Casio CZ Albums

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Posted on August 26, 2018

I’ve used Casios (CZ synths and other models) in many of my song recordings since I first owned a CZ-3000 way back when. So I’m excited when I find someone making an entire album with just Casio keyboards, especially the CZ.

Satoshi & Makoto are two brothers in Kawasaki, Japan with several albums on Bandcamp made with a CZ-5000. There’s even a vinyl version of one release. Check out their YouTube channel too.

Paris Treantafeles in Queens, NY describes his album Anatolé as a “Greek drama in two acts.” It’s a great showcase of electro sounds and very funky. He used a CZ-1000 with beats provided by his collection of vintage drum machines.

Leo Chadburn is a composer of experimental and ‘avant-pop’ music in London, UK. Hear his album Epigram / Microgram (CZ) which mixes melodic minimalism and noisy effects.

Two long ambient tracks make up the album 1986 by Justin Robert. It’s clear he’s a fan of early Steve Roach, Robert Rich and Brian Eno.

Dream Come True for CZ Synth Owners

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Posted November 18, 2017

For years the Casio CZ synth community (me included) has been wishing for new cartridges to hold extra patches beyond the paltry 16 or 32 on-board slots. Iestyn Lewis has gone beyond a simple cartridge and designed a small device that will make any CZ owner happy. His CZ Patch Loader – CZPL for short – comes with over 2,000 presets and space for 10,000 user-assigned patches. It uses a Micro SD card which can be loaded from a computer (patches must be named using numbers from 0000 – 9999) and accessed using a simple number keypad. The CZPL connects using standard MIDI ports and allows other gear like sequencers and controllers to send MIDI data through to the CZ synth.

Some people may find it a little bit pricey but I think it’s a good deal considering what vintage cartridges go for these days. Check out the CZPL product page which has videos of the CZPL in action.

CZtranger Things

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Posted August 14, 2016

Everyone seems to be swept up in Stranger Things fever. Especially the great retro synth score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. I couldn’t resist making some Casio CZ sounds inspired by the show’s iconic theme song. Appropriately this is our eleventh patch set! (Fans of the show will get the reference.)

Get the CZtranger Things patch set for free and check out the video demo recreating the theme song on a Casio CZ-101.

New Patch Sets and a Sale!

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Posted June 24, 2016

I’m excited to announce 4 new patch sets! One is free and the others are 1/3 off during July and August of 2016 ($10 instead of $15). Note: Sale is over! Join the mailing list to hear about more sales.

The free set RelaCZ has 16 patches based on the song Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Some very distinctive sounds that the CZ handles well.

TranCZistor has 64 patches inspired by Kraftwerk. Many sounds are reminiscent of vintage toy keyboards and 8-bit games. Also included are slow evolving pads, synthetic singing voices and spacey sound effects. Some patches use key release effects to simulate built-in echo or note delays.

Madonna inspired the 64 patches that make up PhyCZical Attraction. Recreating her thick FM-style basses and funky leads was satisfying work. This is also the set to get if you need a variety of pianos, electric pianos, bells and synth brass.

My favorite collection to create so far is CZingles 1984 based on top 40 radio hits from that year. It has a wide range of useful sounds from a variety of styles: pop, dance, electro-funk, new wave and more. Patches were inspired by songs from bands including Banananarama, Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Dead Or Alive, Cyndi Lauper, Giorgio Moroder and others.

Some Shout-Outs

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Posted April 19, 2016

Anyone who owns a Casio CZ synthesizer knows how tedious and confusing it can be to program custom patches. Fortunately there are some alternatives to struggling with the keyboard’s button panel.

My favorite editor for the CZ is Chadwick Wood’s CZ Touch app for iPad and iPhone. It has a simple and intuitive UI that visualizes the various waveforms. Chadwick’s company Coffeeshopped also makes a great editor app called Patch Base for a variety of synth brands and models including the CZ series.

Did you know there’s a software emulation of the Casio CZ? Plugin Boutique reverse-engineered it to make their VirtualCZ plugin. It’s a close recreation that adds a few new features like panning and effects. It also works as an editor and librarian for the hardware synth. I’ve found that patches imported from a physical CZ don’t always sound exactly the same in VirtualCZ but it’s a very good approximation and alternative for people who don’t have access to the real thing.

The Synth Lib site has free patches for a growing list of synthesizers. Browse their library and add your own! They also have a podcast discussing the features and programming of classic synths.

There’s a Facebook group for Casio CZ users. The friendly people there share tips, photos, history and personal stories about using the synth.

Introducing CZounds

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Posted April 15, 2016

Hello! My name is Mike and I’m a long-time fan of the Casio CZ synthesizer. For a long time I’ve looked around for new and interesting patch collections and finally decided to release my own to fill the gap.

Instead of just making random patches I took on the challenge of replicating sounds from bands that influenced me and many others to start making music in the era that the CZ was released. I like to say they’re “inspired by” sounds from those classic songs rather than being pure copies.

CZounds patches come close to the sounds of 1980s synthpop bands that were originally created on more expensive and sophisticated gear, while making the most of the CZ’s quirks and strengths. Check out the audio demos for each set to hear for yourself what the CZ is capable of doing.

I hope you find these patches useful and fun! Let me know if you use them your music, I’d love to hear it. More collections are already in the works. Sign up for the email newsletter to find out about new releases and sales.