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Yamaha is the leading worldwide famous brand producing musical instruments. Yamaha is a popular choice among beginners as well as professional musicians. The story of the corporation started so long ago – in 1887 – and thanks to persistence and enthusiasm of a Japanese entrepreneur who used to be an ordinary watchmaker and his name was Torakusu Yamaha.

In the end of the 1970s Yamaha became widely known for its analog CS synthesizers - CS-15, CS-20M, CS-30, CS-50 and others. The series brought fame to the company as well as brought more attention to Japanese production making it shine as bright as most prominent American brands of the time – which is a true success and recognition. This fact is proved by the high prices for CS synthesizers even today; any model of the series is a precious treat for everyone who wants to get the fullest music rarity collection. The price for such flagship instruments of the past as CS-50, CS-60, CS-80 nowadays can go up to many thousands of dollars.
In the beginning of the 1980 DX series was released and later some new versions appeared: DX1, DX5, and of course DX7 (offering LCD display which made the operation easier though DX7 was never considered to be easy) as well as DX9. The innovative technologies helped Yamaha to become so popular. The series featured MIDI sequencer and FM tone generator which produced crystal clear sounds quite rare for that time.

CP electric piano wasn’t so commercially successful in the 1970s but later it turned into good selling digital instruments. The advanced technologies of the next series called MOTIF let Yamaha to make a clever reboot combining the best specifications of the two synthesizers (electric piano with sensors, fully-weighted keyboard and sound generating digital technologies) into a successful modern CP series. Yamaha stage electric pianos are first of all aimed at live performances including stage of course. These ones are the instruments of great quality, splendid sound and good looks – the price range rises from an affordable CP33 to expensive enough CP4 Stage, CP5, and that one everybody would dream about - premium CP1.

The famous MOTIF series includes such instruments as MOTIF, MO, MOTIF ES, MOTIF XS, MOTIF XF. 1, ES and XS “next MOTIF generations” offered as well rackmount tone generators Rack, ES-Rack and XS-Rack. MOTIF series emergence in 2001 marked the new era of topnotch workstations. In the 2000s almost each studio in the world and a big number of famous performers had or still have at least one MOTIF synthesizer.

Second generation Advanced Wave Memory (AWM2) is used in MOTIF workstations as a basic technology for sound synthesis. Advanced Wave Memory is a tone generator allowing to record in real-time to capture the spontaneity of a performance using sampling and frequency modulation which gives truly realistic sounds.

Another peculiar feature of the MOTIF workstations is Integrated Sampling Sequencer (ISS) which lets the synth define and cut the number of audio loop measures automatically as well as slow them down and speed them up without any playback twist or deformation.
As for the hardware components of the musical instrument – all the instruments have the same synthesis functions and settings regardless of a keyboard format and dimension. Such an approach helps to simplify the working with MOTIF series instruments making them similar. So if a musician is already used to have the keys of his synthesizer in a certain variation there won’t be any problem to recreate this variation and the whole playing environment in a different similar instrument with other keys. Yamaha Modular Synthesis Plug-In function with three expansion slots lets musicians improve their instrument any time adding to its architecture new possibilities including polyphony increase or filling it with new effects and sounds which makes MOTIF instruments quite self-sufficient.

We should also mention the function so tightly related to MOTIF series – the intellectual function of automated arpeggio playback based on a set of successive chords.

Second generation MOTIF ES synthesizers are characterised with a bigger internal memory – 175 Mb which is very important if you need sampling and reverberation of high quality. The new Mega Voices technology of the second generation workstations series imitates the sound nuances of an acoustic instrument in a really sophisticated manner altering the sonic flow every time you press a key owing to velocity sensitivity.

Third generation MOTIF XS synthesizers got another memory increase – this time twice bigger (355 Mb) comparing to the second generation units. XS synthesizers found a solution to the compatibility issue – integration of a synthesizer with OS of a computer; an operating system has its own individual drivers which caused some troubles or difficulties in (co)operation. Unlike MOTIF series which offered only one arpeggiator type, XS series allows to run 4 arpeggiators at a time giving you a simultaneous playback of successive phrases which include 4 different timbres; it also allows to to alter the phrases in real time thanks to velocity sensitivity.

