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Anderton

Casio XW-P1 Performance Synthesizer

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Well, I was going to record some sounds for you tonight, I really was. As the demos that were already posted gave a good idea of the synth sounds, I thought I’d do some of the pianos and other “normal” presets so you could hear the XW-P1 playing instruments other than massive synth layers and such.


But after doing the update, I decided to check out the Data Editor program. Like the update, it was painless to install and get going. And frankly, I got totally involved with the Data Editor because it really helps you understand the synth’s various architectures (Solo Synth, Hex Layer, PCM, Drawbar Organ, etc.) and their editability.


If you have an XW-P1, I highly recommend downloading the editor before you get too deeply into the synth. Seeing all the parameters laid out in front of you, as opposed to scrolling through the LCD, speeds up the learning curve dramatically. Props to Casio for releasing the editor concurrently with the synth.


To start, I thought I’d see if I could get a convincing cello sound as the preset left me cold, and it’s hard to get a really good cello anyway from most synths. However, the PCM sound edits are relatively limited; the following image shows the edit options for a tone (in this case, using a Nylon Guitar patch). There are also DSP options where you can choose among ten different effects, but don’t expect any kind of pitch envelope, matrix modulation, or fancy stuff—PCM Melody is basically choose a sound, modify attack, filter cutoff, release time, octave transpose, velocity response, and vibrato—and add a little chorus or reverb. In case you wondered, the XW-P1 is not a highly-editable ROMpler.


wCx2n.png


Then I checked out the editability for Hex Layer patches (next picture). This let me get a pretty satisfying cello, as I could animate the sound more with delayed Pitch LFO, and add a slower, very subtle Amp LFO to impart some variations (these are found under the ETC tab). There are also more envelope options. I definitely agree with gneissnfunky about how this architecture really lets the PCM waves come into their own, as you can layer them with synth waveforms and create hybrid sounds—for example, layer a sine wave (or sub-octave sine wave) in the background of piano waveforms, and they acquire a whole other character. This mode is extremely flexible for creating full, layered, interesting sounds.


EhxqJ.png


The Solo Synth mode is where you can really go nuts with the programming. This is what allows for the XW-P1’s exceptionally animated solo lines, basses, and other monophonic synth sounds. Note the separate tabs for Pitch, Filter, and Amp, where you can alter envelopes and LFO control (among other parameters) for each one. There’s also clock triggering, Pulse Width, key following—you get the idea. This is where you can also bring in external inputs, noise, and two PCM waves. Process the whole thing with the T-Filter; this section also has a matrix modulation section for up to eight parameters.


BXhGm.png


So far I’ve stressed Tone editing options, but the Data Editor does a lot more than that. Here’s a screen for Performance editing.


IlsS3.png


The Data Editor can also do transfers, backup, convert WAV files for sending into the XW-P1, set preferences, do “package transfers” (okay, I admit I haven’t figured out this one yet), and a few other things. I’ve been told it also makes a great cup of coffee, but that seems a little far-fetched.


Seriously, this is an extremely useful addition to the XW-P1 and I would consider it essential to making maximum use of the instrument. It reveals the unit’s limitations (e.g., the PCM Melody editing) but more importantly, makes the wealth of advanced features more obvious, easier to use, and encourages tweaking and creating your own sounds because it’s easier to use than doing everything from the front panel.


I should also add that after using the Data Editor, it’s easier to do front panel editing because you have a better idea of the “lay of the land.” So you kind of can’t go wrong either way. And interestingly enough, I was able to use the Data Editor with just a cursory look at the User’s Guide (which is both complete and clear, so I look forward to getting into it further to pick up on more details).

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I wonder what happened to MZ-2000's pcm engine. It was fantastic. I'm surely getting XW-P1, but I'd love to see a bit more expensive Casio too! I hardly even dare to think what Casio can make happen with 1000$. Or 2000$ even.


And thanks for the review.

