Tag Archives: Yamaha

The circa 1983 Yamaha MT44 4-track and CS01 synth: examining advertising claims

MT_and_csYamaha used to run these great ads in the 80s featuring their MT44 4-track and cheap lil CS01 synthesizer.

Yama_prod_seriesThey called it the “Producer Series.”  Since I had a CS01 and an MT44, I decided to see what was possible to do with just these two machines.  The MT44 is a regular-speed-deck, so fidelity is not great, but here’s what I whipped up in an hour.   I did not use the dolby cos,,,, i hate dolby!   There are 6 tracks (snare, bass, and bell line were bounced) and the only other piece of kit is a $25 behringer “Analog delay” pedal that’s fkkn awful.  Enjoy!

Yamaha_MT44d_exp

LISTEN:

Keyboard Pluralism: 1980-1982

Yamaha_CS70M_1982Above: The Yamaha CS70m (1982)

Today on PS dot com: some oddball keyboards from 1980-1982.  Check out the incredible heterogeneity of the offerings here: analog monosynths,  analog polysynths, electric organs, electro-acoustic pianos, analog “electronic pianos,” and super-high-end digital workstations.  In just one year, Yamaha would release the world’s first affordable digital synth, the DX7, and this would soon lead to the overwhelming popularity of the dreaded “Rompler” (Korg M1 anyone?): keyboards which were difficult for the player to easily program.  The result was two decades of generic, predictable synthesizer sounds appearing in much pop and rock music.  Luckily, we now have affordable, easy-to-use analog synths again (most notably from KORG); and those shitty old romplers?  Personally, I run mine (a Kawai K-1) through a whole string of guitar pedals, chop+slice,  and sometimes that’s just the sound the track needs…

Below: Synclavier II, one of the two ‘popular’ early digital super-synths, introduces control software (1981) to allow easier programming; Rhodes Mark III EK-10, one of the last of the original mechanical Rhodes pianos (1980); Oberheim polyphonic sequencer for CV/Gate synths (1981); Moog THE SOURCE analog monosynth with digital patch memory (1981); The Kustom 88 ‘electronic piano’ (1981); Hohner Pianet T Electric ‘Piano’ (more like an electric glockenspiel IMHO) (1981); The Fairlight CMI digital workstation, the other early digital monster (1982); EKO bass pedal board (1981); The Crumar Toccata electric organ (1981) and DP-50 electronic piano (1982).

SynclavierII_TerminalSupport_1981 Rhodes_MArk_III_EK10_1980 Oberheim_DSX_Sequencer_1981 Moog_TheSource_1981 Kustom_88_piano_1981 Hohner_Pianet_T_1981 Fairlight_CMI_1982 EKO_BassPedalBoard_1981 Crumar_Toccata_1981 Crumar_DP50_1982*************

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We had a SOURCE when I was a kid (around 1993, JR?) and it was impossible to get it to play in tune; I briefly had a Pianet T and WOW do I regret selling it: i’ve had just about every model of Pianet and I can say with total confidence that the T is the one to get.  Smaller, less hassle, passive electronics…  I really wouldn’t advise fkkn around with the earlier models.  Besides those two, I’ve never used any of these. Anyone using ’em these days?  Shit, anyone using an M-1 these days?  Send us some modern tracks with fresh use of the M-1?  There’s a zillion of those things out there, someone’s gotta bring em back…

Yamaha MC-1X and MC-1S phono cartridge

Yama_CartridgesDownload the original sales flier for Yamaha’s MC-1X and MX-1S phono cartridges c. 1979:

DOWNLOAD: YamahaMC1x

Yama_CartAs I’ve noted before on these pages, it’s pretty absurd how many types of products Yamaha has made over the years.  One of my students did a project on the company a few years back and as he reported these dudes have tried it all.  For example: at present moment: I have : two Yamaha pianos, a Yamaha analog monosynth, a Yamaha receiver, three pairs of Yamaha studio monitors, and a set of Yamaha electronic drums.  But I had not been aware they ever made a foray into audiophile cartridges.   Anyone?

Yamaha HS50s are $129/ea at MF dot com

photoAbove: my lil home editing setup: Apogee Mini-Me, MBox 2, Macbook, Fostex T40s, 2nd LCD display and…  my HS50s (astride DIY’d platform/isolators).  Oh yeah and of course the Mighty Mouse.  Best time-saver ever.

