Hex Layer

Creating PWM on the XW-P1 and XW-G1

We’re still finding exciting ways to make new sounds on the XW-series.

In HexLayer mode the XW-P1 is essentially a sample based instrument. The waveforms it provides are digital recordings. While the range of waveforms is quite vast, they are “static” samples….meaning it is impossible to change a waveform’s shape over time the way an analog or virtual analog synthesizer can. Or at least it appears that way on the surface.
If you dig deep into the collection of over 700 waveforms the XW-P1 provides in HexLayer mode you’ll find a wide variety of waveforms, may of them appear to be similar.  On the surface combining two different sawtooth waveforms as an example allows the XW-P1 to have a richer sound than using two identical waveforms. Some of those sawtooth waveforms however are not like the others, which can allow for some exciting new sounds.

The XW-P1 provides a number of sawtooth waveforms actually reverse or inverse sawtooth waveforms. When they’re heard one at a time, it would be nearly impossible to distinguish between the regular sawtooth and the inverted one. When you combine them, this is when the magic happens.

From the Sound on Sound “Synth Secrets” article on PWM.

If the two waveforms are 100% identical, when they’re combined they actually cancel each out completely – you wouldn’t hear anything at all.  As soon as you begin adjusting the pitch of one sawtooth vs the other the combination creates the PWM effect.  This picture taken from Sound on Sound Magazine’s Synth Secrets article isn’t 100% accurate but essentially shows the result.

This method can also be applied to the Solo Synth in both the XW-P1 and XW-G1.  Utilizing this technique you can create some very BIG and rich sounds. Using the technique described above You will however reach a point detuning the two waveforms from each other where it will sound less like a PWM effect and more like two waveforms that are simply far out of tune from each other.  Luckily there is another method that can be utilized in Solo Synth mode to achieve a PWM effect with a faster cycle.

To do this create a Solo Synth tone with two identical sawtooth waveforms. On one of the Oscillators, scroll down and find the LFO2 Depth.
Next, leave Oscillator Edit and go to the LFO2 page (picture taken from PX-5S) and make adjustments as shown. LFO PWM  You can adjust rate and depth to taste but now you have a faster PWM effect.
These are only a couple of applications that can lead to some really remarkable PWM sounds.

Additional audio examples along with sounds to download for your XW-P1 and XW-G1 are coming.


XW-P1 HexLayer 10-Pack1 Released

Yet another set of sounds, this time all Hex Layers for the XW-P1.  As you’ll notice a number of these sounds have the initials “CG” in the name.  That is because they were done by Christopher Geissler, one of the sales engineers at Sweetwater Sound.  Some particularly cool vintage organ sounds in this bunch if you’re doing any Doors covers. So think about that the next time you’re going to make a purchase.  Thanks Christopher!

Download XW-P1 HexLayer 10Pack1

Casio XW Synths and the big blue LED.


So it’s hard to miss, the giant blue LED on the left hand side of the XW-P1 and XW-G1. So besides looking very cool on stage or in the studio, what is it for? Simply put the LED indicates the function of the sliders below.

In the XW-P1 the LED will light up depending on which of the three specialty sound engines you’re using – Solo Synth, Hex Layers or Drawbar organ. In each of those modes the sliders function almost the same way. In the case of the Solo Synth or Hex Layers, the first six sliders provide volume control of the oscillator or layers, the 7th slider provides total volume control and the 8th and 9th control effects. In Drawbar organ mode, all 9 sliders are used for the organ.

The buttons to the left of the LED also provide an additional way to switch between categories of sounds.

If you press the STEP SEQUENCER button, the big LED will be off but now the sliders will now provide control over parts in the Step Sequence (more on this next week).

In the XW-G1 the big LED indicates which part of the solo synth can be manipulated in real-time. Since the G1 doesn’t have HexLayers or Drawbar organs you get additional control over the Solo Synth.

Hex Layers – Small Changes, big results

Hex Layers are one of my favorite features of the XW-P1. They offer some amazing capabilities and can create some HUGE sounds. There are 50 Hex Layer presets in the XW-P1 and room for 50 user presets.  Some of my favorite sounds in the XW-P1 started with existing presets that I just made some basic changes to.  Since the XW-P1 offers so much control it is easy to do.