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The S80 is a beefy apparatus in every faculty of the word. This austere synth offers an abundant palette of accent colours, initially based on Yamaha’s AWM2 technology; abounding onboard complete programming with visually acceptable alteration software; and a abundance of ambassador capabilities that are beautifully anticipation out. Kin to Yamaha’s dance-oriented CS6x/6R, the S80 uses the above complete agent as the CS but is advancing against pianists, alms added piano sounds, a abounding action, and a added bourgeois look. On the added hand, the S80 lacks the CS’s sample-loading Phrase Clip feature-not to acknowledgment its techno attitude.
The S80 is all about control. With its 88-note abounding keyboard action, this is not an apparatus for one-finger sample-stabbers. It’s a grown-up’s synthesizer, meant for accession who can actually play-preferably piano-and who won’t be abashed by weight beneath the fingers. It’s additionally a synth for accession who can allow a roadie-or at the actual atomic a adapted flight case.
As acclaimed earlier, there’s annihilation abolitionist about the synth’s actualization (see Fig. 1). The S80 is big and black, with a babyish (40 by 2-character) backlit display. A pod of buttons to the adapted of the affectation accesses the modes of operation: Articulation for distinct patches and Performance for multitimbral patches, additional Utility, Card, Edit, and Job. Flanked by assorted inc/dec, avenue and enter, yes/no, and play/stop buttons, it’s all altogether apparent and simple to see and operate.
Farther to the adapted comes a above pod of buttons that admission the sound-memory banks and items therein. These are labeled Piano, Organ, Strings, and so on-labels that consistently affair the pro amateur because they scream preset! But abhorrence not. The ROM sounds actuality are of a college accepted than best of us will anytime affairs in a lifetime, and there’s affluence of amplitude for user patches.
Beneath the awning are seven rotary knobs: two gray, click-stopped Folio and Abstracts controls and bristles assignable knobs for real-time admission and ascendancy over the on-screen parameters. Aloof to the larboard are four assignable sliders and a adept aggregate slider, and way over on the top left-hand ancillary of the ascendancy console are a center-detented angle caster and a mod wheel. The position of the auto is conceivably a bit uncomfortable, but to accept placed them added commonly to the larboard of the keyboard would add several inches assimilate an already diffuse animal.
At the rear (see Fig. 2), you’ll acquisition aloof the capital L/R outputs and two abandoned audio outs, a agreement that I feel is a little beggarly for this abundant complete generator. (However, the S80 accepts Yamaha’s new mLAN card, which gives you eight channels of agenda I/O via IEEE 1394, or FireWire.) But you’ll acquisition affluence of control-device inputs-breath, footswitch, sustain, volume-a To Host computer terminal, and an A/D ascribe with accretion control, the allowances of which I’ll accord with later. You additionally get, of course, the accepted MIDI ports, as able-bodied as a agenda aperture for SmartMedia disposable storage.
Yamaha’s architectonics affection does not charge my endorsement. Aggregate is as able and athletic as one could anytime achievement for. At aloof beneath 53 pounds, this is no failing synth, but it’s beneath than bisected the weight of a Fender Rhodes. Its actually abounding 88-note keyboard is as acceptable as you’re activity to acquisition today and actually is awash by Yamaha to added manufacturers for their piano-action instruments.
Smart or not so smart
The S80 has no deejay drive. Yamaha has called the cost-effective SmartMedia cards for alien accumulator and for loading of complete and arrangement data.
SmartMedia is a added adjustable and forward-thinking medium, with a greater accumulator accommodation than either floppies or the agenda slots in best synths. Yamaha recommends application the S80’s play-only sequencer with Accepted MIDI Files, but I am not acquainted of any commercially attainable SMFs on SmartMedia yet.
Fortunately, you can alteration files through the computer interface application the supplied Agenda Filer software. Nevertheless, a billowing drive would accept been, ahem, smarter than SmartMedia alone, in my opinion, because it’s beneath hassle.
The S80 organizes itself actual commonly into single-patch sounds (Voices) and multitimbral sounds (Performances). There are 256 “normal” (pitched) preset Choir offered in Preset 1 and Preset 2 banks, as able-bodied as allowance to abundance 128 user programs. Besides that, you get eight preset boom Choir and allowance to abundance two user boom Voices.
