Monday, December 3, 2012

Casio CZ-230S "...designed so a musician doesn't have to be a technician" ad, Keyboard 1986

Casio CZ-230S synthesizer "...designed so a musician doesn't have to be a technician" full page colour advertisement from page 113 in the June 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Oh, what a confusing and frustrating beast you are, Mr. CZ-230S. So confusing that they must have realized it and decided to only push this ad twice in Keyboard - June and December 1986.

In Casio's own product catalog from 1986, this beast isn't even listed in with the other processional CZ-series synths (CZ-1, CZ-5000 and CZ-2000S [and FZ-1]). Nope. It was demoted and listed under the "High Quality Sound" group, along with the HT-700 and HT-3000. And when you look at that page in the catalog, the facing "Drum Solo Keyboards" page includes this image:

Yeah... that association makes me a little nervous. And this perception of Casio consumer/prosumer keyboards probably had the same effect on other musicians who Casio were trying to convince to buy their professional products at the time. Now, I'm not saying Casio never managed to get over that hurdle (I bought a CZ-5000 and it still rawks!), I'm just saying that it was probably an up-hill battle.

Even CZ's Wikipedia page questions the 230S's abilities as a professional keyboard:
"The CZ-230S was released in 1986. Despite the CZ-230Ss model numbering, it was not really a programmable synthesizer; the specifications of this model more closely resembled that of one of Casio's home keyboard models. It used the synthesizer technology of the CZ-101 in a 100 tone preset sound bank, had a mini keyboard of 49 keys, incorporated the RZ-1 drum computer technology and had a built-in speaker. Only four of the sounds in the sound bank could be programmed by linking the synthesizer to a computer via its MIDI port."
Now, I admit that I get concerned whenever I see any Casio keyboard with a built-in speaker. And normally this is a major sticking point in my head when trying to convince myself this is a professional machine. I actually turned down a great deal on a Roland HS-60 for the same reason. Even a Juno-106 with speakers screams "consumer".

But in this ad, Casio tries to convince readers that the built-in speaker is a positive:
"And an on-board speaker (almost unheard of in a synthesizer)".
Yeah - unheard of for a reason.

Even better, if you look closely in the photo, it looks like Casio is comparing the 230S to a... wait.. what?  Is that aRoland JUNO-106?!?!?  Alongside a dude who's obviously not capable of connecting a patch cord.

So wrong.

On so many levels.

And yet I love that Casio had the balls to do this, especially if that is a Juno-106!!!! Makes me **smile**.  

And Casio was serious about marketing this keyboard to professionals. They slapped MIDI into this thing. And made it look semi-professional looking.

But I wonder  - was Casio strategically trying to blur the line between professional and semi-professional gear?

Or were they blindly trying different things on different keyboards to see what would stick?

Don't think that is a legitimate question? Let's just remember this is the company that slapped MUPPETS on to two of their instruments. But that's not the surprising part. Apparently May 1987 was a slow month at Keyboard Magazine, because they had the room (and even bigger balls) to include it in the Spec Sheet section of their professional magazine. No kidding.
from Toys of the 80s blog
"Casio Muppet Keyboards. Two new Casio mini-keyboards feature portraits of two mini-Muppets. The EP-10 has a portrait of Kermit the Frog, as well as four preset sounds, ten preset rhythms, and 29 monophonic keys, each one identified by colored tabs, which allow beginners to play along with Casio's color-coded songbooks. The EP-20, which Miss Piggy adorns, has eight sounds, 12 rhythms, 32 keys, and built-in speaker and tempo control. Users are guide through simple tunes by following a pattern of lights that blink above the keys. The EP-20 also comes with a songbook. The EP-10 retails for 69.95, the EP-20 for $119.50."
Now, someone will no doubt write me to say that educational professionals probably also read the magazine, and this was a good teaching tool. So, there is that.

And now I've acknowledged it. And saved someone the time.  :)

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