Casio CZ synthesizers

Casio CZ synthesizers

Overview
The CZ series were a family of low-cost Phase distortion
Phase distortion synthesis
NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:...

 synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

s produced by Casio
Casio
is a multinational electronic devices manufacturing company founded in 1946, with its headquarters in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Casio is best known for its electronic products, such as calculators, audio equipment, PDAs, cameras, musical instruments, and watches...

 mid-1980s. There were eight models of CZ synthesizers released: the CZ-101, CZ-230S, CZ-1000, CZ-2000S, CZ-2600S, CZ-3000, CZ-5000, and the CZ-1. Additionally the home-keyboard model CT-6500 used 48 phase-distortion presets from the CZ line. The CZ series were remarkably flexible synthesizers, and their price made programmable synthesizers affordable enough to be purchased by garage band
Garage rock
Garage rock is a raw form of rock and roll that was first popular in the United States and Canada from about 1963 to 1967. During the 1960s, it was not recognized as a separate music genre and had no specific name...

s.
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Encyclopedia
The CZ series were a family of low-cost Phase distortion
Phase distortion synthesis
NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:...

 synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

s produced by Casio
Casio
is a multinational electronic devices manufacturing company founded in 1946, with its headquarters in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Casio is best known for its electronic products, such as calculators, audio equipment, PDAs, cameras, musical instruments, and watches...

 mid-1980s. There were eight models of CZ synthesizers released: the CZ-101, CZ-230S, CZ-1000, CZ-2000S, CZ-2600S, CZ-3000, CZ-5000, and the CZ-1. Additionally the home-keyboard model CT-6500 used 48 phase-distortion presets from the CZ line. The CZ series were remarkably flexible synthesizers, and their price made programmable synthesizers affordable enough to be purchased by garage band
Garage rock
Garage rock is a raw form of rock and roll that was first popular in the United States and Canada from about 1963 to 1967. During the 1960s, it was not recognized as a separate music genre and had no specific name...

s. Yamaha soon introduced their own low-cost digital synthesizers, including the DX-21 and DX-100, in light of the success of the CZ series. Users of the CZ series of synthesizer include Vince Clarke
Vince Clarke
Vince Clarke is an English synthpop musician and songwriter. Clarke has been involved with a number of successful groups, including Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure....

, Clarence Jey
Clarence Jey
Clarence Jey is an Australian record producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and songwriter of Sri Lankan origin now established in the United States...

, They Might be Giants
They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. During TMBG's early years Flansburgh and Linnell were frequently accompanied by a drum machine. In the early 1990s, TMBG became a full band. Currently, the members of TMBG are...

, Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel André Jarre is a French composer, performer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and New Age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and...

, Seventh Celestia, the Orb
The Orb
Throughout 1989, the Orb, along with Martin Glover, developed the musical genre of ambient house through the use of a diverse array of samples and recordings. The culmination of its musical work came toward the end of the year when the group recorded a session for John Peel on BBC Radio 1...

, Moby
Moby
Richard Melville Hall , better known by his stage name Moby, is an American musician, DJ, and photographer. He is known mainly for his sample-based electronic music and his outspoken liberal political views, including his support of veganism and animal rights.Moby gained attention in the early...

, Cirrus
Cirrus (band)
Cirrus is an American big beat group formed in 1995 in Los Angeles, California. The group is composed of Aaron Carter and Stephen James Barry.In live performances, the group often added live guitar and bass to the electronic background. Their single "Superstar DJ" brought them mainstream exposure,...

, Jimi Tenor
Jimi Tenor
Jimi Tenor is a Finnish musician. His name is a combination of the first name of his youth idol Jimmy Osmond and the tenor saxophone. His band Jimi Tenor & His Shamans published its first album in 1988, Jimi's first solo album appeared in 1994. "Take Me Baby" became his first hit in 1994...

 and Jimmy Edgar
Jimmy Edgar
Jimmy Edgar is a Detroit-based electronic music artist, signed to K7 Records. Influenced mostly by Jazz, funk, street beat and r&b in these early years, he began his musical pursuit by playing the drums in experimental bands and by making tape recordings...

.

Programming the CZ synthesizers


Casio's Phase-Distortion synthesis technique was championed by Casio engineer Mark Fukuda and evolved from the Cosmo Synth System that was custom-developed for legendary synthesist-composer Isao Tomita
Isao Tomita
, often known simply as Tomita, is a Japanese music composer, regarded as one of the pioneers of electronic music and space music, and as one of the most famous producers of analog synthesizer arrangements...

