Casio RZ-1

Casio RZ-1 Image

Casio's RZ-1 came out in 1986 and in its time, it was pretty good. It has 12 PCM sampled drum sounds - basic sounds, and nothing to get excited about either. They included 3 toms, kick, snare, rim, open/closed hh, ride, crash, cowbell and clap. They don't sound like real drums, but they do sound electronic and maybe a little different than more common Roland and Linn drum machines. They have been used in lots of Hip Hop and House tracks.

A real special feature (for its time) was on-board sampling designed to let you create up to four of your own percussion sounds. Now, the sampling specs are pretty bad with just a 20kHz sample rate and only 0.2 seconds of sample time per each of the four sample pads (or one 0.8 second sample). Its a very lo-fi sound, which may be a good thing. The only editing you can do with your samples is a simple low-pass tone adjust.

The built-in sequencer is fairly easy to work with. Just create some patterns (up to 100) and chain these patterns into songs (up to 20 songs). There are ten individual outputs and volume sliders for every sound. Well, some sounds have to share outputs and sliders as there are 16 sounds: Rim+Snare, Sample1+Sample2, Sample3+Sample4, Cowbell+Crash, Clap+Ride and Open+Closed HH. Kind of cool and a little different but certainly nothing to fall in love with here. It's been used by Prince Paul, Autechre, Steve Poindexter, DJ Mike Smooth, Raw Dope Posse, Christian Vogel and lots more.

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25 Visitor comments
July 22, 2009 @ 5:00 pm
Great little machine this well actually its huge and ways a ton. the sampler is great for using little snippets of circuit bent devices as drums! and the hi hat is one of the best shame it only does one drum set of sounds but does have velocity but only when using midi to trigger them.
March 23, 2009 @ 1:23 pm
If you want absolute dirt drums this is the guy. It's probably a good idea to sample stuff into say -- an MPC or the likes first with proper decay, since this has no adjustment for that. At 0.2 seconds per pad you don't have a lot to deal with, so I find it helpful to limit myself to a kick and snare at 0.4 seconds per 2 pads instead. Depending on the drums you can get a bit creative with it.

It's not an SP, it's not a 950 -- it's 8-bit grunginess. It's unique and it has its place every once in a while. With some EQing you can get it to sound pretty good; even better with some compression. One caveat though: this thing has horrible build quality. Finding an RZ-1 that's not shot isn't so easy in my experience. The two I've owned have both had totally shot tone pots in the back, with absolutely no resistance. Your milage may vary.
Tribesman Rob
December 31, 2008 @ 7:50 am
I used this machine for a few years, back in the Mid 80s.
I remember before I bought it, saying to the salesman that the sounds appeared dull and muffled! He suggested that eqing it would put that right! I got it because of the sampling and sequencing possibilities. Had alot of fun using it and midi-ing it my Yamaha CX5M Music Computer! If you'd like to hear it in action then head over to track 5 - Riding to Heaven on the Back of Technology - where the main rhythms and samples are all coming off this baby and are quite well demoed.
Curiously, all the latest Casio range of home keyboards have an onboard sampler, after many years of ignoring sampling! A return to the golden age or just sheer desperation??
December 1, 2008 @ 8:14 pm
Actually, samples are saved when you turn off the RZ-1, unless you rbattery is dead.

The sequencer is pretty easy to use. You can use real-time recording or step mode and can edit in either mode as well. Not great if you're looking for a full percussion module, but has some cool sounds and a great 80's "feel" to the sound.
Daniel Polwarth
November 18, 2008 @ 3:21 am
All samples are far too short. The bass drum sounds thin and grainy. The snare is thin and weedy, but good dance sound. Fantastic claps. Cowbell is the 'real world' type. Ride is thin. The crash is punchy. The toms are soft and flabby. Rim is good. I like the hats - wonderfully light and cutting. Samples can't be saved out and are lost when the machine loses power.

The drums are doubled-up on channels. The drums above and below each other share the same channel. So you cannot get the claps and ride at the same time, for example.

Eight channel outs, with faders, doubled-up as above. Sturdy hardware.

The sounds are dance orientated and quite weak. There are no on-board effects.

I wouldn't buy one of these unless you need that particular light dance beat sound. Ignore the sampling - its a gimmick. Fully midi capable.
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User Rating

Rated 3.32 (256 Votes)

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  • 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 - 16 voices
  • Oscillators - 12 PCM sounds (Tom1, Tom2, Tom3, Snare, Kick, Rim, Open HH, Closed HH, Ride, Crash, Clap, Cowbell)
  • Sampler - 0.8 seconds over four 'Banks'
  • Sequencer - 100 Patterns and 20 Songs
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 16 Pads
  • Control - MIDI IN, OUT, THRU
  • Date Produced - 1986

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