mini sampling keyboard

image source: eBay #

Here is the classic Casio SK-1, one of the first truly affordable samplers!!!  Yes, it's true that 1 1/4 second sampling time doesn't allow much, and that the quality of the sampling is  - to put it bluntly - horrific, but at the time, it didn't get better than this! :-)  (Unless you had the funds for a Fairlight, Synclavier, Emulator etc.)

This is such a FUN machine.  Highly portable, a few cool sounds, the ability to synthesize sounds starting from a neutral waveform, envelopes, vibrato, portamento, rhythms, and... sampling!!... What more did you want in 1986???

The unit can sample from line-in, external microphone, or built-in microphone.  A lot of times is just fun to keep the SK-1 on your lap, and sample funny noises from your mouth!

There were bigger "brothers", but the SK-1 is one classic unit to look for.

Casio SK-1 audio demos

Here's the SK-1's on-board delightful demo song:


Casio SK-1 demo song

And here are the eight on-board presets:

Stream all audio examples

Factory sound with audio demo My comments
piano An incredibly good tone for this type of machine!  Warm and melancholic, and just from one sample!
brass ensemble Typical "plasticky" '80s synth brass from Casio.
trumpet Again, pretty realistic considering the specs of this mini-synth/sampler.
flute Ethereal and synthetic, but useful.
human voice Awesome female vox ooh with looped sample to emulate echo/delay
synth. drums Typical Simmons sound of the era.
pipe organ Pretty realistic church organ.
jazz organ Casio's Hammond organ.


And here we have nine sounds achievable with the "synthesizing" feature:

Harmonic component synthesizing with audio demo My comments
clarinet Beautiful!  With the on-board portamento, can even sound like a Theremin!
electric piano Clear electric piano
harpsichord Okay
oboe Nice!  From the low register to the high.
organ Hi-drawbars pulled out
toy piano Beauty - best arpeggiated!!!
vibraphone 1 Nice
vibraphone 2 Cool and loungey
violin Okay

These are the on-board rhythms:

Rhythm with audio demo My comments
4 beat Happy marching rhythm
bossa nova Vaguely reminds of a bossanova..
disco Cool!  Typical Casio goodness
march La Banda.
pops Nice pop rhyhthm.
rhumba Deliciously retro vintage lounge.
rock Very '60s
samba Awesome rhythm!
slow rock Slow number from the '60s
swing Lounge master
waltz Too busy!

And here below you can hear what is possible to create in a few seconds, thanks to the SK-1 handy built-in microphone - very inspirational - if you don't mind lo-fi!

Sampled sounds with audio demo (sampled by yours truly via the on-board microphone) Original sample My comments
Apocalypse Now Apocalypse Now original sample The famous helicopter scenes
Art of Noise Art of Noise original sample Typical early sampled vocals
Mr. Oizo loop Mr. Oizo loop original sample Disjointed, "Kraftwerkian"!!
Munchkin choir Munchkin choir original sample Munchkin or South Park style
Old record end Old record end original sample Old 45RPM
Train Train original sample Just blowing on the mic
Zombies Zombies original sample Nice sci-fi FX


Casio SK-1 Features
Features at a glance
Year of release: 198_
Responds to velocity: no
Sound generation method: pcm
MIDI: no
Sound expansion capabilities: no


Casio SK-1 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)


Casio SK-1 Manual




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