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How my love for synths came about...


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#1 briandc

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 02:20 PM

Hi everyone,
I'm glad I found this forum! This is my first post here and I'd like to start by sharing my experience with Casio.

As a teen back in the 80's, I fell in love with synthesizers. I had been studying piano since I was 5 and although I enjoyed playing the piano, synths were amazing. I think "Howard Jones" was a major "culprit" in whetting my appetite to get a synth, and after a lot of peskering, my folks gave in.

I originally wanted a Roland, probably because that was one of the main synths I saw popular rock artists using on stage, and the place where I was studying piano at the time had a used Juno 106 come through. I thought it was a Godsend, but after a weekend of thinking about it (my mom insisted I be patient, after all, it was a big expense back then), when I got back on Monday it was gone!

Well, I then started considering the new CZ-1000 that was in the shop. I knew it would be fun, and although I didn't consider it a "serious" synth (I had friends around me buying everything but! Yamaha, Roland, Korg..). Maybe it was desperation, I don't know, but I bought it.

Waveforms and LFOs and everything else was pretty new to me, but I had fun tweaking. Maybe too much fun. And I discovered that the 8-stage envelopes for filter, pitch and amplitude were a head above the other "professional" synths that were out there. (Heck, even the DX7 didn't have stereo output!)

Then, I met a guy at the place where I worked, Tom, who had a CZ-101. So we decided to get together with our keyboards one weekend. After that weekend, we decided to meet again and share what we had come up with.

My friend absolutely amazed me with the sounds he had come up with! One was a trickling water-type sound; another was an emulation of the "Baba O'Reilly" intro. Another was a pretty impressive helicopter sound (not the cheezy stuff I had heard in the past).

I began looking at my CZ-1000 in a different light. This thing had power. In fact, I began "wowing" some of my friends who had other synths, as they couldn't reproduce the sounds (like the trickling water) that I was able to show them. (I even came across an ad about a "modulation strip" that could be soldered to the CZ-1000 to give mod wheel capability. So I got it, and my best friend (his name is Mike Martin! lol) gave me a hand in adding it. COOL!)

----

Well, time went by. I sold my CZ, which I now thoroughly regret. It was in good shape, but I thought the money was more important at the time. It wasn't. The money wasn't worth the synth. --Big mistake.-- With it, I sold several cartridges, and all the sounds it could make that I've never seen people post, even on YouTube. A true "love affair" ended. :(

----

Since 2001, I own a Yamaha Motif 8 that I enjoyed for a while, but I'm much more fascinated by tweaking waves than playing samples. (Yes, it's tweakable, but not the same world, imo.)

Then I began exploring softsynths, and in particular, linux-based synthesizers, as I use only linux now. So I use the Motif as a controller now, and it does a good job for that, weighted keys and all.

--------

Still, I certainly miss the CZ. I've recently made a website where I'm showcasing linux-based synths, and I was finally able to tweak the trickling water sound my friend Tom had created back then. I did it on a softsynth called amSynth. I called the sound "Mr. Tom" in dedication. What he could do, I've never seen demonstrated on any Casio demo, which is sad. Still to this day, I think that synth series wasn't given the attention it should have. Especially the CZ-1, with all the capabilities the CZ-1000 didn't have. Lots of powerful features there. Unfortunately, sampling arrived on the scene and changed the tide.

But I still love tweaking, probably now more than ever. Lots of info out there to learn from, and I'm now doing my part participating in the virtual synth arena. (How I wish I had had Internet back in the 80's, to show the world what my CZ could do!!!!)

End of rant... :)

If anyone is curious about the trickling water sound (as well as an emulation of the CZ "Brass Ens. 1" start-up patch) or about linux-based softsynths, feel free to visit me at: http://amsynth.com


In my humble experience, Casio is where it all started. I think the vision was good (and Tom should've been hired as a sound designer!). It's just sad that more attention wasn't given to it when it first came out.

Fortunately, I do see some passion re-ignited for these 80's synths. Maybe they'll re-make the CZ line, perhaps with a few more "modern" features, but maintaining the same traditional structure? I'd certainly consider the purchase if they did!

