Thought I'd kick this off with a useful bit of gear that I got today, the Casio VL-1. Despite my short time in ownership, I've used it for over 8 hours already, so am aware of what it can do.

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Ease of Use

Very easy to use the basic functions (playing it, using the calculator) however sequencing takes a little getting used to.

Price

Well, seeing as it's a keyboard from 1980, the price varies. Mine was a present, but I have been informed that it was rather cheap from a second hand store, and a quick search has found them going for less than a tenner. Certainly worth the price for what it is.

Availability

As a "Vintage" or "Retro" item it could be thought of as desirable, but not to difficult to get your hands on, I tend to think that if I have one, it isn't that rare. 90% of the time it is true, and this is no exception. You can probably pick them up rather cheaply for not that much at charity shops/carboot sales/thrift shops/yard sales/whatever.

Durability

It's a second hand keyboard that's roughly 33, apart from some understandable wear and tear (the odd scratch) it's in pretty good nick. No buttons or anything have come off, and it can probably survive a bit of beating, due to its bulk. Not suggesting you throw it around like it's invincible, but it has that kind of feel that my old nokia does, like you can drop it a few times without it breaking.

Aesthetics/ergonomics

It looks very 80's, that could be a turn on for some, but a turn off for others. It's very bulky, but a neat kind of bulky. As for alternative colour options, that's mostly going to be due to the amount that the previous owner smoked, It comes in the colours "White" "Yellow-white" and "Browny-white." It isn't massively comfortable to use, as it doesn't have standard white keys, it has buttons where the keys are. They can be a little uncomfortable to play for a while at a time due to their pointy-nes.

Size

Despite it feeling a little bulky, it should be easy enough to take to gigs, it is quite long due to the large speaker. It's roughly the same depth as DMG, maybe a little thicker, maybe a little thinner.

Portability

It can run on the standard amount of 4xAA, or a 9volt AC adapter. As mentioned before, it's a reasonably decent size to bring with you to gigs/to the studio/on the bus.

Sustainability (Batteries, Tapes, Etc.)

If you're using batteries, you may have to keep buying them, this is where my limited time in ownership does not pay off. I would suggest buying rechargeable batteries anyway, especially if you're an LSDJ/DMG user anyway.

Sync-ability (MIDI Clock, DIN Sync, Clock Trigger)

no, but you can sequence notes.

Compliancy (USB Device, MIDI Device, OS X/Win, x86/PPC)

no, it just works

Integration (CV Control, MIDI Data)

no

Ease of Modification

Probably quite easy, typing "casio vl-1" into google brings up "casio vl-1 circuit bent" as one of the potential searches. I haven't researched bending it very heavily as it doesn't appeal to me, however there may be enough of a following for there to be places to by parts to mod it. As for making your own mods, if you know what you're doing then you probably can.

Personal Experiences

Pretty damn good so far, due to only have one channel of sound playing at the same time, it's going to help me vastly in writing ZX Spectrum music due to the limitations. It so far has helped me realize that I get bogged down trying to do both channels at the same time, and taking my time with a device like this can be very beneficial. Only having one channel may not appeal to some people, which is understandable. Oh yeah, the calculator is pretty decent as well.

Last edited by nitro2k01 (December 25, 2013 11:29 pm)

Great review. I've been debating getting hold of one of these for a while, and this just might push me over the edge.

When I first started looking into the vl-1, I came across a neat little MIDI mod that fits nicely inside the case. I reckon the vl would make a pretty cool MIDI controller. Not so sure about the usability, though wink
This just shows that there is definitely potential. And I'm sure if somebody around here decided to pick one of these up, that potential would be exploited to its full!!

Here is the device to add midi: http://store.highlyliquid.com/products/umr2

Anyone here actually use this?

Edited the post to use h (header) tags instead of b (bold).

herr_prof wrote:

Here is the device to add midi: http://store.highlyliquid.com/products/umr2

Anyone here actually use this?


Highly liquid kits are very nice tech.  I remember when he first started selling stuff he had some really streamline circuit bent gear.  I had one of his bent SK-1'S with a detachable  banana plug patch bay.  I easily ordered another cable connector and bent a TR-707 to use the same patch bay and sold them as a set.  Miss them both!

herr_prof wrote:

Anyone here actually use this?

https://soundcloud.com/awokenfromstasis … rvant-skgb

Here's The Ghost Servant, SKGB and myself using a circuit bent version of it through some toy effects processor while it was picking up multiple radio stations simultaneously.

herr_prof wrote:

Here is the device to add midi: http://store.highlyliquid.com/products/umr2

Anyone here actually use this?

Yes, all the time live and on songs, through some effects pedals (usually chorus, filter & delay.
The ending on this song (2:27 and onwards) for example is a casio VL-1 through a filter and delay: https://soundcloud.com/vegas-diamond/ho … chiptunes.
Same here (5:00 and onwards): https://soundcloud.com/vegas-diamond/ghost-new

EDIT: I can also confirm that the battery life on this thing is stellar! I've had it for 1.5 years now and only have had to recharge the batteries twice. The sound, the portability and the fact that it's monophonic make it a great tool for composing or adding harmonies live. I would not use it for intensive soloing but it works fine for doubling chords.

Last edited by Vegasdiamond (December 26, 2013 10:55 am)

Great review, Alpine! I've been thinking of getting one for a while now, but always allocated my funds to more important purchases. Mainly want to circuit bend one, but even the stock tones will be fun to play with in certain scenarios.

Last edited by TylerBarnes (December 27, 2013 6:37 am)

Got one like 4 months ago or so for $150 MXN. Does more than it looks once you know how to use the ADSR function for things like fake arp sounds for example. All in all I love it