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I know the board has 100 user slots for monosynth and 50 or so for hex . is this amount exapanded using an SD card? Can i save sounds to the sd and load to one of the user slots for use? hows does saving sounds to an SD work if possible. can i trigger a wav sound that is saved to the sd card via an external source? thats my idea of dodging the inability to sample with this board.facepalm.gif


Also if im using the 16 midi channels for production with an MPC say like this: say channel one is piano and channel 2 is bass . how can i save that arrangement so that when i turn both units off and recall the SONG on the mpc i'm able to turn the Xwp1 on and reload that "SONG" with the appropriate instruments loaded to the channels as i saved them.


(ps. i kno i how midi works. its just on my fantom g i would simply save the song in a song slot. so when i wanted the song recalled i simply loaded the song which consisted only of the instruments on the appropriate channels because the sounds were being triggered by the saved midi data on the mpc!) i didnt notice a song save function so thats where this question stems from. lol i think you get my questionpoke.gif


Woa lol sounds way more in depth than it is!! thanks again!!facepalm.gif

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hey ANDERTON, man i would love to hear a piano from the new presets. how many new ones were added? can you verify if they used the user slots? if so how many?


lol im full of questions but hey im in the right place for that!

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton

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The Data Editor can also do transfers, backup, convert WAV files for sending into the XW-P1, set preferences, do “package transfers” (okay, I admit I haven’t figured out this one yet), and a few other things. I’ve been told it also makes a great cup of coffee, but that seems a little far-fetched.

 

Package Transfers:

I admit I didn't entirely understand this one at first. On the Transfer page of the editor you can download any user data (SoloSynth, HexLayers, Phrases, Sequences) from the instrument to your computer. This is the equivalent of saving each individual object to the SD card but this is significantly faster and easier. From the Transfer page you can then take user objects and move them around...arranging all of your performances in a particular order.


The Package Edit is simply another way to create and arrange a set of objects (Performances, User Tones...etc) all in one single file. Since a User Performance might access a specific Step Sequence or other User Tones, the Package Edit tool can help you keep things organized. It might be an easier way to build your Performances in order the order of the set list rather than handling each of these objects on the Transfer page.


At Casio we've collecting a number of sounds, sequences, phrases from our team that has been using the XW-P1 since NAMM. So I think the Package Editor will be something that we can use to organize these files into a more cohesive manner so we will be able finish them and then to release them to the public.


-Mike Martin

Casio America, Inc.

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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I know the board has 100 user slots for monosynth and 50 or so for hex . is this amount exapanded using an SD card? Can i save sounds to the sd and load to one of the user slots for use? hows does saving sounds to an SD work if possible.

 

You can save and load individual presets for PCM Melody, Performance, Drawbar Organ, Hex Layer, Solo Synth, PCM Drum Tone, DSP, Step Sequence, Step Sequence Chain, Phrase, and Arpeggio. So for example you could import a particular Arpeggio into a particular preset without having to alter the preset. You also save and load All Data. So basically, you can use the SD as a pool of data that you can bring into the synth as desired, overwriting user presets.


The All Data Load process takes about 35 seconds. The button presses needed to get to the All Data load screen from a Tone, Performance, etc. takes about 10 seconds, and the loading process itself takes about 25 seconds. So this is something you wouldn't want to do in the middle of a song, but you can essentially have a new synth setup in 35 seconds. You can think of the SD card as the equivalent of an external hard drive for your computer. I'm using a 4GB card, and that could store enough All Data setups to handle gigs for the next few years smile.gif


 

can i trigger a wav sound that is saved to the sd card via an external source? thats my idea of dodging the inability to sample with this board.

 

You can play back audio from the SD card, but it's a file player - you can't, for example, transfer a bass note to the SD card and then trigger it from different keys as you would with a conventional sampler. (You can also play back Standard MIDI Files.) I'm not that familiar with the XW-G1; it has a sample player (10 Tone with up to five samples in each), but again, I don't think this would be equivalent to a standard sampling keyboard or virtual instrument like Kontakt.


 

Also if im using the 16 midi channels for production with an MPC say like this: say channel one is piano and channel 2 is bass . how can i save that arrangement so that when i turn both units off and recall the SONG on the mpc i'm able to turn the Xwp1 on and reload that "SONG" with the appropriate instruments loaded to the channels as i saved them.

 

I'm not sure how the MPC handles MIDI, but the XW-P1 can respond to program change commands.

