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Not to be confused with the Roland SH-101, the CZ-101 was put out by Casio in 1984 to ride the wave Yamaha created when it shocked the industry by targeting home consumers and selling over a hundred thousand DX-7s.

Being fully digital, the CZ series of synthesizers lacks the warmth of analogue synthesizers of the era, but was able to provide a great deal more control over the sound being generated. It was one of the first keyboards to support MIDI.

The "phase distortion"-based sound architecture used was very different from what users of traditional analogue synthesizers were used to (and also from what users of modern digital synthesizers will expect).

Depending on whether one or two oscillators are used per voice, either eight or four voice polyphony is provided. Each voice has a selection of eight different oscillator types. Two oscillator types can be selected per voice, and the synthesis module alternates between them each cycle.

Each oscillator has three eight-stage envelopes: Pitch, which controls the pitch of the oscillator relative to the pitch of the note being played, Amplitude, which controls how loud the oscillator's output is, and Wave, which affects the timbre of the output. Wave is very similar in effect to an envelope controlling the lowpass filter in an analogue synth.

Oscillators can be combined by simple mixing, or Ring (amplitude) modulation. Ringmod is the CZ's secret weapon; combining it with the ability to tune the oscillators relative to each other can result in very strange noises.

The pitch bend wheel also helps. A mod wheel would've been more appropriate, and it was provided in the top-of-the-line model in the CZ series, the CZ-1.

Today you can pick up a CZ-101 for around a hundred dollars, practically unheard of in an era when both new and vintage synthesizers are priced in the quadruple digits.

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