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Anderton

Casio XW-P1 Performance Synthesizer

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton

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As a piano player, what do you think of the piano sounds? I'd be interested in your take.

 

Hahaha, you know I've had this synth for almost a month and have yet to explore the piano sounds - having way to much fun with the other features - way to take me off guard facepalm.gif. However after your post I put my headphones on and played a few of my favorite piano tunes on the XW-P1. Let me start by saying I have a Privia, an older basic model one (PX-110), and am consistently blow away by the piano sound from that instrument - my neighbor has a parlor grand piano and I can honestly say the Privia sound is insanely realistic (note, I am not claiming to have a gift for analyzing the true sound and timbre of an instrument, just giving my opinion). So, back to what I think of the piano sounds, well, lets just say I'm gonna keep the Privia as my bottom tier. It seems to lack the "meat" I get from the Privia and a real piano, maybe what I'm trying to say is it's "light on fullness"? Personally, the individual PCM sounds were not the reason I bought this synth and the piano sounds are not a complete wash for me because I would easily use them as a layer for a hex sound, which is really how I've been using the PCMs. Personally, I feel a little bad having said all this hoping this won't deter anyone from buying this instrument because this has been the most fun I've had with my clothes on in quite some time. Been getting some real nice compliments on my beats and sounds and the best part is that it all happens in front of their eyes - no hours of prep in front of a DAW. Lastly, what's really cool is usually at one point in a jam my own jaw drops and I stand there in disbelief at the complexity, depth, and awesomeness of the sound - this synth consistently amazes me!

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I agree the PW-X1 is more about synthesis than being a "ROMpler." But like you, I don't want to give the wrong idea. I really do like the electric pianos, the choir sounds, some of the brass, etc. As to acoustic pianos, if I want a really good piano sound I avoid hardware synths and depend on virtual instruments that eat up Gigabytes of memory (e.g., like Synthogy and some of the Native Instrument pianos for Kontakt). That said, though, I think that in a live performance situation the PW-X1 acoustic piano sounds would more than do the job.

Also I see you've found that the hex layering is what makes the PW-X1 stand out thumb.gif. If you're into layering PCM sounds with the synthesized waveforms, I think you're well on your way to getting the most out of this synth.

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Quote Originally Posted by deanmass View Post
I would be interested in seeing your solar power rig!
No worries deanmass, what I will do is post a new thread on 'Craig Anderton's Sound, Studio, and Stage' , of what I am currently running, with a few photos of the setup (minus the XW-P1 for the moment) that I have been using for about four years now.
It might take me a couple of days to get it together, so keep your eye out. smile.gif

Also, bear in mind that like M-Audio's Venom, the XW-P1 is right up my alley in terms of music-making. I like step sequencers, huge layered sounds, a simple but deep operating system, and the like.
Same here, that is one of the many main reasons why I want to get the XW-P1, so along with the ctk7000, Zoom-R8/Condenser Mic/Guitar, Netbook/Software/VSTi plugins, I can have an incredible variety of music creation possibilities at an incredible price and also run this all on my puny solar system.

Sorry for sidetracking this thread a little Craig, this will be my last words (unless I have a direct question about the unit), and I cant wait until you post some of the audio sonic capabilities of the XW-P1. smile.gif

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Quote Originally Posted by electrochrisso View Post
Sorry for sidetracking this thread a little Craig, this will be my last words (unless I have a direct question about the unit), and I cant wait until you post some of the audio sonic capabilities of the XW-P1. smile.gif
Not a sidetrack at all!!! I never would have thought to mention the XW-P1's suitability as the centerpiece of a solar-powered studio, but I think that's a pretty bright (get it? "bright"?) idea.

I'll see if I have six D cells somewhere so I can verify Casio's spec of 425mA current drain when using the AC adapter. They also spec a battery life of about 35 hours with alkaline batteries, so under half an amp seems about right.

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Well, I found six D cells. The current drain varies between about 240 and 260mA, which is really very good. I tried to do worst-case by turning on all the step sequencer LEDs and such, but it never hit more than 260mA. So, it seems the XW-P1 would be eminently suitable for solar power.

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton View Post
Not a sidetrack at all!!! I never would have thought to mention the XW-P1's suitability as the centerpiece of a solar-powered studio, but I think that's a pretty bright (get it? "bright"?) idea.

I'll see if I have six D cells somewhere so I can verify Casio's spec of 425mA current drain. They also spec a battery life of about 35 hours with alkaline batteries, so under half an amp seems about right.
Yes I believe solar power has a bright future, and I am really surprised at how little audio noise the ctk7000, Zoom R8 and Acer Netbook, through a reasonable price/quality square wave inverter is produced. and if I hook up an earth, I cant notice any buzzing at all. Must be the way they make the power supplies these days, it was a real problem in the past, I am pretty sure the XW-P1 will produce similar results, fingers crossed (not that it will matter with the incredible battery life and rechargeable D cells).

