NAMM 2018: Yamaha Keyboards
As befits the world’s largest musical instrument manufacturer, Yamaha didn’t just have a stand at Winter NAMM – it took over the 28,500 sq ft Marriott Marquis ballroom, adjacent to the convention centre, then let rip a huge display of new products. Pressed for space, we have selected some keyboard highlights.
Yamaha has introduced the CLP-695GP, the most advanced CLP Clavinova yet, and new flagship to the company’s successful CLP-600 Series of digital pianos.
The CLP-695GP, which combines luxury, state-of-the-art technology and unprecedented sound quality, the maker claims, is housed in an elegant grand piano cabinet available in ebony or white.
Yamaha Grand Touch keyboard action, which features individual key counterweights like those on an acoustic grand, gives the CLP-695GP an authentic playing feel that facilitates expressive playing. Yamaha says that, from the quietest to the loudest passages, the piano’s dynamic response is consistent and accurate.
The CLP-695GP comes loaded with two sampled grand pianos, the Yamaha CFX and the Bösendorfer Imperial, which provide it with authentic sound to go along with its genuine grand piano look and feel. Yamaha Virtual Resonance Modeling technology even emulates the resonance of the soundboard, rim and frame of a grand piano.
Like the other CLP-600-Series instruments, the CLP-695GP also features a set of binaural samples, recorded from a CFX grand piano using specialized microphones to capture locational information and other nuances discerned by the human ear. These samples were created specifically for headphone listening, and provide the user with a compelling, immersive piano experience.
The CLP-695GP comes equipped with onboard Bluetooth audio capabilities, allowing users to stream music from a mobile device through the piano’s high-quality 300W sound system, and you can even play along. A USB audio recorder is built into the piano, as is a MIDI song recorder that allows for up to 16 tracks of overdubbing.
Also new were the PSR-S975 and PSR-S775, two 61-key Arranger Workstation keyboards. Both new keyboards sport a built-in MP3 lyrics player. Users now have the ability to display lyrics from MP3 songs on the keyboard’s 7-inch colour LCDs. The PSR-S975 can connect to an external display for ultimate audience participation.
The PSR-S975 and PSR-S775 provide a range of powerful audio-centric features. Vocal Cancel lets users effectively remove the vocal or lead instrument from an audio song to create “minus-one” tracks for practice or karaoke-style performance, and even change their pitch and tempo independently.
Both new keyboards are compatible with the optional Yamaha KS-SW100 subwoofer. Joining them were the PSR-EW410 and PSR-E463, portable all-in-one keyboards designed to offer an affordable path for beginners to take the next step from what may have been their first instrument.
The 76-key PSR-EW410 is the new flagship of the popular PSR-E series and offers the most advanced feature set, including compatibility with the optional Yamaha KS-SW100 subwoofer. The PSR-E463 offers most of the same features with 61 keys, and sells for a lower price.
The new keyboards provide many significant improvements compared to previous models. The fully playable Groove Creator function lets users add intros, section changes and musical climaxes to Grooves like a DJ controlling electronic dance music (EDM). The number of Groove Patterns has been increased to 35, including 10 new ones.
The new Quick Sampling feature makes it possible to capture audio samples to USB or internal memory so you can play them on the keys. The assignable Live Control Knobs let users quickly adjust sounds on the fly.
Both models include larger collections of instrument Voices than on earlier models. Yamaha also increased the number of onboard backing Styles, giving players more options for their backing tracks, and added storage for optional Expansion Styles like the Paquette Mexicano.
Meanwhile, Yamaha SX Series grand pianos will now be available with the Disklavier ENSPIRE PRO system, integrating the company’s premium family of handcrafted grand pianos with what Yamaha describes as ‘the most advanced and highest-resolution reproducing piano technology in the world’. The pianos will be available in three sizes: S3X ENSPIRE PRO (6’1″), S5X ENSPIRE PRO (6’7″), and S7X ENSPIRE PRO (7’6″).
Introduced at last year’s NAMM Show, the SX Series is the successor to the S Series, and is the result of years of collaboration between Yamaha engineers, leading artists, and professional educators. They are the first acoustic pianos to incorporate the Yamaha Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) process in the rims, which reforms the wood to achieve tone previously thought only possible with aged wood or a vintage instrument.
The Disklavier ENSPIRE PRO system is, the maker says: ‘…the latest and best generation of the reproducing technology Yamaha has been continuously refining since 1987, when it first took acoustic piano automation (recording and playback) to new heights. Today, the resolution of ENSPIRE PRO is capable of recreating musical performances with greater resolution than any other reproducing piano on the market today. Yamaha AccuPlay technology monitors the keys, hammers, pedals, and solenoids, and adjusts in real time to ensure that every dynamic and tonal nuance of the original performance is captured with perfect accuracy’.
The control box of previous generations is supplanted by an intuitive mobile app (Apple iOS and Android) that controls the piano, as can any HTML5-compatible browser or voice control via Amazon Alexa. This accesses over 500 internal songs plus over 6,000 more that can be streamed directly to the SX ENSPIRE PRO from the Yamaha MusicSoft online store. High-quality streaming services such as Piano Radio and Disklavier TV provide premium content such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, a special Elton John concert, and performances by Yamaha artists including Sarah McLachlan, Bob James, and Jamie Cullum. With ensemble performances, the piano part plays in real time while the band plays in perfect sync on the listener’s TV or AV system, thanks to the exclusive PianoSoft audio format. Alternatively, the SX ENSPIRE PRO system can capture the owner’s (or any user’s) playing just as flawlessly and play it back for later review, making it ideal for music education.
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