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Casio VZ10m vs Kawai K5m
Old 15th February 2017
  #1
Deleted cda76ca πŸŽ™οΈ
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Casio VZ10m vs Kawai K5m

Hi slutz

I've decided my next purchase will be one of these synthesizers. Could you please weigh in and let me know which one you think is best. My musings so far...

- Casio is iPD, K5 is additive, yet both sound remarkably similar from YouTube videos. The sounds include those cool 80's fake choir sounds, DX-y pianos, String Pads, and the odd harsh weird effect. That's why it's kinda hard to pick - they sound like siblings!
- I like Kawai, I have a K1, K11 and XD5 and love them, though part of that attraction is crusty samples through ring mod, and therefore I'm guessing the sine wave based K5 won't sound like any of them and might not be insane enough for me.
- The Casio, I guess, can do 8 partial additive anyway with the 8 lines you can mix, and more in multi mode, plus it has phase modulation and ring mod (my ❀️) it also has numerous waveforms.

Side note...What do the different noise waveforms sound like? I hear one is pitched???

- I'm wondering whether additive is best left to software or my FZ1, as to be honest it sounds tedious to program and I think I'll get quicker weird results with the VZ.

So you can see, I'm leaning towards VZ, so if there's some killer reason to go for K5, which is of course some people's favourite secret weapon, then please let me know.

Thanks.
Old 15th February 2017
  #2
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I have the VZ10M. I was so excited to get it, had been searching for a year to get it. I hooked it all up and went, Meh...

I then loaded some different patch banks out there and listened. And went, Meh...

If there's a decent synthesis engine in there, NOBODY has tapped it yet. Maybe I'll lock myself in a closet with it and see what I can come up with, but I haven't had the patience for that kind of design in years.

Anyways, all the patches all sound the same with the same glassy sameness... I've never K5'd, but from the demos I've heard and my experience with additive synthesis, I imagine it's quite the same, only a ****ton more parameters to change!

Good luck with your choice! I still have a bit of buyers remorse here...

Still raw.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntonica ➑️
I have the VZ10M. I was so excited to get it, had been searching for a year to get it. I hooked it all up and went, Meh...

I then loaded some different patch banks out there and listened. And went, Meh...

If there's a decent synthesis engine in there, NOBODY has tapped it yet. Maybe I'll lock myself in a closet with it and see what I can come up with, but I haven't had the patience for that kind of design in years.

Anyways, all the patches all sound the same with the same glassy sameness... I've never K5'd, but from the demos I've heard and my experience with additive synthesis, I imagine it's quite the same, only a ****ton more parameters to change!

Good luck with your choice! I still have a bit of buyers remorse here...

Still raw.
Man that sucks! Things got 8 stage envelopes so should be capable of serious movement and coolness.
Old 15th February 2017
  #4
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I think if anyone can program the **** out of it, you can. But it's one synth I would say begs for a software editor.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntonica ➑️
I think if anyone can program the **** out of it, you can. But it's one synth I would say begs for a software editor.
I luckily have sounddiver 3.1 and plenty of tea bags.
Old 15th February 2017
  #6
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Early in my quest for a synth that could produce the same sound I heard in my head, I stumbled upon a used Kawai K5M at my local Guitar Center.
Heck, I was still learning subtractive synthesis, but really how hard could Additive Synthesis be I asked myself.
The presets sounded good(well some of them), and I loved the bell like sounds it could produce.

Well, long story short, I spent hours menu diving, turning the big knobby thing, changing numbers, and on occasion I would accidentally create a nice pad or something.
I later sold it. Probably used the funds to buy a midied kazoo or something.

I would say, the rewards are great if you know what you are doing.
And as it's been said, if anyone can do it, it would be you.
Just know there is a steep learning curve.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted cda76ca ➑️
I luckily have sounddiver 3.1 and plenty of tea bags.
Awesome! I can't wait to hear the results, whichever you pick.

