Sonic LAB Review: Casio XW-P1 Performance Synth

It has the HEX and Solo Synth - what else?      20/06/12

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12:46 mins    

Who’d a thunk it? A new synth from Casio after years without - for more than twenty years it's been a diet of arranger keyboards and pianos from them. But now we have the XW-P1 which incorporates some of their current technology knowhow, but also has a bit of Virtual Analog to offer too.

 


Structure
The XW-P1 has a  complex structure - to begin with there’s the regular PCM voices (pianos, strings, basses, drums and the like) - multi-sampled and synthesis with some basic editing - envelopes, and simple filtering, then we get the HEX layer - this consists of up to six PCM voices. layered, split or switched into a single larger patch, again with simple editing and effects, then there’s the Organ mode - a dedicated 8 drawbar organ voice, with Leslie effect, 2nd and 3rd percussion harmonics, and vibrato.
 
Then there’s the Solo Synth Voice - this is a monophonic VA voice with 6 sound sources - 2 Synth wave voices - with x modeled waves, 2 PCM oscillators with 2159 waves, add to that a noise source and an external input source taken from the mic or line input. This voice also gets a multi-mode resonant filter - which actually does break up a bit and gets some dirty, driven sounds.

All of these can be stored within a Performance which contains four zones - split/layer. There is also a sequencer element - this is a 16-step, 8 pattern affair with 13 tracks: 8 mono, one chord track and four controller tacks. It is possible with a bit of button pushing to enter in semi-real time which makes it a lot easier than incrementing note values via the data entry or faders, but honestly my patience with step sequencers was ended when computers were introduced. However, for the diligent, you can get some very good results, especially when combined with the arpeggiator.

Additionally, there’s a phrase recorder which can record up to 1600 notes, be sync’ed,  looped and also re-triggered and transposed to the current note on the keyboard.

In Use
I think when it comes to the PCM sounds, they aren’t going to set the world on fire and aren't up to the standard of say the slightly more expensive Roland Juno Di, but are OK. The organ voice has some nice control options and is playable thanks to the slider controls. These controls add a number of ways to manipulate the voices - mostly the mix of elements (or drawbars for Organ) and a couple of effect parameters. Additionally there’s four assignable control knobs , which offer more real-time control of any voices.


Who’s It For?
Practically speaking the XW-P1 is not aimed at the expert synthesizer owner, it's got a load of solid features, but it's sounds are probably not going to adorn the latest crop of cutting edge R&B productions. Having said that there are a few reasonable drum sounds in there, but what it does offer is very good value for features, with plenty to keep the beginner or slightly more experienced user busy. For the bedroom producer who needs extra voices and control, or perhaps the live musician who’d like to advance from a more basic keyboard, the Casio XW-P1 is worth a trial and may have precisely the features you require.

Available now:
Price: £449, $699 €549 - cheaper on the street
 

 

 

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25 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Salvation    Said...

Nick , once agin you show how bias you are, against Roland's new Jupiter . You basically trashed the Roland Rep and the new powerful JP-50 in your video review but here you actually praise this Casio POS , com on man ,get for real . Bottom line Nick , you where wrong to attack the JP-50 the way you did . You are responsible for misleading so many people to think the JP-50 is a bad synth which is so not true . Check it out for yourself here ---> http://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-electronic-music-production/731990-roland-jupiter-50-under-fire-wow.html

and then to make matters worst you cut the most important part short, the Roland Rep's musical demonstration , you know the part where we actually get to hear how it sounds instead of hearing all your negative comments . . You really need to apologies and show the rest of the video .

20-Jun-12 12:50 PM


Salvation    Said...

Nick , once agin you show how bias you are, against Roland's new Jupiter . You basically trashed the Roland Rep and the new powerful JP-50 in your video review but here you actually praise this Casio POS , com on man ,get for real . Bottom line Nick , you where wrong to attack the JP-50 the way you did . You are responsible for misleading so many people to think the JP-50 is a bad synth which is so not true . Check it out for yourself here Link --->

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-electronic-music-production/731990-roland-jupiter-50-under-fire-wow.html

and then to make matters worst you cut the most important part short, the Roland Rep's musical demonstration , you know the part where we actually get to hear how it sounds instead of hearing all your negative comments . . You really need to apologies and show the rest of the video .