To me, the CZ line was as unique as the Moog or Prophet.


Love to hear anyone's comments!

brian
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#2 happyrat1

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 03:03 PM

I fell in love with the sound of synthesizers back in the 60's the first time I heard Dick Hyman play "The Minotaur"

http://grooveshark.c...an the minotaur

Incidentally, this was the first recorded album that ever incorporated synth technology.

Throughout the 70's I was a rabid fan of all the progressive rock groups but couldn't afford a keyboard until I reached my 20's back in the early 80's.
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If it ain't fun it ain't music...

Listen to my tunes @ https://soundcloud.c...ary-g-s-singles

Keep on banging those keyboards :D

#3 briandc

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:23 AM

I fell in love with the sound of synthesizers back in the 60's the first time I heard Dick Hyman play "The Minotaur"

http://grooveshark.c...an the minotaur

Incidentally, this was the first recorded album that ever incorporated synth technology.

Throughout the 70's I was a rabid fan of all the progressive rock groups but couldn't afford a keyboard until I reached my 20's back in the early 80's.


Wow! Never heard that one before! Very nice... kind of Emerson Lake and Palmer-ish.
Another group I hadn't heard of until last summer (but quite historic), with a pretty wild synth solo, here:



brian
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#4 happyrat1

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

I'd also recommend picking up "Switched on Bach" 1 & 2 by Wendy Carlos. She used to be Walter but had a sex change in the 80's.

At any rate, these were another seminal work in the history of Moog synthesizers.

http://grooveshark.c...witched on bach

While Dick Hyman introduced the Moog Synth as an instrument, Walter/Wendy Carlos legitimized it.
If it ain't fun it ain't music...

Listen to my tunes @ https://soundcloud.c...ary-g-s-singles

Keep on banging those keyboards :D

#5 Sean777

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:17 PM

My first true exposure to synth music was with Jon Vangelis, the third record (yes vinyl:)) I bought in the early 80s (I would have been the class of '84) was Spiral...I proceeded to buy three more of his records. I liked the sounds and I could study by them in college. I finally returned to my love of synth's last year..took up the staff and started to learn music composition, main reason I bought Logic Pro. I was hooked...I stumble onto the XW-P1 because I was looking for a 40+key midi controller...then the wild idea crossed my mind to look at a simple synth...XW-P1 fit the bill, Midi Control Capability, 61 Keys plus bonus of huge assortment of sounds to play with. I almost bought a Novation Synth UltraNova but I liked the sugar coating of step sequencer / arpeggiator / performance keying. I use to look for the next Software Synth package to buy...Now I want to run the XW-P1 harder ;)

#6 briandc

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:48 AM

My first true exposure to synth music was with Jon Vangelis, the third record (yes vinyl:)) I bought in the early 80s (I would have been the class of '84) was Spiral...I proceeded to buy three more of his records. I liked the sounds and I could study by them in college. I finally returned to my love of synth's last year..took up the staff and started to learn music composition, main reason I bought Logic Pro. I was hooked...I stumble onto the XW-P1 because I was looking for a 40+key midi controller...then the wild idea crossed my mind to look at a simple synth...XW-P1 fit the bill, Midi Control Capability, 61 Keys plus bonus of huge assortment of sounds to play with. I almost bought a Novation Synth UltraNova but I liked the sugar coating of step sequencer / arpeggiator / performance keying. I use to look for the next Software Synth package to buy...Now I want to run the XW-P1 harder ;)


Sounds like fun.
I read the other day that the newer Casio line has some of the CZ capabilites incorporated in it (ie. 9-step envelopes). I think it's good they keep offering a unique product. And of course with today's technology compared to what we had back in the 80's...

brian

#7 pfontaine2

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:50 AM

I too have never heard The Minotaur by Dick Hyman before now.  Thanks very much for sharing this!

 

The comment about it sounding very ELP-ish is more accurate than you might think.  Emerson definitely quotes this piece during the live version of AquaTarkus on the triple live album "Welcome Back My Friends..."  I've always loved prog-rock, primarily because the keyboard players used the latest synths and produced the coolest new sounds.

