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Fun, low-fidelity sampling drum machine
The Casio RZ-1 is a low-fidelity sampling drum machine that came onto the scene in 1986. Its 12 PCM samples are more or less typical for the day, and it also offered the ability to sample up to four (very) short sounds. Boasting a number of level controls and individual outputs (not one for every sound, but close) the RZ-1 offers some flexibility, although there are only 12 sounds, and there are no other ways to modify them other than two tone controls that apply to the sample outputs.
Reportedly, the RZ-1 was used by early rap producers on a budget, including RZA from the Wu-tang clan. However, the RZ-1 is probably too limited for modern hip-hop production due to the extremely short duration of the samples. Even the producers of that era ditched cheap stuff as soon as they could in favor of SP-1200's.
As much as the author loves nostalgia, this item gets two stars. The sounds aren't great, and the samples are easily located for those interested. (In fact, the author has plans to create a sample bank for the MPC. Leave a note if interested!) Additionally, the build quality on Casio gear is pretty terrible, and this means that the RZ-1 won't hold up to much abuse.
The author recommends a more modern machine or a software sampler like those included in most DAWs these days. The reality is that DAW-based samples are easy to use, far more flexible in terms of tweaking, and any decent DAW includes a bit-crushing plug-in if you crave that lo-fi sound. A hardware alternative not far off the price range of a good RZ-1 would be a used Akai MPC-500, which lacks individual outputs but could be configured with RZ-1 samples (or anything else) and has far more sample memory.
References: https://equipboard.com/pros/rza/casio-rz1 https://www.akaipro.com/mpc500
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