Maximum accord is 64 notes, admitting in this ambience the chat “note” actually should be “Element.” An Element is the S80’s aboriginal accession of sound, absolute an oscillator-pitch-filter-amplifier alternation of command that processes Yamaha AWM2-sampled waveforms. This agency that, as with best sample-based synths, if you use a complete absolute four Elements, the accord will be bargain to 16 notes, which is not a lot nowadays. But best sounds use no added than two Elements; and as I’ll detail later, you can admission the polyphony, as able-bodied as the cardinal of sounds, application constituent boards.
A Performance can abide of up to 19 Parts, a somewhat arresting account that can accommodate Choir (normal or drum), A/D ascribe Parts, or Constituent Parts. Performances can be simple articulation sandwiches or awful customized concoctions of benumbed and Velocity-switched Voices, complete with centralized and alien ambassador assignments. There are 128 Performances stored in ROM; accession 64 user Performances can be stored internally.
Plug and play
Switch on and alpha arena the adorable Yamaha S700 Admirable Piano sample in “StereoGrnd,” preset 1, and you’ll apperceive you’re in the attendance of greatness. This is a complete you could animate with calmly for years to come. It has life, richness, tonal depth, and clashing some of the too-smooth Korg and Roland pianos-plenty of chaw and character.
At this point, the S80’s awning offers you ascendancy of a 3-band “tone-control” clear EQ and absolute admission to the choir and reverb depths. These bristles ambit can be adapted application the bristles bendable knobs beneath (A, B, C, 1, and 2). You’re not bedevilled to EQ and furnishings ascendancy alone, though; you can set up anniversary Articulation with burning admission to the ambit you appetite to control. Knobs 1 and 2 can ascendancy altered ambit for anniversary Voice, while knobs A, B, and C are all-around and ascendancy the above user-selected ambit for all Voices.
It’s time to get atrocious and actually assay this beast: let’s hit the attainable Furnishings Bypass button (well done, Yamaha) and ascendancy bottomward two low Cs an octave apart. Time ticks by . . . 10 seconds, 20 seconds. . . . The sound, at aboriginal advancing and rasping, boring cape off to a balmy becloud and assuredly tapers to a pinpoint. You can’t accountability that. No apparent loop, no cardinal crunching, no fall-off (or, worse, absolute sustain).
In the Piano category, the S80 starts with StereoGrnd and goes on to activity a hardly added condensed, allegedly close-miked admirable piano; a accumulating of acoustic pianos alignment from aphotic to “slamming” anxious (for example, Elton John about 1978); electrics like the Yamaha CP2000 electric grand; and a cardinal of “piano-pluses,” such as “oohs” and strings.
Before I get too acutely circuitous in a sound-by-sound analysis, let’s amble on a brace of Yamaha solutions to one of today’s best arid keyboard problems: “I’ve so abounding sounds to accept from that bisected my time is ashen aloof aggravating to acquisition them.”
S80 band-aid 1 is a button apparent Quick Access; by acute it, you’re dialled into what Yamaha considers the 16 “best of” sounds aural that category, no bulk area in anamnesis (Preset 1, Preset 2, or Internal) the complete is actually located.
Solution 2 is Articulation Chic Search, with which you can chase for all piano-type (PF) voices, all guitar (GT) voices, and so on. By such means, I bound apparent that a accepted S80 has added than 60 pianos resident.
Whichever agency you choose, abyssal about the S80 in accustomed circadian use is fast and hassle-free. You can instantly admission affluence of air-conditioned ambit application the assignable sliders, knobs, and pedals. The absolute attributes of such ascendancy is larboard up to you. Appetite some adequate arpeggiation in the larboard duke of a Performance? How about austere clarify tweaking on a advance synth? Delicate Velocity switching on a alarm bass? It’s your thing; do what you appetite to do.
You charge accessory this
AWM2 is one of the bulk technologies acclimated on Yamaha’s EX5 synthesizer. This sample-based amalgam architectonics may not be cutting-edge, but Yamaha squeezes every scintilla of complete affection and playability from the S80’s 24 MB waveform pool.
Of the distinct Voices, the above StereoGrnd piano is stellar, but I additionally admired some of the electric pianos (Bel Roadz, Erl Fusion). The Clavinets are appropriately adaptable and expressive, clashing the collapsed and changeless simulations of Hohner’s 1970s masterpiece begin in best synths.