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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hey ANDERTON, man i would love to hear a piano from the new presets. how many new ones were added? can you verify if they used the user slots? if so how many?


lol im full of questions but hey im in the right place for that!

 

I'll try to record some later today...no promises, I have to prepare for a seminar in Alaska on Saturday (sadly, I won't be bringing the XW-P1 with me). The piano sounds are factory presets, so they don't use the user presets although of course you can always copy over factory presets to user presets...or edit the factory presets in the Data Editor, then bounce those over to user presets.

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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I know the board has 100 user slots for monosynth and 50 or so for hex . is this amount exapanded using an SD card? Can i save sounds to the sd and load to one of the user slots for use?

 

The SD Card doesn't expand the user memory. The SD Card is a way for you to backup or store any user data that you create.


 

Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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can i trigger a wav sound that is saved to the sd card via an external source? thats my idea of dodging the inability to sample with this board.

 

No, sorry this is not possible. The XW-P1 can play an audio file from the SD card. So if you had audio backing tracks you could put these on the card, play them and simultaneously perform a lead as an example over the top.


 

Also if im using the 16 midi channels for production with an MPC say like this: say channel one is piano and channel 2 is bass . how can i save that arrangement so that when i turn both units off and recall the SONG on the mpc i'm able to turn the Xwp1 on and reload that "SONG" with the appropriate instruments loaded to the channels as i saved them.

 

All of your MIDI assignments are set up in a Performance. So you could have one Performance in which some parts are playing sounds from your MPC and another Performance which relies strictly on the sounds in the XW-P1 or any combination of the two.


-Mike Martin

Casio America, Inc.


PS. Apparently Craig is typing faster than me today. facepalm.gif

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Quote Originally Posted by Casio Man

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I wonder what happened to MZ-2000's pcm engine. It was fantastic. I'm surely getting XW-P1, but I'd love to see a bit more expensive Casio too! I hardly even dare to think what Casio can make happen with 1000$. Or 2000$ even.


And thanks for the review.

 

You're welcome for the review smile.gif I look at it this way: The XW-P1 is inexpensive enough you can get a good ROMpler and then have a synth/ROMpler combination.


Don't get me wrong, the PCM section still has much to offer. Some of the sounds are excellent; the ones that aren't are the ones that usually are the weakest in GM-type synths (mainly solo wind and string instruments - you're not going to find a synth in this price range with Vienna Symphony Library-level violin and viola smile.gif). And as pointed out, you can layer the PCM sounds with the synth waveforms, which achieves its own kind of coolness. So far, I put the PCM sounds into the "But wait - there's more!!" category. The heart of the PW-X1 is flexible synthesis.

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i see so performance would allow me to do this. awesome!! now with the 16 midi channels of the xwp1 can i say have hex layer on one channel, pcm piano on another, monosynth on another and heck, step sequencer on another? whats the limitations here?

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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i see so performance would allow me to do this. awesome!! now with the 16 midi channels of the xwp1 can i say have hex layer on one channel, pcm piano on another, monosynth on another and heck, step sequencer on another? whats the limitations here?

 

Copesland,

It it doesn't quite work that way. The XW-P1 is configured so that MIDI channel 1 can be either a Solo Synth, Hex Layer or Drawbar organ. You can not use more than one of these at a time. That leaves channels 2-16 open for your other PCM sounds.


In a Performance you can configure 4 zones. These generally correspond to MIDI channels 1-4 but that can be changed. As an example:

Zone 1: Solo Synth (used as a bass in the bottom octave)

Zone 2: Acoustic Piano

Zone 3: Synth Pad

Zone 4: Brass (in the top octave).


The Step Sequencer is set up to use MIDI channels 8-16. As mentioned above each track in the Step Sequencer can be either an internal sound or trigger an external MIDI device. By default here is the way the Step Sequencer is configured:


Part DRM1 (MIDI channel 8): Kick Drum

Part DRM2 (MIDI channel 9): Snare

Part DRM3 (MIDI channel 10): Hi-Hat

Part DRM4 (MIDI channel 11): Toms or Percussion

Part DRM5 (MIDI channel 12): Cymbals or Percussion

Part Bass (MIDI channel 13): Bass

Part Sol1 (MIDI Channel 14): Synth Track

Part Sol2 (MIDI Channel 15): Synth Track2

Part CHRD (MIDI Channel 16): Chordal part


Now there aren't any rules, Drum Parts 1-5 can be any sound, they don't have to be drums and again if you'd like to use these parts (tracks) to trigger sounds from your MPC you easily can.