 

When I was old enough to be able to start buying my own keyboards, I purchased a Casiotone MT-100 which I kept in my dorm room and played for years.  As the years went by, I really started to collect "cheap" keyboards, mostly by Casio.  I never really liked the sounds of Yamaha keyboards and FM synthesis left me cold.  However, many of the Casio sounds seemed "warmer" and more "analog" to me.  Eventually I got myself a CZ-101, which was my first programmable synth.  I eventually added more gear and wrote quite a bit of music.  Most of my gear was put away after I got married and had a child because my "studio" became my daughter's nursery.

 

It's only been the past couple of years that I've begun writing music again, due in large part to some great apps on the various iOS products.  I've sold some of my old gear in order to purchase newer gear such as a Casio WK-7500 and XW-P1 and I'm happily creating music once again!

 

Pierre



#8 briandc

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:49 PM

I too have never heard The Minotaur by Dick Hyman before now.  Thanks very much for sharing this!

 

The comment about it sounding very ELP-ish is more accurate than you might think.  Emerson definitely quotes this piece during the live version of AquaTarkus on the triple live album "Welcome Back My Friends..."  I've always loved prog-rock, primarily because the keyboard players used the latest synths and produced the coolest new sounds.

 

When I was old enough to be able to start buying my own keyboards, I purchased a Casiotone MT-100 which I kept in my dorm room and played for years.  As the years went by, I really started to collect "cheap" keyboards, mostly by Casio.  I never really liked the sounds of Yamaha keyboards and FM synthesis left me cold.  However, many of the Casio sounds seemed "warmer" and more "analog" to me.  Eventually I got myself a CZ-101, which was my first programmable synth.  I eventually added more gear and wrote quite a bit of music.  Most of my gear was put away after I got married and had a child because my "studio" became my daughter's nursery.

 

It's only been the past couple of years that I've begun writing music again, due in large part to some great apps on the various iOS products.  I've sold some of my old gear in order to purchase newer gear such as a Casio WK-7500 and XW-P1 and I'm happily creating music once again!

 

Pierre

 

I have to agree about FM synthesis. Lots of people like it, and I can understand it. Yet to me it's a very cold, metallic-sounding synthesis method.  I'm not sure why.  -Is it the use of harmonics, perhaps incorrectly, that leads to lots of high-end tine-like sounds?   I don't know.

 

I wish I had delved into tweaking my Casio CZ1000 back then, to see really what it could do.  I'm now mostly working on amSynth (linux) and it's been fun getting a variety of sounds, whether FM-ish, warmer pads, effects, whatever.  Just standard subtractive synthesis.  But I like it better than FM.

 

 

brian



#9 briandc

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 02:54 PM

Here's a guy that knows how to tickle the ivories... (CZ101 patch played on AZ-1)

 

 

and another take:

 

 

 

NICE.

 

 

brian



#10 Mikexception

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 02:39 PM

Hi,

Nice to read that  more people  keep going on their own way. :)

I also do not stop and my fascination with white and black keys iis life long. When I was 16 I was given a broken toy keyboard  with nothing except multi resistor inside. I made an oscillator and this way ...I couldn't get even a gama :D .

But a dream survived and one day in 1986  I saw a guy who had had Casio MT with small keys and a big talent to use them. This way I discovered what I wanted. :P

