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 12, 2012 @ 12:53 pm
@ ldan
no, but i has a very own groove I've never heard on a drummachine before;
sounds very FUNKY. perfect for jackin' house beats!!
July 12, 2012 @ 10:55 am
I was given one of these drum machines by some goths who lived above me in 1990. I was making industrial grunge rock in my bedsit. The clunky, inhuman mechanical sounds worked well for that purpose. The band I formed did hundreds of gigs with it and put several records out that feature it. Still stands up, I reckon. Such a good machine. Dead easy to use. Sounds intense through a good PA. Still using it today, with the new band I'm in now. Get one, they're good fun. And not many drum machines allow you to program in weird time signatures like this one does.
February 15, 2012 @ 4:06 pm
Got 1 for £40 last year, its like a super low budget 707!Love the snare & rim but the kick sounds a bit sh!t
January 14, 2012 @ 6:22 am
Bought mine for £85 in mint condition a few months back - best bargin buy in ages, track it through a desk and its great. Chicago house anyone? people over look these but if you are producing REAL house music - buy one!
January 7, 2012 @ 7:24 am
1dan: according to the manual there's a swing function that's activated if you set autocompensate to 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8. "SWG=" appears, and then you can use Value to adjust the amount. (It doesn't appear when you have atuocompensate on the default of 1/16 though, which makes it easy to overlook, I didn't even realise it was there myself till I read the manual.)

I must admit I like the RZ-1; it works best when entering patterns in real-time, with the step mode there to fix any mistakes you might make in the process. And the sounds themselves are fine if it's an 80s feel you're after.
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Rated 3.32 (256 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 - 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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