Which reminds me. I've got Sounddiver around somewhere, but will that computer support my MIDI adapter...
Old 15th February 2017
  #8
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🎧 5 years
I have a vz-10m and a k5000. The k5000 is a more powerful synth than the k5 but they both have one limitation that is a bit saddening. Basically you get all these partials, and on the k5000 each has its own envelope, on the k5, I think you get 5 envelopes, but the partials can't be detuned. What that means is all those partials are a long way round to a waveshaper, you can't generate non harmonic tones. The vz is a lot like a dx7, and the phase modulation between operators can create non harmonic tones, the ring modulators can create non harmonic tones. So it is much more capable of dissonant sounds. It's problem is it is just really obtuse, and even with the screen, it can be hard to use (plus my backlight is out making it that much harder.). Also, it's SYSEX is flaky, and I have found it intermittent for full bank dumps. How well it works with an editor I don't know.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abruzzi ➑️
I have a vz-10m and a k5000. The k5000 is a more powerful synth than the k5 but they both have one limitation that is a bit saddening. Basically you get all these partials, and on the k5000 each has its own envelope, on the k5, I think you get 5 envelopes, but the partials can't be detuned. What that means is all those partials are a long way round to a waveshaper, you can't generate non harmonic tones. The vz is a lot like a dx7, and the phase modulation between operators can create non harmonic tones, the ring modulators can create non harmonic tones. So it is much more capable of dissonant sounds. It's problem is it is just really obtuse, and even with the screen, it can be hard to use (plus my backlight is out making it that much harder.). Also, it's SYSEX is flaky, and I have found it intermittent for full bank dumps. How well it works with an editor I don't know.
I heard I may have to change the speed of sysex transmission as the system may choke or sputter.
Old 15th February 2017
  #10
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🎧 10 years
If you've got a TG77 already I don't think a VZ10M would add a lot to that. The stuff that the VZ can do that the TG77 can't is mainly limited to AM (for weird tremolo sounds and so on) and phase modulation with sawtooth waves (this is really buzzy and harsh sounding). Other than that I'd say it's mostly less capable than the TG77 and more of a pain to work with. And actually the AM is pretty well covered by the looping envelopes in the TG77, and the sawtooth phase modulation isn't very different from what you can get with feedback operators and RCM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted cda76ca ➑️
- Casio is iPD, K5 is additive, yet both sound remarkably similar from YouTube videos. The sounds include those cool 80's fake choir sounds, DX-y pianos, String Pads, and the odd harsh weird effect. That's why it's kinda hard to pick - they sound like siblings!
I haven't used a K5 but they don't seem to sound especially similar to me...

Quote:
- I like Kawai, I have a K1, K11 and XD5 and love them, though part of that attraction is crusty samples through ring mod, and therefore I'm guessing the sine wave based K5 won't sound like any of them and might not be insane enough for me.
I'm not sure how the waveforms are synthesized and interpolated in the K5, but it seems to have at least some grit to it. The VZ sounds sorta clean-ish like the TG77 or TX802 or whatever. Mathematically it's very similar except that the sample rate is a little bit lower.

Quote:
Side note...What do the different noise waveforms sound like? I hear one is pitched???
It's literally just noise plus a sine. I never found it useful at all. The noise modulation in the CZ models is much more interesting and special.

Quote:
- I'm wondering whether additive is best left to software or my FZ1, as to be honest it sounds tedious to program and I think I'll get quicker weird results with the VZ.
The VZ is also pretty tedious. Mainly I think the menus aren't laid out very well and it takes a lot of button mashing to navigate through them.

I've considered getting a K5 myself but I don't think I'd really put it to serious use. The unique part should be the additive domain filtering. From a purely technical standpoint it's one of the most interesting and innovative synths around, and I'm sure I could good sounds out of it, but I've got enough junk sitting around already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syntonica ➑️
If there's a decent synthesis engine in there, NOBODY has tapped it yet. Maybe I'll lock myself in a closet with it and see what I can come up with, but I haven't had the patience for that kind of design in years.
Speak for yourself, I've programmed mine extensively.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil ➑️
Speak for yourself, I've programmed mine extensively.
WAVs or it didn't happen!

No, seriously, I want to hear a couple of well-designed sounds for this guy before he goes up on Craigslist...
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by syntonica ➑️
WAVs or it didn't happen!

No, seriously, I want to hear a couple of well-designed sounds for this guy before he goes up on Craigslist...
Look at his videos on YouTube.
Old 15th February 2017
  #13
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🎧 10 years
I have the VZ-10M and the K5000R. I would take the K5000 over the K5 any day of the week. It's just much more powerful and a classic digital synth. As for the Casio, I've also programmed my own sounds, I use SoundDiver. Works well but for some tweaks it just needs a bit of time to receive the whole sysex stream. Also, before you can use the Casio with a sysex programmer, you need to go to the menus and enable two parameters and you have to do that every time so make sure it's on a rack in front of you.

