Yamaha have taken their MX range of “music synthesizers” and given them a refresh. The new MX Synthesizer is available in original black or a rather natty CS1X blue. They continue the idea of being lightweight, compatible and compact keyboards packed with MOTIF sounds.
Yamaha MX Synthesizer
Along with the two colours there are two sizes, a 49 key version called the MX49 and a 61 key version imaginatively called the MX61. Both are suffixed with “BK” or “BU” to denote colour and differentiate them from the original MX range. Inside are 1000 “carefully selected sounds” from the Yamaha MOTIF XS workstation keyboard. There’s very little information on the Yamaha website about how editable the sounds are – how much of a synthesizer it is. But I do know that it’s all PCM-based with up to 128 notes of polyphony, 16-part multi-timbral and unchanged from the original MX range.
There are four knobs that are the only continuous controllers to crack the surface of this otherwise button-strewn keyboard. They have three functions each covering the usual suspects of cutoff, resonance, effects, envelope and mixing. The rest of the interface is straight out of when we forgot what made synths cool.
One key feature Yamaha are pushing is the control over VST’s and DAWs. This works via a remote template that allows you to map the four knobs and various buttons to your VST instruments and effects. There’s special integration with Cubasis LE on the iPad which is unlocked by plugging the synth into the iOS device.
They come with new class compliant drivers for iOS, OSX and Windows for both audio and MIDI. This makes them very useful as home studio keyboards. There’s another app thrown in called FM Essential which adds some FM sounds via another iOS device. You can even plug the iPad back into the synth using the AUX input.
Yamaha on another planet
Yamaha appear to be completely unaware of what’s going on in the world of synthesis. Maybe the Reface range was a nod to a slightly larger world but otherwise their focus remains on these huge, flat keyboard workstations. Don’t worry about packing it full of creative, tweakable opportunity, oh no, just pack it with loads of sounds and effects. There is definitely a market for this sort of synth. Being smaller and lighter than a MOTIF you could tuck this under your arm and take it to the pub to perform. It has loads of sounds which will please the home keyboard player no end.
However, I don’t think this sort of keyboard should call itself a “synthesizer” anymore. That term has been reclaimed by the joy of creating sounds rather than browsing presets. There’s also a terrible promotional video below which kind of sums up how far away they are from the synthesizer community.
I can’t find any UK pricing information but the US has the MX49 BK/BU and MX61 BK/BU at $799 and $999 respectively.
More information can be found on the Yamaha MX BK/BU series product page.