|YAMAHA||(sample based keyboard with nice demos)|
This sample based stereo keyboard from 1992 is nothing really great and behaves unpleasantly stubborn and unflexible, but it has many nice demo musics and clear sounds.
The main voice sounds of this instrument are based on medium resolution samples those sound clean, quite cold and static, but not noisy or lo-fi. Unfortunately they are strictly focussed on natural instrument samples those sound very establishment and just like expected. The only exception are the 2 "brass ens.", those sound rather like a harsh and hollow human "ah" voice (or "vox humana" pipe organ rank?). There are no remotely extreme synth or dedicated tekkno sounds. Nice for tekkno may be only the "tenor sax" sample, which wind noise of the attack phase turns into a low hissing noise, followed by the sonorous woody bass tone. Also the "orchestra hit" is a famous early 1990th tekkno effect (turns very grainy when pitches down). The "fantasy 1" sounds like a vibraphone layered with a delayed flute, while "fantasy 2" resembles a woodwind/ flute ensemble timbre with decay envelope and sustain. There is also a drum kit mode (with and without echo), that mainly consists of acoustic drums, but also features a knocking tekkno base and 3 synth toms. The preset sounds of the "harmony voice" group play a fixed duet, trio or other chord, they are nice for soft pad timbres but can be only played monophonic; at least they recognize in which key you play in single finger chord mode.
(The full sound & rhythm list can be found in the manual of this instrument, downloadable on the Yamaha Manual Library site.)
The accompaniments sound good and employ a lot of different sounds, but they behave very static. Unusual is that it recognizes fingered and single finger chords simultaneously, but only standard establishment chords can be played, and unlike e.g. the great Yamaha PSS-390, there are neither fill- ins nor intro/ ending features (the rhythms end with a loud crash cymbal) and nothing is programmable. The rhythm preset 49 "bass chord hold" is no rhythm but the manual chord mode (plays a string chord with e-bass on the first held note). Like with most modern Yamaha keyboards, the style bank is mainly centered on the jazz, funk, fusion and soul environment.
The rhythms use medium resolution samples of acoustic percussion. The
rhythm tempo can be set quite low but only medium high. To select a rhythm,
turn the "music mode selector" knob on "style" and enter its number, which
also always selects a default preset sound corresponding to it. If you
want to play with accompaniment, just press a key in the accompaniment
section to start it (behaves like synchro start). If you instead want to
play without, press "start/ stop" to start the rhythm and set the knob
back to "voice" to switch the left keyboard section back to melody play.
When the accompaniment is already running, the turn of the knob won't stop
it (otherwise you would be incapable to select a preset sound with accompaniment
on), thus you have to press "start/ stop" 2 times to stop and restart the
rhythm without accompaniment, which is quite confusing.
|I don't know what Yamaha intended with this stupid user interface, but intuitive is something different. At least you can step through sounds and rhythms with +/- buttons, but this instrument gives absolutely no visual feedback (not a single LED). The shape of the cipher button field with its black knob reminds to an early electronic safe lock, and almost feels as cryptic as opening a safe by stethoscope, which is certainly nothing you want to do during live play. (Remember, each button or knob operation plays here a bongo noise.) Annoying is also that there are no separate rhythm and accompaniment volume controls.|
There are 20 additional special accompaniments called "jam tracks", those play a pre- programmed chord sequence (like a demo without melody voice) and also automatically select and switch the main voice preset sound so far the knob stays set to "song"; setting it to "voice" disables this behaviour and permits manual preset sound selection.
The instrument has a song bank of 20 wonderful orchestrated polyphonic demo melodies:
Shorter variants of the PSS-31 are the Yamaha PSS-21 (stereo,
37 midsize keys) and Yamaha PSS-11 (mono, 32 midsize keys, no drumpads);
both have only 25 rhythms, 15 demos and 15 jam tracks and accept no fingered
chords (explained in the manual). I don't know if they have a different
ROM or if the missing PSS-31 features on these instruments can be enabled
by a key matrix diode eastereggs. Also the cheapest actual Yamaha fullsize
keyboard (PSR series with neither MIDI nor velocity sensitivity, seen in
a shopping center in december 1993) is still based on the same sound set
like the PSS-31.
|removal of these screws voids warranty...|