PX-5S Webinar 11/12/14: Controller Features

Tomorrow night live on Ustream.tv, Casio’s Mike Martin will take you through the controller functions of the PX-5S. Creating zones, assigning sliders, knobs, pedals and more.  The webinar starts at 7:00pm EST at http://www.ustream.tv/casiomusicgear



Controlling Layered Sounds – Save the Polyphony for later

I’ve found an interesting way to control layered sounds using the sliders. If you simply assign the slider to control volume or expression of a layered sound, that layer is still using polyphony even if the volume is all the way down.  This is rarely an issue with the PX-5S since it has 256 notes of polyphony but its always good to be safe especially if your layered tone is a Hex Layer that uses many voices at once. Slider1
Since slider can have 2 targets, here is the trick. Assign Target 1 for a slider to control volume.  Set a minimum range of around 20.  Set Target 2 for this slider to be Zone on/off.  Set the minimum range to 63 and the Maximum range to 127.  This means that when the slider is all the way back, the zone is off and does not use any polyphony.  As soon as you move it forward turns on at a low volume level.  This makes it very musical and easy to control the layer.
You can find this technique in a new Stage Setting I posted called “Grand Movie“.  It is used on Sliders 1 and 2.  Give it a try.

The PX-5S stands up in the “Big Compare”

Last month a music retailer posted a video featuring the 4stage pianos on the market. The Yamaha Cp4, Kurzweil Forte, Nord Stage and Roland RD-800.  Missing from the comparison in our opinion was the Privia PX-5S.  So to even the playing field, we played and recorded the same riffs using sounds from the PX-5S.  The other 4 instruments are 2-4x more expensive.  Listen for yourself to see how the PX-5S stands up against the competition.


How to Load Stage Settings from the USB Drive

With over 500 sounds available from the Casio Music Forums site, it is important to know how to be able to load them even when you’re away from a computer and the PX-5S Data Editor. To start, you’ll need a USB drive. The drive will need a folder on it called “MUSICDAT“, in all capitals.  Files that you download from Casio Music Forums can be placed this folder.  Keep in mind there are some “sets” of sounds that are contained within a .zip file.  The file should be unzipped and the contents placed in the MUSICDAT Folder.  Once you’ve put all the sounds on the USB Drive, the you’re ready to load them into the PX-5S.
Before you go any further, it is important for you to find a Stage Setting that you’d like to replace with the new file. Find a Stage Setting that you don’t need or aren’t using and remember its location number. Stage Settings in Bank 9 are a good place to start.


Put your USB drive in the PX-5S, then directly to the left of the USB port, is a button labeled AUDIO RECORDER / MEDIA.  The arrow pointing down next to the word MEDIA indicates that if you HOLD the button down for a couple seconds, you can access the MEDIA Menu.


Now the display will give you the option to play a MIDI file, LOAD something or SAVE something. Use the cursor down key to select Load, then press ENTER.


Stage Setting is first selection Stage Setting, press Enter and then you’re ready to choose a file.


On the next screen you can choose from the variety of files you have on your USB drive. It is important that before you choose the file and press ENTER, that you choose the LOCATION where this file will go.  Cursor down so you have the numbers selected below the file name.  => is indicating the destination.  Choose a location from 0-0 to 9-9 to load the file.  If you accidentally replace the wrong file, don’t worry you can download the original Stage Settings from Casio Music Forums.

Creating PWM on the PX-5S

The PX-5S synthesis capabilities are still being explored. Its deep HexLayer architecture combined with its amazing filters have produced some stunning sounds, rivaling many dedicated synthesizers. Remarkable for an instrument that is first and foremost a “stage piano”.

At its heart, the PX-5S 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.
With the v1.10 firmware update, the PX-5S introduced several new capabilities. Included with this update the number of built-in waveforms was expanded, in particular a total of 6 new sawtooth waveforms. On the surface combining two different sawtooth waveforms allows the PX-5S to have a richer sound than using two identical waveforms. Two of those sawtooth waveforms however are not like the others, which can allow for some exciting new sounds.

Two of these are 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.

On the PX-5S itself, waveform #418 Sawtooth 2 and waveform #420 Sawtooth 4, are inverse waveforms. When combined with any of the other sawtooth waveforms in the PX-5S you can get a nice PWM effect simply by detuning one of the two.  This can create some wonderful rich and thick sounding waveforms.  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 to achieve a PWM effect with a faster cycle.

To do this create a HexLayer tone with two identical sawtooth waveforms.  sawtooth1 On the Pitch page of one of the layers, scroll down and find the LFO Layer Depth. On one of the two layers,
LFO Pitch
set the LFO Layer depth to [000].  Leave the other layer the default depth of 64.  Next, leave Layer Edit and go to the LFO page and make adjustments as shown. LFO PWM  You can adjust rate and depth to taste but now you have a faster PWM effect similar to what you’d find on a analog “string machine”.
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 PX-5S are coming.

New Strings for the PX-5S

Casio’s Mike Martin created some incredible new Ensemble Strings for the PX-5S.  These presets are available for download at http://www.casiomusicforums.com for FREE.  Check out the demos that Kristian Terzic made:


Steve Weingart and the Privia PX-5S

Casio has the opportunity to sit down with Steve Weingart at his home studio to discuss how he’s integrating the PX-5S into his live performance rig.