I hope this explanation helps,


Mike Martin

Casio America, Inc.

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Quote Originally Posted by Anderton

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You're welcome for the review smile.gif I look at it this way: The XW-P1 is inexpensive enough you can get a good ROMpler and then have a synth/ROMpler combination.


Don't get me wrong, the PCM section still has much to offer. Some of the sounds are excellent; the ones that aren't are the ones that usually are the weakest in GM-type synths (mainly solo wind and string instruments - you're not going to find a synth in this price range with Vienna Symphony Library-level violin and viola smile.gif). And as pointed out, you can layer the PCM sounds with the synth waveforms, which achieves its own kind of coolness. So far, I put the PCM sounds into the "But wait - there's more!!" category. The heart of the PW-X1 is flexible synthesis.

 

Yeah!!! I didn't mean to complain. I'm in painful gas for it; I both want and need it badly. I'm in a tight spot and I need all of its many features, I couldn't ask for more. Its a miracle for me really. The future models that Mike(I guess) hinted at somewhere is just essence of good dreams, although, even if there was a higher class Casio available, I would still buy this first and the another one later on top(or under) of it.


I suspect that I have tried some of its samples in another instruments and some of them are exellent. The damn thing is only sold out everywhere, and especially sold out in Finland so I couldn't try it anywhere.

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oooooo ok thats great. that sounds like it will do. mine will be here saturday. cant wait!!! thanks mike. you're jonny on the spot with answering. i appreciate the fast response. UNREAL!

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When using the hex layer, can you only layer pcm sounds? and if i'm understanding your answer to my previous question i can assign hex layer to channel one then use step sequencer on channels 8-16 for drums? (crossed fingers) plz say yes!! but say no if its not.

and the step sequencer can provide 8 patterns per performance ( an example of a pattern would be say a fill on one pattern, the main drum beat on another pattern, a varied beat for a bridge maybe on another , and so forth?

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Quote Originally Posted by copesland

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When using the hex layer, can you only layer pcm sounds? and if i'm understanding your answer to my previous question i can assign hex layer to channel one then use step sequencer on channels 8-16 for drums? (crossed fingers) plz say yes!! but say no if its not.

and the step sequencer can provide 8 patterns per performance ( an example of a pattern would be say a fill on one pattern, the main drum beat on another pattern, a varied beat for a bridge maybe on another , and so forth?

 

A Hex Layer Program is a single sound made of up to six layers, these layers are sample based. There are 788 Waveform sets to choose from when building a Hex Layer.


A Performance will recall a single Step Sequence. Each Step Sequence can have 8 patterns, so you're correct.


Although you don't have your XW-P1 yet, you may want to download the editor from Casio's website. The editor will function even if a XW-P1 is not connected to your computer so this may give you a better idea of the architecture of a Performance.

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when i try to change the timbre from solo synth to hex or anyhing else it says communication error... guess i do need the keyboard to use the software. thought i might be able to just scroll through the parameters or what not...

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Let's check out the pianos!


There are two files. The first one is me playing, trying to hit a range of dynamics and note length (so you can hear the sustain characteristics). The sounds are (in order) Stereo Grand Piano, Dance Piano (sort of your basic M1 house patch), Harpischord - I turned up the performance control a bit to increase the treble - Electric Piano, and DX7-type piano.


The second file is a whirlwind tour of all the "acoustic" piano sounds (not all the keyboard sounds, though - more to come!). I called up a phrase so you could also hear an example of a typical phrase along with the various sounds. Basically, each piano sound lasts two measures before moving on to the next one.


You probably won't hear too much difference in the beginning. as some of the pianos have fairly subtle differences - a little bit brighter, more mono than stereo, etc. As the phrases progress, you'll definitely start to notice the range.


I'm planning on take the whirlwind approach - phase and stepping through programs - for several of the audio examples, as I think that gives a good overview of the available sounds without taking forever by tarrying on each one. Let me know if this approach works for you.