. Yukihiro Takahashi
Yukihiro Takahashi
Yukihiro Takahashi is a Japanese musician, who is best known as the drummer and lead vocalist of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and as the former drummer of the Sadistic Mika Band.-Biography:...

 was also on board during development http://www.madtheory.com/CZ%20article/CZ%20article.htm, who in turn toured with a CZ-1 visibly in his 1986 tour of Japan.
To make the CZ synthesizers inexpensive, Casio used digital synthesis without a filter instead of traditional analog subtractive synthesis with a filter. Like many early digital synthesizers, its sound was regarded as "thinner" than the sound of an analog synthesizer. However, the CZ line used phase distortion
Phase distortion synthesis
NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:...

 to somewhat simulate an analog filter, it had in total eight different waveforms: as well as the standard sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms, it had a special double sine waveform, a half-sine waveform, and three waveforms with simulated filter resonance: resonant sawtooth, triangle, and trapezoidal waveforms. The simulated filter resonance was not considered to sound much like real filter resonance, being a simple waveform at the filter cutoff value instead of a real filter resonating.

Each digital oscillator could have one or two waveforms. Unlike other synthesizers, where having multiple waveforms added the multiple waveforms together, the CZ synthesizers would play one waveform and then play the other waveform in series; this resulted in there being a fundamental added one octave below the pitch of the sound. It was possible to combine two non-resonant waveforms together, and to combine a resonant waveform with a non-resonant waveform, but it was not possible to combine two resonant waveforms.

Digital Controlled Oscillator (DCO)



The CZ-101 and CZ-1000 had only eight digital oscillators. For patches using one oscillator per voice, this allowed 8-note polyphony, but if two oscillators per voice were used, this restricted polyphony to four voices. The CZ-3000, CZ-5000, and CZ-1 had sixteen digital oscillators, making them sixteen- or eight-voice synthesizers. Each of the oscillators in a two-oscillator patch could be independently programmed.

Digital Controlled Waveform (DCW)


Each DCW (what Casio called the phase distortion part of the sound which determined how many harmonics a given sound had) was also modulated by a dedicated 8-stage envelope generator.

Digital Controlled Amplitude (DCA)


The DCA (which determined how loud a given oscillator was at a given moment) was also modulated by another dedicated 8-stage envelope generator. The DCW and DCA also had a "key follow" feature; which determined how much higher notes affected a sound, making the DCW have a more dull sound with less harmonics with higher notes, and making the DCA envelope faster for higher notes.

8-step Envelope Generators (EG)



The envelope generators in the CZ synthesizers were far more flexible than a traditional four-stage ADSR envelope; they were eight stage envelope generators where each stage had a rate and level value. The rate value determined how fast the envelope would move; the level value would determine what pitch/filter cutoff/volume the envelope would have. There was a single sustain stage, and an end stage.

LFO



The synthesizers had but a single LFO, which could only modulate the pitch of all voices in a given patch. The LFO had triangle, square, up ramp sawtooth, and down ramp sawtooth waveforms. The LFO had only three settings: speed, depth, and delay.

The pitch of a voice could also be modulated by a dedicated eight-stage envelope; the envelope generator could only increase the pitch of a sound. The plus side of the CZ-series LFO (even the 101) is that it is polyphonic like the envelope generators akin to those of the Yamaha DX7II/SY77 where every oscillator/voice has individual LFO retriggering/cycling - this means that the LFO can also be used as a simple/secondary pitch envelope generator.

Ring and Noise modulators



It was possible to modulate the two voices in a two-voice patch in two different ways. Ring modulation had the output of one of the oscillators affect the volume of the other oscillator, resulting in a controlled distortion. Noise modulation caused the second voice in a two-voice patch to sound like digital noise, roughly simulating the effect of an analog synthesizer's noise source.

Tone mix mode



The CZ synthesizers also had the ability to stack up two different sounds via the "tone mix" feature resulting in a functionally monophonic synthesizer; this was Casio's version of the "unison" feature other polyphonic synthesizers had. Each part in a two-patch stack could be a different patch, allowing great flexibility in stacked sounds. It was not possible to detune the two patches in a tone mix stack; this could be somewhat worked around, however, by giving each of the two patches a different vibrato rate.

Missing features


The CZ synthesizers did not have some features that analog synthesizers had: LFO can't modulate DCW, and it means also pulse width modulation is not possible; the simulated resonance was an either-or proposition; with the exception of a resonant form, it did not have a triangle wave.

CZ-101



The CZ-101 was the first and best-selling synthesizer in this line. Approximately 68,500 were manufactured. Released in November 1984, it was one of the first (if not the first) fully programmable polyphonic synthesizers that was available for under $500. In order to keep the price low, several compromises were made. The CZ-101 only had 49 keys (4 octaves from C to C) instead of the 61 keys most synthesizers had. Instead of full sized keys, the CZ-101 used miniature keys.

