Casio XW-P1 Synthesizer Review

One of the more interesting announcements from this year’s NAMM Show was the introduction of the Casio XW P1 Performance Synthesizer.

The XW-P1 is designed to be a true performance synthesizer that allows users to create a wide array of sounds from many preset tones, including Solo Synthesizer, Hex Layer, and Drawbar Organ tones, as well as numerous types of internal PCM and Synth waves.

In this review, Nick Batt of Sonic State takes a deep look at the Casio XW-P1 Performance Synthesizer – and comes away impressed with the keyboard as a budget synth.


  • Wide selection of preset tones ensures quick access in performances
    • 100 Solo Synthesizer presets can reproduce vintage analog synthesizer sounds
    • 50 Hex Layer presets layer as many as six tones for ensemble sounds
    • 50 Drawbar Organ presets can reproduce traditional Drawbar Organ sounds
    • A total of 420 PCM Melody and PCM Drum presets have been produced from samples of various instrument sounds including pianos, guitars, and drums
  • Synth features
    • A total of 311 internal Synth waves reproduce vintage analog synthesizer sounds
    • A total of 2,158 PCM waves are built in, including wave data from the CZ series, Casio’s best-selling digital synthesizers of the 1980s
    • Users can create integrated sounds by layering analog synthesizer waves and PCM waves
    • Users can produce original Hex Layer sounds by combining as many as six preset tones
    • Users can create their own Drawbar Organ sounds by using the nine sliders
  • Variety of functions useful for live performances
    • Users can assign performance setups for up to four designated keyboard zones by using the Performance function
    • The Phrase Sequencer lets users create and play back musical phrases to enhance their performances
    • The Step Sequencer allows users to create and play back a variety of rhythm patterns
    • The Arpeggio function can automatically play arpeggios just by pressing keys
  • Useful features for applications ranging from performance to music production
    • SMF data or audio data saved on an SD card can be played back while playing the keyboard
    • MIDI devices, microphones, audio players, and other equipment can be connected using the various input and output terminals
    • Portable audio equipment or MIDI devices can be placed on the designated rubber holding space

The Casio XW-P1 Performance Synthesizer is available now with a street price of around $500.

If you’ve used the Casio XW-P1 Performance Synthesizer, let us know what you think of it!

28 thoughts on “Casio XW-P1 Synthesizer Review

  1. I love Sonicstate reviews, but is anyone else peeved that they didn’t actually give away a KO2 as promised in that video? Unless I missed it, looks like they reneged on that one. Still, good reviews.

  2. Once agin you show how bias you are against Roland new Jupiter .
    You basically trashed the Roland Rep and the new powerful synth JP-50 in your video review but here
    you actually praise this Casio POS , com on man get for real .
    Bottom line Nick , you where wrong to attack the JP-50 the way you did .

    1. > get for real

      If Roland, or Roland fans, want to “get for real” then maybe Roland should offer a serious machine that doesn’t cost $3,500 like the J80 or $2,000 like the J50. The Casio XW-P1 costs $500. That’s for real.

      1. Well said, Mark. It’s the price-point that a lot of us are hung up on. I wouldn’t suggest that the XW-P1 is a better instrument than the J50/80, but pound-for-pound, the XW-P1 seems like a much better deal.

        1. What I’m talking about is the unfair balance in the reviews . Watch the Jupiter 50 review and you will see Nick already came to the demonstration with his mind made up and it clearly shows he was not going to give it a chance thats why he cut the video off while the Roland Rep was playing his demonstration . You might not like the price but it deserves respect .
          I can’t wait to see how many tours the Casio goes on .

          1. I just watched the Jupiter 50 video, because your description seemed unlike most Sonic State videos I’ve seen. I didn’t see any attack on the rep. What I saw was him pressing for clarification after not getting a direct answer. It was all polite and in good humor. I think the video is effective, because it makes it clear that it is a performance synth, and it does that well. It’s not for noodling in the studio.
            As to cutting the video off, it’s a pretty standard editing technique. Minute or two of a performance and then let the credits roll. It was already quite long at 21 minutes. Contrast that with 10 minutes for the Moog SP. 11.5 minutes for the Monotribe, etc. I think he gave it a very fair shake devoting so much time to it.

            I’m not really sure what he is “wrong” about, because he didn’t really share his final opinion. In the end, I think it’s just about expectation regarding the Casio video vs. the Jupiter video. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy here. I thought both were well done (well save the shot where his mellon is peeking into the corner screen right while the other dude is performing. Very public access. Ha.)

            1. 1st of all your name goat monster nuff said .
              Remember followers never stand out in music .
              think different “Steve Jobs ” .

