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Randelph

Initial thoughts on MZ-X500

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Wanted to do a more comprehensive review, but have been busy with work, so I'll put my first impressions down at the least.  In large part this is a comparison review, having had the WK 7600 for years and wanting an upgraded everything.

 

Upon taking it out of the box I was stunned at how pretty the board is.  When I take it places I'm aware of having a beautiful, shiny toy!  Even from the back, it looks pretty cool.

 

What a world of difference that touchscreen makes!  I've had the WK7600 for a few years, and most of its functionality was lost on me 'cause i hate dealing with lousy user interfaces- been there, done that, not for me.  That lovely display means I'm much more likely to take some deep dives into it's many compelling features.

 

The keybed is better than i expected.  I'm sorry to hear others are having noisy keys, it might just be a matter of time before this one starts clacking away.  Compared to the 7600, i feel much more expressive.  It's not on a par with the best keybeds I've played, but i feel like i can go from loud to soft in a satisfying way, and the extra strain you feel on some keybeds as you go high up on the black keys is not bad at all.  I suspect that part of the increased sense of expressiveness is there are more velocity sensitive layers for many of the sounds, the 7600 seemed to have only 1 layer of sounds for many of their tones.

 

I'm a bit underwhelmed with the speakers.  I've heard powerful onboard speakers, like the Korg sp280, the Yamaha cp300, and to my recollection they delivered the goods.  For a board with so many bass, synth and EDM sounds, the MZ speakers don't do those sounds full justice.  I could tell right away the speakers were not super hi fidelity so i plugged into my QSC K10, which renders these sounds fully.  I'm not complaining per se- it's mostly my expectations that were dissapointed, for volume, bass and fidelity- but heh, it's a huge upgrade from the 7600 and I'm glad they're onboard.

 

i think the pads are outstanding.  Smaller in size than i expected, but very responsive from soft to loud and soft touched enough you don't have to bang on it to get good expression, firm fingers do just fine.  That's a relief!

 

It was hugely dissapointing to me that they didn't make it a 76 note board, but i have to admit, they did an outstanding job at making it compact even with all the features crammed in.  I took the 7600 out of its case the other day and was surprised to see what an aircraft carrier size board it is, not only long, but super deep.  I like this compact design much more and the uptilted display etc. is very well done.

 

The sounds are really something else, hard to describe.  I don't like EDM sounds in general, I'm more of a jazz/pop/blues guy, but i love kickin' left hand bass, and many of the bass guitar and other sounds are really excellent for that- defined yet big and fat.  I've barely scratched the surface with the hex layer sounds, but LOVE grabbing sliders to bring in/out the tones and messing with the cutoff and resonance.  I find the resonance control different from any board I've had before.  You move it, and THEN you hear how the cutoff responds differently.  You don't hear the differences in resonance directly when you move its slider.  Weird.

 

Overall, in my limited playing time, the sounds feel very full.  I love having 4 sounds available for any given registration, even more with a hex layer thrown in, switching them in and out is very fun and intuitive.  I think the piano is a definite step up from the 7600 (I liked its piano, very serviceable, it just didn't have a lot of character.), its very expressive and fun to play.  The electric pianos, from the little i've tried so far, have been a bit dissapointing, but i layered 2 of them together and am good for the moment.  I LOVE eps that growl when you bite into the left hand, and that hard to describe voice in the mid range.  Anyway, early days, I'll bet there's more patches out there.  Organs I've used mostly as pads behind other sounds, haven't explored much yet.  

 

Overall though i'm surprised there's not more sound development already present in the preset banks.  Probably just a case of this still being early days, but for all the sonic firepower of this board, the preset sound list seems very underpopulated.  I'm also not the target audience for the EDM sounds, which seems to be there in great abundance.

 

Where I'd like to go next:  Input from y'all would be greatly appreciated on any of this!  Have been surprised at the small number of video tutorials and how incomplete the user manual is.

 

What I'd like to learn:

- how to sample from the board itself (my laptop is old and funky and i prefer not using computers with music), and trimming/modifying them and assigning them to pads

- get rolling with the midi sequencer (this I'm pretty familiar with, just a matter of acquainting myself with Casios way of doing it).

