Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

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Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby juno_d » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:09 pm

Going on the presets alone, i would definitely go for the CZ5000, the VZ1 presets seem to focus on endless lame organ and electric piano patches. However, some enthusiasts on the web claim that there is a megasynth lurking inside the VZ1, that with a bit of programming can produce great sounds.
I'm sceptical, but opinions?
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby polardark » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:32 pm

My five cents:

I think the VZ-1 is more of a pad monster but both instruments suffer from their synth engines being a bit noisy. It's like the math tables in the instruments aren't very high precision or something. It's more noticable with the VZ-1 since it is more complex.

The VZ-1 is primarily hindered by an enormous amount of complexity hidden under a relatively unfriendly user interface. I've never been able to get any leads or basses that i liked out of the VZ-1. I'd really love it if there was ever an updated version of the VZ-1. Aside from that, downloading a couple of patches off the internet has showed me what a pad monster this instrument can be - especially with layering.

The CZ is more enjoyable to program but sounds aren't as complex. It feels more "punchy" but it might be that you're just more tempted to make those kinds of noises with it.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby meatballfulton » Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:34 pm

The VZ killed Casio in the serious synth market. It was a real advance beyond the CZ, but...

Programming CZs was easy because it was reminiscent of subtractive programming, the VZ was like a DX7 from hell. I had some friends who bought them at blowout prices (like $100) back in the day and I don't think any of them really learned how to program the damn thing.

After DX-FM, Kawai's additive and the VZ people were looking for a digital synth they could actually understand :banghead:

No wonder mfrs all followed Korg into sample-based subtractive synths :?
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:59 pm

With you on the sample based thing. The Roland V Synth is the only non analogue synth that's genuinely intuitive to use. It's taken that long for technology to make a straightforward UI for anything other than subtractive synthesis.

The problem with the CZ-5000 is there's no velocity or aftertouch modulation, only 32 memories, and the layering is severely limited.

I have a CZ-1, that's the ultimate CZ and a VZ-10M. They're both very good synths IMO. The VZ is exactly like a DX-7 in that it is FM synthesis. Bizarre user interface though. I have managed to get some good sounds out of it over the years, and there are a lot of excellent patches out there on the web, more than enough to fill the 64 "normal" memories with good stuff, then you can layer them up in the "Operation Memories". However, I definitely have more sounds for the CZ because it's easier to use. Would not part with either synth though.

The noise is not really because of a lack of internal precision. It's because of the rather elderly DAC technology. The DX-7 has a better DAC. The CZ has a compander and resistor ladder DAC and fairly noisy op amps on the outputs. I don't know what type of DAC the DX has. That said, in normal use noise is not a problem.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby astroidmist » Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:53 am

I used to own a CZ-5000 and later on a VZ-10M. The VZ was much more powerful but required a lot more patience. I loved them both but got more music out the CZ-5000 even though the VZ-10M helped me to make sounds that were more professional sounding. Still, the CZ sometimes sounded kinda analog to me even though it isnt. And the ring modulation was tons of fun with that zippery sound. But I think I'd be tired of it these days. I did like the 8 point envelopes on the CZ too. I've not even seen that in the software CZ clones. Hard decision. I'm not sure. I did like the CZ's step sequencer too. It's great for looping arpeggios if you know what you're doing. Probably the VZ had a more standard MIDI compatibility. I remember discovering that the CZ used some strange System Exclusive messages just for it's Sequencer track setups. It was a rough stumbling block when I tried to sequence it. I think I'd go for the VZ, but not actually sure. It did have a lot more MIDI modulation options. It was just more powerful. But like I said required more patience. When I had it, I'd spend a week making new sounds for it, and then compose with it later.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:14 pm

astroidmist, check the link in my sig. I've compared the two in some detail in that article.

Actually, juno_d, reading your post again, it sounds like the VZ you're using doesn't have the original factory presets. They're characterised by lame attempts to copy D-50 bell sounds. :) And if you've heard "See God..." you'd buy the VZ in a heartbeat. ;)
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby ItsMeOnly » Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:43 pm

Let me just quote myself
An extremely underestimated polysynth. One of few synthesizers from Casio's "professional" line.

Per voice you are given 8 modules (oscillators with amplitude envelopes) grouped in 4 pairs. These pairs can be stacked in so called "lines", by frequency-modulation. A "slave" module in pair can be mixed, ringmodulate or be frequency-modulated (or phase distorted- as Casio was saying to avoid patent war with Stanford and Yamaha) by "master", output from one pair can modulate frequency of "slave" module in another pair. Each module has sine, five types of sawtooth waves (from most to least filtered), and two types of noise (white and fuzzy sine). Pitch can be set to fixed, transposition (a little awkward) or (and here's great, convinient shortcut) as harmonic ratio.
To that comes eight-stage envelope for amplitude for every module and global pitch envelope, both with adjustable depth and settable "sustain", and "end" stage, of which latter unfortunately has just one use- to simplify painful scrolling, you can remove stages. The response of envelopes can be influenced by velocity, according to preset curves. You are also given 6-breakpoint key-follow envelope for both.
There's also one LFO for pitch - vibrato, and amplitude - tremolo. These are unfortunately global per voice (and it's a shame!).
Intriguing is the pitch bend response: you can set it across +/- 4(!) octaves, and allow the synth to keep tune while note is released and decaying and pitch bend messages are received.

