Love ’em or hate ’em, Behringer has been part of the music tech landscape for over 30 years. Once synonymous with budget mixers and outboard gear, Behringer has managed to reinvent itself in recent years as the king of the clones!

From the Model D Mini Moog to the Roland TR808 drum machine, Behninger has been busy going ‘under the hood’, faithfully recreating some of the most iconic bits of music kit from the past. And the latest synth to stray into Behringer’s potential targets is Casio’s 1984 offering – The CZ -1.

The original CZ-1

The CZ-1 was the flagship synth from Casio’s CZ range. The CZ series of phase distortion synthesizers offered unique sound capabilities at a very reasonable price point. If you were a budding synth fanatic on a budget in the mid 80s then the CZ series offered an affordable in. At under $500, it was much more attainable than the king of the 80s synths, the DX 7 ($1,995)

The CZ series of synths utilized a digital phase distortion synthesis method. This allowed for the creation of a wide range of sounds, including rich analogue-style tones, digital timbres, and unique metallic and bell-like sounds. It features eight digital waveforms and offers extensive sound-shaping capabilities. In built Chorus added to the potential sound variation.

Unlike the DX 7, the CZ-1 was relatively easy to program. It featured a knob-per-function interface, which made it a lot more hands on to program. Sounds could be manipulated in real-time making it a good live performance synth. It featured an LCD display for parameter editing and a modulation wheel for adding dynamic expression to performances.

Behringer clone proposal

Behringer recently announced that they are developing their own take on the CZ-1. According to Behringer’s facebook post, the CZ-1 clone will be part of their mini and micro synth range. Currently, just a draft drawing, Behringer is inviting followers to offer their feedback. This could be seen as a rather brave move but I personally commend them for being inclusive and considering the opinions of their users.

Behringer also invites enthusiastic users to collaborate and share their ideas by joining the Behringer “Synthesizer and Drums Behringer Music Tribe” FB Group. There are even opportunities to win free synths!!!

The feedback on the CZ-1 mini, although mixed has largely been very positive. There seems to be a lot of affection for the original CZ synth range. One of the main suggestions was to up the polyphony from the proposed 4-note to the original’s 16-note.

Other people have commented that the mini keyboard format is not very functional. Behringer have responded by pointing out that the unit will be midi compatible so you will be able to use a controller.

What features to expect

Judging from the provided image, using the midi in port as a yardstick the CZ-1 mini should be able to fit snuggly in a small handbag. This could, as some commenters have alluded to, make knob twiddling and keyboard playing a rather fiddly affair.

As for the parameters being alluded to, the CZ-1 Mini features the main control of the DCOs, DCWs, DCAs as well as a dedicated line button and the famous chorus control. Hopefully, the capacity to save presets will way outstrip that of the original. This coupled with midi implementation makes this a much more usable proposition than an original CS-1.

Oh and did I mention that Behringer has proposed analog filtering? This could really put the analogue cat amongst the digital pigeons to create an interesting hybrid sonic pallet.

When and how much?

This is very much a work in progress. A cheeky peek through the Behringer back window if you like. All Behringer has said is that they’re aiming for a $99 price point but so far no news on a release date. Judging from the Facebook post this is very much still in the early development stage.

So all you 80s synth lovers may have a little wait for this one. Fingers crossed it will be available in time for Christmas as, considering its size, I can’t think of a neater stocking filler!.

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