Brass, too, is able-bodied represented, as you’d apprehend from an apparatus of EX5 lineage. The generically blue-blooded Average Brass is the aces of the crop; it plays beautifully, with aloof the adapted bulk of tonal adornment beneath Velocity control. Aback I activated it to ahead recorded parts, I begin the complete impressively accommodating, too: genitalia that had been recorded application added synths artlessly sprang to life.
Gamelan may not be top of your ambition list, but if you’re attractive for alien alarm tones you’ll be absolute abroad by the S80’s aerial Gamelan preset. This, like so abounding of the natural-instrument presets, seems to abide in a actually accustomed environment. It’s about spooky.
But the S80 is not aloof about replicating real-world sounds. It is additionally a fierce, filter-laden monster, alms not alone a dozen or so clarify types-including beating filters-but real-time bulge control, too. Check out the abundantly articulate PhazFilter or, for one of those affable and alarming types, Bendable Dream. Some presets accommodate adroit elements; I decidedly admired Rndm Gruv and ShineSeq 1. If you were a Korg Wavestation fan, you’ll be catered to accurately here.
The affection of an apparatus is perceived not alone in its complete but additionally in its admiration aback played. S80 sounds assume to accept air in them, a far cry from the generally fossilized-sounding apple of synthesis. And it’s not aloof a catechism of accurate use of reverb-it’s the aberration amid recording a guitar through a absolute box and afraid a $2,000 Neumann mic in advanced of your accurate Fender Twin. These sounds accept activity and breath, adapted aback to the aboriginal samples. Moreover, abundant like myself if I may say so, they allege properly. Whether it’s the preciously preserved advance allocation of the complete or the attenuate use of Aftertouch to abet an added characteristic, the sounds aloof feel adapted beneath the fingers.
Very animate in performances
80 multisounds appear in several varieties. Best acutely there are fat, layered patches for approved playing-including the binding brass-based agreeable arena with Velocity-accessed timpani-as able-bodied as massive cord orchestras and affluence of fizz-bang synths. Performances can comprise alone benumbed instruments; for instance, the S80 has accession of today’s binding patches that appearance animated piano, bass, and drums. In addition, Yamaha has best carefully provided some arrangement Performances, with sounds attainable on abstracted channels for multitimbral sequencing, and a affirmation Adept Keyboard Performance (H16) that cracks accessible the aperture to a apple of Total Ascendancy for your absolute animate keyboard rig.
Multisound patches consistently accomplish ear-catching abandoned playing, although most, frankly, are abortive alfresco the borders of a music abundance or your own egoistic noodling. The S80’s multisound Performances, abundant on amazing arpeggiator work, are top drawer. Normally, authoritative adjustments on a multisound involves boring yourself aback into an instrument’s sound-editing pages to corruption the abandoned apparatus from which the multisound has been assembled. Happily the S80’s use of Genitalia aural a Performance agency you can corruption with about ease. You can, for instance, Quick Adapt anniversary bandage aural a Performance, including its filter, envelope, level, and effects.
The accepted abstraction that the S80 is not awash as a Accepted MIDI instrument; however, as architect of the XG superset of GM, Yamaha is acutely a GM-mindful company. Accordingly, a set of what Yamaha calls “Pseudo GM compliant” sounds is attainable for Internet download. This complete set can be loaded via SmartMedia agenda into the Alien anamnesis location.
If GM is capital to your assignment (and its accessibility is actually above catechism these days), again I’d acerb acclaim purchasing the PLG100XG constituent module. It not alone gives you a abounding accompaniment of 700-plus Choir in abounding GM/XG layout, but additionally adds 32 addendum of accord and 16 multitimbral Parts.
AWM2 on board
Yamaha’s AWM2 amalgam technology has been about a while, but actuality sample-based it is consistently accessible to afterlight with beginning waveforms. The S80’s 24 MB of waveform ROM offers added than 500 complete bites to use as the atom of your sound. (The waveforms are compressed, so this actually is the agnate of about 40 MB of uncompressed samples.)
A distinct Articulation can be fabricated from up to four Elements, anniversary of which can use a abstracted waveform for its oscillator. Element oscillators can be set in agreement of output, pan, pitch, and agenda range. They additionally can administer a five-stage angle envelope and angle scaling, which adjusts the acceleration of the pitch-envelope ascendancy according to area you are arena on the keyboard. Anniversary Element can administer an admittance aftereffect or accept Thru to bypass the effects-a actual abundant and advantageous facility.
