Yamaha goes retro modern for reface mini keyboards

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Yamaha says its new reface series keyboards offer portability and a powerful sound

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Riding on the crest of a video teaser wave, Yamaha has revealed its new reface series mini keyboards. Described as portable yet powerful, the two synths, an organ and a piano give a respectful nod in the direction of classic Yamaha electronic keyboards, and boast tactile sound controls, onboard effects and built-in speakers.

The reface line of compact keyboards have been designed to be simple enough for beginners to tinker with, yet boasting a feature set to satisfy the needs of experienced musicians. They each have 37 professional-grade mini keys and sport satisfying physical knobs, rectangular buttons or sliders to change the sound.

The mini keyboards can run on six AA-sized batteries for about 5 hours of portable play or from a wall outlet for extended performance. Yamaha promises users a thick, powerful sound, though that's probably going to be via cabled up external speakers rather than the built-in 2 W sound throwers (though they are supported by bass porting for extra low end thunder), and there's a headphone jack for "don't disturb the neighbors" practice.

Each series member features USB "to host" functionality, which caters for MIDI connectivity to computers and smart devices. Smartphones, tablets and music players can also be hooked up to the 3.5 mm audio input jack to allow for jamming and improv.

The reface DX synth is inspired by 1983's DX7, which can be heard on chart-toppers like Africa by Toto and Axel F's Beverly Hills Cop theme. Naturally, this model includes 80s tones in its sonic arsenal, but also features modern sounds, and a multitouch control interface for tone customization via the unit's frequency modulation synthesis engine.

The DX has eight note polyphony, 32 voice memory slots for storage and recall of favorite tones and a phrase looper to grab and store ideas when inspiration strikes.

The reface YC brings back the company's combo organs from the late 1960s, albeit in a more compact package. It features five vintage organ sounds, 128 note polyphony, a rotary speaker simulator, and includes percussion and effects.

The reface CP is a mini version of Yamaha's combo stage piano launched in 1975, and boasts six electronic piano sounds and the same number of 70s-style effects, including wah, phaser and tremolo. There's also a sustain pedal input with support for half-damper response.

If it's a mid-70s Stevie Wonder or Vangelis synth sound you're looking for, then the reface CS is your series champion. Perhaps disappointingly, this mini keyboard is not analog like the 1976 Control Synth on which it's based, but offers eight note polyphony via virtual analog synthesizer technology and five oscillator modules with flexible LFO and ADSR routing. Users can also look forward to phrase looping, effects and a mono mode for "fat bass or solo leads."

Each of the mini keyboards carries a recommended retail price of US$799 and shipping is expected to start in September.

Source: Yamaha

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