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VirtualCZ Review at

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Once again a software developer provides us with a clone of cult acquaintances from the 80s - The Casio CZ...

Casio CZ-1 in good company

The CZ-series was once Casio's answer to the successful series of Yamaha DX. While Yamaha put on the FM synthesis which later gave way to Korg, Casio went its own way and put it all on "phase distortion". Sonically very similar, but the principle of sound production is different, Casio delivered the phase distortion series with a moderate success among professional keyboard players worldwide. For the principles of "Phase Distortion", please read this article. If you would like more info on the Casio CZ and their successors VZ... Please click HERE. To this day I own a CASIO CZ-1 and at the time the largest model of the CZ-series was my first synthesizer. I own the CZ-1 today and not just for nostalgic reasons. I was so thrilled when I heard about the "VirtualCZ" being released that I ordered it immediately.

The VirtualCZ

Unlike plug-ins that have made it their task to emulate analog synthesizers, the emulation of digital-synthesis should be easier. Korg has done this with the Legacy M1 and the Wavestation, and they have already proven that converting digital sound generators at the PC level is almost possible. The Native Instruments FM8 and Roland D50 cards for V-Synth and V-Synth XT are also really well done. These correspondingly exceeded my expectations.

The VirtualCZ is available for download on the Plugin Boutique page. Activation and installation as a VST or AU are straightforward.


Newcomers who had been concerned only with additive synthesis should read either our products for phase distortion or take a look into the included PDF. The view of the Graphic User Interface will allow (similar to the Yamaha classic FM synthesis) classic filter cutoffs. But do not worry, filter like effects can nevertheless mimic well with the Phase Distortion

One of two strands, consisting of DCO, DCW and DCA

DCO stands for "Digital Controlled Oscillator", DCW for "Digital Controlled Waves" and DCA for "Digital Controlled Amplifier". In principle, Casio is working with two oscillators strands here, each of which two waveforms can play. How these two strands are linked can be fixed in the OSC field.

In the same field, the waveforms per "line" on a flip-down menu can also be defined.

The respective envelopes for DCA, DCW and DCO can be set as the classic ADSR curves, as well as 8 stage envelopes, then the example also allows audio effects like echo.

Thanks to the clear fader here, sees the benefits of the GUI over the hardware. Editing on a computer is much faster as opposed to the hardware, especially since you can change the CZ-1 due to a missing Date Entry Sliders parameter values by only two plus/minus buttons. Nevertheless the Casio CZ-1 is in my opinion, much clearer and easier to use than a Yamaha DX7.


In the 'Master' field (to the right of the display), several other parameters can be found (see screenshot), as well as a 'Unison' mode that did not exist in the CZ series. The digital Chorus is also worth mentioning, which is able to add a fader with the original signal in the plug-in, but additional features here on the parameters give extra depth and width.

You can not only program your own scales, but you can also change with velocity and aftertouch via the EDIT button in the master.

Master with opened Scaling edit field


Just above the screen there is a button labeled 'Tools', and for me this is one of the most exciting features on Virtual CZ. Behind tools lies the opportunity to sound out the plug-in directly into Casio CZ synthesizers. First choose the Casio CZ-type that you have connected via MIDI with your computer, then it has the same field and MIDI output that is connected to the hardware. The memory on the VirtualCZ  sends the data.

SysEx transfer to a Casio CZ

Now one can choose "Auto Send SYSEX". The plug-in works almost like a software editor and transmits each parameter change immediately to the hardware. In the other case opt for "Send SysEx" and the data will only be sent if you wish. The transfer of SYSEX data runs smoothly and was handled silently in the background. I'm all for it (and also because of the immense and many very good sounds in VirtualCZ), the purchase of Casio CZ-owners will find this worthwhile.


The VirtualCZ sounds as clear as the Casio CZ synth series. It's significantly more efficient and has less aliaising artifacts in it. Compared to FM plug-ins, such as Native Instruments FM8, the VirtualCZ sounds much rougher and dirtier. No question, the developer has the right impact and dirt in the transmission. The sound examples also show that this can produce current sounds of Dub and Co very well. Even as a supplement for the thousandth virtual analog plug-in, the VirtualCZ a refreshingly new and inspiring sound source.


This by the way is very good. One switches the output of VirtualCZ silent and listens to only the output of the Casio CZ. It now uses the parameters of the plug-ins, you can hear only the changes to the Casio CZ, the "faulty" transmitted values then do not play such an important role anymore, since you immediately hear what you edited.


The VirtualCZ is a great sounding plug-in, and thanks to the phase distortion synthesis, this is a recommendable addition to the many Virtual-Analag synths on the market. 

Compared to the Casio CZ, the VirtualCZ poses good, but the winners in the ring is for my taste is the original. The CasioCZ is again something dirty and fatter than its host-dependent mate, but also has disadvantages compared with the plug-in.

As editor and sound source of VirtualCZ way, it's transmitted correctly for Casio CZ owner of a real asset,  not only for all parameters when sending the SysEx data to 100%. This leads to significant (but interesting), sound differences between original and copy. For me, both are still a fantastic team!

The third star here by the way, is for the Sysex adjustment which works perfectly.


  • Wonderful Phase Distortion Synthesizer for a cheap price
  • Very close to the original with additional features
  • Very good CZ sound library!
  • Modulations synchronizable also to MIDI Clock
  • Thanks to SysEx compatibility with extensive sound source for original CZ owners
  • Still not perfect, but ideal sound editor for Casio CZ-owner



  • SysEx data is not transmitted to Casio CZ 100% accurately Rating

3/3 Stars

Original source -

Try before you buy

Download VirtualCZ trial version for free!

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