MZ-2000 - Casio's folly?

Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/15/00 07:21 AM

After looking at the spec sheet:

I started wondering if Casio was trying to compete against the high end PSR series.

Has anyone heard / played the MZ-2000?
Is it something to desire or denigrate?
Posted by: DannyUK

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/15/00 12:39 PM


i asked the same question a few months ago and it was written off by several people here as a keyboard that has good features but without the sounds/styles to match. aparently they are pretty average and in its price range the PSR740 blows it away in every category.

I also said it looked like a Yamaha clone as well, I thought it was a Yamaha product before I saw who it was made by !! but because of the bad reviews, i didnt even bother investigating it at my local dealers.

one for the scrap book i think...

Posted by: Ilija Petkovski

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/16/00 05:14 AM

Sorry but always follow your OWN opinion and go and listen to the Casio yourself. You should listen to people on this forum, but it is NOT a reason not to hear a machine with your OWN ears!!! That is in fact "not smart" .

The Casio is a BIG machine for a SMALL price.

Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/16/00 01:12 PM

I agree that one must trust one's own ears & eyes. The problem is that no local dealers carry the model MZ-2000.
The web site demo was interesting - and I couldn't really judge the sounds as they were downloaded and played through my computer sound system. I was curious about "Zygotech Polynominal Interpolation". I couldn't find any reference to it on the 'net.
I have read some glowing reviews written by UK owners, and it may be a winner. Who knows? The next "got to have" may be a Y2K Casio.
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/17/00 08:39 AM

After A/B testing downloaded sounds of a Yamaha PSR-740 versus the Casio MZ-2000, the winner is PSR-740.

Though the sounds of the Casio MZ were better than the usual Casio bleeps, it is evident that the overall sound reminds one of a heavily compressed Muzak track or "easy listening FM radio".

There wasn't any dynamic punch to the Casio music. The Casio "electric guitar" sample was almost impressive, with the trick bends and cliches. But after listening to the Yamaha, it was apparent that the Casio was not in the same league.

Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/23/00 12:26 PM

I went back and did another set of A/B comparisons of the Casio MZ-2000 versus other MP3 demoes.
I ran it against PSR-740, Kurzweil, GEM Equinox, and Darkstar.

After listening to the demoes at length, I have to re-evaluate my original conclusion.

First, many of the contrasting demoes were plain sounds, or amateur compositions. The Casio Demo was very polished and well arranged, almost too good. The first impression was that of a FM radio broadcast, and not of a home synth - which isn't bad, is it? Second, the well mixed signals may have been compressed before making the sound files. A live test must be made before making a decision. Third, the Casio Piano, though not as varied as other, more expensive units, was not bad - and in a live situation, it may be more than adequate for cutting through a mix. Fourth, the emulation of "real instruments" was not perfect, but it's not a Synclavier we're looking at.
Fifth, the drawbar organ wasn't bad at all, but didn't have the "noisy" embellishments that other synths produced - however that might be user selectable. The "rotating speaker" effect was persuasive. Sixth, after listening to the drum sounds, I noticed that the drum rolls didn't sound mechanical or phony - quite a feat. Seventh, the "Lead Guitar" demo had some pleasant surprises, not the least, pick noise, feedback squeals and dramatic pitch shifts ala whammy bar.

I would recommend the MZ-2000 if it was released far below the $1,799.99 list price.
It may not be able to compete with the "big boys" -but- if Casio can get below $899 street price, it would be a great deal - better than the PSR-740. It would be even better if the board had 76 keys.

zZounds is offering the MZ-2000 @ $1,079 (-40%).
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/23/00 02:38 PM

I looked at the Casio MZ-2000 today. I did not particularly care for the sound through the speakers. However, the features were impressive. Eight or nine sliders, pitch and mod wheels, aftertouch, jacks for two pedals and two foot switches. More style and sound categories than Yamaha, but no bank switching (as required by Roland and Korg). Graphic sound editing. The display controls are just like on a Yamaha PSR-9k. Not only is there autoaccompaniment, but there is also an arpeggiator. I am not tempted to buy one, but I do wish in some ways that might next Yamaha were more like this Casio.
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/24/00 07:45 AM

Originally posted by Clif Anderson:
I looked at the Casio MZ-2000 today. I did not particularly care for the sound through the speakers
Did you try headphones? Just curious...

but no bank switching (as required by Roland and Korg)
With regard to the styles or with regard to MIDI?

but I do wish in some ways that might next Yamaha were more like this Casio.
Which ways? What features did you find desirable?
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/24/00 08:47 AM

Hi Jeff

You asked "Which ways? What features did you find desirable?".