20-Jun-12 12:52 PM


Brian from USA    Said...

Nice review, Nick. The pitch tracking of the ext input was a big surprise.

Salvation, get a life.

20-Jun-12 01:40 PM


AZ    Said...

@Salvation - stop being so butthurt.

20-Jun-12 03:11 PM


Nick B    Said...

Salvation, of course you are entitled to your opinion, but I dont see what this has to do with Roland's Jupiter - this costs about a quarter or less, has a different feature set and is aimed at different people, the Jupiter is in a totally different league - I agree its a great sounding keyboard. And yes, I saw that thread and posted to it.

20-Jun-12 03:15 PM


Brian K. from the USA.    Said...

Interesting review but I think you missed the point and it doesn't appear that you pressed the EDIT button. For beginners only? You're nuts. It's not a V-Synth or a Yamaha FS1R what are do you comparing this against? Seriously I think Salvation has a point in regards to you JP50 review...you kept asking if there was any "real" synthesis going on when he's demonstrating some pretty remarkable acoustic emulations. But back to the the XW...

The Solo Synth in the XW-P1 is worth the price alone. It has 5 internal oscillators, plus an external input. Run it in parallel with Animoog, Alchemy or your other favorite iPad app (turn on Pitch tracking) this thing is freakin unbelievable. What other mono synth are you comparing this thing to? You're not. You're just hung up because some of the samples aren't as good as more expensive products.

As for the step sequencer...again worth $500 if that is all it did. Complicated...yeah a little at first but dig in you'll realize how amazing it is. Did you mention that the Step Sequencer, or the Phrase Sequencer or the Arpeggiator can drive external MIDI devices.

Is it perfect, no....but Casio has come up with something that is unique in the market while other companies just grind out more of the same old thing. How you can you compare it to a boring Juno Di?

20-Jun-12 10:52 PM


Benedict J.    Said...

So much synthesis for a mere £500! Shame it has to look like a Casio! Maybe they'll employ Axel Hartmann for their follow up?

(Salvation, I read your link and no one agrees with you)

20-Jun-12 11:09 PM


Kerzwhile    Said...

Yeah, this "salvation" schmuck is way off base! Right..... On topic.. This Casio thing has me perplexed! How can a corporation pour these Many Possibilities at sound creation and manipulation into a $500 box? Is this a stored up technological Orgasm? Or possibly a clue of what's to come? Either way. This is hands down the best thing on the market for the money, and double! The XW WILL tear the heads off of the M50 and the Juno Di and even the Juno GI!! This is Deff a case where you do NOT get what you pay for! Those that can hear know this fact! Right On Casio! And welcome back! ...... Back with attitude and long deserved respect!! So, what's Next?? :p

20-Jun-12 11:51 PM


Salvation    Said...

I don't need people to agree with me, you do and you guys probably never stood up for anything that went against the majority , you know what that makes you , a follower . Ok I get it now it's amateur night , I'm outta here Peace .

21-Jun-12 03:12 AM


Salvation    Said...

All your ignorant words go back to you 100 time .

@Benedict J. "Think Different " Steve Jobs

21-Jun-12 03:22 AM


Blue Monster 65    Said...

Thanks for the review, Nick! I'm now more interested in checking one of these out, if just to have at home for mucking about on.

21-Jun-12 11:31 AM


Blue Monster 65    Said...

OT: Perhaps the comments that are not on topic could be deleted (this one included)? There's a time and place, gentlemen and most of what's posted is irrelevant to the review at hand. Thanks.

21-Jun-12 11:32 AM


The Guvnor    Said...

I love that external input pitch tacking feature (if it actually works).

Why can't Casio get someone to design a cool case for the thing. It looks horrible.

22-Jun-12 12:26 AM


CasioTone    Said...

Hey -- why didn't anyone try to show us how that rad mouse pad thing works up on the right-hand side of the top panel? I'm pretty sure that this keyboard might be a good substitute for a Novation keyboard. Well... maybe not...

23-Jun-12 12:35 AM


Blue Monster 65    Said...

The "mouse pad" is a rubberized area to set your iPad (etc) on.

Spent an hour on one yesterday - loads of fun! The kids are getting one for Christmas.