I find the sound very nice, a pleasing warmer FM, different from my TX802 which I also love and as I am not a fan of the SY77, I've chosen these two for my FM bliss. Difficult to program, yes but vintage digitals have always intrigued me.
Old 15th February 2017
  #14
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🎧 10 years
Anyone who has a K5 can download 10 banks of patches from Kawai's download page... go here:
Kawai Downloads - Download Archive - Page 2
They're available in a couple formats; WRK (cakewalk) and SMF (midi).
There's also a K5 Sound Library description (10 banks) provided.

I owned a K5 for a few years, built a couple banks worth of patches, cherry-picked faves out of the 10 banks Kawai provided, did some gigs with it. There's a couple hardware tweaks can be done to improve but still not worth getting imo.
Kfuenf - Extended Kawai K5 Hack Page
So I'd recommend you get the Casio VZ10m.
Old 15th February 2017
  #15
Deleted cda76ca πŸŽ™οΈ
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Thanks guys, given me a lot to think about!
Old 15th February 2017
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Xander - I owned both of those - and you want the CZ-1 it is better than the Vz-1 as the sound is richer and more versatile.
The VZ is decent - I've owned the rack mount and the board - if you get a good deal. K5 was not as much fun as the K1 or the K4 which I still have.
Or pick up the JD990 which is still a steal at current prices and sounds great too. Or if you just want cheap get a xv-5050 which is also great at current prices.
Old 15th February 2017
  #17
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I wouldn't describe the CZ as rich sounding but of course that's my personal opinion. The truly rich sounds of the VZ come with the operation memories actually...
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer ➑️
I wouldn't describe the CZ as rich sounding but of course that's my personal opinion. The truly rich sounds of the VZ come with the operation memories actually...
Is that Casio speak for performances?

I imagine 8 oscillators x4 parts still leaving 4 note poly and detuning them all would be kinda massive.

CZ5000 is actually on my list for some point, great polyrhythmic sequencer where you can change patch per step, almost as good as parameter locks if you think about it, make 8 similar patches and go between them each step.
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz ➑️
Is that Casio speak for performances?

I imagine 8 oscillators x4 parts still leaving 4 note poly and detuning them all would be kinda massive.

CZ5000 is actually on my list for some point, great polyrhythmic sequencer where you can change patch per step, almost as good as parameter locks if you think about it, make 8 similar patches and go between them each step.
Yeah, those are the performances. That thing with the different presets on the CZ5000 reminds me of the TX802's alternate assign. Combine that with an arpeggiator or sequencer. Interesting...
Old 15th February 2017 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer ➑️
Yeah, those are the performances. That thing with the different presets on the CZ5000 reminds me of the TX802's alternate assign. Combine that with an arpeggiator or sequencer. Interesting...
The ability to apply timbral movement in a sequence definitely is one thing I prioritise when choosing a synth. Even if it's simple as having a good Midi CC spec so I can send a string of CCs from the An1x sequencer.
Old 15th February 2017
  #21
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I don't have any experience with the VZ10 and can't speak to it. That said, if you go the Kawai direction I would strongly recommend a K5000 over a K5 for the following reasons:

First, the K5000 includes PCM samples which are very helpful in constructing patches. As another poster mentioned, you can't detune partials so it's pretty much impossible to generate inharmonic sounds using only the additive engine. The PCM samples are very helpful in that regard. The basic synth structure is actually fairly similar to the K1 -- you have 6 sources each of which can be an additive digital wave or pcm wave.

Secondly, the 128 band formant filter in the K5000 additive engine is incredibly useful in creating interesting additive sounds. The limited version on the K5 (11 band vs. 128 band) is almost not worth mentioning and is fairly useless compared to the K5000. Note that the formant filter is built into the additive engine and is in addition to the digital low pass filter for the entire patch.

For what it's worth the K5000 also has a fairly powerful arpeggiator and built-in effects which are useful.

No ring mod, but the K5000 does offer amplitude modulation between its six sources.

Last thing I like to note about the K5000 -- its low pass filter (not the formant filter) has an unusually high resonance setting and while not remotely analog sounding you can get some very nasty and noisy sounds in a good way if that's your inclination.

Coming from owning a K1 (bought brand spanking new in '88 -- yes I'm old) I found the K5000 to be fairly easy to get around as it has the same basic Kawai patch structure. While programming additive sounds from scratch is tedious -- if you have some basic knowledge of the harmonic structure of the basic wave types it is not that hard to get your head around it. The formant filter is really interesting and powerful.

