Casio VL1 VL-Tone Program Your Own Sounds

Program your own sounds in the Casio VL-Tone aka Casio VL1

I have made a short video to show you how to program your own sounds in the Casio VL-Tone aka Casio VL1.

The Casio VL1 aka VL-Tone is a hybrid synthesizer and calculator from the 1980s. It has 5 built-in sounds, a rhythm machine, and a 100-note recorder/sequencer. You can also program your own sounds using the calculator function. This video shows you how to do that!

If you don’t want to follow the video, here is a step-by-step guide on how you can programme your own sounds in the Casio VL-Tone / VL1

  1. Power on the Casio VL-Tone / VL1
  2. Move the top-right Switch to Calculator Mode (next to Off)
  3. Press the MC (Memory Clear) button
  4. Press the number keys to make a number up to 9 digits long. The numbers correspond to functions such as the waveform type, the Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, and Vibrato of the sound itself.
  5. Move the top-right Switch to Play
  6. Move the instrument switch to ADSR
  7. Play the keys to listen to your sound!
  8. Repeat from step 2 to make a new sound

For an explanation about the different waveforms and functions, see this great article by Syntherjack.

The VL1 in the video is a bit worse for wear but it still works perfectly after nearly 40 years!

The keyboard in the background is the Akai MPK Mini Play Mk3 MIDI keyboard controller with built-in sounds.

Watch my video review of the Akai MPK Mini Play Mk3 here.

Interesting fact: The Casio VL-Tone VL1 was used by Trio in their song Da Da Da.

AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 Midi Keyboard with speakers out now! – Review and First Look

Akai Professional have just released a new version of their best-selling MPK Mini Play MIDI Keyboard with speakers. The AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 is a 25-note MIDI controller, and a portable keyboard with 128 built-in sounds.

Akai MPK Mini Play MK3 unboxing video

New Features

The Mini Play is a step up from the previous model, and now includes the 2nd generation dynamic keybed and MPC-type drum pads that are standard on the Mark 3 MPK Mini controller, which was released last year (2021). There is a larger built-in speaker compared to the old version of the Play, with better bass/low end response. The layout of the device has changed since the last version. It seems that Akai have altered the shape of the pads that are on the MPK Mini. They’re rectangular rather than square, which I presume is to create space for four of the dials/pots, which have been moved above the drum pads. The dials in turn have been moved in order to make space for the larger built-in speaker!

The built-in sounds seem to have been improved since the last version, but you’ll need to plug in some headphones to hear the best of them. The sounds look they’re standard General Midi presets, with pianos, synths, and orchestral names, but there’s no sign of the GM logo anywhere on the keyboard.

On the rear of the keyboard, there’s a switch to change between External (USB) power or internal batteries (4 x AA). This user had a few problems opening the battery compartment at the rear. Maybe my fingers, but it did feel like it may snap at any time! There’s also a USB-B socket, to connect to a computer, a 1/8 inch headphone jack, and a 1/4 inch sustain pedal socket.

Portability

Although the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 can be used a MIDI controller, and map to your favourite DAW, it’s best feature is its portability. According to AKAI, the battery-life is now 14 hours, so you’ll get plenty of time before you have to replace them. Overall, for anyone who wants a portable synth to take anywhere and doodle around some tunes, it looks like it’s going to be well-worth investing in.

Conclusion

It’s worth noting that although the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 is now available to buy on Amazon (affiliate link) and many other online and physical stores, it still isn’t featured on the AKAI website. Rumour has it that it will be officially launched in March this year (2022), so look out for more news on my website, or check out my unboxing video/first thoughts on the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 on my Youtube channel or at the top of this page.

Beats and Beatstars

Although I’ve been making downtempo, dub, and similar sorts of music for years (as well as remixing other people’s songs), by kids think I should get “with it” and start making “beats” instead. I honestly had very little idea of what they were talking about, until they started playing rap songs in the car, and told me that it isn’t usually the rapper who makes the music for these songs. I didn’t realise that the rapper has someone else do this, but something licences (or not!) these “beats” from someone else. After listening to a few raps songs and youtube tutorials about making “beats”, I had a go at making some myself on my new Akai MPK Mini Mark 3, and my kids think the beats are “sick” !!!

I’ve since found out that you can put these beats on a marketplace, and on Youtube for people to license, so I’ve upload a couple to Beatstars.com, and onto my Youtube channel. So far there have been many plays, or sales (none!) but I’m having fun making the beats. If anyone who’s reading this needs some beats or likes the ones in the video, let me know in the comments on Youtube, or via my beatstars account.