Sort of OT, but in line with comments above, I had a very interesting conversation with my former Roland reps and I can say without getting anyone in trouble that we all should keep an eye on developments for the JP80 and JP50 ... they'll make us all a whole lot happier very soon ... except for me, 'cause no one at Roland will speak to me ever again after reading this ...

24-Jun-12 03:11 PM


The Guvnor    Said...

So its effectively a Casio PCM preset keyboard (with some layering) and a monosynth? Not exactly the revolution that Casio were touting...

25-Jun-12 11:19 PM


Peter K.    Said...

About the Casio...

First off, good review Nick!

I love my vintage CZ-1, but if I had a choice, I'd much rather roll to a gig with the XW, from a functionality and versatility standpoint. However, from having tried one in a store for a while, I came away feeling like The Guvnor. In the end, I'd rather use higher end gear for what the new Casios are aimed at, and keep my CZ-1 for what it's GREAT at.

29-Jun-12 06:42 PM


Peter K.    Said...

Having said all that, I think as a beginner synth, it's a great keyboard. For young people just getting into their first band in high school or whatever, it's decent, and great value for money.

I feel compelled to weigh in on the JP-50 stuff that has come up here.

I think Nick was very pointed and demanding of the product specialist, but wasn't rude or biased. They are the kinds of questions that I myself would ask when I check out gear. I'm grateful that Nick isn't afraid to ask demanding and important questions, rather than bowing to corporations.

29-Jun-12 06:48 PM


EMWhite    Said...

Great review Nick. You clearly did your homework on this one, great demo of all that this has.

I had a Radias until recently, sold it as I wasn't even scratching the surface of the capabilities but I think that baring vocoder, this Casio actually one-ups the Korg. Hard to speak to sound quality but if it were a choice between this or a Gaia, it would be an easy choice.

After a 20 year lay-off I'd be interested to see if they sell many.

I remember well when I was 18, my friend's dad was a rep and did NAMM shows and the like for Casio. He gave me a CZ101, what a gem, clearly the pinnacle of the home keyboard market that Casio helped foster. I wish the luck. The price seems right.

01-Jul-12 11:25 PM


gaz    Said...

As always, really enjoyed your review despite having no interest in this keyboard. I don't think it sounds special, doesn't offer anthing new. I've seen one in the store, it was very cheaply built and ugly. Still found your review very entertaining though!

11-Jul-12 03:00 PM


Nick B    Said...

I agree, it doesn break the mold for synthesis, though the Solo voice aint too bad. The PCM sounds are perhaps the least strong sound area, but I did also use this in the recent UAD Apollo review as a sound source, and it scrubbed up well once process with some high class plug-ins

16-Jul-12 05:30 PM


Herbert-Herbert    Said...

i played one at guitar center and i have to say, 600 bucks? that is rediculous. it really is fun and it sounds Great. I think the roland JP-50 is ok but lets consider the PRICE DIFFERENCE HERE. the casio is ONE QUARTER the price and it really holds its own. the JP is a great synth...for that matter MOST synths out today are pretty amazing considering where i came from in the 80s when Digital synths were the rage and analog synths were going for Nickels on the secondhand market. and the digital synths of the 80s and the 90s were in retrospect BLAND AND STERILE AND OVERALL HORRIBLE. I own a Kronos and it kills the Casio but again....THE PRICE DIFFERENCE makes you pause.....I LOVE NICK....forgive me but does anyone else agree that he is one sexy Brit? maybe its just me

16-Dec-12 07:57 AM


kevin    Said...

Lots of confused people out there. For the same price you can get a 18 yo used Nord VA and you'll pee your pants at the sonic difference.

12-Mar-13 02:27 PM


Dwayne    Said...

Well i think Casio has a hit on this XW-P1 even though we have keyboards hitting the ceiling in price and cost that end up thriving in street prices. It's really good to see this happening as many musicians can't even afford to have a taste of these features the Casio has, Not trashing the competition with Korg, Roland, Yamaha, but Casio really did a good job here and i wouldn't be surprised this little rompler shows up on stage with the name covered up as many musicians do ..

14-May-13 03:02 PM


Louis    Said...

Hi I am thinking to buy a new synth a I am looking for a Roland Juno Gi, but I really like this new Casio. Could you tell me a quick comparison, and may be an advise for my choice?

13-Dec-13 11:41 AM


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