Again no idea about the VZ10 - but wanted to offer some thoughts in favor of the K5k over the K5.
Old 16th February 2017
  #22
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I've 'owned' several of these for decent periods of time and sold most of them after not all that long. Here's my thoughts.

- Casio CZ: can be nice and warm and analogue-ish, but isn't as warm as real analog, nor as harsh as other digital, and seemed to me to kinda neither this nor that and ultimately kinda meh. Easy interface, kinda low-fi sound overall, and a bit noisy, nice chorus on some of these, but I think these only make sense as a budget option unless you are specifically in love with the CZ sound.

- Casio VZ-10m: This is the only one I still own. First, in the US at least, they are cheaper than just about anything. Immediately sounds more hi-fi than the CZ series, but less warm (but warmer than a lot of Yamaha FM, especially 2nd gen after they went to 16 bit DA converters). Interface is sensible, but really slow to work with, but with software editor shouldn't be too bad. In theory I actually really like the idea of how it works, you build your own FM algorithms by hand, and you can put ring mod in AT EACH STAGE, and you can do these amazing phasey type sounds that for whatever reason I've never heard come out of a Yamaha style FM synth. The tone is overall a little bit warmer (and a little noisier) than Yamaha FM (really PM I know), but it can get harsh and crazy in some very intense ways, largely do to layers of ring mod feeding back into another operator that can do FM or ring mod to the result, that I don't think you can get out of Yamaha FM. I really like the sound as a complement to Yamaha FM, it's a related but diff flavor. Unlike Yamaha FM, there's hardly a massive patch library, and I honestly think the potential of this synth hasn't been fully tapped. I think I paid like 225 USD for it, hard to say no to that.

- Kawai K5/K5m: I'm curious but there are so few demos. I've been told you can't detune the partials to fatten them up, or make inharmonic tones with them, or something like that which limits its capabilities in some dissapointing ways, I forget precisely what it was, but I think Acreil mentioned it and I immediately lost interest.

- Kawai K5000w: I was so excited to try this. The most complex additive synth engine ever made in hardware, with knobby interface and formant filters? Problem was that not a single online demo took the effects off to reveal what the synth sounded like dry. When I finally got one shipped to me, it took me forever to even figure out how to turn off the multieffects, it really requires like 4 steps do to it in a deep menu somewhere. But when you take off the multieffects, there is almost NOTHING there. Incredibly thin beyond belief. And I'm not sure if it can quite do inharmonic either, I forget. Point is, the additive engine seemed little more than a skeleton to hang the multieffects upon. And what a multieffects engine it is, like 4 diff layers of effects, on top of formant filtering. So you can get VERY complex sounds, and the synth excels at icy, shifting, ambient pads. Did I say synth? I mean multieffects system connected to patterned sound generator connected to a keyboard. Don't get me wrong, it sounds GREAT if you do icy ambient, but I was looking for strange digital, and it's an icy ambienty multifx machine. At least, that was what it felt like to me. The knobs weren't quite as useful as I hoped, they do grouped ambient partials like odd/even, on a lot of sounds they didn't impact things as much as I'd hoped.

- Yamaha FM: I've tried most of these. TG77 is really cheap, and the interface is sensible, but there are SO many parameters that it's nearly impossible to navigate. What makes it really clunky to me is that any sound is 2 layered single sounds, but doing it with just a link mode like on the DX7 I think is so much easier to navigate. Sounds nearly identical to DX7II in quality, and can FM process samples into the operators, which sounded less cool than I'd hoped (kinda dirtied up either sample or FM, if memory serves). It does also have a few extra waveforms you can put into the FM operators than the DX7 line, but it didn't sound hugely diff, and the VZ has those (and so does the Preen!). I sold it because even with a software editor, I couldn't see using it with that interface when other Yamaha's had same sound but much better interface. Compared DX7IIFD to TX7, the latter sounds warmer but noisier and less precise, and decided to keep the DX7IIFD for better interface and slightly more chilly sound. TX81z has a few things missing from DX7 but a few extra waveforms, cheap as chips to buy, janky interface, doesn't sound as thick as the 6op FM.

-Korg FM: The Korg FMs are interesting options, both 4op with same grungy chip FM as in the FB01, harsh and lowfi but cool because of it. Programming these are def streamlined from Yamaha FM, and I honestly really like the slider approach, makes FM more tactile especially for getting it usefully weird real easily in a hands on way. Don't have the thickness of 4op Yamaha FM, but still sound cool and lofi and SOOOOO cheap to buy. Korg 707 has a GREAT keybed, worth it alone just for that, got mine for 150 USD. The 707 can save the slider settings while the DS8 can't, which is a real shame, cause the DS-8 has a full size keyboard and a grungy lowfi delay.