I was really surprised with the 35 hour battery life for the XW-P1, this will be handy and be the centerpiece of the recording process, as battery life is a big consideration for me too because when I overlay the guitar tracks, I will need to use batteries, unfortunately this is one noise problem I will not be able to get rid of because the pick-ups act like an antennae and the inverters switch-mode is like a transmitter, even if placed at some distance (surprisingly the condenser mic is clean though), I think even an expensive sine-wave inverter would be a problem for the guitar also.

Well, I found six D cells. The current drain varies between about 240 and 260mA, which is really very good. I tried to do worst-case by turning on all the step sequencer LEDs and such, but it never hit more than 260mA. So, it seems the XW-P1 would be eminently suitable for solar power.
Hey! that is amazing, each one of the led lights that I use for lighting consume about 200mA, I say with engineers in this world, like they have at Casio, this world can go solar, sooner rather than later, no problems at all. wink.gif

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Craig. I'm a guitar player and really into using Ableton, iPad and other electronic gizmos with it. I love guitars that sound like space ships, so I bought an XW-P1 last week and am anxious to figure out how to work it into my digital guitar rig.

With the audio inputs and rubber pad it seems so aimed at iPad users (or should I say "tablet computer users" since thats the generic phrase all the Casio guys used at NAMM) so I bought it to experiment with. Any advice you can offer on that aspect would be greatly appreciated.

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The XW-P1 comes with three demo songs, so here they are. These are generated in real time from the instrument, they're not WAV files being played from an SD card. The output is unmastered and unprocessed (other than being converted to 192kbps MP3 format); this is from the stereo outs directly into an interface recording into Sonar X1.

Interestingly, when I looked at the waveform where nothing was playing, it seems the noise floor is around -81dB unweighted. That's very good. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to check the A-weighted noise figure right now, but of course, it would take the noise level down even further.


And now, the demo files.

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Quote Originally Posted by tracyevans View Post
Craig. I'm a guitar player and really into using Ableton, iPad and other electronic gizmos with it. I love guitars that sound like space ships, so I bought an XW-P1 last week and am anxious to figure out how to work it into my digital guitar rig.

With the audio inputs and rubber pad it seems so aimed at iPad users (or should I say "tablet computer users" since thats the generic phrase all the Casio guys used at NAMM) so I bought it to experiment with. Any advice you can offer on that aspect would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone who's into AdrenaLinn, Ableton Live, guitars, and synths is okay in my book...we aren't related, are we? icon_lol.gif

I'll be covering the processing angle, but it will be a little while as there's much to explore in terms of the synth's architecture, step sequencing, and effects. But stay tuned...we'll get there!

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton View Post
Anyone who's into AdrenaLinn, Ableton Live, guitars, and synths is okay
Thanks Craig. I just found your thread on AdrenaLinn. I didn't realize that wrote the book on it ... literally. I have some questions for ya, but I won't hijack this thread to ask them.

Anxiously staying tuned for more on the XW-P1. Will you be talking about the XW-G1 at all? I briefly considered it, but at the last minute chose Hex Layers over Sampling.

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Quote Originally Posted by tracyevans

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Anxiously staying tuned for more on the XW-P1. Will you be talking about the XW-G1 at all? I briefly considered it, but at the last minute chose Hex Layers over Sampling.

 

I don't think it's out yet, and it's not planned to be a part of this review...but we'll see.

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton View Post
I don't think it's out yet, and it's not planned to be a part of this review...but we'll see.
Craig,
XW-G1's shipped in very limited quantities this month. We have more shipping out in May.

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.

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Quote Originally Posted by Mike Martin

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Mike Martin - Casio America, Inc.

 

Mike, your
not only sold me on the XW-P1, but also greatly helped me get up-to-speed on some of the features. Do you have any plans for doing any tutorial or tips-and-tricks videos.

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Quote Originally Posted by tracyevans View Post
Mike, your
not only sold me on the XW-P1, but also greatly helped me get up-to-speed on some of the features. Do you have any plans for doing any tutorial or tips-and-tricks videos.
Thank you, that's very kind of you to say.

I'm literally in the process of editing some video today. We're doing a series of "How to" videos. This first one (that I hope will be up in a day or two) is a "Basic Navigation" tour. It covers the basics of getting around Performance and Tone mode, selecting sounds along with a few shortcuts. We'll be doing other videos on each of the major sections: The Solo Synth, Hex Layers, Phrase Sequencer, Arpeggiator, Step Sequencer and finally putting all of these things together in a Performance. Eventually I hope to have some tutorials up on using the XW with other devices such as an iPad and processing audio through the external input.

We're also working with some people outside of Casio on tutorial sites such as this - http://xwsynth.wordpress.com/

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.

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Quote Originally Posted by Mike Martin

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I'm literally in the process of editing some video today...

 

Thanks Mike. Great news! I wish more manufacturers would make these types of efforts. Looking forward to the upcoming vids, and I will keep an eye on http://xwsynth.wordpress.com. That blog is how I found this review thread.

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Bought me an XW-P1 on Friday (GC Manhattan) and having a lot of fun with it so far. I'm sure I have a long way to go before I master this synth and I appreciate everyone's involvement here, I'm very much looking forward to the continuation of Craig's review and Mike's 'how-to' videos... all great stuff guys, thank you very much!

