Posted by: Nigel

XW-P1 - 04/02/13 10:26 PM

Craig Anderton reviews the Casio XW-P1
Posted by: AlenK

Re: XW-P1 - 07/08/13 01:38 PM

And he was quite impressed. As am I. I've had it for less than two months and I'm having a great time exploring its capabilities. I don't know of any other synth with a five-octave, full-size keyboard for its price that does as much. Wait, there IS no other synth with a five-octave full-size keyboard for its price (at least in my locale). smile

Truthfully, the XW-P1 does a lot for the money. It has a six-oscillator monophonic "solo" synth that can draw from over 2,000 waveforms. It has a drawbar organ emulation that isn't bad, with fully functional "drawbars" via nine sliders. It has four assignable knobs in addition to the sliders, all doing different things depending on the type of sound you are playing. It has nearly 800 preset PCM tones (including drum tones) that range from very good to stinky, with more leaning on the good side than the bad. It has 20 preset drum sets based on over 370 drum tones. It has a so-called hex-layer mode that allows you to combine (layer, crossfade, key-split and velocity-split) up to six PCM tones. You can in addition split and layer four sounds over the keyboard. All the sounds can be edited and there is reasonably ample space for storing your own sounds.

The XW-P1 has reverb, chorus and an insert effect with 46 algorithms. External audio can be processed through the effects and/or through the monophonic synth and its resonant filter, including being able to use the audio as the synth's sixth oscillator with real-time pitch shifting on the keyboard. It has a a phrase sequencer/recorder, an argeggiator and a 13-track step sequencer; the latter can be edited in real time with the sliders. There are 100 preset sequences including drum patterns, jazz backings, exotic loops and more, with room for 100 user sequences. There are likewise 100 preset and 100 user phrases. And 100 preset and 100 user arpeggios. I have still not described all the XW-P1 can do!

It's not all roses, of course. The solo synth, drawbar organ and hex-layer modes are mutually exclusive; you can run only one of these at a time. The Leslie emulation effect used with the drawbar organ is only single rotor, not dual, so it doesn't sound authentic. Some of the synth waveforms exhibit aliasing. Although you can edit PCM tones there aren't very many parameters to adjust. The hex-layer mode has an adjustable filter for each layer but its cutoff can't be modulated (except using a knob) and it isn't resonant. The acoustic piano is usable in a band situation but you wouldn't want to do a classical solo on it; it is a velocity-switched triple-strike design without sympathetic resonance (so a lot like the Privia PX-110/310 from ~2006). You can't have chorus and the insert effect at the same time; it's one or the other. The number of effects you can use with the solo synth drops to only six. The XW-P1 accepts a footswitch but not an expression pedal. And so on.

I view its limitations, which are all reasonable given its price, as challenges to be worked around. What fun is a synth that does everything?
Posted by: Nigel

Re: XW-P1 - 07/10/13 03:57 AM

Thanks so much Allen for your detailed review of the XW-P1. Although you found the organ Leslie effect was not authentic do you think it would it still work in a full mix?
Posted by: AlenK

Re: XW-P1 - 07/15/13 10:25 AM

I'm no expert on tonewheel organ sounds. But I have a decent ear for sound and like most people I've heard the real thing. In my opinion the XW-P1's clonewheel organ would be okay in a mix. Just not as a lead instrument, unless you restrict yourself to a subset of possible B3 sounds and avoid the rotary effect and the overdrive. According to Mike Martin of Casio you can improve the "bare" (i.e. non-rotary, non-overdrive) drawbar sound by adjusting the XW-P1's master equalizer, which I have yet to try.

Of course, attach a Ventilator and its another story (I don't have one). But then, from what I've heard a Ventilator can make almost any clonewheel sound more authentic.
Posted by: Melodious

Re: XW-P1 - 06/28/17 06:08 AM

Is it difficult/time-intensive for menu diving? Does it become intuitive over time, or require constant memorizing where you need to navigate to for certian functions?
Posted by: AlenK

Re: XW-P1 - 08/18/17 06:23 PM

Late reply because I don't visit SynthZone very often; there is little to draw me here on a regular basis.

To answer your questions I do not find the menus to be difficult, although I had to first understand the Casio way of "thinking". The menu system is actually quite logical once you understand what is really going on in the instrument. The main problem is simply that the XW-P1 has a plethora of features, so one needs to dive into the menus a lot when editing or setting things up. But....Casio also provides a PC/Mac editor for editing sounds and an iPad editor for editing the solo (monophonic) synth engine. They are free and pretty decent IMO.

Also on the plus side there is the Casio Music Forums where you will get a lot of help by fellow users (Casio does not run the site, although I believe they sponsor it).