- PreenFM2: This is an unsung gem. 6op FM, DIY kit that you can have built for you at Michigan Synthworks, I think mine came to 320 USD or so in a plexi case. Uses REAL FM, not Yamaha PM, which Yamaha did to 'simplify' FM programming. Preen has this slightly more complicated to program form of FM in a totally streamlined interface with real knobs, which works out to a little easier than a DX7. Programming the FM on this is remarkably sensible, but the basic interface stuff like saving programs is a little janky, and there's like only 3 soundbanks in existence for this thing, one of which is a VERY cool industrial/noise soundbank. Not sure if any software editor works for this thing, but my memory jogs me that perhaps one does, but not sounddiver. It may sound a TINY bit more lowfi than Yamaha 6op, but overall it's quite hifi. There are TONS of hidden goodies in this thing. A nice resonant multimode digital filter, or bitcrusher, built in arpeggiator, panning effects, the extra waveforms for the FM like on the TX81z, and I think you can import user waves by USB. It's a really undersung little synth. And the designer, Xavier, Hosxe seems like a really nice guy.

- Mutable Instruments Shruthi: 8 bit digital into analog filters, built in effects, arpeggiator, nuff said.

Hope that helps!

PS - Xander, love your music and videos!
Old 16th February 2017
  #23
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🎧 15 years
ive yet to dwelve into programming my new VZ10m, used to have K5000 and had the chance to try the K5. my quick two cents would be:

displays on all VZ ive seen, including mine, are barely visible at this point, ive yet to investigate if something can be done about that - is there a remedy of sorts? backfoil? leds etc?

had Sounddiver on a disk for my emu sampler. havent a clue where is it now. do make a followup post how that worked out for you.

while on first listen some patches have similarities to some DXTX stuff, its tone and texture is really different. actually i think it sounds amazing. harmonics and chewiness that you simply cannot get from yamaha engine. i had tx802 for many years and atm have dx7mk1 and sy77 to compare. i think you would like it a lot.


K5000 over K5 for sure. that being said, after a while i fell out of love with it as well. couldnt bring myself to like the filter/resonance, and its somewhat shrill but undetailed hazy tone when you used open, brighter settings - it worked best in sparser, ambiental arrangements with nice outboard reverb. not so much in denser ones. it got this nice pillowy quality in mids and low mids when filter was set darker. i sold it in 2002, to buy Andromeda.


these days, for strange, experimental or illbient? pads and drones, i am on a jorney discovering WSA1. its rompler emul patches are pure crap, but once you reach its well hidden Id, it really shows you another face. wish i had more time to play with this. while totally oposite type of synthesis, some stuff i came up with, isn't entirely unrelated to pads i did on k5k. i recall you mentioned once jonesing for technics, so thought maybe not a bad time to bring it up.

cheers
Old 16th February 2017
  #24
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🎧 10 years
No VZ, but I had a K5m and several K5000's. I liked the K5m better.

The K5K generally had more features, but I never liked the sounds I got from it
as much as I did the K5m. The formant filter was interesting, but horribly shrieky.
The K5m was smooth, glassy, and focused.

It was long enough ago that I barely remember it, and probably would have a
different opinion now. I bought it new when it first came out.

At the time (30 years ago), I thought my new Matrix 6 and K5m would be
all that I would ever need.
Don't have either one now, but I do have many fond memories of them.
Old 16th February 2017 | Show parent
  #25
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz ➑️
Is that Casio speak for performances?

I imagine 8 oscillators x4 parts still leaving 4 note poly and detuning them all would be kinda massive.
The problem with this is that the Casio's operators all start with the same initial phase. This more or less prevents any organic or analog-like sounds. You can detune a bunch of sawtooth waves but it makes a weird flangey sound rather than a supersaw. The great part about the DX7 and later 6 operator models is that the phase can be either initialized or free running. The TG77 is of course especially powerful, because it allows you to do this independently for each operator.

Most digital stuff starts from the same initial phase, including the Casio CZ series, 4 operator FM synths, most samplers (if you can't modulate the sample start point) and apparently also the K5. It's completely typical but it's also a large part of why people consider digital synths to sound static compared to analog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by syntonica ➑️
WAVs or it didn't happen!

