a 'Workstation' keyboard.
From what I've read (on Internet Forums), the Casio WK-7500 (WK-7600) can be used successfully on stage for live gigs.
With the lack of full MIDI syncing or Digital Audio output, I would personally hesitate to call the Casio WK-7500 / WK-7600 a 'Professional' tool. There are simply too many 'built-in' functional constraints and limitations. Put another way, there are better tools for both recording and live performing ... albeit at greater expense.
But then ... it's like needing a car that seats eight people and buying one that only seats five ... no matter how cheap it is, it will never do the job that you bought it for.
Value For Money? - YES:
This really comes down to what you need/want a keyboard (in this case the WK-7500) to do. At a price mark of under AUD $700 (if you are prepared to shop around) or USD $500, this is definitely a feature packed low cost keyboard.
I'm certainly satisfied with the build quality and overall playability of this keyboard.
It sounds great on its own, though a few more watts of output (an extra 6dB perhaps) from the built-in speakers would have been a nice touch. The WK-7500 also sounds great jacked in to a guitar amp (using a line input straight to the power amp) or run through a surround sound system. This really brings out the bass punch, particularly in some of the synthesizer tones.
Having a massive built-in tone library is also extremely cool. Being able to use it (in conjunction with the MIDI Guitar software and some experimentation) as a guitar synthesizer was an absolute bonus. This in part at least, makes up for some of the disappointing aspects / false assumptions (mentioned in the table above) that I discovered only after buying it. To be able to set up an 800 voice/tone guitar synthesizer for well under $1K (without the need for proprietary pickups and other specialized components) is absolutely awesome!
Overall, I'm satisfied that I got good value for money, even though the Casio WK-7500 definitely does not live up to the over-blown marketing hype you will see in almost every other review of this keyboard. Of course, most of the on-line reviewers are writing for web sites that are also trying to sell you one. That's not a bad thing ... as long as you are aware of it.
- As a keyboard 9 / 10
- As a Synthesizer 7 / 10
- As a Keyboard Workstation 6 / 10 (There are just too many things that it can't do)
- Value For Money 7 / 10
- Overall Average Score ... 7 / 10
Note to past readers / contributors - Thankyou for your comments and contributions. Greatly appreciated!
See also: Specification Comparison of the CASIO WK-7600 and WK-7500 Workstation Keyboards
Your Comments (Closed):
Thankyou to all the visitors to this page who have taken the time to provide feedback since this page was created. The time has come however to call it a day. As of February 2014 the "Was This Page Useful?" form has been removed.
140128 - (Excellent) I am considering one of these keyboards. Your 'does not do' information is extremely helpful, especially before I buy. Thank for your efforts to keep readers informed.
140113 - (Very Good) Good day, I'm one of those left hand bass players ... soooo, the peddle will sustain the left (bass) zone too? Thanks for the article. Jazzy
Yes, on the WK-7500 the pedal affects all of the keyboard (even when used in Split Keyboard mode). Under the Function Menu the Pedal Assign option allows the pedal to be set to control either: Sustain, Sostenuto, Soft Pedal or act as a Start/Stop Switch (p131).
140101 - (Excellent) description of the equipment. As a future keyboard buyer I was recently focused on the CTK-7200/WK-7600 which seemed to be a good option for an amateur like myself. After dismissing yamaha's PSR-433 as an option, I was looking for independent review of Casio's WK.
What is still not very clear to me, when connected to the pc via USB, will I be able to record in DAW what I play on the keyboard?
What is midi sync and how lack if that will affect using this keyboard to record on PC?.
Editor's Note: In answer to your questions ...
- First answer - Yes.
The CTK-7200 / WK-7600 can be used to input / record MIDI to the DAW software running on your PC. This is the most basic functionality that any MIDI capable keyboard should be able to provide. This includes played notes and certain MIDI program change commands.
- The only problem with the MIDI sync on the Casio keyboards is that it is Send Only. The Casio keyboards can send MIDI sync (e.g. timing information) to other MIDI devices (PC, keyboards etc.) allowing you to control those devices (e.g. start/stop) from the Casio keyboard.
Unfortunately, because the Casio keyboards don't receive sync commands, you can't for example, sync (synchronise / trigger) the playback of a recorded song or even rhythm track on the Casio keyboard via another MIDI device (e.g. PC, Software DAW, Hardware DAW, other MIDI keyboard).