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I'm planning on take the whirlwind approach - phase and stepping through programs - for several of the audio examples, as I think that gives a good overview of the available sounds without taking forever by tarrying on each one. Let me know if this approach works for you.

 

Yes! I like that approach, it gives a more consistent approach to appraise the sounds. smile.gif


Mike if you are reading this post, how much of the sound set is derived from the ctk7000 sound set, or are all of the sounds new from scratch?.

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Craig,

Thanks for posting these. If you don't mind I may post another or two. The piano in the XW-P1 is really dynamic. It is a triple strike, meaning that it has three different dynamic levels sampled. One thing you can do in a Hex Layer program is independently access each of those dynamic levels, so you can create a piano sound that just uses the softest layer as an example.


 

Mike if you are reading this post, how much of the sound set is derived from the ctk7000 sound set, or are all of the sounds new from scratch?.

 

I don't know the exact number. If I were to guess I'd say 65% of the raw sample data is the same so but there is a lot of new content. There are waveforms that are accessible in both the Solo Synth and Hex Layer modes that simply don't exist in the CTK-7000. Due to the nature of the way Hex Layers and the Solo Synth function, the XW-P1 can get into some sonic territory that the CTK's simply cant.


-Mike Martin

Casio America, Inc.

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excellent technique used to display each patch. thats a great way to do a "side by side" comparison. the keys are not my favorite section of this board but the pianos yeilded a "better warmer" sound. thanks god this can all be tweaked to my liking correct?

lol i might have to hex layer the darn piano with all sorts of stuff to get that warm yammy hammy(yamaha) piano sound i so love

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I love the upfront nature of business Casio is doing right now for this board. They are answering questions quickly (thanks Mike) and thoroughly. The fact that they are putting all out on the table shows real confidence. Cant wait to see whats next. For now, XW-P1 !!!! Hey Mike, you're the one i see in all the demos and such right?

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Quote Originally Posted by Mike Martin

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Copesland,

It it doesn't quite work that way. The XW-P1 is configured so that MIDI channel 1 can be either a Solo Synth, Hex Layer or Drawbar organ. You can not use more than one of these at a time. That leaves channels 2-16 open for your other PCM sounds.


In a Performance you can configure 4 zones. These generally correspond to MIDI channels 1-4 but that can be changed. As an example:

Zone 1: Solo Synth (used as a bass in the bottom octave)

Zone 2: Acoustic Piano

Zone 3: Synth Pad

Zone 4: Brass (in the top octave).


The Step Sequencer is set up to use MIDI channels 8-16. As mentioned above each track in the Step Sequencer can be either an internal sound or trigger an external MIDI device. By default here is the way the Step Sequencer is configured:


Part DRM1 (MIDI channel 8): Kick Drum

Part DRM2 (MIDI channel 9): Snare

Part DRM3 (MIDI channel 10): Hi-Hat

Part DRM4 (MIDI channel 11): Toms or Percussion

Part DRM5 (MIDI channel 12): Cymbals or Percussion

Part Bass (MIDI channel 13): Bass

Part Sol1 (MIDI Channel 14): Synth Track

Part Sol2 (MIDI Channel 15): Synth Track2

Part CHRD (MIDI Channel 16): Chordal part


Now there aren't any rules, Drum Parts 1-5 can be any sound, they don't have to be drums and again if you'd like to use these parts (tracks) to trigger sounds from your MPC you easily can.

 

Here you use zones 1-4 (midi channels 1-4) and with the step sequencer we used midi channels 8-16. when using the step sequencer are the 8-16 stuck for the step sequencer alone or can i utilize say 8-12 and free the other four channels up for pcm sounds? and what happens to channels 5-7 ?

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So I found the phrase that Craig used for the other piano demos and guess the tempo using the Tap Tempo button. This piano sound was done in the Hex Layer mode using only the softest dynamic level. Since I was in Hex Layer mode, I started adding some other things. I know Craig hasn't gotten to Hex Layers yet but this is one of my favorite parts of the instrument so forgive me for getting carried away.


I've also attached the Hex Layer program I made to create this.


-Mike Martin

Casio America, Inc.

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