Casio FZ1

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Casio FZ1

Postby bendragon » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:39 pm

I've been looking around for a low-cost digital sampler which has some good features under it's belt. Seeing as I'm a huge fan of Casio's CZ serise synthesizers I thought I'd take a look at the FZ1. On paper the list of features the FZ1 has is rather impressive what with the synthesizer section and custom waveform drawing. However that's just on paper.

I'm being a smart shopper for once and asking around before buying... does anyone have experiance with an FZ1 or still uses one? If so I'd like some questions answered. :)

What's the keyboard action like? Is the MIDI implementation any good? Does it suffer from any technical problems? (I know the backlight fails after a few years). How easy would it be for me to use? (I'm fluent with the CasioCZ serises and I can comfortably program a Yamaha DX9). What sample format does it use? (It's own custom format or a standrd format such as PCM wav?). Can a Standard IBM floppy drive read disks created by the FZ1? How much can I expect to pay for one of these samplers?

Thanks in advance :D
~BenA.
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:23 am

I still have my trusty FZ-1 that I've owned for over 16 years now. I use it all the time. It's definitely old in features but it goes great. It samples at 36k rather than 44k, so the quality isn't quite CD (but still completely useable and fine for me!) but I wouldn't call it a lo-fi sampler. Can hold up to 64 samples in 8 banks of sounds. Each bank can have up to 64 splits of samples - so you can have a single sample on each key, or less if you like. Or you can play each of the 64 samples singly, stretched across the whole keyboard. You can also have 64 sample velocity layers on each key, which is great for making realistic drum kits. Good MIDI implementation. sends/receives Velocity + aftertouch, Prog change etc. Digital filters that are over-the-top wicked hehe!! 8-step ADSR for envelope and also for filter. 8-step looping (!!!!). Only 8-note polyphony, but you can work around that unless you want to play classical piano on it. Single mix output plus 8 separate monophonic out jacks you can assign samples to.

I think its easy to use - menu driven. Sample editing on screen visually. I didn't touch the manual for a whole week when I first got it, and then that for was something more complex like crossfading a sample etc.

Synthesis section is lots of fun - the additive sine synthesis is fun to do random sounds with. I once came up with this incredible Hammond B3 sound accidentally and forgot to save it - d'oh!!

Simple standard preset wave section - square, triangle, sine, a few others

Hand drawing is ok but a bit tedious - you use the <> cursors and entry slider to draw, which feels a bit clumsy. Still fun though.

I'm not a keyboard player by trade, so I wouldn't know a good keyboard feel, but it feels smooth, fairly long travel. I use it as my master keyboard for all my synth modules. Feels natural enough. It's a very quiet keyboard, which is good sequencing at 2am in the morning - it doesn't make much mechanical noise (The DX7 my friend used to have would wake the whole house up - click click click click).

The OS is built into ROM, so you don't have to start up with a boot disk before you can use it, like some of the other samplers of its era. Just switch on and start sampling. Saves samples to floppy disk. The factory sample library (140 sample disks) is also available for free on the net to download and sample dump into the FZ (I have a copy if you can't find it via Google).

Sample format is proprietry Casio but you can do sample dump via MIDI port to computer. Once on your computer you can convert the sample to a WAV file, or from a WAV file to Casio format and upload it to the Casio via sample dump with a small freeware program called "Casio FZ File Transfer Utility ":

http://hem3.passagen.se/highpuls/index.htm Its under the HW & SW drop-down menu.

You can use a program called FZ-Dump for dumping via the parallel port on the FZ which is much quicker than MIDI dump, but you have to have a special cable to do it - its not a normal parallel port cable in the wiring. You can DIY a cable here:

http://www.geocities.com/sirmidi/fzsample.html

and here for the program (with included wiring map):

http://www.synthzone.com/midi/casio/fz1/


Also, a good collection of resources, including a free MIDI sample dump software and editor here:

http://hem3.passagen.se/highpuls/index.htm

and

http://www.geocities.com/sirmidi/fztools.html


Yahoo Groups FZ forum:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/casiofz1/

Butchy's FZ site with DIY mods and repair info.

