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A Preview of the Casio XW-P1
Old 23rd February 2012
  #1
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Franz Schiller's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A Preview of the Casio XW-P1

I wanted to share a little of my experience I had last night with the XW-P1. I happen to live very close to Casio headquarters in the U.S. I was able to bribe Mike Martin with a box of cookies into a demo and he answered all the weird and ludicrous questions I posed.

The verdict: The` P1 is awesome! It sounds really good...the synth sounds are fat, the pcm samples are nice and rich; the organ isn't clonewheel quality, but its service-able, especially if you amp it well. But please pardon my unabated gushing, because I'm pretty giddy with anticipation awaiting the P1's release.

What's great is there are a ton of buttons, and they're all used very well. There is a small learning curve with the menu navigation, but its logical, and takes just a few minutes to wrap your head around.

However, as I suspected, THE BEST PART is the sequencer. Because the sequencer interested me the most, I spent most of my visit to Casio badgering Mike about the sequencer. And seriously, holy crap, it's freaking bad-ass. The guys who designed it really did a fantastic job.

So as you've probably learned from the NAMM videos, there are 8 patterns in a "performance." Each of those patterns is created with the step sequencer; and each pattern can have up to 16 steps. In that pattern, there can be 5 drum tracks, 3 monophonic tracks of whatever else, and 1 polyphonic track. What's cool, is that each one can be its own length, and have its own swing.

Also, its CRAZY quick to get a pattern started and build it real time.

What's not mentioned in the available videos is, the sliders below, can control the velocity. It's remarkable how fast and easy it is to change the velocity, and give your pattern some interest...a simply high hat pattern really comes to life, its quite magical.

Also, the sliders can control the notes! So if you're on the drum part, the sliders can real time change the sound of the kit, or if its a synth part, the slider changes the note within a set range. This really gets your imagination cooking. And like I said, it's ridiculously fast.

What's also cool, is that if you like, you can actually play into the pattern sequencer with the keyboard, so you're not just limited to buttons and sliders. I love this feature. The length of the pattern is still set in the menu, but you can play a part into it, and then it auto quantizes it to a degree.

Apparently, you can also use all this to control MIDI gear, if you don't like the on board sounds.

I also quickly peaked at the Hex layer sounds. For people like me, who like to program weirdo textures and effects, this offers a lot of possibilities. The sheer number of pcm waves on offer, gives a lot possibilites for sonic madness.

As you know, the with the Hex layers, the sliders control the layer volumes...I realized this can be super cool for tweaking the dynamics in a tune, and also for experimental stuff, like I'm into. Also, I think it presents a workaround for the P1's inability to ride the filter cutoff: I bet that if you have one layer with a low cutoff, and a duplicate layer with a high cutoff, by alternating the two layers, you might be able to fake riding the filter cutoff.

Many people like to use monophonic sounds for leads and basses; the P1's mono synth can definitely play in that arena...like I said, the oscillators are fat and juicy. But the mono synth also offers the 8-stage envelopes that I remember from my old CZ1000, and it has a resonant filter (if you're into that sorta thing).

I know that my enthusiasm might make it seem like I'm being paid by Casio, and I can assure you that's not true...much to my disappointment. The P1 isn't perfect...it has its fair share of Shakuhachi presets, and its built like a consumer keyboard. I'm sure once we all get our own P1s, we'll have our quibbles. But you must keep in mind the fact that its like Five Hundred bucks. It's a mind blowing price point, when you consider the features. And it's like 11 pounds, and has some excellent utilitarian patches.

Again, I can't overstate my enthusiasm about the P1's sequencer. It is so versatile, and can probably be used for any kind of music. Electro, house, and dubstep musicians' knees will buckle.

Mike briefly showed me the XW-G1...in relationship to the sequencer, the G1's real bad ass trick, is that you can assign a CRAZY number of patterns and phrases to keys, allowing you to really play the patterns, and phrases all real time. For electronic music, it's really killer.

On a personal note, I just wanted to tell you that Mike Martin is a nice guy, and a real gentleman. He's incredibly knowledgable, and he really "gets it" when it comes to what synthesists and musicians like in synth. I give him credit for being able to persuade Casio to take a chance on a real dynamite instrument.
Old 23rd February 2012
  #2
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BaconTastesGood's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Too bad they refuse to spawn off a premium brand. Something can be the most amazing thing in the world but put the wrong name on it and a lot of people will dismiss it out of hand.
Old 23rd February 2012
  #3
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Franz Schiller's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Casio made some pretty kick ass professional products when I was a young lad. There are a few fans round these parts of the CZ and VZ series. (I was about eleven, and I saved up birthday and christmas money for a while, and bought a VZ-10m on clearance).

