Released in 1984, the Casio CZ-101 was one of the first polyphonic, programmable synthesizers to sell for under $500. I bought mine in a New York City electronics store for about $200. You could only play four voices at a time and the it did not have full sized keys, but it did have MIDI included so you could trigger it from any full sized keyboard with MIDI. To cut down on costs Casio did not include a traditional analog type filter, but the CZ series used a new synthesis technique called "phase distortion" to simulate a analog filter
There were eight models of CZ's produced throughout the 80's. The CZ-101, CZ-230S, CZ-1000, CZ-2000S, CZ-2600S, CZ-3000, CZ-5000, and CZ-1. The models with a "s" included built in speakers which were geared towards the home keyboard market. However, the other CZ's quickly caught on with pro musicians looking to add a low cost synth to their rig. These synths were remarkably versatile for the price and were great at producing a wide rage of sounds including basses, electric pianos, strings, synth brass and killer synth sounds.
Casio continued to improve the CZ line with each model and with the release of the CZ-1 in the late 80's they bought features like velocity and aftertouch sensitivity to the keyboard, along with programming parameters to control how the velocity and aftertouch pressure would affect the sound. The CZ-1 also included 61 full sized keys, 8 voices instead of four, built in chorus effect and the ability to spilt the keyboard. All for under $1000. A big breakthrough in what you could by a professional synth for at the time.
Programming the CZ's from the front panel was a real challenge due to the tiny LED display, however if you connected your CZ with your computer your could purchase some of the early editing software that was just staring to become available. I bought a copy of Dr. T's (remember them?) "X-OR" which was the first multi device editor and librarian for the Macintosh, and it made creating patches for the CZ's a whole lot easier. X-OR went on to become MOTU's "Unisyn" which we are still using to create sounds for synthesizers.
Our Casio CZ series patches are available as system exclusive or standard midi files. Sorry, but we no longer offer the sounds on the RAM cartridges as they were discontinued many years ago. Our sounds will also get you back in business if your CZ's synths battery has died and you lost all the sounds in the memory. If your computer has a midi interface or sound card connected to the USB port, you can use that to load in the sounds. We provide the software along with your order that will load in the sounds for you. Midi interfaces are an inexpensive alternative to purchasing CZ RAM cards and we sell them starting at under $100.
If your just getting into synthesizers and on a budget, a used Casio CZ is worth looking into. We also sell used music gear and often have an old CZ in stock at a very reasonable price. We give you a three month warranty on all our used music gear.
If you need any more info on our Casio CZ sounds please contact us via phone or e-mail.