Casio HT-3000

Casio HT-3000 Image

The Casio HT and HZ series are a very interesting group of synthesizers produced from 1987-1991. They use a very specific form of sound generation called "SD Synthesis". Short for "Spectrum Dynamic" SD Synthesis has some things in common with the subtractive synthesis we know and love. The synth takes a waveform and runs it through a real analog VCF (filter). There are ADSR envelopes for the DCA and VCF that shape the sound. And there is an LFO just like on a standard subtractive synth, although this LFO only modulates pitch (vibrato) and volume (tremolo).

Where things get interesting however, is in the choice of waveforms available from the synth engine. There are 32 incredibly varied waveforms, some sound very nasal or narrow, some like saw or square waveforms, some with an odd metallic timbre, and some feature white noise. It's still a mystery exactly how these waves are created, but experts suggest they contain a number of harmonically-rich pulse waves at different octaves, as well as a ring modulator and an analog noise source.

To make things even more interesting, these waves have pre-programmed amounts of PWM and amplitude modulation built into them. For example, one SD wave could contain two pulse waves fading in and out at different times. But you don't have to understand all of this to get the best out of the synth. The mystery and modulation of it all means you can just pick a preset and change the waves around and see what happens. The synth sounds are in the same ballpark as other DCO-synths of the time, and can even sound a little PPG-like on a good day. The filter is a bit weak for bass but adds a nice swoosh to some sounds. There is also a nice chorus effect on board. Additionally, being a home keyboard, it has built-in speakers, a Drum Machine and an Auto-Accompaniment mode (the lower tone is used for accompaniment). The drum sounds resemble the Casio RZ-1 8-bit drum machine.

The low point of the synth is in the programming. You have one big clunky rotary dial and a list of two digit parameters to edit (e.g.: 10 will be cutoff, 11 is resonance) and these parameters are not listed on the panel, so you need the manual with you at all times! MIDI is present, but limited to just 3-channels and has no SysEx support. Kind of a bummer from a synth with such a tedious programming interface.

The HT-3000 has several brothers (also released in 1987). They include the HT-700, which has 49 mini-keys instead of the 3000's 61 full-size keys. It also has a big brother in the HT-6000, which is a 4 DCO, 8 VCF and 64 waveform monster! (And the HT-6000 lists the edit parameter codes on front-panel.) Now, as no one really knows about the HT-series, they go for very little money and can be a great tool in your synth arsenal for unusual sounds!

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25 Visitor comments
smoinync
March 17, 2014 @ 3:31 am
Just bought the 700 for $30. Good fun synth. Tried hooking up with Terino-on & checked out VCFs, LFOs. Kinda slow when programming each parameter. Could be useful for studio recording cuz it does sound quite nice, Casioion style. I'm pretty happy with preset, just pick one & use VCFs to shape individual sound.
wich
November 22, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
I have the mini version - the HT-700. A lot of useful features, and at a bargain price. Sweet-sounding VCF, plus it's multi-timbral via MIDI. I have made some demos to show off various features:

Mutlitimbral (layered) patches:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1agTOdVrKtk&list=UUx7UwDxleFkXwjnK5o2 FxKQ

Using it to record & generate your own bass lines, with a split keyboard too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7wki2Swchc&list=UUx7UwDxleFkXwjnK5o2FxKQ


As a regular polysynth:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bZTXOrCq4k&list=UUx7UwDxleFkXwjnK5 o2FxKQ

A fun little board!
commodorejohn
August 1, 2013 @ 3:11 pm
Just got an HT-6000 off eBay. It's definitely a limited synthesis model (why are the oscillators all limited to the same waveform? Why is filter resonance so limited? Why can the LFO only modulate pitch?) but then again, a lot of the raw waveforms would be acceptable sounds in and of themselves, so the additional features are pure gravy. Even with just a little playing around I've gotten some amazing digital pad sounds out of this thing - can't believe they hid a synthesizer this cool in the guise of a cheap home keyboard!
no
July 23, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
Chris Arnt - Many Casio keyboards are capable of using the same power adapter, especially the "SD Synthesis" series & MT models. I am totally guessing here, but perhaps you could find a MT-600, HT-700, MT-55, MT-140, etc "parts only" or damaged unit on Ebay (shouldn't cost much($50-$100 or less) & pull out it's power card/board.
Gerry
May 5, 2013 @ 1:20 am
Just picked up an HT-6000 off Ebay for $200. I was forewarned that there was hum/buzz in the speakers & headphones jack. Come to find out, the unit is nearly mint. The hum was caused by the Nintendo NES power adapter, that they seller included with the keyboard. It works fine w/batteries & I ordered a Casio power adapter. I had the HT-3000 back in '87, but gave it away in the mid-90's. Last year I started feeling nostalgic for an HT-3000, but had a hard time finding 1. I was very happy to find the better & much rarer HT-6000. I might yet still buy an HT-3000 too. Both are really cool synths.
 
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Rated 3.45 (149 Votes)

  • 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 voices
  • Multitimbral - 3 parts: Upper tone, Lower tone, Drums
  • Oscillators - 1 DCO
  • Waveforms - Upper tone: 32 SD waves, Lower Tone: 16 SD waves, Noise generator
  • LFO - 1 LFO with 5 waveforms for the Upper Tone, 1 for the Lower tone. Modulates volume or pitch only.
  • Filter - 1 VCF resonant analog lowpass with ADSR envelope
  • Envelope - 1 DCA with ADSR envelope
  • Effects - Analog Chorus (3 types)
  • Patterns - Drums/accompaniment: 10 user patterns
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (no velocity). Mod and pitch wheels.
  • Memory - 30 preset, 30 user
  • Control - MIDI In/Out/Thru (3 channels only and no SysEx)
  • Date Produced - 1987 - 1991
  • Resources & Credits
  • Review by Alex Juno

    Original images from this site

    Reviewed September 2011

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