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May 28, 2012

Yamaha FS740SFM Review

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Yamaha FS740SFM Review

The sun is shining and the air is warm. Nice weather to sit down on the terrace, open the cardboard box and there it is… It’s small, it’s new and it’s beautiful! Its half-jumbo size in vintage sunburst finish recalls the Gibson LG01 from the 50’s and 60’s, clandestine bars, cigar smoke, and blues players. It’s time to stop staring at it and put my hands on it.

Description

Yamaha FS740SFM

It feels very pleasant. The frets are not too thick and make chord playing much easier. The Nato neck with faded finish feels very smooth.

It’s thin, round but not too thick, which is convenient for people with small hands and women. The guitar is provided with premium anti-rust Yamaha strings that are ideal for sweaty hands. The rosewood fingerboard features small pearly dots that emphasize the slim shape of the neck with standard scale length (650 mm / 25.6″).

So, what is Nato?

Nato comes from the Malay “kavy o”, which means hard. This is a sacred wood from Madagascar that can also be found in Hawaii and in South Carolina, where our Yamaha guitar comes from. The wood is similar to mahogany but it is more flexible. In the USA, it’s called eastern mahogany. It is frequently used for guitar and ukulele manufacturing. Unfortunately, it reacts badly to temperature changes, so it’s not recommended to play it outdoors on a cold winter evening and then go back home and put it next to the chimney fire.

The guitar is equipped with sealed lubricated tuners. They are not awesome but stay in tune.

The small body matches different styles of playing. The instrument is rather light and its shape naturally fits the body in sitting position. The lacquer has been properly laid on. The rosette with thin abalone inlays and the small turtle scale pickguard give a classy look to the instrument. Aesthetically speaking it is the mix of two different influences: vintage body and modern neck with satin finish, which is quite pleasant.

Now let’s take a closer look…

And How About When Standing Up?

Yamaha FS740SFM

Since I like instruments with king-size body, I usually play sitting down. But considering the compact size of this Yamaha, I took a strap and stood up. It feels pretty good since it’s light and not bulky — almost like holding an electric guitar. You can move your body and dance without the fear of hitting something. But then suddenly hit me and made me sad: I can’t plug it into my amp. Of course, it’s not such a big problem because it is very loud and it can be equipped with a piezo pickup.

As a conclusion, I would say this is a very good acoustic guitar in terms of manufacturing and finish quality. The instrument is available in three versions: natural, vintage cherry sunburst and vintage sunburst. It’s a pity that the guitar is sold without a gigbag. The instrument will fulfill the needs of both beginners and experienced musicians. Its playing comfort and loudness give you a lot of flexibility, which is what most people expect from an acoustic guitar, right? We all want a guitar we can play anywhere, anytime to write new songs and play music just for fun.

Advantages: 
  • Guitar build
  • Powerful sound
  • Versatility
  • Value for money
Drawbacks:
  • No gigbag
  • Some people will find the sound too crystal-clear

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Yamaha FS740SFM Review

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March 1, 2012

Yamaha THR10 Travel Amp Review

Filed under: Amps — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:22 am

Yamaha’s new amplifier range now includes a brand new product: the THR10. It looks like a standard compact amp head. But in fact, this product holds some surprises…

Yamaha THR10

It weights 6.2 lb and has the following dimensions: 14.2″ x 7.2″ x 5.5″. Its cream finish and metal housing with vintage-style knobs give the THR10 an old-school touch although the amp design is definitely modern. The effects hosted in this small amp are based on Yamaha’s VCM modeling technology (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) you’ll find in many other products of the brand. The goal of this technology is to reproduce the behavior of old analog circuits to produce a classic warm sound.

The sleek design of this amp is ideal for musicians who are looking for a simple but effective tool.

Baby let’s play house!

Yamaha THR10

The amp is provided with an external 100/240V (50/60Hz) power supply and some accessories including a comprehensive product manual with lots of images, a USB2 cable to connect to a Mac/PC, and a stereo minijack in/out to connect the amp to a recorder (MD, MP3, etc.). If you want to record your guitar with your Mac/PC, Steinberg’s sequencer Cubase Al is provided for free on the DVD-ROM.

The rear panel of the THR10 includes a DC IN connector for the external PSU and a USB port to communicate with your computer. Later on we’ll tell you about the settings provided by the THR interface. The front panel is a perforated metal grill with stripes that protects two 5-watt speakers. So the “head” can be used alone without the need of an additional speaker. Sweet! The four screws on the front panel contribute to the sleek and classy look of the amp. All settings and tuner LEDs are placed in front of the handle, making access to all features of this small sound machine easier.