It's your hang-up if you can't wrap your brain around a pro Casio synth. You're just going to be late to the party. But hey, the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
Old 23rd February 2012 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franz Schiller ➑️
Casio made some pretty kick ass professional products when I was a young lad. There are a few fans round these parts of the CZ and VZ series.
Sure, I remember their stuff, and honestly it wasn't very good and definitely wasn't competitive with offerings from other manufacturers at the time. I don't recall its price but I want to say the CZ-5000 was competing directly against the JX-8P and DW-8000 and DX7II.

The FZ-1 on the other hand was an underestimated piece of kit for the price.

Quote:
It's your hang-up if you can't wrap your brain around a pro Casio synth. You're just going to be late to the party. But hey, the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
Well, no, what'll happen is that Casio won't sell very many and then they'll exit the pro audio world and wonder why no one bought their stuff. It's no sweat off my back.
Old 23rd February 2012 | Show parent
  #5
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Franz Schiller's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Suit yourself, bro.
Old 23rd February 2012
  #6
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🎧 5 years
Franz, just out of curiosity, do you have any professional or non professional connection to Casio beyond just using their products for your personal/professional enjoyment?

(to be clear, I do not believe you do, but thought it best cleared up as others may disregard your enthusiasm as a sales pitch if they are left only to speculate)
Old 24th February 2012
  #7
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Franz Schiller's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
That's a fair question...sure. I, too am the cynical type, and so I'll explain in painstaking detail how I came to get a preview of the XW-P1, if it wasn't obvious earlier.

To be clear, I have absolutely no professional connection to Casio whatsoever. I'm not sure what a "non professional" connection might be, but perhaps if I tell you about the whole story.

I met Mike Martin on a different forum. You might have seen him in the many NAMM videos introducing the P1. Mike is (I think his title might be?) a product development guy for Casio. On that forum, I showed some interest in the P1. Because Casio headquarters is close to where I work, Mike invited me to Casio HQ to show me the XW-P1. I took Mike up on his offer, of course.

Mike spent at least an hour and half showing me the XW-P1, demoing some of its features. I actually had tons of nerdy questions regarding the sequencer, and its synth architecture, as I explain above. Then he let me play the P1 for a little while. I messed around with the pattern sequencer and it was very fun. I then tried editing the hex layer, and he showed me how to navigate the menus, how to pick a pcm wave, or adjust a filter, or course pitch, etc.

Mike and I chatted for a while, and about how he used to rep for Kurzweil, and how he worked on the K2661 and the Mangler, both of which I have. And lots of other typical synth shop talk.

I feel that Mike is a great guy, and it was very nice of him to demo the synth.

Being a synth nerd, I know if I went to a forum, and another forumite had such an opportunity to try out a cool synth before its release, I would demand details, and a general review.

My apologies if I'm a little over zealous, and wrote my review like a sales pitch. But it isn't every day a synth geek like me gets that kind of a chance.

Thus, I felt compelled to write a preview review, regarding what I thought of were some cool features of this keyboard.
Old 24th February 2012
  #8
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synthguy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I can tell the P1 is a serious contender for an "affordable monster" synth. How synthy it is remains to be seen, and how versatile it is as a performance keyboard. But as something to give you another bunch of textures to your keyboard rig if you're just getting started, or a practice 'board to leave at gig places, or something to take to the beach, this is almost as no-brainer as it gets. And it sure sounds funky/purdy.

No connection to Casio, I just like synths.
Old 24th February 2012 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by synthguy ➑️

No connection to Casio, I just like synths.
me too. I like these Casio products, and I'm delving into modular eurorack synthesis. It's cheap, kinda limiting, and very inspiring and immediate. It's sorta like if you get one of these, then you WANT to prove it's got chops, so it inspires you to fu**in use it.
Old 24th February 2012
  #10
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BaconTastesGood's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
My curiousity is definitely piqued at this point because of the pattern sequencer. If the sequencer is able to sequencer external gear via traditional MIDI port then it might be a reasonable alternative to me buying a used RM1X or RS7000.
Old 24th February 2012
  #11
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janjaal's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I bought my first keyboard as casio ct670 22 years ago (i am 27)
I jammed and recorded so many stuff with it into cassete as a kid.
I still have that keyboard i will surely buy this new synth by casio and im extremely excited about it
(i have korg microkorg, radias, roland gaia, sh201, access ti, maudio synth)
Old 24th February 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaconTastesGood ➑️
My curiousity is definitely piqued at this point because of the pattern sequencer. If the sequencer is able to sequencer external gear via traditional MIDI port then it might be a reasonable alternative to me buying a used RM1X or RS7000.
Yes you can send tracks independently to the USB or standard MIDI ports.