- explore what kind of audio i can record with it

- understand better what kinds of things this board can do so i can decide which ones i want to learn!  What is your vote on things worth getting up to speed on????

- explore the rhythms and find out how to create my own and assign it to auto accompaniment buttons

 

I realize that threre's a number function so you can call up tones directly, but that's not entirely helpful.  For example, when I go to the page of piano sounds, it starts on screen 1 and eventually, maybe by screen 8 or 20, you get to where you've stored your modified tones to user slots.  How do i get from all their presets directly to where the user tones are stored? My intention is to go through all the presets, find the ones i like and modify them as needed, store everything to user slots, and then not having to look at or deal with the presets anymore.  As it is I've got sometimes 20 screens of presets to wade through to get to the user slots.

 

Anyway, those are some of my initial thoughts.  Would be curious to see if others felt the way i did, or didn't.

 

Thanks,

Randy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You've touched on some points I would like address but I'll start with your last question.  You'll need to make sure your MZ is on the latest firmware.  The shortcut to user tones, press and hold a tone category button. You'll see it jump to user tones.  

 

 

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Brad, first thing i did was update the OS to 1.5.

 

I tried your tip and must not be understanding your directions.  For example i went to the category of piano, which gives you piano and electric piano sub categories.  I pressed and held the electric piano sub categorie screen choice and nothing happens except that its chosen and i see the presets available.

 

thanks for your help!

 

Randy

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Tone category buttons are between the screen and main power button.  

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Posted (edited)

RANDELPH - Firstly, I don't do "confrontation", so NOTHING I say is meant to have any negative, personal, inference :)

My initial comment on your review, re the comparitive quality of the X500's speaker system, is that, here in the U.K., a pair of "QSC K-10"'s would set you back, close on, £1400 (!!!!) so, honestly my friend, how on earth that can be, in ANY way, a relevant contribution is beyond my poor simple brain! :(

 

At least you concede that the onboard speakers are a "huge upgrade from the 7600" but, just a little earlier, you make a negative comparison with the "Yamaha CP300" ( again, an £1800 keyboard!! ) which I DEFINITELY recall as having a seriously disappointing bottom end with an emphasis on, what Yamaha describe as, "brightness", but which these ears remember as being very "thin" - but, of course, that is wholly a personal thing.

 

Now..... EVERYTHING else you say is, with my very brief experience, right on the button, although I think it's fair to give Casio credit for making the X500 with the specific aim ( and certain knowledge!! ) that they would fly-out-the-door at the given price-point! Altering it to a 76 note board, would not have just meant a significant price increase in itself, but, in order to keep the style, the aesthetics, as appealing as they obviously are would have, again, meant a significant redesign which, to all intents and purposes, would have wound up with it being a totally different keyboard - and with a price tag of not much south of £1000!!

 

Now, for what little it's worth, anyone who's seen any of my inadequate posts will know that I am an almost "fanatical" supporter of the X500, BUT, had I seen it advertised with a 76 note keyboard and a price of £1000 would I have bought it? Almost certainly NOT!! and thus I would not now be enjoying one of the most exciting, innovative, and genuinely fascinating instruments I've EVER come across in my ( many, many :) ) decades of writing and making music!

 

It's also my firm belief that there are an awful lot of musicians who, in truth, don't WANT a 76 or 88 note keyboard! Many of them will be definitive Synth/Keyboard players, and NOT Pianists! Their setup, whether Live or in the Studio, may simply WORK with the smaller board. Personally, I have a studio that I've worked hard for. It's small, but it has everything virtually any musician might need. It's ultra friendly, VERY relaxed, it may not be "flash" but we "get it done" - and everybody who has anything to do with it is a musician, and a friend......

 

BUT, a 76 note keyboard would just "get in the way "!! I just don't have the room - seriously! :) I've produced more than 35 Albums in my studio ( ALL local-ish! NO "big-time, star struck" pretentions ) and I've never had ANYONE turn down the gig because we didn't have any 76 note keyboards.......

 

BUT, I have ALREADY had some of my lifetime friends-in-music, literally, go "Wow!!" Before they'd even HEARD the X500!!

Proves that, even to vastly experienced, wrinkled old, slightly cynical, musicians, the "Blue-Wonder" is a real eyeball-popper...... And when they've heard what it can do............!!!! 

