Casio SZ1

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Casio SZ1

The SZ1 is the complementary sequencer for the RZ1 drum machine and CZ series synths,as such I found it quite a crude affair,coming as it does in a rectangular plastic box,showing no signs of the RZ1's design flair. I did though manage to work out largely how to use it before getting the manual.

MIDI
An odd arrangement of MIDI in,out and out exists - the manual shows why this is the case and why thru has not been implemented. [see templarseries.atspace.com/sz.html].
The MIDI button simply chooses the output channel for the entire unit.Switches at the rear control external and internal clock pulse select and whether the SZ collects velocity data,which presumably uses memory faster.There is also a footswitch control.

Patterns
There are 4 independent tracks of storage which can be sounded or muted at the push of the requisite button.The sequencer runs as long as the longest pattern,and can be repeated,but the shorter length patterns do not repeat until the longer one has finished. This is not sophisticated and nowhere near the capability of a Yamaha QX. The point of repeat seems to suffer from a slight timing problem which breaks rhythm and thus ruins any chance of creating repeating chugging refrains from short numbers of notes - I much prefer the QX.
The SZ1 has a beeping metronome that helps with following timing,it can be switched off it it gets annoying - which it can do.

Real time and Step time are supported for a given track. Record mode is entered by using the real time or step time button in combination with the track button,rather like using a magnetic tape and then pressing record.

Copy,Edit and Delete all have their own buttons. The rest of the facia has the timing buttons on for note entry,which allows triplets,rests and ties.

Some operations need the reset button to be pressed before the next operation can take place which is vaguely annoying.

Tempo is adjusted by means of two buttons for up and down and shows on the LCD display along with other data,the tempo is suspended on the display when Ext clock is selected.

MT
The SZ1,like the RZ1 has magnetic tape backup,with a verify facility,which means you don't have to lose all your work when you need a new sequence. The "tape transport" controls double as the MT controls. You can also use a RAM pack with the SZ which is the same type used by the CZ (RA-3/5).

Good points: There is a battery pack as well as the usual Casio adaptor socket,meaning it can be portable,unlike the RZ1. The APO button on the rear panel turns the Auto Power Off feature [battery save] on and off.It is also lightweight,negating the battery weight,unlike the RZ1.

Niggles: The build quality is not brilliant being entirely plastic,and is not exactly aesthetically pleasing. The timing of the repeat point,and the non-repeat of shorter tracks spoils the sequencer effect.

Expect to pay: I suspect these would fetch over £50,but I was totally lucky to pay £12 on Ebay.

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