Is this all a little too detailed? Of course, 99.9 per cent of S80 users will use and corruption the presets, pausing alone in an emergency to corruption a tone’s accurateness or attack. This is actually fine. But I am admiring to see that Yamaha neither denies the tweakers admission to the ambit nor compels them to use alien alteration software unless they feel so inclined. Cross-platform alteration software is provided on CD-ROM, I accelerate to add, but you won’t charge it. I charge abeyance actuality to acclaim the S80’s acutely labelled screens and well-written user manual.
Back to Complete Central. Filters comedy a acute allotment in any synthesizer, and the S80 provides a best of 12 basal clarify types, selectable-and this is actual important-per Element. Your choices accommodate some blends (12 dB/octave lowpass additional highpass), a bevvy of lowpass types with altered slopes and extractions (24 dB/octave to 6 dB/octave, agenda and analogue), two strengths of highpass, and three selections of bandpass/band-reject. This is able stuff-perfect for creating angry Moogy sounds, slimmer and trimmer ARP-type tones, raw and bold basses, and intricate effects. It’s absorbing to comedy about with the agenda and alternation lowpass alternatives. Of course, “analogue” actuality actually agency “analogue-like,” but these filters are actually smoother and beneath arduous than the agenda filters. It’s abundant to accept options.
Resonance is attainable throughout, as a accord booster for the lowpass filters and as a amplitude adjuster on bandpass. You additionally can administer multistage envelope bearing and clarify scaling. Sorry to harp on about it, but remember, this is all per Element.
Velocity can be tailed to Mars Pathfinder accurateness (well, conceivably there’s a added adulatory analogy), and you can ascendancy the amplifier date with a five-stage envelope architect and scaling.
The hardware-based Element LFO is a bit underpowered, with aloof three waveshapes (sawtooth, triangle, and square), acceleration and abyss controls, and pitch/filter/amplifier modulation. KeySync resets the LFO aeon with anniversary played note. Unfortunately, the LFO cannot accompany to MIDI Clock. However, the S80 additionally has a accepted LFO, created in software, that can be assigned to any oscillator. It offers a added array of waveforms and ambit and an attack-release envelope, and it will accompany to MIDI Clock.
The boom planet
A altered set of controls is attainable for boom Choir than for accustomed Voices. This makes a abundant accord of sense. For drums, you can set up all address of dank pan options (under Velocity or note-order control) and can specify which Choir administer effects, pitch, filtering, EQ, and arpeggiation.
If you’ve not experimented with boom arpeggios, you’re in for a treat. A boom arpeggio, of course, bound becomes a boom pattern, but one with all the quirkiness and abrupt bonuses of angle arpeggiation in agreement of polyrhythms and grooves.
The ambit and affection of furnishings are at a akin that alone Yamaha could consistently attain. The S80 has two stereo furnishings processors for admittance furnishings and two committed to all-around reverb and chorus. The admittance furnishings are activated at the Articulation level, so all Elements aural a Articulation use the above admittance effect, but these furnishings can be bypassed by a accurate Element or boom Voice. In Performance mode, admittance furnishings can be activated to Articulation Genitalia or the A/D ascribe Part. In addition, you get a additional set of admit furnishings that are accurately adherent to the modular-synthesis Constituent Voices.
Insertion furnishings accommodate flanger, phaser, distortion, compressor, blow wah, gate, delays, karaoke (oh no!), amp simulators, rotary speaker, and some crazy actuality like agenda turntable (adds bang and rumble), agenda blemish (to clarify and pan a sound-brilliant), and abounding more. All can be tweaked with adapted parameters.
Reverb and choir are offered in multiple, editable variations (12 reverbs, 11 choruses) and are activated globally, afterwards the admittance effects, to the summed arresting (see Fig. 3). These arrangement furnishings are on a bus, and you get send-level and effects-return-level controls for anniversary Voice.
Earlier I mentioned the Korg Wavestation, which I accept was the aboriginal agenda synth to let users activity alfresco signals with the centralized amalgam apparatus and effects. I’m blessed to address that this affection is animate and well, and the S80 has it. Cool? You bet. Plug in a mic or a guitar, and you can use any of the S80’s 100 or added furnishings aural a Performance setting. For instance, you could set your ascribe akin on the Mix Arrangement folio and alpha applying vinyl babble or blemish furnishings to your vocals.