              1. This response is too funny. Oh, yeah, well, you’re a poopy head. 😛

                Obviously, you have not bathed in awesomeness of goats. They eat cars! How awesome is that? Anyway, I wasn’t trying to offend you. I was just trying to point out with figures that maybe your analysis was overly critical, which is kind of ironic, since you were criticizing Sonic State for being overly critical. If I offended you with solid numbers, since you’ve resulted to name calling and questioning my creative thinking, then I apologize. I sincerely hope you have fun with your jupiter 50, if you own one, and hope you make lots of awesome music with it.

              2. No name calling, I just thought the name you used was interesting . You are obviously a good sport and a class act . Keep rockin and make good music ! enjoy !

      2. Compared to a Yamaha Motif XF6, a Roland Juno or a Roland Jupiter 80, this Casio is a bargain!

        An affordable, elegantly handsome, well-sounding, high-performance synthesizer and music production keyboard in the $500 to $800 range. You can’t get that from Roand, Yamaha or Korg at that price range!

        Like an earlier Casio US advertising commercial slogan said: “Casio keyboards! They’re the ones to beat!” The Casio XW-P1 IS the one to beat at this price range!

    2. Hmm, I don’t even know if I can do justice to this amazing piece of internet-speak, but I shall attempt a translation:

      “Once again you show how biased you are against Roland’s new Jupiter .
      You basically trashed the Roland Rep and the new, powerful synth, JP-50, in your video review, but here
      you actually praise this Casio POS. Come on, man, get real!
      Bottom line, Nick: you were wrong to attack the JP-50 the way you did.”

  3. One day I will get one of these second hand, just to feed my Akai S-612 in to it and do that pitch track thing.

  4. We can nitpick the new Casio synth all we want, but at the end of the day it’s damn amazing that they can sell this for $500.

  5. Unfortunately after viewing this review I still am not sure whether the Hex Layer synth has filter envelopes (for individual notes, rather than just a global filter effect) in addition to amplitude envelopes. Perhaps I missed it since that mode was only briefly covered.

    If it has filter envelopes in Hex Layer mode (i.e. polyphonic, layered PCM) then I’d say it looks pretty terrific!!

    1. Regarding the filter on the HEX layer, no you dont get individual VCF env, I dont believe it does.
      In fact, the filters in HEX mode are much simpler and require a note retrigger to sound any change in setting.
      EG, if you assigne the VCF to one of the controller knobs and try to sweep, while holding down a note, you cant. rapid note triggering during a sweep and you hear the change. Hope this helps.

  6. The point of a review isn’t to agree with every viewer! Nick and crew do great reviews and interviews… balancing personable with professional. Thanks guys!

  7. I have bought the xw-P1 a couple of weeks ago. I won’t write an in-depth review, but if you have questions feel free to post.
    And I think this machine is a no brainer. of course it has flaws and some bad sounding sounds but it also offers amazing value for the money.
    I used to play in bands but now I play alone as a one-man band. I use an iPad and the casio to trigger mp3’s and audio files as backing tracks.
    What I don’t like in the casio (sound wise) I use the iPad for.
    In my opinion garageband and sampletank have better B3 organs and guitars. I use the casio for synths and pads and even the piano sounds is very decent. The casio organ is good for those 60ies clean organs though.
    The hex layer is nice for splits and pads.
    I used to play a Korg paX with hard drive for my mp3’s but the Casio/iPad combo is more flexible and I do like the synth sounds better in the casio.
    So in short, if you need a lot of acoustic sounds like guitars, piano’s and brass or strings. The casio shouldn’t be your only choice. There are better options available. But for synths and sound tweaking it’s price is hard to beat. It can give very nice results. Even as an iPad controller alone it’s price is hard to beat. The sound editor works very nice as well.

  8. I bought this new Casio as a door crasher item from a music shop here in the Vancouver bc area today.the synth is pretty good. Regardless of price. I mean it’s budget minded construction but so was the cz101 and those still are out there in studios working away. I spent a few hours today with this Casio and I have to say it sounds nothing like any of the analogs I have but ,they don’t sound like each other either. I paid 200 dollars for this synth brand new in the box as part of a boxing day sale. There was eight of them sold in the lower mainland. aside from my sx240 I paid 200 dollars for a couple years back it’s the best cheap thrill I’ve scored. I mean this thing has its own vibe and I can use it in a lot of different ways with other existing gear. It runs on batteries so I will most likely even gig with it. I think the build is ok I mean it seems better built than the korg microkorg and more intuitive than a alesis micron. It doesn’t sound as good as the alesis but I think it sounds miles better than the microkorg. I actualy found the manual heaps better than both the other synths I mentioned. Menu diving sure but, I had to menu dive on the an1x as well. The cheap casios mono section can get pretty filthy sounding and that’s a cool not sure I’d have paid more than 350 for this board but I’m also certain if I was a complete novice it’d be the only thing I’d consider in this price range. Sure the presets are pretty suckorama in the hex layer section but…. with some work they can sound pretty good. The fake drawbar organ is not horrid either. I’m not sure how successful it will be. I’m kind of wondering why Casio didn’t decide to just do away with all the other bells and whistles and just do the va section with more polyphony. All the negs aside I think this synth has its own distinct sound. I think it could become kinda cult in the future. Time will tell. It wouldn’t be the first time a battery operated synth with “questionable sound” became cult.;)