I was impressed by the number of real-time controllers. It is easy to fatigue when listening to an arranger keyboard. The accompaniments are monotonous and the sounds are the same everytime you play them. Several arrangers allow you to layer sounds, but the layered sound can be monotonous too. However, if you can control the layer mix in real time, the sound is more interesting. You might also want to vary the volume of the accompaniment, as well as parts within the accompaniment. Having nine sliders and two foot pedals certainly facilitates this.

I do not know whether Casio's sliders and foot pedals transmit midi. I would hope they did, and so they would be useful for controlling an external sound module as well.

I use a Korg Wavestation with my PSR8000, synching the Wave sequences with the autoaccompaniment. I like the result. Unfortunately, not many synths have wavesequencing. However, I would like to explore combining an arpeggiator with autoaccompaniment to see if that makes the styles more interesting.

I did not play with graphic editing on the Casio, but I like the option of seeing waves graphically instead of just editing numbers.

Maybe another way to explain what I like about the Casio, is look at what I think will be the best arranger and see what it is missing. The PRS9000Pro will be the best arranger in my opinion when it arrives. If the early photos are at all accurate (obviously they got the keys wrong), it appears it will allow only one foot pedal, and has one pitch wheel and one modulation wheel. Even the Yamaha EX5 (the non-arranger synth with the same case as the PRO), had a second modulation wheet, a ribbon controller, and provided for two foot pedals. Real-time control is just too limited on this synth, especially when it gives you the options of adding VL or AN synths. These lacks are much more frustrating when you find the missing features on a "lowly" Casio.

To be even more specific, I can have three right hand layers or parts on my PSR8000. If I had two foot pedals, I could control the mix in two dimensions for a high degree of expressiveness. I will be able to do this soon because I am buying a separate foot controller, but this solution is kludgy. Casio provides the two foot pedal jacks on the arranger itself.

Hope this helps.
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/26/00 10:09 AM

In answer to my question: "What features did you find desirable?".
[]number of real-time controllers. Having nine sliders and two foot pedals certainly facilitates this.
[]edit waves graphically.

If CASIO took our advice seriously, would we prefer more controllability (& thus utilize our MIDI equipment & computers) over better sound generation?

For those who wish to contact someone at CASIO who answers email: "Alstrom, Ed"
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/26/00 12:50 PM

Do the Casio's transmit their accompaniments over midi. Do the Casio's allow custom styles. I am not sure, but I think the answers to the questions are both "no". Without these features, Casio will continue to be relegated to the low end. Good sounds are important, but that is almost too obvious to mention.
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/26/00 02:18 PM

In my haste, I omitted what I was referring to in the previous post regarding controls versus sound. I didn't mean the signal generation, but the sound quality of the speaker system.
In other words, would it be preferable for CASIO to devote the hardware to user controls or to better speakers & amps.

User reviews:

Originally posted by Jeff Ganaposki:
"Alstrom, Ed" ealstrom at casio dot com

[This message has been edited by Jeff Ganaposki (edited 09-26-2000).]
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/26/00 04:32 PM

Hi Jeff

I think most people would demo an arranger for 15 min, and hear the sounds and styles through the onboard amplication and speakers. They would make the purchasing decision based on those factors. So for Casio's bottom line, they are putting the emphasis in the wrong place.

My position is a little off the beaten track. I assume that I cannot buy exactly what I want, so I am willing to add something to the arranger. I would be willing to live without good lead sounds, amplification, and speakers. I can add a Roland 5080 or Triton Rack, and can add powered speakers, maybe Roland PM-3.

What I cannot live without are the thousands styles available free on the Internet. I also cannot live without vocal harmony that coordinates with the styles. I can live without lots of continuous controllers on the arranger because I can add them. However, adding continuous controllers (e.g., a bank of sliders or a second keyboard) is a lot less convenient than adding a sound module because you have to reach them and the arranger concurrently. So if you leave out the odd duck (me), the Casio should do what everyone else does--leave off the controllers and work on the sounds.
Posted by: Fran Carango

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/26/00 04:53 PM

Casio, going back to at least the CK601 has a parameter to send the arranger out of the midi port. And guess what? it sends GM map, unlike its rival during the same period..Fran
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/27/00 03:02 PM

I emailed Ed Alstrom of CASIO about questions that appeared here:

> nine sliders, pitch and mod wheels, aftertouch, jacks for two pedals and two foot switches. More style and sound categories than Yamaha, but no bank switching (as required by Roland and Korg).

[Alstrom, Ed] Incorrect! Can be done over MIDI.

> Graphic sound editing. The display
> controls are just like on a Yamaha PSR-9k.

[Alstrom, Ed] MZ-2000 is without question an easier machine to navigate and learn than PSR-9000.

