« Synthesizer Library Podcast

Episode 008 - Casio CZ

Published: Dec 08, 2015 by Adam Anderson

Casio's CZ pro line of synthesizers from the 80s offered a new approach to synthesis called "phase distortion". We'll take a look at what it means, how it was implemented and its usefulness today.
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Show Notes


Casio CZ synthesizers introduced a new type of synthesis called, “Phase Distortion”. While analog purists won’t be impressed, these digital instruments offer a stepping stone from traditional subtractive synthesis to things like FM synthesis.

Models differ in size and features, however all CZ synthesizers share the same sound engine. Each sound can be made up of one or two “lines”, each of which have:

  • A DCO (digitally controlled oscillator) with one or two waveforms.
  • A DCW (digitally controlled waveshaper—similar to a filter)
  • A DCA (digitally controlled amplifier)

Each of these three blocks has its own dedicated 8-step envelope for powerful control of all aspects of the sound. Beyond that, there’s ring modulation, noise modulation, detune and vibrato.

If you’re looking for something a little different from the same-old subtractive synthesizers at a low price point, give the Casio CZ series a try.