Synth Site: Casio: SK5: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.6 out of 5
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'the no name dj' a professional user from USA writes:
I demoed this unit in Sears in '87. I was 10 and my mother surprised me with it for xmas because i guess she saw how fascinated i was. It was the only thing i played with xmas moring.

I've never used it professionally. I didn't even know i would end up producing hip hop at the time. For some reason i saved it and it's serves as a piece of vintage gear in my studio.

One day I held it up to the tv to sample Prince's Batman song. I played back the sample and immediately recognized what i'd done. It sounded like what all my hip hop heroes were doing--perhaps a testament to the gritty bit rate of the era. It wasn't until about 9 years later that i made a beat with a sample. I had no clue.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-12-2004 at 14:41
Gregger from huntington beach writes:
Well, what can I say, I bought this board from Circuit City in 86' and did as much as one could do w/a Sk-5 for the time. I still have all my old demo's on tape from the time. They are miserable yet entrancing. I couldn't afford a 'real' sampler (I.e) A Mirage or the even more expensive Casio FZ-1 or Akai samplers. Still, it was a ton of fun for it's time. I sampled the shit out of my Depeche albums then. With an envelope for delays and and a reverse function it was a cool keyboard. Up to four samples could be stored in its puny memory but for a 17 year old that was plenty! Presets suck! I've gone thru alot of gear over the years (Tritons, Roland Jupiter's, Etc.) but that stupid little synth is why I still have such a drive to play!

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Sunday-Nov-02-2003 at 21:13
Mark Ramsingh a part-time user from Georgia, USA writes:
Casio SK5

This is a neat little keyboard but it’s outmoded because of the limited bandwidth (perhaps 3kHz-5kHz), data width (probably 4bit), sample length and mini-keys. Considering the bandwidth limitation, it does not sound too crude, but you really cannot use it in any kind of professional setting, unless you are into lo-fi (yes, it does produce aliasing artifacts). It will only make you long for a more modern sampler, but it can be quite a bit of fun for kids and adults – plus, you cant throw around most modern samplers as much as you can this Casio. (Well, some of the newer Yamaha SU’s, maybe…)

The keyboards big selling point is its ability to sample and playback chromatically. It can either sample one long sample (several seconds I think) or four shorter ones. All samples are mono, and there is one sample per patch, no multisampling, or switching. Samples can be taken using the onboard microphone or the 1/4" input jack. The keyboard has a neat little function that auto detects the start of your sample, so you can sample the attack of the sound. It may introduce a slight gating effect from this, but it’s still useful. Once samples are onboard, you can apply various treatments to each sample, such as reverse, loop, and several varied preset envelopes. There are a few preset envelopes that actually use a looped decay to have a nice reverb effect. You can also tune the sample up and down with another little nifty algorithm that plays a test tone and your sample when you hit the up or down tune key until you synch. The samples are automatically mapped to four sample trigger pads, so you can do drum sounds. There are eight trigger pads in all: the other four being hardwired to four ROM percussion tones/effects (bass, snare, high hat and bongo). The reverse function seems to actually reverse the actual sample data internally, so there is a delay when executing the reverse algorithm.

There are several ROM voices: piano, chorus (voice), trumpet, flute, vibe, pipe organ, seashore… and of course, the dog. There are several built in demo songs, which demonstrate that the sound engine is polytimbral. The polyphony of pitched samples (inc. the onboard ROM) is four, but the ROM drums do not steal voices. The downside to the sampling engine, in my opinion, is the primitive sample loop, which loops the whole sample (unlike the SK1, which seems to have capability to loop just the sustain part of a sample). If you want to sample a sound that has attack, and a longer decay, you should use the single (long) sample memory, or else suffer a quick cut-off. You can, however, do a sustained sound (pad etc) which has a simple Key-On/Key Off envelope, and then loop it with pretty good results. The drum beats (ten or more..) aren’t too bad, but lack of variation in drum sounds makes the beats sometimes uninteresting. The bass drum has bass to it, though. You can actually reassign a voice (maybe two) on the demo, so you can substitute for the dog!

The playability is a bit limited because of the mini-keys, which are not velocity sensitive and do not respond to aftertouch (well physically they do, but probably because the plastic flexes). No midi control at all, but someone has published a mod for this I think. There is a primitive sequencer, but I’m not sure if you can record more than one track (memory seems to serve that it may..). I know you can record one track and then play one over it plus drums etc.

I just wish it had a slightly higher sample rate and a little more looping options, but remember it is more of a toy than anything else. It would be fun to have a mod to have a higher sample rate, but at that point you might as well build your own sampler from scratch. I’ll have to open it up sometime and see if I can modify the pre/post filters. All in all, the SK5 is still fun though… Thanks, Mark Ramsingh.

Remember: I’m not downing the keyboard, it actually does quite a bit more than you’d think/for the price you can probably get one for. I’ll rate it 5/5 only if you get it practically free because there are never nicer keyboards that would do better than this for not much more. Its designers probably have one or two of them at home that they will proudly show their grand-kids. I would..

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-29-2003 at 15:30
jack johnson a hobbyist user from america writes:
Very cool...even the onboard beats are useful. Useful for any kind of can come up with very intricate and beautiful vocal harmonies by sampling your voice. then just relearn the parts and suddenly you're brian wilson! The possibilites for this thing are endless. I'm selling mine by the way, it'll be gone within a week though.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Dec-29-2002 at 19:22
MattmaN a hobbyist user from usa writes:
I've had this thing since I was 12,and used to make super lo-fi beats with it as a teen,and now realize its potential as a kick,and snare machine. You can sample through the 1/4 inch jack on the side,but I like holding it up to my stereo speaker to get a lil' more brightness into it. Then run it though a mixer,send it to tape,and then a good sampler. It's got lots of character for Kicks,and snares. In an sp12 kinda way if you process it right. Hi hats dont sound very good though. It can be usefull for other samples though,like piano.Makes piano sound rugged,and raw. I see it as a good way to beef up hiphop,and drumm'n bass tracks.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Feb-04-2002 at 15:47
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