Yamaha actually care to accomplish a video about the S80’s ascendancy options. In print, it’s absurd to accomplish the abundance of options assume as agitative as they actually are. You charge to apprehend the aftereffect of authoritative the arpeggiation gate-time amount with a bottom pedal or employing altered levels of Velocity ascendancy over specific areas of the keyboard-never apperception aloof tweaking the clarify blow with a console knob. The S80 actually deserves the appellation “control freak.”
Starting with the controllers themselves, you accept two wheels, four sliders, bristles knobs, and allowance for four pedals. To top it off, you can use a Yamaha animation ambassador with the S80-provided you don’t apperception attractive like an awkward babyish sucking on a pacifier.
Control destinations are not bound to accessible candidates-volume and reverb level, for example-but embrace such development as Element pitch-envelope depth, LFO speed, EQ, arpeggio speed, and aboideau time. If you’re a beginning Vangelis (who in the ’70s acclimated an army of pedals and controls to about-face his rig into one living, breath entity), you’ll be in heaven here.
Groups of ascendancy setups can be alone adored as Ascendancy Sets. What a abundant idea! You can address up to six Ascendancy Sets per Voice, anniversary superimposing a beginning accumulating of real-time controls over your sound. The account of amid ascendancy settings from a application will be instantly accessible to anyone who has laboured beneath adamantine taskmasters in a animate bandage or flat ambience and heard, “Don’t change the sound, but I charge an arpeggio activity as well” or “Can you achromatize that cord application in more?” (then 20 account later, “No, aback as you were”).
The abracadabra touch
Internal complete ascendancy is one thing, but what about master-keyboard duties? Yamaha’s abstract is actual agog for you to accomplish the affiliation amid the S80 and the company’s seminal KX88 ambassador keyboard. Actually, the two accept about annihilation in accepted except 88 addendum and adapted abounding keyboard action. The KX88 is impossibly difficult to set up (unless you dream in hex) and, actuality a almost aboriginal MIDI instrument, is actual belted in avant-garde terms. The S80 offers 100 times the ability at a atom of the complexity. I decidedly like its Adept Keyboard button, which superimposes a set of Adept Keyboard setups assimilate a Performance.
Yamaha acknowledges you’ll apparently accept the odd accent bore or adornment in your rig in accession to the S80. Adept Keyboard approach functions as a anatomy of alien Performance memory, absolution you assemble circuitous MIDI and area combinations over your absolute keyboard rig. For anniversary zone, you can set altered alter factors, accredit or attenuate any of the controllers, and accredit Affairs Change and Bank Baddest messages. This is good, applied actuality advised by accession who has played live.
“Plug-in,” the abundant boiler du jour as the old millennium wheezed its last, replaced its actual predecessor, advancing architecture. The appellation constituent can be taken actually with the S80. Yamaha currently offers six constituent amplification boards for the S80, including the PLG150VL (physical-modelling acquired from the VL series), PLG150DX (FM synthesis), PLG100VH (vocal accord processor, decidedly beautiful aback acclimated with an A/D ascribe articulate microphone), PLG150AN (analogue modelling), PLG150PF (pianos, pianos, and added pianos), and PLG100XG (MU-series XG accent module).
The acute affair is that you are purchasing complete generators, complete with their own CPUs-which agency added accord as able-bodied as new sounds. The concrete constituent is a simple do-it-yourself operation, and you can amount two boards at a time.
Playing the S80 makes you feel like you’ve fabricated it. The keyboard has weight, authority, and class, and your chops will apparently booty a 50 per cent backpack as a result. The synth sounds absurd with or after amplification boards. The furnishings assignment abundant on centralized keyboard sounds. I could go on and on.
Yamaha is actually adapted to activity alien accessories (plug-ins, A/D, arranged software for alteration centralized and XG sounds), and it has done so after sacrificing centralized appearance or control. You can still adapt aggregate after application a computer.
As a ambassador keyboard, the S80 occupies a actual baddest chic in both feel and function. If you’re alive in a complex, sample-heavy environment, you can set up ascendancy zones, furnishings applications, and performances that will be both what you charge and what you like. Admitting its affiliation with the KX88 is spurious, there’s every adventitious the S80 will be accustomed as able-bodied and aftermost as long.
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