Reviews: CZ-Android, CZ-Patch
By JAMES PIERSON-PERRY
The CZ-Android is a "must-have" ST program for users of the popular and affordable Casio synthesizers. This patch editor features the innovative "Droid" function, which brings artificial intelligence to automated patch creation. (A "patch" is the instrument control setting used for a particular sounds.) As of this writing, all Casio synthesizers up through the CZ-1 are supported. One single-sided disk can hold 146 banks (2,336 sounds).
The GEM-based CZ-Android is easy to use. In fact, it's almost a shame that the manual is so clear and informative, because you'll rarely need it.
Two patch banks can be kept in memory at once. You can customize patch banks easily, select an entire bank for copying or send it to the synthesizer. You can specify MIDI channel, synthesizer model and degree of "safety" to keep you from performing an operation you don't really want to perform. Unfortunately, MIDI-through with rechannelization is not supported.
The real meat of the program is in the patch editor module. The editor screen shows all patch parameters in a logical and tidy fashion. The graphic representations of the DCO and vibrato are handy for visualizing the patch elements. All parameters can be altered with the mouse, but the editor doesn't permit illegal parameter values or settings.
Any of the six patch envelopes can be selected and shown as a graph of it Ievel verses time, but only a single envelope can be displayed at a time--showing at least the three envelopes per line would be better, as it is the in interaction that provides the overall sound. And only trial and error will help you adjust the playing time of the patch.
Tired of synthesizing? Put the Droid to work. This routine either tries to distort your current patch data or creates an entirely new patch. Either way, artificial intelligence procedures gear the results toward useful sounds rather than random noise. It's great fun to turn the Droid loose and see what emerges, but it's no substitute for intelligent patch programming.
CZ-Android can be copied to another floppy or hard disk, but the original disk must be in Drive A for it to load.
$99.95, color or monochrome. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777.
I have used Dr. T's CZ Patch heavily for over a year and can recommend it. Its main strengths are multiple graphic displays of line envelopes and advanced editing features. Against these must be balanced the lack of graphical editing and automated patch creation. It supports the Casio CZ-101, 1000, 3000, 5000, but doesn't work with newer models such as the CZ-1 or 230S.
CZ Patch, the first ST Patch editor program for Casio synthesizers, comes on a heavily copy-protected disk (backups cost $10). The manual is fair, but terse to the extreme. It has no screen pictures, and the photo-reduced text is hard on the eyes. The synthesizer must be directly connected to the ST--you can't use a master keyboard with MIDI data rechannelization.
Typical of Dr. T software, this program doesn't follow standard GEM usage, thus violating a perceived standard ST user interface. More importantly, it doesn't allow desk accessories either. But despite these drawbacks, the program does work extremely well.
There are two basic functions: Patch Librarian and Patch Creation/ Editing. All operations can be done by both mouse or keyboard control. Up to four banks of patches can be kept in memory at once. Creating a custom patch bank is as simple as clicking on and dragging a patch from a displayed bank and moving it to its new location. The patch file format comes straight from the MIDI system-exlusive dump, meaning that the data is received and stored exactly according to the published Casio MIDI implementation guide. About 87 patch banks (almost 1,400 Patches) can be stored on a single-sided disk.
The main interest, however, probably lies in the patch editing functions. All patch parameter data can be modified and tested immediately from the edit screen for effect on sound timbre. Any changes made to the patch can be tested immediately by pressing the right mouse button, which sounds middle C on the keyboard.
When first shown, all envelope data is given in a time-based format rather than the Casio standard rate/level format, but you can toggle between the two. The use of a time axis is helpful, particularly when dealing with sounds that have a delay or echo effect.
Specialized patch-editing options include: insert and delete an envelope segment, copy an entire voice or single envelope from any patch currently in memory, swap voices within the patch, and compare the edited patch with its original version. Individual envelopes can also be saved to disk.
An extremely useful feature not found in any other CZ patch editor to date is envelope scaling, which can be done with respect to time (rate) or Ievel. You can stretch or compress the patch sound to a desired time, or balance the relative volumes (DCA levels) of patches used when the CZ is played in multi-timbre mode. Since there is only one output jack on the synthesizer, this lets you adjust the sound mix to prevent voices from being lost in the background.
$129, color or monochrome. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston Street, Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954.