Yamaha THR10

Setting up the THR10 is almost “plug and play.” After powering on the device, a soft orange light (recalling the lights of tubes in standard amps) shines through the stripes of the perforated grill. The amp is equipped with Yamaha’s new “Extended Stereo Technology,” which offers a wider stereo image by simulating a greater separation between both speakers. This feature can be disabled with the TAP/TUNER key.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

This small amp surprised us with its compact size and good sound quality. The THR10 meets the needs of both beginners and experienced guitar players looking for a small practice amp. Thanks to its design and sturdiness, you can use this amp at home or even outdoors with batteries. We couldn’t test the battery runtime but the manufacturer states an estimate of 6-7 hours of operation. The price is a bit high, but the product is really appealing.

Advantages: 
  • Great vintage design
  • Light weight and compact size
  • Very good overall sound
  • Internal tuner and effects
  • Manufacturing quality
  • Battery operation
  • Integrated USB audio interface
  • AUX input for play-along applications
Drawbacks:
  • A bit expensive
  • ACO mode is a bit disappointing
  • EQ sometimes ineffective

To read the full detailed review see:  Yamaha THR10 Travel Amp Review

February 2, 2012

Yamaha DTX540K Electronic Drums Review

Filed under: Drums/Percussion — Tags: , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 11:05 am

Yamaha pulls out all the stops with its revolutionary TCS pads in an attempt to make itself appealing to most drummers who still refuse e-drums. As a DTXPress owner and former user, the DTX540K is reminding me the feelings I had when I first left the acoustic path. Thus, I was very excited and had (too?) high expectations when I started this review. Half satisfied.

The End of a Polemic?

Indeed, Yamaha has been making huge improvements on its e-drum kits for several years and has effectively turn some unsuccessful and unauthentic toys into real instruments. From the very beginning of the e-drums history, the pads have been harshly criticized by many drummers because they were wrist damaging, too small and lagged far behind the performance of acoustic drums.

Yamaha DTX540K

Yamaha took this very extended discomfort into account and has come back under the spotlight with a new pad generation. As part of the DTX500 series, whose products are based on the same sound module, the DTX540K offers TCS pads (Textured Cellular Silicone) combining silicone and air blisters for toms and snare drum, and 3-zone pads for cymbals, thus offering extended possibilities to drummers. While in the past they were only practice instruments for drummers living in apartments, Yamaha presents now its new e-drum kits as being much more sexy and capable of competing with products of other manufacturers and even with real acoustic drums.

Ultimate Removal Man

Yamaha DTX540K

Having passed the transportation test — one of drummer’s favorite sports — it’s time for me to unpack the beast. All elements are perfectly well protected in four different cardboard boxes. The box with the RS500 rack is monumental, but after taking it out of its protection cover I was positively surprised to see that it was already assembled. Thus, I immediately forgave the effort required for transportation — and I could vaguely remember the nightmare it was to assemble the rack of my DTXPress. Yamaha has simplified things greatly and assembly is now a breeze: just spread out the two main upright posts of the rack and put the tom supports and the cymbal holders into the right position. All other parts of the product are logically sorted in the three remaining boxes so that assembling is not unpleasant at all.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

To wrap it up, the DTX540K is a mid-range product with some pros and cons. Some elements are just perfect, especially the rack, the XP70, XP80, and PCY135 pads, as well as some features of the module that allow you to practice more efficiently. But the sounds, the PCY100 cymbal pads and the KP65 kick darken the picture a little bit. This results in a wandering between pleasure and frustration that makes you want to look at more expensive drum kits to reduce your dissatisfaction.

The price of the instrument seems a bit too high. But the price certainly has to do with the new-generation pads. For example, the only difference compared to the DTX520K are the XP70 tom pads, which results in a substantial increase in price. The DTX540K is in the same price segment as the TD 9 K2 from Roland — another giant on the e-drums market — whose pads have a different design (meshed heads) and feel. It’s all a matter of taste I guess. The pad war is still raging and there appears to be no end in sight!

