Casio CZ-101

Casio CZ-101 Image

It's small, it's cheap, and it's good! This is the pea-size version of the CZ-1000 with a mini-keyboard. The CZ-101 is a digital synth and although the programming is somewhat limited there are plenty of analog-like traits and sounds to interest most anybody. It has a good 8-stage envelope design and uses Phase Distortion (PD) synthesis which gives it some pretty great sounds. The sounds are very similar to the Yamaha DX synthesizers, and they're much more affordable. PD is Casio's own take on digital synthesis from the mid-eighties and is found in all of their CZ series. You basically modify digital waveforms (it has eight basic wave types, e.g. sine waves) to create various sounds. It can create wild new sounds, notably percussive sounds. But it's not too easy to program if you don't know much about waveform theory and design.

Casio CZ-101 Image

Make no mistake, the CZ-101 is no toy although it can be considered very entry level. Three sets of 8-stage envelope sections are used to modulate your sounds extensively. The first is used to modify the DCO pitches over time. Another 8-stage envelope section in the DCW is used to modify the Phase Angle over time (like filtering). Finally the DCA amplifier also has an 8-stage envelope to modify the volume of sounds over time. For further tweaking the CZ-101 employs some surprisingly analog effects. Four types of Vibrato make up a simple LFO-type section with triangle, square, ramp up or down waveforms as well as rate, depth and delay settings. Portamento adds that classic glide effect from one note to the next. Double up on the oscillators with 4-note polyphony. Built-in noise and ring modulation. It's also MIDI equipped with 4 monophonic multitimbral parts. However, with only 32 patches (16 preset, 16 user) storage is a bit slim.

The CZ-1000 is a full-size keyboard version of the CZ-101 for a slightly more practical edge. Later CZ-series models like the CZ-3000 and CZ-5000 used this new Phase Distortion synthesis in more professional instruments. But none are as small and portable as the CZ-101 is! It can even be strapped on like a guitar and run on battery power. The CZ-101 has been used by Cirrus, Moby, Jimi Tenor, Vince Clarke, Jimmy Edgar, and They Might Be Giants.

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81 Visitor comments
Greg Fredericks
March 29, 2013 @ 2:25 am
Spray electrical contact cleaner into the slider and work it in by sliding it back and forth. They get dirty.
Serge
March 19, 2013 @ 9:27 am
Not a super Synth but specially usefull if you are learning Synthesis. A very personal sounding Synths with some quite interesting possibilities if you use the second DCO line mode. Ring mod produce a lot of usefull sounds you don´t expect from a digital Synth. The LFO can be aplied like vibrato effect only but it`s super musical and powerfull.
The 8 ENV steps are quite complex for any purpose you and the most interesting part of the CZ line structure. Is able to produce a bunch of nice electronic and TechnoPop sounds that nothings remids a Digital synth.A litle of Reverb+Dly and Rockit!
theBFG
February 20, 2013 @ 3:02 pm
Hello Eve,

My cz101 had the same problem. The slider potentiometer had failed and had to be replaced.
Tommygun
February 7, 2013 @ 2:00 pm
@ James. Output is Mono....but just whack it through a stereo effects box :)
Tommygun
February 7, 2013 @ 1:59 pm
If your Casio seems to have lost its sounds dont forget the reset button under the unit. Its a small hole marked with a 'P', I think...jam a match (not the head, the other end) in the hole while its on and the lights will flash. You should then have the other banks of sound back.
If you dont have the casio power supply use something that has these specs...
INPUT 240v ~!50-60Hz 10W
OUTPUT 9v....8VA
 
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 note
  • Oscillators - Digital Phase Distortion Synthesis (sine, saw, square, pulse, resonance, double-sine, saw-pulse)
  • #Instruments - 4 part multitimbral
  • DCW - 8-stage envelope generators with level and rate controls and Key Follow (Adjusts Phase Angle)
  • DCA - 8-stage envelope generators with level and rate controls and Key Follow (Adjusts Volume)
  • Keyboard - 49 note mini keyboard (no Velocity or Aftertouch)
  • Memory - 16 preset, 16 user, 16 more via external cartridge
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1985 - 88
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