Like all older samplers with floppy drives, the drives eventually wear out. In the FZ, when you put a disk in the drive and load a sample, the sample loads, but when it finishes loading and the drive light goes out, the drive will still spin while not in use, and gradually wear itself and the disk out. Make sure you eject the disk as soon as its loaded and you'll save it lots of wear and tear. Consequently, any FZ you buy may have a dead drive - check it out first before buying. It is not a normal PC floppy drive in its connections, but you can use a normal one if you modify the floppy cable - info about that on the Butchy site. The Butchy site has details on how to DIY:

http://www.buchty.net/casio/fz1-diskdrive.html

The main problem with the FZ (and also the VZ synths) is the cursed LCD dying backlight. They all wear out over a period of a few years. When they are completely dead they begin to interfere with the power supply and cause the machine to glitch at first and corrupt samples, then finally start randomly crashing the machine, and finally totally lock up the machine with a high pitched whistle coming from the screen. The easy solution is to replace the backlight:

http://www.midi-rakete.de/eng/elfolie.htm

Instructions on replacing it here:

http://www.geocities.com/sirmidi/fzdisplay.html

It will still wear out again though. The permanent solution is to pull the backlight out and replace it with an LED backlight - it will last forever then.

Hope that helps. You can pick an FZ up cheap these days, maybe less than $100. The keyboard version is all metal and HEAVY. There is a rack mount version called the FZ-10M, and a later, expanded model called the FZ-20M which also has a SCSI port for dumping samples to a SCSI hard drive. The FZ-1 comes with 1MB of sample ram standard, with a 1MB expansion board available for a total of 2MB. Make sure you pick up one with the expansion, it's much better with the extra memory, and the expansion boards are rare. The FZ10M and FZ20M come standard with 2MB. There is a mod on one of the sites I mentioned to expand it to 4MB!!

Cheers, graham
Last edited by gmeredith on Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
Others: Korg MicroKontrol & ES-1, Alesis MMT8, Emu ESi2000 & CF card reader, Evolution MK461C, BCR2000
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby bendragon » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:20 am

Your one post has given me more information than the entire 8-bit collective forums! Thank-you for all the information and all the links. As long as the sampler doesn't suffer from technical problems relating to the actual computer components then I know a local techie who can fix old synths like this in his sleep (and for cheap). The other day I was thinking of buying a mirage (a local shop has one for £100), if you say the FZ1 goes for around the same price then I'm gonna ring up the shop and tell them I'm no longer interested in the mirage. The weight of the keyboard isn't a problem (apparently 17.5KG), my stand can cope with up-to 27 on the bottom tier so I'll just move my other synths up the stand and dump my DX9 in a wardrobe (I guess I could keep it as a sound module).

Thanks again for all the information! You've been a great help! =D
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:57 pm

You'll love the FZ compared to the mirage. The Mirage does have a certain quaint charm about it, but for productivity, the FZ is better. No cryptic data entries, better sample manipulation etc. The FZ suffers no other flaws than what I mentioned, the "computeronics" are bullet-proof. It's a heavy keyboard but that's not important if its the main keys in your studio setup. You will definitely find one around for less than $100 (£50) but make sure its a local sale because shipping will kill you if its overseas - about $300 from the US :o

Cheers, graham
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
Others: Korg MicroKontrol & ES-1, Alesis MMT8, Emu ESi2000 & CF card reader, Evolution MK461C, BCR2000
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby bendragon » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:48 pm

gmeredith wrote:You'll love the FZ compared to the mirage. The Mirage does have a certain quaint charm about it, but for productivity, the FZ is better. No cryptic data entries, better sample manipulation etc. The FZ suffers no other flaws than what I mentioned, the "computeronics" are bullet-proof. It's a heavy keyboard but that's not important if its the main keys in your studio setup. You will definitely find one around for less than $100 (£50) but make sure its a local sale because shipping will kill you if its overseas - about $300 from the US :o