>There are control sliders and foot pedal
> inputs. Can these controls transmit data into the MIDI
> stream?
[Alstrom, Ed] Yes.

[Note: There are 9 sliders & 9 buttons, in addition to the Mod, Pitch, and user defineable button to the left of the keys]

> Does the mic input access to the DSP also allow it to make
> harmonies, like the Yamaha PSR-740?
[Alstrom, Ed] No. You can probably add 3 external harmonizers for
the money you'll save, though.

[True enough. A Digitech Vocalist isn't that expensive]

> When a user modifies or creates a sound, can it be saved?
[Alstrom, Ed] Yes.

> In other words, what memory is devoted to user created
> sounds, patterns, arrangements?
[Alstrom, Ed] Separate memory for each of these.

There you have it from CASIO...
It's not a PSR9000, but for the money, it's going to be a decent MIDI controller, with velocity & aftertouch, style arranger, arpeggiator, and 16 track recorder.

I annoyed Mr. Alstrom so much, he gave me the email URL for the head of development in Japan. If you'd like to make a "Christmas list" of goodies you'd like to see on the next CASIO, email me & I'll compile a list. I was warned that Mr. Akio Iba does not speak English as well, and would appreciate terse statements...

I was told that they're also considering an Internet connection (whether on the keyboard or via a host computer, I am not sure) for future keyboards.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Ganaposki (edited 09-27-2000).]
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 09/27/00 03:23 PM

Hi Jeff

A minor point, but Ed misunderstood one of my positives as a negative. When I said "no bank switching", this referred to the fact that all sound categories could be called with a single button press. This is good. Yamaha also allows this. You will note that on many Korg's and Roland, the sound category button do double duty. This means you have to push a "shift" button and then the category (e.g., strings) button. In general, having dedicated buttons is more convenient, even though using a shift button can look more elegant by reducing the total number of buttons.

I am getting some valuable information here. Thanks, Fran, for correcting me on the midi out facility on Casios. Also, I did not know Casios respected to bank switches over midi. At the risk of repeating myself, Casio is now leading the pack (except for General Music SK) in terms of control features. I would love to see the Casio product line migrate upscale with better sounds, room for 1000s of user styles, and vocal harmony. (I rather have one vocal harmonizer on board, than three outboard.)
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 10/09/00 01:34 AM

Quick report of a live test of the MZ-2000 at MARS music store in Atlanta.

::Interesting points - the keyboard is MUCH BETTER than their earlier models. My S.O. found it easier to reach octaves than on the Yamaha - a smidge narrower. The key edges have a smoother bevel than the Yamaha PSR740. Velocity and Aftertouch were fine. The key feel was not mushy.
:: The pictures do not do it justice. This is a BIG (& Thick) keyboard, and the user controls & Screen are angled much more toward the user.
::Layout was very good. Easy to figure out what to do without a manual. The screen / button arrangement was great (not unlike the PSR-9000). One can use the data wheel or press screen buttons to select splits, layers, and mix the signal levels. The "exit" button backs you out of the menu you're in. And 4 different screen layouts (Big font for old farts like me, who can't read tiny print!)
::Sounds - We started at the pianos, and my S.O. chugged her way through all the piano selections, and was pleasantly surprised - she liked all of them. The organs were splendid - especially the drawbars. Nice percussion - the cymbals sizzled and didn't cut off. "Dirty" guitar tones with pick attack. The flutes had a nice chuffy breath when you whacked the keys - the velocity control made it sound "real". The sitar's aftertouch detuned the note and buzzed like the real thing - real neat. Koto was good. The brass had a nice burr and the synth brass brought back memories of 1970's synth solos. ZPI does offer something more than plain vanilla samples - the sounds varied as one's playing changed. The sound quality of the high end frequencies was impressive - subtle and sweet. Not having tested all the sounds, I can't say they're all great. But of the selections we heard, not a one sounded bad.
::The assignable DSP was effective. Pressing the button brought up a menu of hundreds of configurations - delays, EQ, wah, phasing, filter sweeps, etc., and you could assign up to 4, plus three global DSPs (reverb, chorus, master).
::Nice I/O. Sustain pedal. Expression pedal. Serial computer. The line outs are high impedance, as is the mic input.
- - If it's any indication, MARS sold out their first shipment within a week. My first look has me convinced that CASIO MZ-2000 is a contender.

The official retail price is $1800.
Mars offers it for $1200.
zZounds in Chicago offers it at $1079.
Music123 $1099 (with 10% off coupon) has it for $991 (free shipping).

P.S. After a quick look in the manual (very thick - well written!), the only mention of a battery was about a lithium for ram memory - and no wall wart - YES!