 

I realise my my mind is wandering, so, to conclude......

 

........ RANDELPH, I KNOW you are RIGHT!! Of course a 76/88 note, semi-weighted, keyboard on the X500 would be wonderful, brilliant, FANTASTIC!!

 

BUT, in THIS musician's unwavering opinion, the X500 already IS Wonderful, Brilliant, FANTASTIC...... Just as it is :):)

 

Apologies, everyone, for babbling!!

Take care all

Chris

 

Edited by Scott Hamlin
ADMIN: Great reply, but needed paragraph spaces to avoid "the wall of text" :-)
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Brad,

thanks for that!  Those buttons seemed redundant, now I see their dual purpose 

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Hi Randolph,

thanks for your MZ-X500 vs. WK-7600 comparison. I have CTK-7000, so it is really interesting for me. What is your opinion about built-in rhythms and their 4 variations (against WK-7600)? I mean especially big band, jazz and pop/classical dance rhythms.

You also write, that you „love having 4 sounds available for any given registration“. How can you assign 4 different tones to any registration memory and how can you then switch between them? I couldn't find this in manual.

Thanks in advance

 

Ladislav

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If you compare keyboards to the cars CTK and WK series are ford Fiesta MZ X 300/500 is ford Mustang.

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10 hours ago, Leonh said:

If you compare keyboards to the cars CTK and WK series are ford Fiesta MZ X 300/500 is ford Mustang.

 

   Aah memories! ...

    I wonder how the radio of my Fiesta would have sounded through those QSCK10 inch active 2 way PA speakers,  £559 -  finance available .?   ;)

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MZ is a Corvette guys.  ;)

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Hey LOBBARD :) - That's £559 ( and MORE in many places!! ) -EACH!!!!

BRADMZ - Oooohh!! A CORVETTE!! ...... But can I get one for £680?!!? :D

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Some great posts here. I've been wanting to delve deeper into the MZ-X500 but it's been a crazy summer! I hope to have some simple how to videos coming soon - more music ed stuff but all done with the MZ. 

To recap for new people: I got my MZ-X500 last fall specifically for a musical at my son's school. It ticked every box: Light, compact and could sample for sound effects. The speakers meant I didn't need to take up room with a monitor in the already tight orchestra pit. Setting up the sounds in order took literally seconds and you can use a foot switch to toggle through the selections in order.  Superb gigging keyboard as well as a studio arranger!

 

Hope to have some more on this when things settle down this Fall. Unless I do another musical LOL. 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Lobbard said:

 

   Aah memories! ...

    I wonder how the radio of my Fiesta would have sounded through those QSCK10 inch active 2 way PA speakers,  £559 -  finance available .?   ;)

Still fiesta 😂

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Last week I challenged myself to start from scratch with a new hex layer tone, building a classic style synth sound using only the raw tri, saw, sine, square, pulse and noise waves at the beginning of the wave list.  What eventually came out was so smooth and rich.  I added some chorus effect, turned on the arpeggiator and choose a basic pattern, then tweaked my hex tone some more.  Later I added delay and nice reverb.  Then I hit a pad that played a nice phrase.  I adjusted the delay to tempo match.  Some really nice sounds and textures started happening.  It was alive and rich and moving and so awesome.  Then I called up a basic preset drum pattern to add to it.  Everything was falling into place.  Only regret I have is that I didnt video what I was doing.  But....I did save everything to memory and registration.  Then I recorded some of it to the usb audio recorder so I could revisit this later and build on it.  It's so easy to get lost just creating new stuff from scratch and combining presets and tweaking presets to make new and exciting things.  This is really a great experimental instrument.  I love it.  

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And I bet you BRAD, that in a couple of years time, you'll still remember that wonderful sound you created last week! :)

Its moments like that which, I truly believe, separate music, not just from the other "arts", but from, literally, ANY other profession or pastime.

A painting, well conceived and created is a beautiful thing, but, dare I say, once finished is...... well...... finished, and the materials used to create it are always what they are. They can be combined, sure, with new tones and palettes to subtly alter the feeling of the painting, with either a dramatic or more mellow mood, but, again, once placed on the canvas they are there, to all intents and purposes, for posterity.