Next month and after I had one by one: used Casio MT ...(?) - very small brown with sliders to programmm rhytm section (may be MT40 - was such?) , new  Casio MT 200, Casio MT.. (250?)  with set of eight square push buttons to select  special sound effects. I wanted Casio CT1000 but finally left to work in Singapore where it was not on sell. I was  lured by Yamaha PSR 400. But my wish after Casios was to have natural instruments and it wasn't in Yamaha  No much to engage in too. Again I sold it and decided another market flyer - Technics  . This time it was serious piano - Digital Ensamble PR170. 60 kgs, beautifull sounding and nice in use. After 5 years it was really good to pass to my dougther. I was already dreaming about synth section and custom rhytm section. This time, in 2002 with loan in hand  I had a choice between Casio WK1800 and Casio MZ-2000. Looking at price tag it was one only  choice - WK1800. What went wrong? The grand piano wasn't a match to Technics and keys were light. Piece was long and weighted 11 kg - too much to take easy to air travelling (working in other countries, continents  I coudn't bear not to have one with me  for free time). But very good for own music creations  . In 2006 I needed smaller - next choice was CTK-900 - 5kgs, "portable". I must say it is very good instrument with interesting effect  and synth sections. Really good Grand Piano may be produced and it is  only small part of it's goodness   Special advantage of CTK-900 (for me) is that producer left not blocked posssibility to include percussion set in each of accompaniament channell - great fun. For home use I added MIDI hammer 88 keys controller CME UF-8 -good combination due to interesting cooperation between controllers and keyboard effect parameters. You may find  also http://www.youtube.c...v=x8vHeaXuUl4..

Then I looked for any strong user  programmable and stationary keyboard and in 2010 I reminded about  forgotten Casio MZ-2000. Since then I have no more ideas - for my kind of use nothing could be better. :rolleyes:  So as all of You can see it's easy and quick tway o match keboard to our dreams. :)

Rgds.

 


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#11 BradMZ

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 05:54 PM

Mike, have you looked at the PX-5S?   It's the only new Casio that was able to pry me away from the MZ-2000.  



#12 Chas

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 07:11 PM

My love of synths was most likely instigated by two artists initially - Jean-Michel Jarre and Gary Numan. 

 

I heard Jarre first, when Oxygene was a huge hit in the mid to late 70's, and was played everywhere including all over the TV too. I loved these strange other World sounds and rhythms, it just sounded so exciting. Then along came Numan in 1979, with his striking image and powerful synth sound merged with a traditional band (I later found out that he 'borrowed' a lot of his sound from the John Foxx Ultravox album 'Systems of Romance'). Even so, Numan just looked like a God to me, I was awestruck by him and his music and I just wanted to make strange alien sounds via a synthesizer like he appeared to do so.

 

Shortly after this, synthpop exploded in the UK, and the reformed Midge Ure Ultravox along with The Human League became massive influences. I also loved the early Vince Clarke Depeche Mode and even A Flock of Seagulls. As for my own first synth, that came in Xmas 1982 when I convinced my parents to buy me a second hand Casio VL1. I had hours of fun playing that using an old valve radio as an 'amp' (wired though the 'gramophone' input at the back!), plus punching random numbers into the calculator memory and seeing what strange sounds I'd created in the synth section.

 

Sadly, synths were still all too expensive back then and I ended taking up bass guitar. Mainly because it was the only 'proper', instrument I could afford and also because it was the only instrument that no-one else I knew was playing at the time. I had this dream that I would form a band with all of my school mates, which like most schoolboy dreams never did materialise. I did, however, end up playing bass in numerous bands, some professionally, for over a quarter of a century.

 

In 1990 I got interested in synths again, and had no idea what to get within my meagre budget. A boss where I worked (who was also a musician) recommended a Casio CZ101. I told him that I thought Casios were only toys, to which he quite rightly informed me that the CZ's were proper synths, albeit digital. As a result I bought one and had loads of fun messing around with sound creation and recording my own songs on a four track tape recorder. I'd hardly scratched the surface of the little CZ's capabilities though, and when in the mid 90's I joined a semi-pro indie/ rock band as a bassist the 101 got pushed into the back of a cupboard and forgotten about.

 

Fast forward about 15 years and my love of electronic based music was rekindled again when I re-discovered an album from my past - Adrian Wagner's 'The Last Inca'. This inspired me to dig out my old 101, which then got me thinking of getting hold of a bigger CZ.  I found a CZ3000, then a CZ-1, then I kept reading about all these cult Casios and the collection just kept growing. Before I knew it, my collection included most of the 80's/ 90's Casio flagship models, including a number of rare 'boards such as the HT6000, CT410V, MZ2000 etc. And then to my delight, Casio released the XW P1/ G1 and now I have both of those too.

