Top positive review
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BETTER THAN A TYROS 5 or paupers pick?
on 9 November 2015
Whenever I take my Tyros 5 to bed, it takes up so much space that there is no room left for me and I have to sleep on the floor. However with the Casio SA-46 keyboard I have full access to the land of Counterpane while the keyboard sits discreetly upon my lap like a well-trained poodle. For this I give the Casio SA-46 five stars and the Tyros 5 only one. As further comparisons would be unfair, I will put the Tyros to one side.
The Casio SA-46 is an inexpensive Mini Keyboard that is one step above being a toy, it is well made and moderately robust, it costs about the same as a family size Chinese takeaway. And if you like those “Bee in a tin can” sounds, the Casio has lots of them, this is the keyboard for you! The rhythm section is mainly drum beats which you can speed up or slow down using the two tempo buttons. Casio make a larger version of this keyboard, it has extra keys and is longer. But is it worth the extra cash? The SA-46 has two and a half octaves, starting at ‘F’ below middle ‘C’ and going up to the second ‘C’ above, a total of 32 keys. The SA-78 has three and a half octaves, starting at ‘F’ below middle ‘C’ and going up to the third ‘C’ above, a total of 44 keys. It also has a larger screen showing the notes played and a metronome icon. Don’t be fooled by the metronome icon, the tempo is set from “1 to 16”, but “1 to 16” what? It does not tell you the beats per minute, so it’s only guesswork. Beginner keyboard books usually stay within the two and a half octave range of the smaller SA-46. So buying the smaller keyboard and using the money saved to buy a quartz metronome may be the better option, if you have need of a metronome that is.
The keyboard is battery operated and also has an input for an OPTIONAL adaptor. I write optional in capitals as some people buy this keyboard and then moan “It’s got no adaptor!” I say to you “Read the information carefully, especially where it says ‘ADAPTOR OPTIONAL’ before you buy the keyboard, and if you do, make sure you have batteries to hand for when the keyboard arrives.” While on the subject of adaptors, do not buy a 9 volt adaptor that is advertised for a Casio keyboard, it will cost you more than if you buy a UNIVERSAL adaptor that can be set to various voltages and comes with a selection of plugs, it can be used for many electrical items including other keyboards that require different voltages and centre pin polarity. I bought this one: Connect-It ES1340 Universal Adapter 600ma with USB.
Should you have need to tune the keyboard, the facility is there. You just press the TONE and PATTERN buttons together. They are marked ‘Tune’ in case you forget. You can tune the keyboard a semitone going up or a semitone going down using the + & - buttons. It takes Ninety-nine button presses either way, there is no “Press and hold” function. If you have mistakenly gone the wrong way don’t panic, it’s not 198 button presses back, just switch the keyboard off and on and it resets to zero. The big bright coloured button toggles between the piano and organ sound. The keyboard has eight note polyphony, but don’t let that put you off, it’s not contagious and all keyboards have it to some degree. It means the keyboard has the ability to play eight notes at the same time. That may seem a lot, but in reality it is not. The Tyros has 128 note polyphony and that is one of the reasons it costs a few pennies more.
There is no stand for this keyboard, but if your child is a toddler and mostly sits on the floor to play, then just get a plastic step stool (they cost about a fiver) and put the keyboard on that. The great thing with step stools is they are stackable, so as your child grows you just have to add an extra step stool. And by the time your child is eighteen you will not only have a fantastic Keyboard Hero in the family, but a great collection of step stools. There are five drum pads on this keyboard with the drum type shown below each button. Pressing each button from left to right they sound like this: Bump, Bup, Tick, Dump and Plonk. There are also five more drum sounds under the percussion section using the keys. And you also get some really useful sounds of a Bird, Telephone, Helicopter, Train, Laser Gun, Gunshot and Seashore. There is also a mini stereo jack socket for headphones at the back of the keyboard, the keyboard is, in spite of having two speakers, mono only. So by having a stereo jack socket, your stereo headphones will work on both sides in mono instead of the left side only. Of course you can also use this headphone output to feed a stereo keyboard amplifier like the Roland KC-110, it works a treat. But before you rush off to a Roland dealer to buy one, check with your Granny first, she may have one tucked away in her wardrobe. If not, then it’s going cost you in excess of £300. Joking aside, you can connect this keyboard to anything that has an AUX IN socket, be it Radio, Hi-Fi or Amplifier, which can have several inputs using different types of plugs. All you need is a cable with the correct plugs at either end.
Do not bother to buy a bag or cover, the cost is more than the keyboard is worth. If your child shows ability you will need to buy a bigger keyboard. On the other hand if the child loses interest, then what need of a bag or cover? Finally this keyboard comes with a two year warranty which is great or is it? If it requires attention, guess who pays the postage? And postal charges today can be quite high, it may be the better option is to kick the keyboard into touch, miss out on a family size Chinese takeaway and buy another keyboard. The good news is keyboards are pretty tough when it comes to longevity otherwise eBay would not be making so much dosh from their auctions of thirty year old keyboards which are always in pristine condition and only used once, if you’re daft enough to believe the seller. If you want to consider other mini keyboards that are more than just a toy, then look at the Bontempi models GT740, GT790 or the Korg Microarranger, but have the smelling salts handy for when you see the Korg’s price. So there you have it, the choice is yours…