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc
Old 24th February 2012 | Show parent
  #13
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BaconTastesGood's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Martin ➑️
Yes you can send tracks independently to the USB or standard MIDI ports.

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc
Thanks for the response mike. Are there any descriptions or demos of how the sequencer works? I'm about to pull the trigger on an RM1X but if the Casio can sequence as well as the RM1X it would seem to be a better bargain.
Old 24th February 2012 | Show parent
  #14
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synthguy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaconTastesGood ➑️
My curiousity is definitely piqued at this point because of the pattern sequencer.
I'd think the P1 sequencer would be a big draw around here, because there aren't that many sequencers you can use with controls live like that. And the thing is quite affordable. Even though it isn't really analog, surely there would be some cool sounds in the patch list, or tons of possibilities in the synth engine just waiting to be created. I'm not a huge sequencing guy, but every time I'm reminded of what you can do with it, I want one even more.
Old 24th February 2012 | Show parent
  #15
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BaconTastesGood's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by synthguy ➑️
I'd think the P1 sequencer would be a big draw around here, because there aren't that many sequencers you can use with controls live like that. And the thing is quite affordable. Even though it isn't really analog, surely there would be some cool sounds in the patch list, or tons of possibilities in the synth engine just waiting to be created. I'm not a huge sequencing guy, but every time I'm reminded of what you can do with it, I want one even more.
the big issue for me is whether the sequencer is competitive with an RM1X, RS7K, MPC w/ JJOS2XL, etc. What I've been looking for is something similar to the RM1X but with multiple MIDI outs, song/linear mode, and real time pattern muting. From watching the video the Casio seems to only do 9 instrument tracks, which would put it at a significant disadvantage.

It's unclear how its workflow and timing are as well.
Old 24th February 2012
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Yes the XW sequencer is nine tracks. It does have a pattern chain feature which allows you to build songs but it does not have linear recording across those patterns.

The XW is different from all of the other products you mention for a couple reasons. The first and most obvious is that it has a keyboard. As Franz mentioned in his post, the ability to use the sliders to manipulate note numbers, control velocity is also very unique. The XW does have both USB and MIDI that can be independently be addressed so you can send one track to the standard MIDI output and another to the USB MIDI out.

Good luck,
-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.
Old 26th February 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
looking forward to checking this one out. love the casio vz and cz series - i still use both in my studio.
mini
Old 26th February 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaconTastesGood ➑️
Sure, I remember their stuff, and honestly it wasn't very good and definitely wasn't competitive with offerings from other manufacturers at the time. I don't recall its price but I want to say the CZ-5000 was competing directly against the JX-8P and DW-8000 and DX7II.
Not sure that's entirely fair. What did a DX7II go for new, when it came out? $2000? Maybe more. I can't recall.

I got my CZ-1 new in 1985, and I recall paying $700. Mind you, the CZ synthesis architecture, such as it is, is rather limited compared to the Yamaha DX series, but three years later, the list price for a TX802 was still $2000.

I've made some good noises on the CZ-1 and it's been an adequate MIDI controller, if not the worthy synthesis machine I got in the TX802.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 26th February 2012
  #19
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2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
who is mike martin?
Old 26th February 2012 | Show parent
  #20
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BaconTastesGood's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen ➑️
I got my CZ-1 new in 1985, and I recall paying $700. Mind you, the CZ synthesis architecture, such as it is, is rather limited compared to the Yamaha DX series, but three years later, the list price for a TX802 was still $2000.
That might be so, it's been a long time. I just recall back then thinking that it wasn't worth the money, although in hindsight if competing against the DX21/27 it was probably a better deal. Lack of a highend competitor probably hurt it more than anything since it staked out the low end by trying to compete against the budget versions of professional keys.

I like the CZ and it makes some really cool sounds.
Old 26th February 2012
  #21
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Casio keybeds outclass the Korg Kronos' imo. (compared them at the store) Its not a suprise that this might be a good choice.
Old 26th February 2012
  #22
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Reptil's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
you're aware there's a gear review section now?
the purpose of which is building a user database..

yes, OP your post reads a little like a sales pitch.. affilliation? you should at least get one free, no??
heh
Old 26th February 2012
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Does this mean you get a synth for free if you're all slutty bout it on the forums?
Old 27th February 2012
  #24
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Sequencer kinda seems like a sized-down yet more intuitive version of the E-MU Command Stations..