 

I have two non Casio 'classic' poly synths, a Korg DW8000 and a Roland JX3P. Though these are both great synths, there's something about the oddball and unusual Casios that I find immensely appealing, that and flying in the face of the snobby attitude from some keyboardists who look down on them as 'just Casios'. Therefore, one day I will write an album only consisting of music written and played on Casios. Certainly with the XW's within my arsenal of Casios, I will have all the sounds and power needed to blow their socks off    :D


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#13 dc2k

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 01:57 AM

anyone know the direct link to the water sound OP was talking about?

#14 David

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 01:21 PM

Hello:

My whole story starts when I was very young. 4 or 5 years old? (1981-1982) My mother and my father were music lovers and they had many vinyl records. But two vinyl discs called my attention: Tubular bells by Mike Oldfield and Oxygen by Jean Michel.

I've been heavy metal, dark and extreme metal (Burzum, Carcass, Bestial Warlust, Morbid angel...) -1990 to 2001- but the electronic music won the battle in 2001 (Minimal-techno...).

I decided to buy my first synthesizer, a KORG monotribe, in the year 2013. I needed more! And in November of the 2013 became the great CASIO XW-P1.

This is my story in the music.

 

ugg.gif My gear (in order of appearance):

 

- KORG monotribe.
- CASIO XW-P1.
- KORG electribe MX EMX-1SD.
- Roland Phrase Lab MC-09.


Edited by David, 24 December 2013 - 06:00 PM.

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B) I am the rookie of the forum. B)

 

:ph34r: The culprit: Bing translator. :ph34r:

 

Having a CASIO XW-P1 is magical.


#15 Mikexception

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 02:31 PM

Mike, have you looked at the PX-5S?   It's the only new Casio that was able to pry me away from the MZ-2000.  

Thank You Brad - It looks like still hot modell. Just checked data. Impressive 256 poliphony - wow!  In my past I discovered that each new model lacks something what was usefull in previous - ex for MZ I adopted  myself expression pedal for it's expression and this one has two pedalss instead three.. But I am having troubles with my hammer UF8 - (key rubbers, bad expectation). I would be happy to have this PX5S keys - three contacts is excellent. I am going to see more details ..... even so small as price tag :huh:  Can You advice?

Rgds.



#16 BradMZ

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 03:06 PM

Mike, about the only thing Casio forgot in the PX5s is the expression pedal.  It has 2 sustain (switch type) pedal inputs.  Those 2 pedals greatly improve upon the MZ-2000's assignable parameters.  The pedals on the PX5 can have 2 things assigned to them at one time and the list of available assignments is much longer.  Also, the (switch) pedals can have ON/OFF rates and MIN/MAX ranges.   Some people are using a midi expression pedal as a workaround since the 5s responds to expression over midi.  

 

The Piano sound on the PX-5s is awesome and the hammer action is top notch.  The PX-5s is a sound designers dream.   The board is more tweakable than the MZ-2000.  The reverb effects are richer.  The filter envelopes are smoother and more powerful.  The DRUMS !  can be edited very deeply, although there's no rhythms on-board.   The arpeggiator is much more advanced than the MZ's.  The synth is deeper.   The list goes on.

 

As much as I love the MZ-2000, I love the PX-5s as much or even more.  At first, I thought the tiny display on it would be a problem but it's actually pretty fast to work with.  It does take time to learn how Casio has changed it's system, but once you do it's easy.  