Anyway, this Yamaha is a good practice drum set for a wide range of musicians and it offers a good playing comfort in spite of its handicaps. However, it didn’t convince me enough to take it on stage instead of my acoustic drum kit. But who knows what surprises the future will bring…

Advantages:
  • TCS pads
  • PCY135 cymbal
  • RS500 rack
  • User-friendly DTX500 sound module
  • Practice-based features (metronome, groove check, play-along, record)
Drawbacks:
  • KP65 bass-drum pad
  • Samples
  • Badly placed volume control

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Yamaha DTX540K Review

September 19, 2009

Yamaha Tyros 3: The Arranger Keyboard Rearranged

Filed under: keyboards — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:32 am
Yamaha Tyros 3 product review

Perpetuating the Tyros line for the third time, Yamaha presents a new, high-technology arranger keyboard that provides a rarely achieved musicality.

Some time ago, arranger keyboards were the “poor cousins” of the music industry. Those gadgets became educational tools for children and then for adults looking for strong musical sensations. Today, they are powerful production workstations with a large ROM, sample memories, DTD, USB port, etc. Some manufacturers equip them with technologies developed originally for their workstations, which results in the latter being not so predominant anymore. The Korg PA2X, for example, includes a real Triton/M3-like synth. Ketron’s Audia is a comprehensive audio loop machine with real-time pitch shifting and time stretching functions. The Tyros 3 is not fancy and Yamaha decided to improve every possible function of the original concept: sound realism, harmonization, FX processor and user interface.

A look under the hood

Yamaha Tyros 3

Like its predecessors, the Tyros 3 is fitted inside a PVC housing with gray aluminum finish on the top and black finish on the bottom. Considering its price range, I would have preferred a brushed aluminum housing that made it look more classy without adding much weight. Even if it is not made for that, do consider getting a carry case because the part underneath the keys tends to bend if you push on it. The manufacturer offers a very nice-looking one with the “Tyros 3” logo embroidered on it. The FSX keyboard has 61 velocity and pressure-sensitive keys. It’s the best light keyboard we have ever tested: straight response, perfect balance and full control. This keyboard is even better than the famous Yamaha model on the DX7, Korg Trinity and Triton… Yamaha has been constantly improving the layout of the different control sections since the first Tyros came out. This time around the layout seems perfectly thought-out. On the left side you will find everything regarding styles and sequences: in the lower part is the style control (intros, variations, breaks, endings, accompaniment modes, tempo, pads, etc.), in the middle part are the style selection buttons sorted by category, and in the upper part the sequencer controls. You can also find the mic section here: settings, vocal harmonies, etc.

Right at the center of the device is the big 7.5″ VGA display (640×480 dots). Its active color matrix provides a strong luminosity and an excellent definition. The display is adjustable (but not motorized–as if someone cared). It is surrounded by buttons for selecting sounds and styles, navigating within the different menu pages and direct editing of parameters. It’s nice and does its job pretty well. The fact that it’s not touch screen is not a problem at all, on the contrary that will help you keep it cleaner. Below the display, you’ll find eight pairs of function buttons (to edit values in the menu pages) and nine very-much-appreciated sliders that not only allow you to edit faster with the integrated mixer (more on this later), but are crucial for the modeled drawbar organ presets. As soon as you select one of these presets, the display shows a graphic representation of some Hammond B3-like drawbars, that you can control with the sliders in real-time for live applications. This is a great improvement on the older models and we celebrate it.

Last but not least: the right side of the device is dedicated to sound presets. In the lower part you can control the snapshots, the OTS registrations (more on this later), the main L/R channels and the select/mute functions of the different channels. In the middle, you’ll find the preset selection buttons sorted by category. The upper part is dedicated to the different effect sections of the presets. And you also have here the direct-to-disc section (more on this later) and the system menus.

Conclusion
Yamaha Tyros 3
The Tyros 3 is the result of top-quality improvements that started years ago. It has been a long way since the first version of the product. Its indisputable musicality is the instrument’s most outstanding quality–leaving the competition far behind, especially when it come to the new SA2 sounds and their unique expressiveness. The styles also gained more sound realism thanks to the new drum samples and the generous FX section. The 61-note keyboard has an exceptional quality but unfortunately there’s no 88-key version available. In spite of its impressive number of settings, the Tyros 3 is highly ergonomic and easy to use, making it the ideal solution for professional stage applications. People who like to mess around with sounds and styles will not be disappointed either, and the Tyros 3 is also a nice studio tool. However, we regret that the sound synthesis was “outsourced” to a software (considering the size of the display), and that the sequencer is based around the arranger. The all-plastic assembly and the few accessories provided are also disappointing, considering the price of the product. But our overall impression is very positive. When you start one of the styles of the Tyros 3, you can’t help putting your fingers on the keyboard and start beating the floor with your foot… it’s easy to be inspired!