IMO - If it had aftertouch it'd make a great MIDI controller/sketch pad.... not a dealbreaker tho.
Old 27th February 2012 | Show parent
  #25
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Franz Schiller's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil ➑️
you're aware there's a gear review section now?
the purpose of which is building a user database..

yes, OP your post reads a little like a sales pitch.. affilliation? you should at least get one free, no??
heh
As I posted earlier, I have no affiliation at all.

I felt like it would be premature to post a review in the Review Section, because I had a very limited time with it. When I actually buy one, and I can really dig into it, THEN I'll do a review.

Sorry if it sounded like a pitch. I was just very excited.

I now empathize with Bernard...I remember he was super stoked about the Jupiter 80 before it came out, and seemingly everybody (including me) was accusing him of being a Roland shill. Since then, I realized he isn't, but I feel bad for accusing him now that I myself have been accused. I guess that's karma.

And sadly, I did not get a free Casio. Though if one accidentally appeared in the back of my van, I wouldn't be too upset.
Old 27th February 2012 | Show parent
  #26
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Reptil's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
No problem, thanks for the review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fuse ➑️
Does this mean you get a synth for free if you're all slutty bout it on the forums?
yes this is the case. go here:
CASIO
6-2, Hon-machi 1-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-8543, Japan

Old 29th February 2012
  #27
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bloodsample's Avatar
Vid from sweetwater.
Old 29th February 2012
  #28
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🎧 10 years
pads sound amazing. I like the sliders and how they attenuate the step sequencer, very creative.

EDIT: I'd been lusting over a Mox 8 or a Mox 6, but this really comes in at a great price for the amount of features it offers. Can't wait to try one at my local music store. And it sounds really good to boot.
Old 6th March 2012
  #29
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elwoodblues1969's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franz Schiller ➑️
I wanted to share a little of my experience I had last night with the XW-P1. I happen to live very close to Casio headquarters in the U.S. I was able to bribe Mike Martin with a box of cookies into a demo and he answered all the weird and ludicrous questions I posed.

please pardon my unabated gushing, because I'm pretty giddy with anticipation awaiting the P1's release.

I spent most of my visit to Casio badgering Mike about the sequencer. And seriously, holy crap, it's freaking bad-ass. The guys who designed it really did a fantastic job.

Also, its CRAZY quick to get a pattern started and build it real time.

What's not mentioned in the available videos is, the sliders below, can control the velocity....a simply high hat pattern really comes to life, its quite magical.

Apparently, you can also use all this to control MIDI gear, if you don't like the on board sounds.

I know that my enthusiasm might make it seem like I'm being paid by Casio...

I give him credit for being able to persuade Casio to take a chance on a real dynamite instrument.
Excuse me...but...is there a banner hanging outside of Casio's building that reads; "Open House"?
If I happen to be driving through the area,or I have some other business in close proximity to Casio headquarters,does this mean that I can waltz right in a take a poke around,with the XW-P1?
If I am a member of a particular forum,then am I automatically granted a ticket of admission to Casio's headquarters?

I realize that Casio is up against a rather large wall of resistance with regard to being accepted as a semi-pro/pro instrument company..as they've been out of the game a long time and honestly,I can't blame them for going over the top with their promotional work,but this is taking things a bit too far,I think(if this is in fact,a promo-tactic).

Kurzweil is a small company & they don't have any real budget for mass marketing and to my knowledge,they've never allowed anyone off of the street to wander in a test drive one of their keyboards before it was released officially.

I'm not going to flat out accuse anyone of false propaganda here..as I'm not absolutely saying that this is in fact,the case,but this thread definitely reeks of commercialism.

I am already sold on the product & I think there are a fair amount of people just on this forum alone,that feel the same way and I think the interest generated by Mike Martin's knowledgeable & well demonstrated presentations that are all over YouTube,should be enough to push this product in a respectable position,in the market.

Maybe Franz does not have any official connection,but at the very least,I would say that Franz is a close personal friend of Mike...which would make sense out of all this.
Old 6th March 2012
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Elmwood,


I had never met Franz before that night. There was a joke running on one of the other forums about what kind of bribe it would take be able to come over to Casio HQ to play the XW-P1. When the discussion got to cookies from a local bakery, I was done and invited Franz to stop by.

Here are the cookies he brought:


We don't have an open house sign out front but if you're ever going to be in the area, just send me a PM and stop by.

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.
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