No, seriously, I want to hear a couple of well-designed sounds for this guy before he goes up on Craigslist...
The problem with that is that I mostly used the VZ circa 2002-2004 on material that I'm not very enthusiastic about, and I only used it in isolation a small number of times. It was very useful in my setup at the time, but I almost always used it alongside the Ensoniq ESQ-M and EPS, so there's not really much that serves as good demo material.

I dug up a few things though.

This is 100% VZ-10M with Quadraverb. I sometimes tried to do stuff with AM or phase modulation with fixed frequency sawtooth modulators for sorta rhythmic or glitchy effects. You can do similar things with a DX7 or TG77 or whatever.



The monophonic sounds here are sort of additive emulations of a filter sweep. It's all VZ aside from the drums.



I attached a couple things too. y-q.mp3 is all VZ, dry, 8 voices, 4 multitimbral parts, mono. I tried to program a drum patch using the keyboard level scaling curves. It's just one patch that changes gradually over the keyboard. It's possible to make much better drum sounds than these, but I never really bothered. I will totally admit that this kind of sucks. I like the bass sound but I didn't have any good ideas beyond that. One thing I forgot about is that the pitch envelope can cover an extremely large range. So that's useful if you want to do drum sounds.

transition2.mp3 really sucks, but it's also completely dry and does that rhythmic phase modulation thing again.

If you want good sound design, this guy is probably the best VZ programmer.

Beaumont Hannant also apparently used a VZ-1.
Attached Files

transition 2.mp3 (1.74 MB, 3315 views)

y-q.mp3 (2.20 MB, 3301 views)

Old 16th February 2017
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
have a vz8m because i was able to get it back for 60quid after selling it
15 yrs earlier and still have the ram500 - and it has a nice preset called
Toi Toi. and sounds FM ish. i also had a cz101 with cartridge, and a TX81z
at the time, and the order they departed in, following total edit destruction
sessions with Atari and DrT editors was CZ first to go, i figured the VZ did
more and sounded a bit more sophisticated, albeit different - i was finding
the CZ a bit fixed by comparison - but then i compared the VZ and TX and
found them too similar to justify keeping both, and kept my old TX in preference,
because those VZ ops don't really offer as much variation as FM algorithms.
i really turned all of these inside out, quickly, with the editors, too quickly really
to appreciate what they could do in sensible conditions. i now have tx802, which
does 'donk' stuff comparable to the VZ, and is very easy to use. and a k1r, which
i like a lot with sysex control, especially layering with the multis, mainly because it
was a good cheapie. additive is weird, the way you have a transient and a body,
and i don't really use it like that. don't know the K5m but it looks interesting and is
not very common as far as i know.i 'm coming to the conclusion that digital is digital,
in the end, and you end up with the same kinds of sounds, it just depends how.
(horses***?)
Old 16th February 2017 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle ➑️
I've 'owned' several of these for decent periods of time and sold most of them after not all that long. Here's my thoughts.

- Casio CZ: can be nice and warm and analogue-ish, but isn't as warm as real analog, nor as harsh as other digital, and seemed to me to kinda neither this nor that and ultimately kinda meh. Easy interface, kinda low-fi sound overall, and a bit noisy, nice chorus on some of these, but I think these only make sense as a budget option unless you are specifically in love with the CZ sound.

- Casio VZ-10m: This is the only one I still own. First, in the US at least, they are cheaper than just about anything. Immediately sounds more hi-fi than the CZ series, but less warm (but warmer than a lot of Yamaha FM, especially 2nd gen after they went to 16 bit DA converters). Interface is sensible, but really slow to work with, but with software editor shouldn't be too bad. In theory I actually really like the idea of how it works, you build your own FM algorithms by hand, and you can put ring mod in AT EACH STAGE, and you can do these amazing phasey type sounds that for whatever reason I've never heard come out of a Yamaha style FM synth. The tone is overall a little bit warmer (and a little noisier) than Yamaha FM (really PM I know), but it can get harsh and crazy in some very intense ways, largely do to layers of ring mod feeding back into another operator that can do FM or ring mod to the result, that I don't think you can get out of Yamaha FM. I really like the sound as a complement to Yamaha FM, it's a related but diff flavor. Unlike Yamaha FM, there's hardly a massive patch library, and I honestly think the potential of this synth hasn't been fully tapped. I think I paid like 225 USD for it, hard to say no to that.

