Expert PreView: Casio LK-265
Casio continues its stealth campaign to engage people in making music
by Craig Anderton
As Dendy Jarrett said, “This is the show where some companies realized that if we don’t get people engaged in making music, all that’s happening here becomes irrelevant.” Which is a perfect introduction to Casio’s “gateway drug” to making music: the LK-265 keyboard ($149 street price).
Sure, it incorporates tried-and-true Casio “learn music” features like lighted keyboard keys that teach built-in songs phrase by phrase, a display that shows notation and correct hand positioning, auto-accompaniment, and a scoring system for students to track their progress. But what’s new is that it short-circuits the gating element for those starting in music: impatience. After all, if people don’t have a positive experience within 60 seconds, then it’s back to video games, smartphones, and Netflix.
And that’s why the LK-265 includes “dance music mode,” which treats the keyboard like a curated collection of triggerable loops. Within seconds, you can be remixing drums, bass, and synths, as well as triggering effects (flanger, lo-fi, high cut, low cut). Seven more keys provide “build up” effects like roll, filter, stutter, etc. So it’s not just about learning music, but also arranging and mixing.
I can hear the Debbie Downers now: “But that’s not teaching real music”—which totally misses the point. Dance music mode is about getting people engaged in music. Once they have a positive experience creating the kind of music they hear every day, then it’s a short step to wanting to learn more. And for a cool tech touch, the LK-265 interfaces with Casio’s new Chordana Play app, so users can learn their favorite songs via downloadable MIDI files. But forget the camera kits or other adapters: a standard 1/8th stereo cable runs audio in one channel and data in the other.
I guess I’m supposed to like something more sophisticated and pro, but I can’t help myself. The LK-265 is fun—and I predict it will suck kids into music like a Shark vacuum cleaner in a dust factory. Casio will be sending us one for a full review as soon as they can pry one loose.
Interview with Casio's Mike Martin about the LK-265
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages. Stream his latest "video album" at craiganderton.com.