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Author Topic: Yamaha YS200 (1988)  (Read 5121 times)

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Online chrisNova777

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Yamaha YS200 (1988)
« on: October 25, 2016, 08:13:46 AM »
Yamaha YS200

I'VE A CONFESSION TO make - I don't have a DX7 - although I do use OP's (Other People's). I must be one of the few who have managed to resist the temptation to buy what is now the world's best-selling synthesiser. It had nothing to do with the sound (that impressed me as much as anyone else) it was due entirely to the fact that the DX7 wasn't multi-timbral.

Now, however, FM - especially when used to produce hard digital sounds - has become something of a cliché and I have continued to resist subsequent DX incarnations (although I did fall prey to the charms of a multi-timbral FM expander).

Having resisted so long and having heard the new generation of "breathy" sounds emanating from the likes of Roland's D50 and Kawai's K1, I was beginning to wonder if FM had anything left to offer. The fact that FM programming is only slightly more appealing than a day trip to Birmingham may have had something to do with it, too. Has FM reached the end of its life, I wonder?

Definitely not, if the Yamaha stand at the British Music Fair is anything to go by. FM is alive and well and begetting even more synthesisers, this time two surprise newcomers in the guise of the YS200 and YS100. The YS200 has an onboard sequencer, the YS100 hasn't - but otherwise the two instruments are identical.

You've got to admit they're strange-looking beasts, although not unattractive. They are finished in a dark chocolate-brown plastic with predominantly yellow buttons, something of a change from the hi-tech green and black image we're so used to. Personally I like it, but I wonder if it's got pose appeal.

So why more FM synths? Well, having well and truly saturated the pro end of the market (anyone who wants an FM synth has probably got one by now), Yamaha have set their sights on the home user, the first-time buyer and the semi pro. The main attraction of the YS synths can be summed up in one long hyphenated word - ease-of-use.

We'll look at the YS200 - as that's what's in my keyboard rack - and make relevant comments vis-a-vis the YS100 where appropriate. Let's see what the beast is made of, basics first.

The YS200 is a four-operator, eight-algorithm, eight-note polyphonic and multi-timbral instrument. Its very close relatives are the DX11 and the TX81Z. It has 61 velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch - nice. Centre stage is a two-line, 40-character backlit LCD, big enough to show you what's going on.

Below the LCD are four pairs of triangular + and - Selector buttons. These are the hub of the YS200's operation. When you're editing, parameters and submenus appear in the LCD above the buttons and - yes, you guessed - you use the Selector buttons to alter parameters and make menu selections. The buttons increment values in steps of "1" but you can also type values in directly from the keypad. In operation it is very simple.

Above the LCD are the sequencer controls (YS200 only) and to the left is a large - nay, massive - rotary volume control (shades of Roland and Casio). It is calibrated, if that's the word, with an indent the size of a pin head and it's virtually impossible to see your current volume setting. If you play everything at full volume that won't bother you. There is a socket for a Volume pedal, however, which will help in some circumstances, although I suppose you could always stick a piece of light (try yellow) tape on the wheel.

To the right of the LCD are the Easy Edit buttons. Next to the keypad is an Exit button and a Store button. If you get stuck in an operation, Exit will take you back to the last-selected voice - a mild sort of panic button. Store, as you might suspect, is used to store edited voices to user memory locations or the optional RAM card.

The first thing you do with a new instrument is listen to its sounds. There are 100 Presets plus 100 user memories which are initially the same as the Presets. More sounds can be stored on optional plug-in RAM cards and the manual says ROM cards will be made available containing new sounds.

Press the buttons, Waugh. The default sound, 'Elegant', could almost be off a Kawai K1 - it has a hint of breathiness about it although that digital FM edge is still present. There are some delicious brass sounds, acoustic guitars, lots of basses, a variety of percussive sounds, a few novelties and quite a good attempt at voices ('AngelChoir').

The strings are quite ensemble for a four-operator machine. Not Mantovani but very usable. The pianos, however, are a little on the thin side and definitely more electronic than acoustic but that's to be expected.

Otherwise the YS' voices are definitely a cut above the rest of your four-op synths. How do they do it? With Effects, that's how. There are ten built-in digital effects including reverb, delay, distortion and stereo echo and they really are rather tasty. Their contribution to the sound should not be underestimated.

All the Presets have added reverb. On some it's a little OTT. The Oboe, for example, sounds as if it is being played in the Albert Hall - empty. Take away the effects and you're left with pretty standard TX81Z/DX11 voices. But who wants to take them away? The sounds are really very clean, too, and I'd be very happy to record with them.