Pluses:

  • Supreme sound
  • Accompaniments’ quality
  • Excellent keyboard manufacturing
  • Comprehensive connectivity
  • Drawbar organs modeling
  • Number of powerful multi-effects
  • Highly ergonomic user interface
  • Direct-to-Disc function
  • Sound editor for PC/Mac
  • Wave samples import

Drawbacks:

  • Plastic construction
  • Limited direct editing
  • Arranger-based sequencer
  • Few accessories included
  • Commercialism at its best (or worst)

To read the full detailed article see:    Yamaha Tyros 3 Review

August 21, 2009

Yamaha – LLX-36C Acoustic Electric Guitar

Yamaha shows off a new acoustic-electric: the LLX 36C.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

May 13, 2009

Yamaha NCX-2000FM & NTX-1200R Acoustic Guitars

Yamaha gives us an exclusive presentation of two new top of the line acoustic-electric Nylon String guitars, the NCX2000FM & NTX1200R. Don’t miss the nice classical guitar playing at the end!

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.


April 18, 2009

Video Demo: Steinberg The Grand 3 Virtual Piano

Steinberg presents the 3.0 version of their famous virtual piano featuring five famous pianos: Yamaha C7, Bösendorfer 290, Steinway D., Yamaha CP80 Electric Grand, and a Nordiska upright.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

January 26, 2009

Test: Yamaha Tenori-On Review

Filed under: Sequencers — Tags: , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:38 am
Unidentified Musical Object
Yamaha Tenori-On: The Test

In the world of electronic instruments, when you think innovation, the name Yamaha rarely comes to mind! Yet this Japanese company was the creator of the first FM synthesizer, the DX7. So just to show you that that they can still innovate, Yamaha has created the Tenori-On, a sort of UMO (Unidentified Musical Object) halfway between a musical instrument and a portable game console.

tenorion

At first glance, it’s tempting to compare the Tenori-On with devices that look similar like certain MIDI controllers (Monome for example). Although its 16×16 button grid might make you think this, the Tenori-On offers much more than just a MIDI controller. It’s a tone generator, a sequencer with multiple modes, and a sample reader all in one. The Tenori-On therefore has much more to it than just what the buttons might lead you to think…

A bit of its back history and philosophy

Originally, the Tenori-On concept was developed by a member of Yamaha’s R&D department (its motorcycle section!) in his free time … Once the basics were well established, Toshio Iwai (the illustrious creator of ElectroPlancton for Nintendo DS) finalized the instrument. Though he’s adept at audio and visual experiences, Toshio Iwai is not really a musician. That’s why one of the basic axioms of the Tenori-On is that it is not designed specifically for musicians, but also geared towards visual performances as well as audio. Therefore, as we’ll see, the instrument is missing some features that can be found almost everywhere else. This does not stop it however from offering innovative performance modes and work flow.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

bizarre

The Tenori-On really stands out from the rest, both with it’s very limited features in some aspects, and its completely innovative ones in others. What destabilizes the average musician is that they soon realize that it isn’t made primarily for musicians. There are large functional gaps that are obvious to aficionados of electronic instruments: it’s impossible to edit sounds, basic management of samples, etc.. You must therefore change your way of thinking and let yourself be guided by the instrument, approaching it visually as well as sonically. The different performance modes open up new perspectives and fortunately MIDI capability expands the possibilities of the device. But innovation and originality have a price. At $1200 MSRP, even if the manufacturing quality is very good, its limitations will start to be felt by your wallet. But it has a “endearing” quality to it that’s non negligible, and has been adopted by many artists, including Bjork. So a final verdict is very much based on subjectivity. Either you’ll enter fully into the strange world of Tenori-On, accepting its limitations, or you’ll fall back on something a bit more classic. I have chosen: I’m a fan! and you?

Lots of fun
An unusual and original instrument
Innovative performance modes
Easy learning curve
A real “sound and light show” when used live

A lot of limitations and functional gaps
Sample player is a bit basic
Sounds: Either you love them or hate them
Pricey despite a very nice look and its manufacturing quality

To read the full, detailed article see:   Yamaha Tenori-On Review

January 13, 2009

Video Demo: Yamaha Tenori-On

Filed under: Sequencers — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:30 am

Here is a short demo of the Yamaha Tenori-On sequencer.

Source:  Audiofanzine

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