I have been involved with synths for 30 years and have owned literally hundreds of analog and digital synths, organs and electric pianos... I currently have a basement full of keyboards and I have to say that I'm please to add this board to the mix. Unlike others, I'm not concerned about the cost or the quality, I get this is a 500 buck synth so I expect the fit and fixtures to fit into that price point, I'm not expecting this unit to be a metal knob laden, SSD driven, 30KG workstation for that price, what I am looking for is some unique character and I think the XW has that... or will have that just as soon as I either tweak the sounds or Casio come up with additional patches (in fact, with the likes of Venom and other recent 500 buck synths, I think manufacturers have now understood that even VAs need to have a unique quality... not all of them have to emulate vintage analog architecture!).

The reason why I say the XW will have character is because, as with a lot of synths, I don't think the built in presets really show off the true nature of this synth and to my ears anyway... If you go into the HEX layer and start to adjust the sliders... it doesn't take much to convert the "rather tame" presets into something a bit more ballsy. I wonder if the 50 built-in presets do the synth "music shop" justice? (can these 50 internal presets be upgraded via firmware?).

I notice that there is a new data editor and will be trying that out this week and I also noticed that the data editor has a rudimentary 'performance' editor page... this excites me because although this is mainly a synth unit, I could quite easily take this synth out with my NY retro funk band and program up the various multi sound, multi layout song patches... which all have at least 4 sounds across the keyboard... looks like this could do it and be a third of the weight of the current board I'm using (Alesis Fusion 6HD)... but what I would really like to see... given that there's that beautiful space for my iPad, is a dedicated Casio XW-P1 IOS app controller!

An app that would have several pages/screens allowing the user to program PERFORMANCES for live playing which actually showed the keys and allowed you to drag to set lower and upper ranges, set presets to be used, volume levels, pans etc. A SET LIST page that would allow you to add your PERFORMANCE patches to your setlist and control the sound changes from one large screen (like on the Kronos and now the Jupiter-80). A SOLO/TONE EDIT screen that had all the controls to edit and save a single preset, either in SOLO mode or TONE mode and obviously the same for the HEX layer... some form of sequencer page, something that you could use to create sequences and also manage them and lastly a big slider page that you could assign to any parameter and use live.

Come on Mike... tell us this is in the works (and if not, anyone here want to help me do this?).

Mal

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Hi Mal,
Welcome to the forum and thanks for purchasing the XW-P1!

Quote Originally Posted by mee3d View Post
I wonder if the 50 built-in presets do the synth "music shop" justice? (can these 50 internal presets be upgraded via firmware?).
In theory yes the presets could be changed with new firmware. Will it happen, I'm not so sure. Now that the unit is shipping I think the staff in Tokyo would be hesitant to change the factory presets. Just imagine if you created a song only to find that after updating your software that all of the presets were different. We're working on a lot of sounds for the XW-P1 and there are plenty of user locations for loading new sounds. Stay tuned.

In regards to iPad apps, there are some great apps out there such as TouchOSC and MIDI Designer (among others) that could be used as control surfaces for the XW-P1. There aren't templates for these apps yet but I purchased them to check out the potential. smile.gif

-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.

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I'm happy to announce that Mike Martin, and DigiTechRep from DigiTech, will be teaching courses on "how to do pro reviews" at NYU starting in the fall.

Okay, I'm kidding. But seriously, Mike's contributions are very welcome and I'm surprised he has found the time to give this thread the attention it deserves.

He's also nicer with trolls than I am, so I might take his course as well smile.gif

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A few technical difficulties like the noisy air conditioner at the office and some lighting problems, but this is the first of several of these.



-Mike Martin
Casio America, Inc.

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Thanks Mike... OK, I get your point, I just wished I could tweak a preset and then save it back into it's own slot, so I didn't have to take up another user slot (I don't think 50 user spaces is that much to be honest). I'm going to have a go at creating some iPad templates too... perhaps we should have an upload area for such things on the blog? I haven't checked yet but does the appendices come with a list of the MIDI CCs?

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Can the step sequencer control external parts? i have an MPC 4000. could trigger the sounds from my mpc with the step sequencer? that'd be awesome!!!

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland View Post
Can the step sequencer control external parts? i have an MPC 4000. could trigger the sounds from my mpc with the step sequencer? that'd be awesome!!!
Yes. Each track can be internal, external or both. USB and MIDI outs can even be addressed independently.

-Mike Martin
Casio America, inc.

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I was wondering that myself, so thanks for the answer.

Meanwhile, there's a 1.10 update for the XW-P1 and I think it's an important element of a pro review to mention whether the instructions are clear or not, and the effort involved in doing the update.

Well, high marks to Casio for this one. First off, the instructions are crystal-clear. To do the update itself, you download a file, power up the XW-P1 in update mode, hook a USB cable between the XW-P1 and your computer (you don't need to have installed any prior MIDI/USB driver or anything), and run the executable update program.

The XW-P1 and the computer give you a reassuring progress display so you don't get nervous when it seems to be taking a while (it takes about six minutes to do the update). It tells you when it's erasing data, and when it's writing data. And then it's done, the update executable quits, and the instrument re-starts.

Painless.

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