- Kawai K5/K5m: I'm curious but there are so few demos. I've been told you can't detune the partials to fatten them up, or make inharmonic tones with them, or something like that which limits its capabilities in some dissapointing ways, I forget precisely what it was, but I think Acreil mentioned it and I immediately lost interest.

- Kawai K5000w: I was so excited to try this. The most complex additive synth engine ever made in hardware, with knobby interface and formant filters? Problem was that not a single online demo took the effects off to reveal what the synth sounded like dry. When I finally got one shipped to me, it took me forever to even figure out how to turn off the multieffects, it really requires like 4 steps do to it in a deep menu somewhere. But when you take off the multieffects, there is almost NOTHING there. Incredibly thin beyond belief. And I'm not sure if it can quite do inharmonic either, I forget. Point is, the additive engine seemed little more than a skeleton to hang the multieffects upon. And what a multieffects engine it is, like 4 diff layers of effects, on top of formant filtering. So you can get VERY complex sounds, and the synth excels at icy, shifting, ambient pads. Did I say synth? I mean multieffects system connected to patterned sound generator connected to a keyboard. Don't get me wrong, it sounds GREAT if you do icy ambient, but I was looking for strange digital, and it's an icy ambienty multifx machine. At least, that was what it felt like to me. The knobs weren't quite as useful as I hoped, they do grouped ambient partials like odd/even, on a lot of sounds they didn't impact things as much as I'd hoped.

- Yamaha FM: I've tried most of these. TG77 is really cheap, and the interface is sensible, but there are SO many parameters that it's nearly impossible to navigate. What makes it really clunky to me is that any sound is 2 layered single sounds, but doing it with just a link mode like on the DX7 I think is so much easier to navigate. Sounds nearly identical to DX7II in quality, and can FM process samples into the operators, which sounded less cool than I'd hoped (kinda dirtied up either sample or FM, if memory serves). It does also have a few extra waveforms you can put into the FM operators than the DX7 line, but it didn't sound hugely diff, and the VZ has those (and so does the Preen!). I sold it because even with a software editor, I couldn't see using it with that interface when other Yamaha's had same sound but much better interface. Compared DX7IIFD to TX7, the latter sounds warmer but noisier and less precise, and decided to keep the DX7IIFD for better interface and slightly more chilly sound. TX81z has a few things missing from DX7 but a few extra waveforms, cheap as chips to buy, janky interface, doesn't sound as thick as the 6op FM.

-Korg FM: The Korg FMs are interesting options, both 4op with same grungy chip FM as in the FB01, harsh and lowfi but cool because of it. Programming these are def streamlined from Yamaha FM, and I honestly really like the slider approach, makes FM more tactile especially for getting it usefully weird real easily in a hands on way. Don't have the thickness of 4op Yamaha FM, but still sound cool and lofi and SOOOOO cheap to buy. Korg 707 has a GREAT keybed, worth it alone just for that, got mine for 150 USD. The 707 can save the slider settings while the DS8 can't, which is a real shame, cause the DS-8 has a full size keyboard and a grungy lowfi delay.

- PreenFM2: This is an unsung gem. 6op FM, DIY kit that you can have built for you at Michigan Synthworks, I think mine came to 320 USD or so in a plexi case. Uses REAL FM, not Yamaha PM, which Yamaha did to 'simplify' FM programming. Preen has this slightly more complicated to program form of FM in a totally streamlined interface with real knobs, which works out to a little easier than a DX7. Programming the FM on this is remarkably sensible, but the basic interface stuff like saving programs is a little janky, and there's like only 3 soundbanks in existence for this thing, one of which is a VERY cool industrial/noise soundbank. Not sure if any software editor works for this thing, but my memory jogs me that perhaps one does, but not sounddiver. It may sound a TINY bit more lowfi than Yamaha 6op, but overall it's quite hifi. There are TONS of hidden goodies in this thing. A nice resonant multimode digital filter, or bitcrusher, built in arpeggiator, panning effects, the extra waveforms for the FM like on the TX81z, and I think you can import user waves by USB. It's a really undersung little synth. And the designer, Xavier, Hosxe seems like a really nice guy.

- Mutable Instruments Shruthi: 8 bit digital into analog filters, built in effects, arpeggiator, nuff said.

Hope that helps!

PS - Xander, love your music and videos!
Thank you so much for the big run down, and everyone else for the opinions acreil for the demo's, etc, too many good posts to quote them all!
Old 16th February 2017 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil ➑️
T

I dug up a few things though.

