Casio MT70

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Casio MT70


The MT70 is another of those ubiquitous MT PCM keyboards but this time with a twist - a lightpen that scans barcodes. This is not so that you know the price of a can of beans,but to enter musical data from printed materials. In principle this was a good idea,however with the advent of MIDI and RAM cards has been rendered redundant. Kudos to Casio for even going there - at least now - these retro examples of novel ideas still exist as examples of has-been technology that still works - and possibly still has some life left in it- after all - short of your house burning down or the dog taking a leak on it - this memory storage system isn't going to suddenly fail because it suffered electromagnetic interference.

Having said that the MT70 offers little above the other MT range. The drum machine seems to be someplace in between an MT100 old analogue style and the more modern MT500 style PCM. It also boasts an LCD display and tells you what chord you are playing in the accomp section.

The voices on the MT70 run through the usual range of organs/flutes/piano and come in 2 stacks of 5 with an upper/lower selector giving 20 in all. The Chorus and Brass sections stand out and the weird glissando effect of the synth Chime. Which buttons are pressed are displayed in the LCD panel.
There is a vibrato selector with the option to delay the onset of vibrato.

The retro drum machine is worth having,but only 10 rhythms are available covering the styles particular to the period - so no drum n bass or rave on this one! There is a fill button and synchro start as well as a volume control to govern the mix,and tempo and LED indicator.

Both the chord and melody sections feature sustain controls,the former being marked MEMORY - meaning that it will keep the autochord vamping even if you let go of the keys. Oddly there is an OCTAVE switch which seems to lower the octave range that the chord plays in. There is also a choice of arpeggio or rhythmic backing and the usual Casio or fingered methods of chord.

The MT70 has a memory feature which literally records your playing or can be programmed from the lightpen by selecting MS - it has the cheeky responses of sounding appropriate drum noises when reading the pen - so if you get it wrong the 70 responds with a snare "PSSH" as if to say "no that won't do" and ERR in the LCD panel - if the data is correct you get a slightly thankful "BLIP" and the LCD panels shows the data that has been P,L & C for Pitch,Length and Chord. When playing back a series of green and red LEDS indicate the notes to play so you can follow the melody above the keys.

The rear panel has the output standard jack phones socket,phono line out,power socket and DIN for the lighpen as well as a tuner preset to adjust pitch. 

Good points: The lightpen is the obvious attraction here. There is an error message system if you make a mistake and sometimes it takes one or two tries with the wand to get the info in....but you can't beat the novelty factor of scanning bar codes and hearing music come out.

The LCD helps to indicate what is going on and the sounds are typical of this type of machine with couple of synthy patches for interest. The one key play feature - a hangover from the VL1 is a nice touch,helping to time melodies in the memory.

LEDS above the keys to indicate melody is an innovative feature - it has since been duplicated by Yamaha on the PSR420 and of course the LK series of Casio keyboards where the whole key lights up.

Niggles: The keyboard is actually a bit rattly - seemingly individual keys rather than whole-octave moulds as were used on the MT500,which makes playing a bit uneven and clumsy.
This is from the monophonic days before stereo became a rage- so only one speaker and line out 

Size and weight: 

Expect to pay: I got mine quite cheaply,but because of the lightpen feature these can be quite dear,£30-50 is not unheard of.

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