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The XW synths are deeper than you may think!

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It's been five years since the XW-P1 and XW-G1 were released. Combining that fact with what is probably a fairly limited user base and the much larger number of people who dismissed and continue to dismiss the XW synths and it's understandable that they have almost faded from view except here in the Casio Music Forums. 


Are they the world's best synthesizers? Hardly. They are in many respects almost entry-level instruments. But anyone who has stuck with theirs has probably realized that they are deeper instruments than they appear on the surface. I'm sometimes amazed by what I have been able to make my XW-P1 do. (I have also been frustrated at times by what I would call somewhat unwise design decisions.)


I have tried to document everything I have discovered and some of what others have discovered (I can't take full credit!) in The XW-P1 Companion, which despite its name contains a lot of content that also applies to the XW-G1. Here are a few of the "extra" capabilities I describe there: 

  • Using phrases and step sequencer patterns as modulation sources (LFO-like and envelope-like)
  • Using the step sequencer as a phrase selector
  • Using the step sequencer to add functions to the foot pedal
  • Several alternate methods for PWM
  • Simple pitch envelopes for polyphonic tones
  • Continuous volume control of a Hex Layer tone with the modulation wheel
  • Tricks with the solo-synth LFOs:
    • Constant-value source
    • Random-value source
    • Ramps and envelopes
    • Legato indicator
    • Dynamic LFO waveforms
    • Simulated sample-and-hold
    • Simulated stepped glissando
  • "Performance" mode for synthesis
  • Duophonic emulation

In some ways Casio has already released the successor to the XW-P1: the MZ-X500. It can do almost everything that the XW-P1 and XW-G1 can do and do it better, as well as many things that XW synths can't do. But it's not a true successor because it lacks two defining capabilities of the XW synths: the step sequencer and the six-oscillator monophonic (nominally) solo synth mode. (The MZ-X500 does monophonic synthesis but it's not quite the same.) For Casio's sake I am still hopeful that they intend some day to replace the XW synths with a true successor. Whether they do or not I think the XW-P1 will always have a place in my "studio."



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XW Synths are certainly something special and probably the most misunderstood synths on the market. The analog-style step-sequencer alone is worth the price of admission. Add to the HUGE selection of drum sounds.. I think they have every classic and modern drum machine sampled in there. 


I love my G1 -- it never fails to inspire! Will probably pick up a XW-P1 before too long so I can have both these little monsters. :-) 

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The XW series are unique. I am using them for four years and they continue to surprise me (especially the XW-G1).

The XW-G1 is very versatile and has incredible potential for electronic / experimental music.

The problem with the XW series is the menu. This type of menu is very complex for a synthesizer with many options. But in the XW-G1 it is easier to use the menu thanks to the sliders menu. The menu of the XW-P1 is very tedious to use without the computer.

I think people get rid of the XW for the menu so complex, but deep at the same time.

Regards and all my apologies for the translation.

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