It is finally here.
Casio XW: Solo Synth Controller is the official MIDI controller for the XW Solo Synth. This groundbreaking, six-oscillator, monophonic solo synth is an innovative, hybrid sound engine available in all Casio XW keyboards. Now, Total and direct control of the Solo Synth, both for live performance and sound creation, is just a touch away.
◎ Forget about edit menus! Over 500 controls access all Solo Synth parameters
◎ Live performance pages with XY controls for filtering and volume blending
◎ “Ganged controls” (supercontrols) allow for manipulating multiple parameters simultaneously
◎ Detail pages allow you to explore the world of possibilities offered by the XW’s six oscillators
◎ Global presets get you started: create your own presets and switch between them instantly
◎ Connect any way CoreMIDI can: use Wi-Fi or hardware such as the Line6 MIDI Mobilizer II, iRig, iConnect, and others
Want to customize further? Casio XW: Solo Synth Controller is built on MIDI Designer. Upgrade to MIDI Designer Pro to create your own pages, reorganize, and redesign to make your own XW layout. Then share it with the vibrant MIDI Designer Community.
Now available at the app store:
Live Looping using a Casio XW-G1 and an iPad. The same thing is possible on either the XW-P1 or XW-G1 using the Step Sequencer and Phrase Recorder.
In 2012 so much attention was given to the XW-P1 that the XW-G1 was a little over looked. With the XW-P1 reaching the market first and being Casio’s first synthesizer in over 20 years it’s no wonder that the XW-P1 got so much attention. While the XW-G1 was at that same NAMM show, it wasn’t much more than a prototype at that time and began shipping several months after the XW-P1. So what makes the XW-G1 unique and if you’re look at both the XW-P1 and XW-G1 which is the right one for you?
- Sampler / Sample Loading. Probably the single most distinguishing thing about the XW-G1 is it’s sampler. The XW-G1 allows you to supplement it’s existing sound set with sampled sounds that are stored in flash memory. This means after you turn the XW-G1 off any samples you load in are still there the next time you turn it on. The XW-G1 can hold 50 user samples. It’s architecture makes it best for drum sounds but samples can also be used within the Solo Synth too.
- Solo Synth Control. The XW-G1 doesn’t have the drawbar organs and Hex Layer modes that the XW-P1 has. This means that the sliders on the left are dedicated to controlling the Solo Synth. While the XW-P1 only allows volume control over each oscillator, the XW-G1 provides access to nearly every parameter the Solo Synth has to offer. You can manipulate each oscillator individually or all at once. The capabilities for tweaking are quite remarkable. This video shows some of these capabilities:
- Sample Looper. In addition to being able to load in sampled sounds, the XW-G1 also has a sample looper. It will record what is happening live on the XW-G1 in addition to the audio inputs. The applications are remarkable. Since it syncs with the Step Sequencer it allows you to capture a groove, then dial in something else on top using the Step Sequencer and/or Solo Synth.
- Stock Drum Sounds. The XW-G1 has several drum kits that aren’t in the XW-P1 so even before you get to the sampler you have access to some aggressive electronic drums that are powerful and unique.
So which one is right for you? Both XW’s are great and they each have different strengths. The XW-P1 can do some great textured sounds with it’s Hex Layer mode, it can also do some drawbar organs which makes it well rounded as both a production and performance keyboard. If your focus however is on using the Step Sequencer, creating drum grooves and if you’re really into tweaking the monophonic Solo Synth for those ACID baselines and more the XW-G1 has the edge.
Of course if you still can’t decide, just get both.
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.
The software company Arturia has released an iPad version of the MiniMoog called iMini. Why mention it here? A portion of each purchase goes to support the Bob Moog Foundation. So why not give it a try with the only keyboards on the planet that have a place specifically for using an iPad and at the same time support a great organization that helps expose people to synthesizers!
There is no question that Apple’s iPad has been embraced by professional musicians and hobbyists alike for its music making capabilities. Applications such as Apple’s GarageBand, Moog’s Animoog and SampleWiz offer some incredible capabilities and are really inexpensive (excluding the cost of the iPad itself).
It is clear that Casio recognized the importance of the iPad when they were designing the XW series. They even made a place to put one! Better yet they made it easy to integrate it but there are a couple things you’re going to need to get started.
Last you’re going to need an audio cable. The XW synths have an 1/8″ audio input on the back. So simply connect the headphone output from the iPad to the audio input on the back of the XW. I found it convenient to get one of these right angle adapters so the iPad could still sit comfortably on the iPad and the audio cable was conveniently tucked away.
Now you’re ready. What you’re doing to do with it depends on your application. You can set up the iPad to be one of your zones in Performance mode and play the iPad apps from the keyboard. You could also an iPad instrument as one of your parts in the Step Sequencer. We’ll get into both applications in one of our next posts. So get some Apps and the Camera Connection Kit and get ready!!
So Casio’s XW has 6 oscillators…well technically 5 that it can generate. The sixth comes from an External Source. On the back of the XW you’ll find mic and line inputs. Anything that is plugged in here can run through the SoloSynth’s engine including envelopes, LFO’s and best of all the Total Filter.
There are countless applications for this. Just to experiment, plug in an MP3 player, play a song and see what you can do. There is a template built into the XW to get you started, SoloSynth P:9-9 Basic& Mic IN is set up with the External Input active.
My favorite is using the XW with an iPad and an application like AniMoog. I connect my iPad using the Camera Connection Kit and the XW’s USB port and run the audio output back into the line input. Then I can layer an AniMoog sound with other sounds from the SoloSynth. I’ll try to get a video of this up soon.