VZ-10M also operates in very fancy performance modes: Normal is single voice, Combination is stacking max of four patches with velocity splitting/switching, keyboard crossfade, transposition etc.
Operation Memory allows saving either of them in a memory slot.
Theres also full-fledged multitimbral mode with static voice and output allocation.

Editing is pretty fancy, thanks to big emerald LCD, 16x8 chars with some nice graphic representation of pair architecture, envelopes and breakpoints. The intuitiveness (even despite fast module switching and selecting) is, however, nightmarishly reduced by many concurrent "pages" while lacking "Mark/Jump" (except amplifier envelope) function and that cursor resets position when module is selected - a tragedy when you use all 8 stages in envelope. Patches are edited "globally", i.e. patch change will affect all Operation Memory slots

The sound: big, aggressive, gritty (with great deal of aliasing). While it's often reminding of DX-type of FM, it is capable of doing some very killer and beautiful sounds- think that you can detune 8 sawtooth waves! Just hearing "See God", "PrimalScream" or "Heavy Metal" makes you certain of what power this baby posesses, but there's always that bitter aftertaste when you start editing - one step too little, like every aspect of this synth was packed in being done only halfway through.
So, FM is always 1/2 ratio, LFOs for amplitude and pitch are global, and eight-stage envelopes where you can set your own sustain point... are not loopable (and if they were, that would be the most powerful machine ever- possibly even claiming the fame from the mighty Yamahas SY/TG 77/99).

I just love it, and then just hate it...

Experience required:
Not for novices, tedious to program because of complexity and awkward menu-driven page switching, uses abbreviations
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:05 pm

That's a great summary of the VZ engine! Just to add, one mitigating feature of the LFO is that you can set it to respond differently for each voice, so for example you can have different vibrato rates on each note.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby rockmanrock » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:00 pm

I had a VZ-8M for a while. I soon came to the conclusion life was too short for all that bollocks, give me my CZ101 any day. It made the TX81Z look sane. I think the CZ1 is the one to get - CZ character, ease of use and velocity for some life.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:15 pm

LOL! I never took to the TX81Z or the DX-7. I was always disappointed by the tone. In my opinion the sound of the Casio implementation of FM is superior tonally. You get warmer pads and more complex evolving sounds.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby rockmanrock » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:00 pm

madtheory wrote:LOL! I never took to the TX81Z or the DX-7. I was always disappointed by the tone. In my opinion the sound of the Casio implementation of FM is superior tonally. You get warmer pads and more complex evolving sounds.


Yes the CZ is much more appealing to program and with the res waves and ring-mod it's not too far removed from analogue in use and sound. Even simple things like detuning layers is easier, having to muck about with the oddly stepped coarse and fine on Yamaha's FM is a fiddle. I spent ages making analogue style sounds on my DX11 but these days I've got a load of decent analogues so FM is best left to it's strengths - metallic, biting, cutting stuff. The CZ is worth having as 'another flavour of analogue', it's definitely got character.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:41 am

I meant that I prefer the VZ to the TX. But yes, the CZ-1 is worth having, definitely.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby astroidmist » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:19 am

@madtheory

Nice site and some interesting pages there. I'm not sure which part you wanted me to read but I found lots of interesting stuff there. Too bad I don't have my VZ-10M nor my CZ-5000 nor CZ-101 anymore.

Thanks though. nice site.
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby CZ Rider » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:36 am

ItsMeOnly wrote:Intriguing is the pitch bend response: you can set it across +/- 4(!) octaves, and allow the synth to keep tune while note is released and decaying and pitch bend messages are received.

Nice review! Forgot about the pitch bend response. That is a cool feature that the CS-80 had on it's ribbon controller. You could repeatedly play a sustained note and strech it out by bending the ribbon. The VZ-1 had a ledge just above the keyboard that a Kurzweil ribbon fit perfectly to get that same CS-80 effect. Fun stuff!
Image
I don't ever remember making patches on the VZ series without a computer editor. Was almost impossible to edit from the VZ8M LCD display. But the CZ series were easy to edit right on the keyboard. Actually the CZ's mostly had one button per function for editing. Still have all the VZ series including the PG-380 guitar with built in 6 voice VZ engine. The sound of the CZ and VZ were really different though. Still prefer the sound of the CZ-101 of all the Casios. Something about those battery operated CZ's running that 4558 op-amp powered at 9 volts, gives them that gritty "Casio" sound.

On paper the CZ-1 should be the top CZ model, but the tone is just missing something that the CZ 101, 1000, and 230s have.
I wonder if I grafted the 9 volt output section of a CZ-101 onto the CZ-1 it would get a tone like the 101? Casio mystery?
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Re: Casio CZ5000 vs VZ1

Postby madtheory » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:18 am

Ooh, nice to see the Casios atop what's considered a "serious" keyboard instrument!

Need to check the schems, but I don't think any CZ has a 4558 anywhere, and internally they're all the same voltage? Usually 4558 sounds pretty good, not gritty! But again, each to his own.

I have some recordings of the CZ-101 I used to have, and I prefer the CZ-1, it's slightly cleaner. That may be down to the fact that I didn't discover the DAC offset calibration when I had the 101.
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