 

Here's a website for more info.   http://sc3900.wix.com/px-5s   


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#17 Jokeyman123

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 03:42 PM

forgive my long post-you asked for it! Started in 1967-1969-as a drummer who worked closely with 2 very intersting Hammond B-3 artists-one a jazz virtuoso named Richard McCrea who played the B-3 double manuals and pedalboard as fast as I could groove-fascinated me (I was a kid playing in incredible little jazz clubs in Newark and Elizabeth NJ-right around the time of the riots! There were alot of jazz clubs around then. Athe same time, I was working in a rock cover band with the guy who would get me going on keyboard technology from its inception-by hooking up ring modulators and other devices through his B and C-3 Hammonds with double Leslies--a 122 and a 147, what a sound! I was still drumming with him on keyboards (Robbie Schindler if you're still out there get back to me!) but also studying keys now on old Wurlitzers and Fender Rhodes-then Robbie got one of the first Minimoogs and soon thereafter one of the first Memorymoogs which I had a chance to play-what a thing to hear and play these live-he later connected to Eddie Offord (yes that Eddie Offord) at Bearsville Sound Studios (brand new then in Woodstock) who helped produce Robbie's first album and got him these pioneering instruments. I was not in on the recordings but had a chance to be in on the recording sessions so I heard these being used in context. Before that our band was into long jams, covered ELP, Santana tunes and other covers in clubs for a brief while around 1969-71. So the die had been cast-I couldn't afford my own keyboards until I finally purchased a Crumar "Roadrunner" thing-sort of an electric piano, string thing that I beat unmerciful for awhile, then picked up a brand new Sequential Circuits Pro One which I tortured myself with in the 80s. Was also listening to alot of Zappa's earliest recordings and working with a contemporary group using alot of electronic stuff-John Cage, Stockhausen, etc. After that, Korg Poly-61, DW8000, 6000, DSS-1 sampler which taught me how to program analog machines and edit samples. I studied electronic music in college and beyond and obtained in order the CZ-101, CZ-3000 and CZ-1 which I lost countless hours and braincells playing with and programming, all gone now. I graduated to workstations which I used extensively to create arrangements for my shows and plays as a school music director, a huge amount of work, especially considering the evolution of technology I've needed to learn in the last 20-30 years which has been mind-boggling. My home is filled with newer keyboard noisemakers everywhere, including the XW and many others from the major foodgroups. I am sort of retired now (not from performing only teaching). How this all will end, I have no idea. I hope it doesn't. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy New Years to all.


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#18 Mikexception

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 07:26 AM

Mike, have you looked at the PX-5S?   It's the only new Casio that was able to pry me away from the MZ-2000.  

Thanks Brad,

I looked at PX-5S - Its beautifull. Anyway  Also You did best to keep MZ-2000 too. New model doesn't have synth section which is  rich in MZ and it is my point of interest. I can't say much but may be there are more functions not replicated in PX.. I see also they upgraded soft in May to extend some so it is promising.  I already would wish to have them both as well - PX specially for piano futures like hammer key, triple sensors, string resonance function, standard MIDI connection. For "empty type" piano tone I managed to create on MZ customer piano with two tones and it is matching what I hear on my CDs - no point to be unhappy. I often create tones to use because I am very fond on sound - my other hobby is construction of top audio columns  - I did in my life about 20 systems while purchased in store only one pair. Adviced by all and I used them  two weeks :) . So if you mention about speakers in MZ and PX and loosing midrange it flashes lights for me :ph34r: . I couldn't find anything about PX speakers and output power in manual - does it have ? My conclusion is that what we hear is just team of speakers. Casio MZ has strongest speaker system I saw. in keyboards - inside there are properly done bass chambers and that is why it sounds so rich. For tone  test all effects and master must be off and no reverb nor Chorus. I also pay high attention to midrange. My impression  is that MZ-2000 has no (present on out jacks)  EQ fo speaker system but  all worldwide  crossovers make mess on cross frequency.  And MZ has naturally one of them.

Rgds.

P.S About sound problems I have my Web page Michal Czabajski D.I.Y. Non Fatique Sound System



#19 BradMZ

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:44 AM

Mike, I'm gonna respond to this over on the MZ-2000 thread.  Page 2.  Please go over there.  It's a bit off topic for this thread.  



#20 Hugh O'Kelly

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:32 AM

When I started wanting back in 1867 bands were playing the HOHNER PIANET

they just brought out the wurli piano

followed by the fender rhodes

then

the poly moog was born 

EMS

ARP

The mini moog

prophet 5 and 10

roland jupiter 8

Those were the days my friend






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