Most MIDI capable devices can work both ways, which was a major point behind the creation of MIDI in the first place. It does of course introduce greater complexity to the firmware design. I'm guessing that Casio have simply taken the approach of ... 'You don't have to fix/support nonexistent features'.
1311222 - (Excellent) Great job, very helpful. I'm trying to find a KB suitable for a friend who needs basic functionality to play and record, but I'm finding the MIDI shortcomings to be concerning. If only external MIDI recording!.
Yes, it is a little strange ... to build a keyboard that records only MIDI tracks and then not allow that keyboard to record from any external MIDI sources.
131108 - (Excellent) I use it for live performance, very satisfied, but thought I was going nuts when I couldn't figure (even after downloading Casio "Data Manager") how to load standard MIDI files from other apps/kbds. ("There HAS to be a way, this is a Workstation, dammit!!") Playing it is fine, sequencing VERY clumsy. Thanks for saving me more wasted time & pulled hair! Back to my Korg! (Never thought I would say that with enthusiasm).
Casio could (if they wanted to) provide the functionality to load a Standard Midi File (SMF) into a blank song file (stored on the SD card). Why they have not provided this simple and obviously useful functionality is a mystery.
131014 - (Excellent) Thank you!! I am thinking of buying the WK7500 keyboard, but after reading your article I am a bit worried about the MIDI limitation the device has. Do you think using some external device (like the ones published at the http://www.kentonuk.com/) can overcome these limitations? If the answer is yes, exactly what kind of external device it would be?.
Until recently I would have suggested the iConnectMIDI (iConnect MIDI Manager). Unfortunately that device has been discontinued.
After contacting iConnectivity by email, I got this reply ... "The iConnectMIDI is being replaced by the iConnectMIDI4+ which offers all of the same features plus audio passThru, 2 more sets of Dins, and MIDI over ethernet. The iConnectMIDI4+ is expected to be released before the end of the year". (That being the end of 2013.)
The Kenton MIDI USB Host appears to perform the same task, in that it removes the need to have the keyboard's USB MIDI connected to or through a computer to enable connections to other MIDI devices. This is a qualified answer because I don't have a Kenton device to test.
131010 - (Very Good) I bought this keyboard and I am still learning it's quirks. It has many quirks but am still amazed at what it can do especially for what it costs. The instruction manual is perhaps one of the worst written manuals I've seen. I'm a Hammond organ player and this keyboard is as close as you can get. But the drawbar controls as you mentioned, over react. But that's typical of the quirks of this keyboard. If you want to play this solo or on gigs, this keyboard will give you a LOT of bang for the buck! I almost think the workstation aspect has more to do with editing the rhythms that are built in or to build your own for use on the keyboard itself. My CTK - 900 has dedicated MIDI ports and works well with a PC. The WK-7500 has none. I recommend it but be honest with yourself with what you want to do with this keyboard. If composing, midi and wave files is your thing, you're going to be frustrated.
The contributor's comment refers to Standard MIDI (5 pin DIN) I/O ports on the CTK-900. These are not available on the WK-7500/7600 which has USB MIDI instead. Ideally for maximum connectivity, both Standard MIDI I/O and USB MIDI would be available.
130930 - (Excellent) Honest review, much appreciated.
130831 - (Excellent) Very good synopsis of the keyboard features and shortcomings. I purchased one anyway for $350 used including seat, stand, stool and gig bag and power supply. For the money I paid, it is a killer board for small gigs. Thanks.
130807 - (Excellent) I was about to buy this keyboard for inserting audio tracks among midi tracks and saving on a song for future recall and use, but as I could see from this excellent analysis there are limitations for this purpose. Many thanks for the help.
130619 - (Excellent) Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
130509 - (Excellent) THANK YOU! As a novice doing buyer research, the single most helpful piece on this keyboard I've read. Thank you!!!! just saved me a lot of pain! (and money!) .
130505 - (Excellent) For a person with an average knowledge about modern keyboards and their capabilities, this is a great help. Technical jargon gives you headaches at times.
See also: Specification Comparison of the CASIO WK-7600 and WK-7500 Workstation Keyboards
Incept Date: Wizard - 121210
Last Update: Wizard - 140214