Solo Synth

Pumping bass sounds on the XW-synths

Very common in electronic dance music is to have a bass sound that “pumps” on the off beat and doesn’t clash with the frequencies of the kick drum.  The common way to do this is to “duck” the volume of the bass sound down using a compressor so that when the kick drum hits, the volume of the bass sound is reduced, then the bass sound returns to normal volume as the kick disappears.

The XW’s can recreate that effect a number of ways but I created a sound that utilizes a very powerful feature of the XW’s Solo Synth engine.  The envelopes have a “Clock” feature that will cause the envelope to repeat to the tempo and division of the beat that is chosen.  In this case it repeats each beat and with a slow attack time you get a nice swell into the off beat.

This sound can be heard in this demo which also uses the PX-5S for some other sounds.

Download the bass sound at http://www.casiomusicforums.com/index.php?/files/file/774-pumped-bass/

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 Live Clinic now posted on Youtube

Mike Martin’s Ustream clinic from late June is now available on Youtube.  Get deep into Solo Synth editing, Step Sequencer automation and more:

XW-P1, XW-G1 Controllable Feedback Loop

The External Input on the XW-series has many possibilities but here is one that perhaps you had not thought of before.  Plugging the output of the XW, into the External Input to create a feedback loop.

A note of CAUTION before we go any further – the following process can create some serious, high level noise.  Please lower your listening levels to a minimum level before proceeding.

First to listen to this experiment, you’ll want to listen to the XW from the Headphone output.  This is what should be connected to your mixer, speakers or of course your headphones.  You’ll want to use a Solo Synth tone with the External Input enabled.  Note that the XW’s instrument and Mic Inputs are always active unless you select a tone with the External Input enabled.  So you’ll get Feedback on ALL TONES if you’re not careful.  If you’d like the Solo Synth tone used in the video, download it here:  http://www.casiomusicforums.com/index.php?/files/file/585-xw-feedback-looper/.

Second Warning: LOWER THE VOLUME.   The Left/MONO output should be connected with a 1/4″ cable to the Mic Input or Instrument Input on the back.  Now when you play this sound and raise the level of the External Input you’re creating a feedback loop.  Slider 5 on the XW-P1 can control the level of the feedback loop.  On the XW-G1 you’ll have to select the 5th Oscillator then use the Level Control.  As an alternative, you could also put an Amp Envelope on the External oscillator so this effect fades in over time or assign another controller such as the modulation wheel to control the level of the feedback.  Have fun and if you come up with some interesting sounds, post links in the comments below to share.

Here is an example:


XW-P1 plus iPad = Amazing

Take an XW-P1 and add an iPad and it opens a world of possibilities.  We’ve discussed how to use the XW-P1 to drive software based instruments – this app is controlling the Solo Synth on the XW-P1.   Which app?  How is this possible?  More details coming, we’ll be showing this at the Summer NAMM in Nashville next week.

XW-P1 with iPad

XW Sound Week – Today’s Solo Synth 6 Pack

Hot off the press, here are 6 fresh new sounds for the XW-P1.   Tomorrow, we’ll have a 6-Pack for the XW-G1.  Download the XW-P1 Solo Synth 6-Pack1Image

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.