  9. What a pity, i bought it thinking I will create my own pcm with the audio editor. But it’s simply impossible (only with XW-G1). The P1 only accept external waves for “demo songs”

  10. Casio XW-P1: I bought one yesterday (15th January 2014) and am really pleased with it so far. It is vastly better than some of the hater reviews would have you believe – there is nothing wrong with the keybed at all, the sounds are way better than I was expecting, especially the piano’s, choirs and strings, and I programmed my first sound (which I was really pleased with) on it without needing to look at the manual. Yes it is physically lightweight, but it isn’t poor quality with it. I don’t use presets as a rule and Casio is usually notoriously cheesy in this respect, but some were excellent and I would use them without editing. The sounds available from this synth are very wide and like all Casio synths, if you take a lot of care with your programming you can get excellent results. I bought a CZ-1000 back in 1986, then a VZ-8M in 1988, then have owned VZ-1, VZ-10M and the sampling drum machine over the years since so I am used to Casio’s and this one is the best yet. Superb value for money and has absolutely bags of character – I am really glad I bought it and I agree with previous comments that this could well become a cult synth.

  11. Hmmm-I have played most everything with keys on it (except accordions, I hated moving so many different directions to get a sound out of the thing and Myron Florin scared me on Lawrence Welk) since Wurliter came out with the tine piano, and through Moogs, Sequentials, then Korgs, Yamahas (still have a rather cumbersome houseful of keys from the last 10 years or so). Then I bought one of these for cheap thrills. I was not impressed with its all-plastic construction, but it is super easy to carry because of. Definitely not something to tour with unless you fabricate your own case (I’m considering). I heavily modded the keybed with more felt and will soon add weights and it is not terrible for a springy-thingy action, although inside it will not hold up to heavy playing for too long even with my mods, I don’t think. Keys a good width though, feels right and has same throw as most spring actions with the fulcrum in good spot-not too long or too short. And the controls are fragile but if not abused do the job. Sounds-the acoustic instruments such as clarinets etc. are not very good at all, (saxes are pretty realistic but don’t fire your sax player) surprising how good the acoustic/electric pianos are and I’ve A/B’d with several much more expensive keys and soundfonts. Drums are certainly clear and usable, decent assortment. Hammonds are pretty damn good through a decent sound system, certainly not the depth as the real thing but comparable to many more expensive instruments IMO and you will need a deeper Leslie simulation if playing out. If comparing depth of sound quality with something 4-5 times as expensive, then buy that. Coolness/creative factor on this is incredible, you have to approach it as several different pieces to understand what you can create in real time with this thing. All kinds of sounds can be coming out of it at once-the arpeggiator, the phrase sequencer (phrases can be an entire songlength but only one sound unless you use a performance and split the keyboard in 4 zones-then you can record 4 different sounds with just the phrase recorder and…. Add the 16-step sequencer with abilities to record 8 completely different multi-timbral arrangements for each switchable on the fly which can play along with the arpeggiator and the phrase sequencer-and then you can play a tone, a monophonic synth lead, a drawbar organ with variable drawbars or a hex layer sound-all at the same time! And live! Whew. I haven’t heard anybody do all that yet (most of us are still trying to figure out how! but it is doable.) Mike Martin has come closer than most. Yes it’s not a Hammond, yes there are (slightly) better ep sounds out there (not much better) and punchier whatevers, you are not getting pristine 24-bit effects out of this. And if you want high-end filters, this is expensive because these need a powerful (expensiver and faster) CPU to do the real time calculations with a wide data buss to get this code to fly around faster. (Again, more expensiver). But for sheer fun and creative messing round, this thing is hard to beat. I stepped away from mine for awhile to get back into my other much more “high end” instruments and when i came back to this I went, “HMMMM………more flavor, less filling”. I can’t think of another instrument that can do all that in one place, and weighs what 12 pounds and runs on batteries? I like it. Check out the Casio Music Forums and read for yourself.

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