Music, however, whether a sound, a sample, a phrase, a pattern, an ostinato ( or "riff" as most of us are more comfortable calling it!! )..... or, in fact, ANY note, or combination of notes ( or beats ) is a living, breathing thing, which, simply because it's been heard and used, NEVER dies!! It can be re-used in countless different combinations, keys, time-signatures, tempos, etc etc ..... It NEVER dies!!

 

I envy BRADMZ for creating that beautiful sound!! NOT because I haven't created some unforgettable sounds of my own, but because I didn't create THAT one! 

HIS sound!!

I would have LOVED to have heard it in the way you did BRAD!! :) 

 

Take care all

Chris

 

 

 

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On 8/1/2017 at 3:02 AM, CasioCTK said:

Hi Randolph,

thanks for your MZ-X500 vs. WK-7600 comparison. I have CTK-7000, so it is really interesting for me. What is your opinion about built-in rhythms and their 4 variations (against WK-7600)? I mean especially big band, jazz and pop/classical dance rhythms.

You also write, that you „love having 4 sounds available for any given registration“. How can you assign 4 different tones to any registration memory and how can you then switch between them? I couldn't find this in manual.

Thanks in advance

 

Ladislav

Ladislav,

Can't really say much about the rhythms, I barely use the auto accompaniment part of these boards.  The little bit I've tried on the MZ I've actually liked a lot, but I've played with it so little my experience isn't worth much.  I am looking forward to developing the MZ as a rhythm box, finding the onboard rhythms i like, programming my own, and creating grooves i can jam with.  SqueakD said in his review of the MZ that the drum sounds are highly tweakable per drum, and at the very least I'd like to assign my favorites to pads.  Sorry I can't help more!

 

Basically, you have a main page that has the main info of your registration.  Prominent at the top are the 4 tones that can play for that registration.  You turn on/off the tones by touching the screen, and can have all 4 tones going on at once, layering, or you can  choose the split button and choose to have some of the tones go to the left hand.

 

The hex layer is very fun in this regard: there are six different sounds that make up a hex layer, and using the organ sliders, you can control the volume of each of the sounds, the 7th slider controls the overall volume of the hex layer, and the 8th and 9th sliders control the cutoff filter and resonance.  

 

Assigning tones to registrations is similar to the WK series, you make your adjustments and decide what registration you want to store it to.  They've improved that by having 8, instead of only 6 registrations per bank, and giving you the ability to go up and down the banks, instead of only up.  Overall, saving favorite tones and creating registrations is easier and more intuitive on the MZ.

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On 8/2/2017 at 9:42 AM, Scott Hamlin said:

Some great posts here. I've been wanting to delve deeper into the MZ-X500 but it's been a crazy summer! I hope to have some simple how to videos coming soon - more music ed stuff but all done with the MZ. 

To recap for new people: I got my MZ-X500 last fall specifically for a musical at my son's school. It ticked every box: Light, compact and could sample for sound effects. The speakers meant I didn't need to take up room with a monitor in the already tight orchestra pit. Setting up the sounds in order took literally seconds and you can use a foot switch to toggle through the selections in order.  Superb gigging keyboard as well as a studio arranger!

 

Hope to have some more on this when things settle down this Fall. Unless I do another musical LOL. 

 

 

 

Scott, it sounds like you've found the perfect keyboard.  Love it when that happens, I've wasted a lot of time and money on keyboards that were not right for me.

 

Will be very interested in hearing more about your method of recording, editing, and assigning samples to the pads.  Did you use a computer?  Do you have to use a computer?  Looking forward to your videos!

 

Randy

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On 8/2/2017 at 0:26 PM, BradMZ said:

Last week I challenged myself to start from scratch with a new hex layer tone, building a classic style synth sound using only the raw tri, saw, sine, square, pulse and noise waves at the beginning of the wave list.  What eventually came out was so smooth and rich.  I added some chorus effect, turned on the arpeggiator and choose a basic pattern, then tweaked my hex tone some more.  Later I added delay and nice reverb.  Then I hit a pad that played a nice phrase.  I adjusted the delay to tempo match.  Some really nice sounds and textures started happening.  It was alive and rich and moving and so awesome.  Then I called up a basic preset drum pattern to add to it.  Everything was falling into place.  Only regret I have is that I didnt video what I was doing.  But....I did save everything to memory and registration.  Then I recorded some of it to the usb audio recorder so I could revisit this later and build on it.  It's so easy to get lost just creating new stuff from scratch and combining presets and tweaking presets to make new and exciting things.  This is really a great experimental instrument.  I love it.  

