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Yamaha: New Products

Interview | Manufacturer By Paul White
Published December 1994

Yamaha have taken the unusual step of launching 15 new products between major trade shows. Paul White was lured to the NEC by the promise of a free lunch and a cup of coffee.

Yamaha held their biggest ever simultaneous product launch at the end of October, at which no fewer than 15 new hi‑tech and pro audio products were unveiled. The event was, of course, attended by SOS!

Many of the new launches will be of interest to SOS readers, including the modular version of Yamaha's VL1 physical‑modelling instrument, the VL1‑m. Still sporting a hefty price tag (£2199), the new, 3U module is nonetheless more accessibly priced than its keyboard counterpart and still offers essentially the same facilities. Also unveiled was the VL7 keyboard. Like the VL1, this is a Virtual Acoustics synthesis instrument based on wind instrument modelling and compatible with VL1 voices. The exotic wooden front panel has been replaced by plastic and the instrument is monophonic rather than duophonic, but pretty much everything else is as per VL1, other than the more accessible price tag of £2199.

The P300 electronic performance piano packs the performance of the P500 flagship AWM piano into a more economical, but still costly, £2,999 package. This instrument features an 88‑note keyboard with a natural, weighted feel, on‑board digital effects, 5‑band graphic equaliser and the usual array of wheels and sliders necessary for master keyboard control applications.

Not wanting to neglect the guitarist, Yamaha also introduced the GW33 guitar multi‑effects processor, which employs hybrid analogue/digital technology to create a vast array of contemporary guitar sounds. The GW33 is presented in the familiar pedalboard format and costs £359.

The diminutive MU5 GM‑compatible tone generator is cosmetically similar to the QY20 and boasts 128 tones, eight drum kits and an inbuilt MIDI/computer interface. Retailing at £225, the MU5 also includes a miniature two‑octave keyboard and battery powering, making it extremely portable.

For those needing something a little more powerful, the half‑rack MU80 (£699) delivers 32‑part multitimbrality, 64‑note polyphony, four on‑board effects processors, 660 instrument voices and 18 drum kits. Obviously, with 32‑part multitimbrality, the unit needs two MIDI inputs, which it has, alongside digital mixing and EQ, a separate graphic equaliser and two external audio inputs which may be mixed and effected in the same way as the internal sounds.

On the workstation front, Yamaha launched the W7 and W5 keyboards, which combine existing AWM2 tone generating technology with up to six simultaneous digital effects. The integral sequencer has a 100,000 note capacity, and the only difference between the two models is that the W5 has a 76‑note keyboard while the W7 has a 61‑note keyboard. The two models are priced at £1649 and £1399 respectively.

After a brief break for coffee and biscuits, we were introduced to the new hi‑tech products.

First out of the bag came the MX200 stereo mixer which will be available in 8‑, 12‑, 16‑ and 24‑input frame sizes. These are relatively inexpensive desks and seem to be targeted at the general purpose/PA market. Also on show was the MM1242 12:2 mixer which may be used on the desktop or rackmounting. This console has 4‑band EQ on all channels, balanced XLR mic inputs with phantom power, and four aux sends.

On the recording side, Yamaha's brand‑new MT50 cassette multitracker offers simultaneous recording on all four tracks, mic preamps on all four input channels, tape sync facilities, dbx noise reduction, 2‑band EQ on each channel and metering on all four channels. Not in itself a new concept perhaps, but when you consider the £379 price tag, it starts to look rather attractive. Also very competitively priced is the REV100 multi‑effects processor. With an RRP of just £249, this 1U processor provides preset delay, reverb and modulation treatments that can be further modified by means of dedicated front panel controls. We've been suggesting this approach for synths for years now, so perhaps a twiddlable preset sound module isn't too far away?

For the professional, the D5000 is a dedicated delay processor designed for recording and sound reinforcement applications. With a 50kHz sampling frequency, the delay (or sample) time can be up to 10.4 seconds, adjustable in 0.02mS steps. There are six independent delay taps, each with pan, time and level controls, and delay times may be set directly or by means of timecode, trigger or tempo. Gated and ducked delay effects are included, but as yet, no price is available.

Finally, the S15 and S55 compact loudspeakers are aimed at the general‑purpose market. The main difference between the two models is power handling, with the S15s being rated at 80W and the S55 at 140W each. The quoted frequency response is 60Hz to 40kHz for the S55s and 65Hz to 40kHz for the smaller S15, and the price (per speaker) is £99 for the S15 and £179 for the S55. It was difficult to evaluate these speakers in a large conference hall, but they seem well worth a closer look.