[This message has been edited by Jeff Ganaposki (edited 10-09-2000).]
Posted by: Ilija Petkovski

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 10/09/00 11:34 AM

Imagine what a compliment and how negative people are!! They say: a Casio MZ-2000 cannot compare with a Yamaha PSR9000(pro).
Well can you compare $3000 with $1000-1200 ??


Its like a Subaru Impreza GT Turbo! For that money you drive as fast as a Porsche!

Congratulations Casio!

Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 10/14/00 02:27 PM

CASIO MZ2000 Addendum to review

Sound Source - Zygotech Polynomial Interpolation (ZPI) - combination of optimized data compression and polynomial interpolation to produce more sound per unit memory. (487 tones, 15 drumsets, 40 user programmable/synth, 20 drawbar tones)

DSP - 4 assignable channels x 240 selectable types; 3 system (reverb x 15, chorus x 20, master x 50)

Drawbar Organ - 9 drawbars - plus other options to change to "dirty" tone or add key click.

Synthesizer (VCA, ADSR, LFO, filtering) IS built in. 40 user memory locations for your patches.

Rhythm accompaniments - 120 preset + 10 user

Interactive accompaniment - Dynamic changes to the accompaniment pattern based upon your playing style.

"Song Studio" function - analyzes Standard MIDI file and generates an accompaniment. It can also extract chord patterns and progressions, and display the chords on the screen.

Song Sequencer - 17 track sequencer x 10 songs (40,000 notes) - SMF data compatible - Editing functions: punch in, copy, event edit, and others.

Pattern Sequencer - 8 parts x 10 User patterns (22,000 notes - Accompaniment) - 480 factory presets

Registration memory - 8 sets x 8 banks of your customized setups.

Arpeggiator - 15 types

Auto-harmonize - 12 types
Posted by: Clif Anderson

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 10/15/00 02:18 AM

Wow, that "Song Studio" function sounds impressive. I wonder how well it works.
Posted by: Jeff Ganaposki

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 11/09/00 05:39 PM

CASIO seekers - here's some more info - an excerpt from an email about a comparison of a Roland by a Casio MZ2000 owner.
. . . .
Hi Jeff: You're right...several pro players I talked to wanted one or owned
an EM-2000 also. They were so persuasive that I began to r-e-a-l-l-y want one...I
called a local music store owner to ask if he had one...(the EM),but he had the G-1000.It was still in the box. For a week I was still in the box (kind of a laid-back establishment..Ha!).So I decided to just "show up" and ask to see it. He dug it out of the box..rapidly set me up in a
storage room (he had no room in the store,obviously)...and plugged it into a
questionable little amp. It looked like a guitar amp,to me. I'm telling you
this to let you know the circumstances with which I heard the G-1000. I used
my turbo start print-out to figure out how to turn it on...listen to the
sounds and styles.Foremost..after being familiar with the subtle and real
nuances in the MZ's instrument sounds...I found myself straining to hear the
same things in the EM.To me, the sounds were more "electronic" and flat.I
struggled a little with the weighted keys... the touch sensitivity was set
to almost zero sensitivity.I'm sure it was adjustable.But I really had to
thump on the keys.(I'm not a piano player..but guitar players don't have
wimpy fingers either).It didn't flow while I played.It was a labor.He didn't
provide me with a sustain pedal..which made a big difference in
playability.I never heard the "XG" voices that are part of the assortment of
sounds you can use with the EM.
...He pretty much knew I wasn't going to buy that one. I was glad to get it out of my system..and almost found myself wanting to repeat a line from the "Wizard of OZ" (Well... I learned that if I ever want to go seeking my heart's desire...I won't look any further than my own back yard)....Thus the
compulsion to hug my MZ when I got home.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Ganaposki (edited 11-09-2000).]
Posted by: Tony W

Re: MZ-2000 - Casio's folly? - 11/09/00 06:26 PM

Hi all,

I can never understand why dealers act like this. Do they want to make money??? Even if I had loved a board if a dealer treated me that way I would be off and spend my money elsewhere.

In contrast when I went to see the EM2000 I had no intention of buying least not then and there. My dealer hooked it up and made it sing.

Of course I realised that when I got it home it would not sound half as good when I played it, basically because it would be me playing it....BUT the point is that he made me think that it might be possible if I persevered, for me to play like that.

I bought it without hesitation and can honestly say it is one of the best I have owned. I get as much pleasure from it as from the KN5000 that I used to own. Both are excellent boards...just in different ways.

I would not be averse to buying the casio if I liked it for exactly the same reasons. But my point is that if you go to buy a Casio...because you want one...any dealer worth giving your money to should make you feel just as important as the chap (or chapess) who just came in and bought that PSR 9000.

That's it ...Rant over