Wow, that's exactly where I'd like to get to with this board.  The hex layer tones are one of the more intriguing and enticing elements of what the MZ is capable of.

 

So, lets say you were fully up to speed, you'd done a bunch of these hex layer tones, and you decided to create the one you talked about above, with basic effects applied.  How long would that have taken you?  30 minutes?  2 hours?  The better part of a day?

 

The beauty but challenge of the hex layer tone is for me the intentional layout of which elements go where, so that from one hex tone to another I have a basic idea of what the 6 sliders are going to do.  For example, that slider one to 3, in that order, are building up the basic sound, sliders 4 and 5 are adding dynamic punch, and slider 6 is the wild card.  Of course there's many different ways of structuring it, but i don't like flying blind, if I'm going to create hex tones i want there to be a consistency to the layout so I know what to expect without having to memorize each potentially idiosyncratic hex tone.

 

Can you use any of the sounds from the MZ to create hex tones, or is there only synth type sounds that you can use?

 

Now that you've done it, maybe the next time you can do the video?  That'd be awesome!

 

Thanks,

Randy

 

 

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It took me 10 minutes to create the hex layer tone I mentioned.  It consisted of 3 layers.  

 

Scroll thru the Hex layer preset tones. All of those are examples of what can be made by the user. They are made from a list of wave's.  The wave list consist of all of the factory samples except drums and any user samples loaded via expansion tones created either by Casio or the Sample Manager app.  

 

Rich Formidoni shows hex layer creation here on the PX-560. This will apply to the MZX-500 as well since the MZ has everything from the 560 plus much more.

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Randelph said:

Basically, you have a main page that has the main info of your registration.  Prominent at the top are the 4 tones that can play for that registration.  You turn on/off the tones by touching the screen, and can have all 4 tones going on at once, layering, or you can  choose the split button and choose to have some of the tones go to the left hand.

 

Hi Randy,

 

thanks for all your inputs.

Today arrived my new MZ-X300 and I am very happy with it, although I am near the zero point of the learning curve now. :( It is much, much better than CTK-7000. Just couldn't find the way to „have all 4 tones going on at once, layering“. Those two tones assigned to Lower 1 and Lower 2 are sounding only on left part of keyboard and only when Split button is depressed. How can I choose some of the tones not to go to the left hand?

Have a nice weekend

 

Ladislav

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1 hour ago, CasioCTK said:

Hi Randy,

 

thanks for all your inputs.

Today arrived my new MZ-X300 and I am very happy with it, although I am near the zero point of the learning curve now. :( It is much, much better than CTK-7000. Just couldn't find the way to „have all 4 tones going on at once, layering“. Those two tones assigned to Lower 1 and Lower 2 are sounding only on left part of keyboard and only when Split button is depressed. How can I choose some of the tones not to go to the left hand?

Have a nice weekend

 

Ladislav

 

Press the setting "tone" button left of the screen.  Touch "position" lower on the screen.  It will change to upper. 

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57 minutes ago, BradMZ said:

 

Press the setting "tone" button left of the screen.  Touch "position" lower on the screen.  It will change to upper. 

Thank you, Brad. It works!

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Once again, thank you Brad!  I'd discovered that but thought i was accessing the Position option from the Main Menu, and when i didn't find it I was lost yet again, and was about to confess as much to CTK.  Have to say though, they've done a great job as far as I can tell so far in making this board accessible to people without the aptitude or inclination to get super technical.  Very happy about that!

 

Thanks for sharing the 560 video on editing hex tones, looks very straightforward.  

 

Any thoughts on where to find an EP or other sound within this board that I can add to a hex tone so that i get a barking low end like a good Wurli?  I play EPs even more than piano and the rest of the sound can be found with various EPs on this board, but I need that growl when i lay into the low end, otherwise its just not the same.

 

Thanks,

Randy

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