CZ-230S


The CZ-230S was released in 1986. Despite the CZ-230Ss model numbering, it was not really a programmable synthesizer; the specifications of this model more closely resembled that of one of Casio's home keyboard models. It used the synthesizer technology of the CZ-101 in a 100 tone preset sound bank, had a mini keyboard of 49 keys, incorporated the RZ1
Casio RZ-1
The Casio RZ-1 was a drum machine manufactured and released by Casio in 1986. It was one of the first drum machines to allow the user to sample their own sounds, augmenting the unit's built-in sounds....

 drum computer technology and had a built-in speaker. Only four of the sounds in the sound bank could be programmed by linking the synthesizer to a computer via its MIDI
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
MIDI is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982 by Gordon Hall, that enables electronic musical instruments , computers and other electronic equipment to communicate and synchronize with each other...

 port.

CZ-1000


The CZ-1000 was the second fully programmable phase distortion
Phase distortion synthesis
NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:...

 synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

 that Casio introduced. This synthesizer, introduced in 1985, was identical to the CZ-101 in function, but used full size keys and more attractive membrane buttons. It was also somewhat larger than the CZ-101. Like the CZ-101, this synthesizer had 49 keys.

CZ-2000S


The CZ-2000S synthesizer was a rare model that was not sold in North America. It was identical to the CZ-3000 except that it also had built-in speakers.

CZ-2600S


The CZ-2600S synthesizer was a rare model that was not sold in North America. It was identical to the CZ-2000S except that it was a stereo model.

CZ-3000



The CZ-3000 synthesizer used the same phase distortion engine as the CZ-101 and the CZ-1000, but added the following features:
  • The synthesizer had eight voices instead of four voices (16 oscillators instead of eight)
  • It was possible to split the keyboard (in other words, have some keys play one sound while other keys played another sound).
  • The synthesizer had 61 keys, not 49 keys
  • There was a built-in chorus effect
  • Instead of having just a pitch bend wheel, the CZ-3000 had both a pitch bend wheel and a modulation wheel.

CZ-5000


The CZ-5000 synthesizer was almost identical to the CZ-3000, but had a built in 8 track sequencer. In most other regards, it was virtually identical to the other CZ series synthesizers. In the mid 80's this was Casio's flagship alongside the CZ-1, which was a redesigned performance version without the sequencer but adding velocity and aftertouch to the keyboard along with better memory options and a backlit screen.

CZ-1



The CZ-1 synthesizer competes with the CZ-5000 for the title of most advanced in the CZ series. The CZ-1 had all the features of the CZ-5000 except the sequencer. However, the CZ-1 doubled the memory, was multitimbral, also stored splits and layers as "Operation Memories", added velocity and aftertouch sensitivity to the keyboard, along with programming parameters to control how velocity and aftertouch pressure would affect the sound. In this respect the CZ-1 is the most advanced CZ synthesizer. The CZ-1 also featured a backlit display - a small but nice improvement over the rest of the series.

VZ-1 and VZ-10M


Casio VZ series utilize improved Phase Distortion synthesis (iPD synthesis).

See also

  • Phase distortion synthesis
    Phase distortion synthesis
    NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:NOTE: any readers who are struggling to understand this text, here are links to the missing Figures A and B:...

  • Casio
    Casio
    is a multinational electronic devices manufacturing company founded in 1946, with its headquarters in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Casio is best known for its electronic products, such as calculators, audio equipment, PDAs, cameras, musical instruments, and watches...

  • Synthesizer
    Synthesizer
    A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

  • Musical instrument
    Musical instrument
    A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

  • Musical keyboard
    Musical keyboard
    A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers or keys on a musical instrument, particularly the piano. Keyboards typically contain keys for playing the twelve notes of the Western musical scale, with a combination of larger, longer keys and smaller, shorter keys that repeats at the...

  • Casio SD Synthesizers
    Casio SD Synthesizers
    Casio's SD Synthesizers were a late-1980s line of hybrid digital-analog synthesizers featuring a resonant analog filter. SD synthesis was very similar to traditional DCO-analog synthesis, with the main difference being that some of the SD digital waveforms' harmonic spectrums changed temporally,...

  • Casio MT-40
    Casio MT-40
    The Casio Casiotone MT-40 is a musical keyboard, formerly produced by Casio and originally developed for the consumer market. It is 9 voice polyphonic, with 37 main keys and 14 smaller bass keys. Eight notes may be played on the main keys, and one note on the bass. The bass section has one timbre,...


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