Online store turned developer, Plugin Boutique, have released their second synthesizer, the VirtualCZ.

Casio synths were big business in the early 80s and in 1984 Casio launched a new line with the release of the Casio CZ-101. It was notable on its release as it used Phase Distortion synthesis, had a 49 minikey keyboard (rather than the more familiar full size 61 keys), and was one of the first synths to put a fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer within reach of the general public with a price point of under $500. It was a massive success and Casio then went on to launch 7 more models in the CZ series culminating in the CZ-1. Perhaps because of some of the features found on some of synths in the range – miniature keys, built in speakers – they never really quite got the same respect afforded to other digital synths of the time but the CZs were fantastic keyboards and became a great weapon in lots of producers arsenals and were in LOADS of techno, house, rave and synth-pop records in the late 80s and early 90s. Little wonder then that the CZs have been brought back to life in the VirtualCZ.

The VirtualCZ mirrors the Phase Distortion architecture and provides all the original features and controls of the original models while adding some very welcome features of its own. You get switchable envelopes between the original 8-stage design and the more familiar ADSR, stereo panning, upto 8 voice unison, there are 2 chorus effects, and while it models the CZ-1 “out the box” you can also choose to emulate either the CZ-101/1000 or the CZ-3000/5000! Intriguingly, the VirtualCZ can also act as a SysEx editor/librarian for any of the hardware synths meaning the original hardware also gets a new lease of life.

Full features:

  • Phase distortion synthesizer
  • Sysex patch editor and librarian for all CZ hardware versions
  • 32-voice polyphony
  • Mono and Legato modes
  • 2 oscillators per voice, 8 wave forms
  • 6 loopable envelope generators per voice
  • Tempo syncable LFO for vibrato with 7 forms
  • Ring and noise modulations
  • Stereo Panner
  • Unison and detune features
  • Microtonal tuning
  • Vintage stereo chorus/ensemble
  • Setting randomisation
  • 200 presets in different formats (FXP, AU Preset, VST Preset, TFX)
  • Ability to download CZ patches online
  • Preset import/export

Priced at a very reasonable £59/$99 it’s available now directly from the Virtual CZ product page where you can also find full details and feature list. Check the demo at the top of the page and a walkthrough below.


The Groovesizer Multiboard (or MB) just got some rather sparkly new firmware in the shape of Bravo which turns the instrument into a 4 voice drum machine with a 32 step sequencer.

Once loaded up, Bravo allows for pitch, volume, swing, tempo and distortion controls affecting the audio but you also get the ability to save and recall patterns, step repeat, and it also transmits MIDI clock data allowing for other devices to be synced up with the Groovesizer MB.

Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much to shout about but, much in the same vein as the excellent Soulsby Synthesizer Atmegatron, the Groovesizer MB allows uploading of different firmware that turns it into completely different instruments! In this case a 3 oscillator monosynth as well as a granuar synth. We here at BOS are massive fans of this approach.

The Groovesizer MB is available in kit form or ready built and starts at $168 US. The Bravo firmware is available now. Full details on the Groovesizer site.


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