Casiotone MT-500
  keyboard with warm timbres, drumpads & versatile accompaniment

This keyboard was the direct predecessor of the Casio MT-520. It has quite warm semi- analogue sound, sample based percussion and 4 rubber drumpads for "Super Drums" accompaniment.

Most features and the sound engine correspond to the MT-520, but in opposite to this it has even 20 semi- OBS preset sounds and 4 chord variations, but only 4 drumpads those each can be switched among 3 preset sounds. (Alternatively 4 external pads can be connected through 2 stereo jacks.) The accompaniment sounds warmer than with MT-520.

Important:  Very annoying is that the 4 Super Drums tracks of the rhythm section here can not be muted but only switched among each 4 variants, which severely limits its usability. Thus do not pay too much for the Casio MT-500 if you intend to use it as a drum machine. On eBay people tend to pay crazy prices for this thing while the MT-520 goes much cheaper and is apparently still considered a toy, despite in practise its rhythm section far superior; it also has more drumpad inputs and intro/ ending feature, those all lack on the MT-500.

The original German retail price of the MT-500 in a German Conrad catalogue from 1988 was 799DM (about 400€). Due to the many similarities I only describe here the differences to the Casio MT-520.

different main features:



In comparison to Casio MT-520 the case of the MT-500 has no stair step at the lower speaker rim. The electronics is a very complex multi- chip hardware on 2 large PCBs with many discrete components.

The sound engine of the preset sounds resembles the MT-520, but the stereo chorus effect is narrower and most sounds contain less reverb. Many timbres also sound more squarewave- like - likely by different filters. I will describe the preset sounds in comparison to MT-520 if present. The "piano" here sounds a bit more synthetic than on MT-520 and has no sustain, thus notes stop immediately after key release. The "elec. piano" has a mild attack, a dose of chorus and long sustain; its timbre resembles more a sitar than the MT-520 version. "vibraphone" is more percussive, brighter and octave higher than on MT-520, which makes it more realistic. "violin" otherwise sounds vs. MT-520 an octave higher, duller (less realistic) and has some reverb. "flute" is vs. MT-520 an octave higher, more squarewave- like and has no reverb; thus is it more a wooden recorder flute than a metal flute. "panpipe" is duller, 1 octave lower and has reverb. "human voice" is like MT-520 with longer sustain. The "jazz organ 1" resembles "jazz organ" on MT-520 but sounds more Hammond- like with less buzzy bass range; it also resembles here a sung "ah". "jazz organ 2" is duller, a bit thinner and has reverb. "pipe organ" resembles MT-520 but has more percussive attack. "bells" is a squarewave musicbox timbre with 3Hz vibrato and a dose of chorus; "glockenspiel" sounds 1 octave lower with sonorous multipulse bass range. "harpsichord" has much reverb and a 3Hz chorus vibrato that makes it badly unrealistic; "clavichord" is duller with shorter reverb (but MT-520 "funky clavi" still sounds more powerful and 1 octave lower). "double reed" sounds rather like a french horn with chorus vibrato and much reverb. "synth. reed" is a variant that sounds thinner and thus more like a trumpet or tenor saxophone. (Unlike expected, both have no similarities with a reed organ.) "synth. sound 2" resembles a slightly dull sitar with sustain; 1 is similar but grows duller and thicker during attack like layered with a short pipe organ tone with sustain. The "elec. guitar" sounds duller than MT-520 and has reverb, while "synth. guitar" has a very dry and harsh buzzing timbre that resembles the MT-520 "funky clavi" but sounds thinner, has chorus vibrato and reverb. Unlike MT-520, the MT-500 employs real locking semi- OBS preset sound buttons, those make it easier to see the selected sound but make them harder to trill them for live play tricks. (Like with Casio CT-410V they have no technical reasons since the electronics memorizes the last pushed button anyway.)

The rhythms employ quite similar woody sample percussion like Casio CZ-230S (that seems to be based on the Casio RZ-1 drum computer); e.g. the "handclap" has the same unusual mechanical typewriter timbre, but the sound set has also differences; e.g. the snare is duller and the bongos have different pitch (likely by changed sample playback frequency). The MT-500 percussion samples are different from MT-520; the individual sounds have changed pitches (some lower, some higher) and also the sample resolution may be slightly lower because e.g. the cymbal sounds thinner and the snare duller. Unlike MT-520 the accompaniment sounds include short sustain and sound warmer, duller and less dry, which gives the bass voice more pressure. (The bass reminds to Casio MT-800.) The automatic accompaniment algorithm is programmed simpler than with MT-520; it does not recognize played chords and play different patterns for them but only inserts the up to 4 notes of pressed keys into a given pattern (a bit like the archaic Antonelli Star 2379). Thus the played chord is never split into melody lines of alternating notes but only chopped as a staccato. But the benefit of it is that you can not only play any disharmonic non- chords (the MT-520 still could do them) but also rapidly trill multiple accompaniment keys faster than the pattern plays. And in spite of the simple algorithm the available patterns are still reasonably complex (partly contain arpeggios, walking bass lines etc.) and you can manually switch between 4 accompaniment variations per rhythm. Instead of intro and ending there is only a fill-in pattern (with accompaniment) for each rhythm.

Very annoying is that the individual percussion tracks of the "Super Drums" can not be muted individually. Touching any drumpad mutes the rhythm until any key in chord section is pressed; the "bass drum pattern" switch determined whether the base drum of the rhythm stays audible or mutes also. (Unlike MT-520 the "casio chord" switch doesn't disturb running rhythms here.) Each of the 4 drumpads can be quickly switched to 3 different percussion samples; despite this way 12 sounds in total can be played, the 8 fixed OBS drumpads of the MT-520 are more fun to play.

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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