Fourth generation MOTIF XF synthesizers feature 741 Mb of internal Wave ROM offering further expansion ability with the help of flash memory expansion modules. This very synthesizer combined and mixed all those possibilities concerning its changes and updating – now you could easily update its software.

Yamaha MX synthesizers took the best features intrinsic to MOTIF series instruments: 4 arpeggiators, MIDI. The series can boast of its portability, 49-key and 61-key versions, extended possibilities of saving and storing digital audio as well as its editing, VCM-effects. MX synthesizers were built solid and were ready to be transfered or taken in tour, a unit weighs about 3,8-4,8 kg. MX series opened the doors to the world of the MOTIF greatest sounds – but at the price we liked much more.

MOX series which comprised MOX6 and MOX8 presented compact and powerful instruments based on the sound generation and processing technologies from MOTIF XS. The series brought more control functions with MIDI keyboard controller offering a wide range of VST programs and a built-in recording device operating in real time and allowing to create a melodic arpeggio.
MOXF series (MOXF6, MOXF8) together with arpeggio functions and helpful VST/DAW set has a peculiar spec – a separate slot for a flash card which allows to enlarge the memory for sound libraries up to 512 Mb-1Gb; the polyphony is twice bigger than that in the MOX series. MOXF with a gigabyte card where you can upload sound libraries is a great choice for those who can’t afford MOTIF XF, because MOXF series is twice cheaper!

The new MONTAGE series is kind of a quintessence of all the previous Yamaha synths generations including DX, S70/90 and MOTIF. Despite the fact that MONTAGE is considered to be a MOTIF substitute the situation is not that univocal. MOTIF XS/XF will still be in high demand in studio, while MONTAGE is more of a substitute for S70/ S90 XS synthesizers which are great for live performances. MONTAGE has a tone generator AWM2 and the latest FM innovation - Frequency Modulation Extended-Range (FM-X) which lets you to make any idea come true if you really need not only to create new sounds but also to emulate perfectly those classic sounds of DX series.

Motion Control Synthesis Engine technology introduced in the MONTAGE series synthesizers ensures creation of absolutely new sounds as well as their combination which was difficult to achieve in previous models such as Motif/ S70/ S90. Super Knob function lets you change a sound completely using a special controller; Motion Sequences function simplifies music creation in real time. MONTAGE synthesizers have 1,75 Gb of flash ROM, a nice control panel including touch screen, 8 rotary encoders and faders and 3 keyboard types – 88, 76 and 61 notes.

Reface series gives us miniature synthesizers based on the concept of Yamaha instruments of the last decades and allowing to create compositions in any place any time due to its compact size (mini keys) and battery power as well as built-in speaker. Reface instruments are surely a gift for any professional musician who’s nostalgic about the 1980-1990s era.
S series models (S70 ES, S90 ES, S70 XS, S90 XS) took the sound from MOTIF ES/ XS and its module Virtual Circuit Modeling. These synthesizers are definitely among the leaders perfect for the stage and live performances all over the world. Performance Creator function allows to create your own custom preset in just a couple of seconds using a significant number of sound layers. There is microphone and internal memory (192 Mb) input with the possibility of its expansion with flash cards.
Song Chain function is aimed at concert setlists creation which simplifies considerably the work with music instruments during live performances.

Tyros series arrangers put emphasis on its realistic timbres and effects designed for stage performances demonstrating “all-in-one” approach. Ensemble Voice function lets you play 4 different instruments simultaneously which support Super Articulation 2 – modern sound transmission technology. The technology of Tyros models is replicated in more affordable PSR-S synthesizers.

Portable arrangers of PSR series and an elaborate PSR-S series can be recommended as for beginners as for gigging musicians who work with various genres and don’t have permanent band members. The instruments of the series are good not only for performance but for learning matter as well owing to Education Suite and Melody Suppressor functions which allow to mute tracks in order to perform listening to every detail. A vast collection of timbres, effects and virtual vocal with Vocal Harmony and Super Articulation functions ensures the space for creativity. But of course it should be noted that the full range of harmonics which you get with MOTIF and stunning choice of functions which you can find in Tyros are not available here to an extent you’d wish for that price.