This is 100% VZ-10M with Quadraverb. I sometimes tried to do stuff with AM or phase modulation with fixed frequency sawtooth modulators for sorta rhythmic or glitchy effects. You can do similar things with a DX7 or TG77 or whatever.


The monophonic sounds here are sort of additive emulations of a filter sweep. It's all VZ aside from the drums.



I attached a couple things too. y-q.mp3 is all VZ, dry, 8 voices, 4 multitimbral parts, mono. I tried to program a drum patch using the keyboard level scaling curves. It's just one patch that changes gradually over the keyboard. It's possible to make much better drum sounds than these, but I never really bothered. I will totally admit that this kind of sucks. I like the bass sound but I didn't have any good ideas beyond that. One thing I forgot about is that the pitch envelope can cover an extremely large range. So that's useful if you want to do drum sounds.

transition2.mp3 really sucks, but it's also completely dry and does that rhythmic phase modulation thing again.

If you want good sound design, this guy is probably the best VZ programmer.

Beaumont Hannant also apparently used a VZ-1.
Cool! Thanks! I really dug the sounds on the two mp3s. Ultimately, they still have "that sound", but they're the kind of think you cannot get from a CZ. I'll check out the other stuff here as well.
Old 16th February 2017
  #29
Deleted cda76ca πŸŽ™οΈ
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Thought it would be useful to post the YouTube video I initially heard that got me interested in the VZ. It's all 80's kinda sounds really, nothing too crazy, but there was a pleasing tone, and the really cool bright choir sounds that both the VZ and K excel at (FM choirs are far fuzzier/aliasy yet simultaneously muffled).

I saw potential, that if the quite conservative sound designers of the 80's (which I assume the SYXs are from) can do THOSE sounds, what's a "bull in a china shop" programmer like me gonna do to the synth engine?

Old 16th February 2017 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil ➑️
The problem with this is that the Casio's operators all start with the same initial phase. This more or less prevents any organic or analog-like sounds. You can detune a bunch of sawtooth waves but it makes a weird flangey sound rather than a supersaw. The great part about the DX7 and later 6 operator models is that the phase can be either initialized or free running. The TG77 is of course especially powerful, because it allows you to do this independently for each operator.

Most digital stuff starts from the same initial phase, including the Casio CZ series, 4 operator FM synths, most samplers (if you can't modulate the sample start point) and apparently also the K5. It's completely typical but it's also a large part of why people consider digital synths to sound static compared to analog.



The problem with that is that I mostly used the VZ circa 2002-2004 on material that I'm not very enthusiastic about, and I only used it in isolation a small number of times. It was very useful in my setup at the time, but I almost always used it alongside the Ensoniq ESQ-M and EPS, so there's not really much that serves as good demo material.

I dug up a few things though.

This is 100% VZ-10M with Quadraverb. I sometimes tried to do stuff with AM or phase modulation with fixed frequency sawtooth modulators for sorta rhythmic or glitchy effects. You can do similar things with a DX7 or TG77 or whatever.



The monophonic sounds here are sort of additive emulations of a filter sweep. It's all VZ aside from the drums.



I attached a couple things too. y-q.mp3 is all VZ, dry, 8 voices, 4 multitimbral parts, mono. I tried to program a drum patch using the keyboard level scaling curves. It's just one patch that changes gradually over the keyboard. It's possible to make much better drum sounds than these, but I never really bothered. I will totally admit that this kind of sucks. I like the bass sound but I didn't have any good ideas beyond that. One thing I forgot about is that the pitch envelope can cover an extremely large range. So that's useful if you want to do drum sounds.

transition2.mp3 really sucks, but it's also completely dry and does that rhythmic phase modulation thing again.

If you want good sound design, this guy is probably the best VZ programmer.

Beaumont Hannant also apparently used a VZ-1.
I really enjoyed y-q, particularly the rhythms, but DEFinitely the sound design. That's track's actually a pretty good example of a lot of what I really like about the VZ, it's like Yamaha FM, but somehow rounder and a little warmer in tone. Don't get me wrong, it can do GNARLY noise too, but in general it's less angular sounding than Yamaha FM, if that makes any sense. Really cool track, and nice job of programming the VZ to show some of what it can do in a real programmer's hands.

This sound demo below, no matter how cheezy, I think does a fair job of showing quite a few sides of the VZ, especially some of those nice phasey sounds it can do that Yamahas don't seem to quite do.

The sound called Phazed Str about 1:50 in the video, I've never heard a Yamaha FM do anything like that, and it's easy on the VZ.

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