Cheers, graham


I've got ads on vintage synth, craiglist, 8bilcolelctive and KVR. They all say the same thing "UK mainland only". I don't plan on buying from over-seas for the very reason you said, the postage (also the voltage differences per country).
I'm hoping to find one soon for a good price, the Casio pro equipment from the 80s is getting really popular. I used to trip over CZs, now I can't find any, even on eBay. I'm hoping the FZs don't go the same way (at least until after I get one that is ;] )

Thanks again for all your help :)
~BenA.
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:06 am

I'm a huge fan of the Casio pro gear, too! You should also try snapping up a Casio PG380, 310 or 300 synth guitar before the prices skyrocket (they're already on the move) - I have one and they are a SENSATIONAL professional guitar synth with no latency on the strings or false triggering - extremely fast, kills all the Roland ones. Has a Casio VZ-1 synth soundboard built into it.

http://www.hendrixguitars.com/CasioPG380.htm

Cheers, Graham
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
Others: Korg MicroKontrol & ES-1, Alesis MMT8, Emu ESi2000 & CF card reader, Evolution MK461C, BCR2000
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby bendragon » Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:57 am

gmeredith wrote:I'm a huge fan of the Casio pro gear, too! You should also try snapping up a Casio PG380, 310 or 300 synth guitar before the prices skyrocket (they're already on the move) - I have one and they are a SENSATIONAL professional guitar synth with no latency on the strings or false triggering - extremely fast, kills all the Roland ones. Has a Casio VZ-1 synth soundboard built into it.

http://www.hendrixguitars.com/CasioPG380.htm

Cheers, Graham


I'm strictly keyboardist, I know nothing about guitars :)
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:55 pm

Ahh yes, but these are synths essentially. I can't play guitar either, but I just put my finger on this string here or there and it makes this synth sound hehe!

Cheers, Graham
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
Others: Korg MicroKontrol & ES-1, Alesis MMT8, Emu ESi2000 & CF card reader, Evolution MK461C, BCR2000
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby Stab Frenzy » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:15 am

How did this end up as an announcement? Funny business going on in the VSE servers again...
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby tallowwaters » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:25 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:How did this end up as an announcement? Funny business going on in the VSE servers again...


I did it - lots of good info I feel should be kept from oblivion because 5 idiots per week posting dumbass MPC questions.
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby Stab Frenzy » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:28 am

Ah cool, let's delete these posts then. :pirate:
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby bendragon » Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:10 am

Wha??? I report some idiot advertising crappy manga-sites and all of a sudden my topic becomes an announcement? WTH? XD
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby madtheory » Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:03 pm

Graham, that's a fantastic post. It's a website all on its own!
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:47 am

Just posting this as a reference. There is a thread going on in the General Synths section about talk of a hardware floppy drive emulator for the FZ and other equipment being manufactured that saves the samples to memory stick:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=45592

This would be great for the FZ as you could store hundreds of samples on one memory stick, and no moving parts means no dying FZ drive worries!

Cheers, graham
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
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Re: Casio FZ1

Postby gmeredith » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 am

Anyone looking for the complete official Casio FZ Sample Shareware Collection??
Also, the FZ service manual??

I have them here at my band's website, under the menu buttons:

http://www.warningwillrobinson.com.au/i ... fessor.htm

It's over 100MB of juicy official Casio samples!

Cheers, Graham
Casio: FZ1, CZ101, PG380, VZ10M, SK8, RAP10, DP1 drum kit, DH100, CDP200
Yamaha: TX81z, TX802, SHS10
Roland: SH101, DR660, MS1, PM16, TR33
Others: Korg MicroKontrol & ES-1, Alesis MMT8, Emu ESi2000 & CF card reader, Evolution MK461C, BCR2000
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