Keyboard players can often only look on as their band mates get to feed off the energy of the audience at the front of the stage. If only they had an instrument they could strap on like a guitar... There is of course just such a keyboard, but despite many iterations over the years, the keytar hasn't really caught on. Yamaha is hoping that will change with the launch of the Sonogenic SHS-500.

In our connected modern world, there seems to be an app for everything. And the Sonogenic SHS-500 is no exception. Central to its operation is the Chord Tracker app, which can analyze tunes in your smartphone library and send the chord data wirelessly to the SHS-500 via Bluetooth.

Users can then engage Jam mode to play along to favorite tracks, with the keys on the wearable keyboard only triggering the correct chords and any solo notes that go with them. "This puts players 'in the band,' letting them jam along to songs they already own and love without any fear of hitting wrong notes," said Yamaha in a press release.

The chosen track can play through a separate audio device or through the speaker system built into the SHS-500 (via a 3.5 mm stereo line in jack) for an all-in-one merged sound.

The SHS-500 is powered by six AA-sized batteries for portable convenience, and sports pegs to the back for strap on ease. It includes 30 Yamaha pianos, synths and drum kits cooked in for making noise right out the box, and onboard effects like chorus and reverb can also be dialed in. Wheels and buttons at the neck offer pitch bending, modulation, octave shifting, key transposition and playback control, while a two-line display to the left of the 37-key keyboard helps you see what's going on.

Yamaha says that players who want get serious about learning the instrument can take advantage of a "vast ecosystem of educational apps and software" available, and if you want to use the SHS-600 as a softsynth controller, you can do that too over Bluetooth MIDI.

"With the Yamaha Sonogenic SHS-500, music lovers can become full-fledged musicians, emulate them with no concern about playing unpleasant notes, or do anything in between, in a way that's creative, engaging, immediately gratifying, and downright fun," said the company.

The instrument is expected to start shipping this month for a suggested retail price of US$499.

Source: Yamaha

View gallery - 8 images