VOICE ARRANGER VA-10   small digital synth keyboard
with effect processor & sing input

This very interesting Casio keyboard from 1994 has a built-in digital effect processor with microphone input, which can produce many kinds of reverberations, pitch shifting, vibrato/ tremolo, chorus, flanger (sounds like mellow tape mess, but is great for celestial sound pads) and some very weird howling feedback/ LFO sounds those resemble much to 1950th horror or psycho thriller movie effects. The instrument is also claimed to have a vocoder function, but this effect is rather fake, because unlike a genuine vocoder it seems to completely ignore the timbre of the input signal but only controls the keyboard sound volume by the microphone volume, thus it could be best described as an envelope follower or "1 band vocoder". (Despite it can sound nice and quite vocoder- like by skilful playing the right keyboard notes to simulate timbre changes.) There are also some odd and very poor sounding other effects in it; e.g. "distortion" sounds extremely harsh and digital (like a badly clipping transistor amp). The keyboard has even a monophonic "pitch sensor" feature which is claimed to convert sing input into keyboard notes, but this revolutionary function works so badly that it is basically unusable because it continuously jumps into wrong octaves.

Generally this keyboard's sound quality is partly very lo-fi and at the edge between toy and real instrument, thus it is likely no replacement for a modern studio effect processor. (The initial retail price had been about 199€, which later dropped to 49€.) But due to the effects can drastically modify the 100 fixed preset keyboard sounds and each effect can even be adjusted by up to 2 parameters (e.g. intensity and frequency) using the drumpad buttons, the DSP feature should be mainly understood rather as a versatile digital synthesizer function than a serious effect processor.

main features:




The main voice preset sounds resemble much the Casio SA series keyboards. (I haven't analyzed the hardware yet.)

It's a pity why Casio didn't make the keyboard note pitch freely playable through the "pitch sensor" without the 12 notes per octave rasterization. Also a simple sampling feature (like in the Casio SK-1) would have extended the capabilities of this instrument a lot, and the keyboard should be longer than 32 keys.

Someone now fortunately e-mailed me the manual of this instrument and explained how the "harmony arranger" works. This is what he wrote about it:

I bought this recently and found that I was quite disappointed in it till I tried the harmony arranger.  When you record your solo and press the 'harmony arranger' button, the keyboard creates the backing track with all the chords.  You can refine the tune by pressing the 'melody quantize' button which then moves the notes to the nearest precise timing (if that makes sense).  I was amazed that on my first attempt at using this feature, I had created a nice little tune with my fumbles on the keyboard :)  It's great for working things out very quickly.
 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
back to tablehooters collection