How y’all doing today…  srry for the lack of recent posts; been working on some pretty exciting new projects here at PS dot com that we hope to unveil soon.  In the meanwhile: a tip:  people often ask me for speaker recommendations, and for many years now I’ve been reco’ing the Yamaha HS50s.  I bought mine at Sam Ash maybe 5 years ago for $300/pair, which seemed like a bargain at the time.  Well now the price has dropped, likely in advance of a phase-out.  The HS50 is a powered speaker with balanced inputs, dunno how much power but more than enough for working at home, trust me.  Now, you can spend a lot more on speakers, but when yr gonna stick them on a desk, right next to a big ole LCD display, in some untreated spare bedroom: why would you?  I’ve worked on literally hundreds of spots, jingles, and film and TV tracks on these suckers and I’ve never been disappointed.  At the studio we have (along with Tannoys and Avantones) a Blue Sky speaker rig that cost about 10x as much, and yeah it sounds better.  But… it’s also in a properly-dimensioned room with a shit-tonne of acoustic-control devices that cost a fortune in parts and time to build.  Unless you take the time to really treat your listening environment, I am not convinced that you need much better desktop speakers than the HS50s.

BTW – I reco these not just for musicians/engineers, but for anyone who needs good small speakers for listening to anything – TV, music, etc.  Small, well-made, reliable, accurate sound.

Yamaha HS50s – $129/ea at MF dot com.

Home Recording Is Killing Low-End Pro Studios (1989)

4tracks_1989“Home Studios are one of the fastest-growing segments of the music equipment industry.  The availability of (fill in the blank) is killing the low-end professional studio scene.  After all, why should musicians pay $1,000 to record on someone else’s four-or-eight track system when they can purchase their own system for the same price?”

Download a 2-pp article from CIRCUS magazine, 1989, on the subject of Home Studio Recorders. Author is one R. J. Grula.  (via The More Things Change ETC dept.)

DOWNLOAD: Circus_4trk_1989_0001

Yamaha_MT100 Tascam_Porta2 AKAI_MG1214

Consoles of the 70s : part 2

Auditronics_Grandson2_1975Above: the Audiotronics Grandson II console circa 1975

Way back in October of 2010 I ran a short piece about some 1970s audio consoles, and now 70s month rolls on with an extensive image gallery of some iconic and some obscure mixing desks from that decade.  I’m a hardware mixer fan; I learned audio production in a studio with a Trident Trimix and my brain often just defaults to finding solutions and working-methods that are faster to do with a real console rather than via a DAW.   I would never give up my Pro Tools, no way… but I honestly can’t imagine giving up the flexibility and endless options that a good-sounding, full-featured console offers.  At Gold Coast Recorders, our Wheatstone SP6 has been going strong for two years now; I’ve had to replace the control room section due to a weird intermittent issue, but I since I had planned ahead and bought a spares-board it was pretty painless.  If you look past the real fetish-brands like API and Neve (great stuff, no doubt) there are a million bargains to be had if you are able to do a little tech work (or pay a decent technician).  I bought both of my SP6s for about $1500, TOTAL, with shipping, and put about 60 hours into arriving at a single great-functioning piece, fully cabled to my patchbays, and with a lifetime worth of spares.  Considering that these SP6s cost around $40,000 each in the mid nineties, this is a pretty great deal.  I guess I’d sum it up this way: if you record bands, if you have the physical room for a console, if you have the patience and/or where-with-all to do some basic troubleshooting, and the board is modular (very important….), I feel like you really can’t go wrong.  Given the outrageous prices of vintage outboard gear on the market today, vintage consoles represent an amazing bargain.  And a potentially amazing headache.  So be careful.

Quad8_2082_Console_1972Above: Quad/eight 2082 console circa 1972

Interface_series_100_mixer_1973Above: Interface Electronics Series 100 console circa 1973

SAIT_Console_Belgium_1973Above: Sait, a Belgium maker, offered this board in ’73

Allen_Heath_248_1973The Allen+Heath 248 portable mixer circa 1973

ADR_Consoles_1973ADR console circa 1973

Auditronics_Grandson_Console_1973The earlier iteration of the Audiotronics Grandson, this one from 1973

API_1604_Console_1974The API 1604 as-seen in 1974, and as still-seen in studios worldwide

Sphere_Alpha_Mixer_1975Sphere was a high-end console-maker that I know almost nothing about; here we see their ALPHA, a compact model from 1975

Interface_104_108_1976In 1976 Interface offered the 104 and 108 series consoles

Trident_1977Above: the Trident range circa ’77.  Apologies for the poor scan, I think I may need to invest in a new scanner.  As I mentioned at the head, I learned on the Trident Trimix, which was a ‘portable’ unit (portable but still around 150lbs!) that was offered a bit later.  I later learned the dark side of the Trimix is that…  aside from the mic inputs, none of it is balanced and the signal-to-noise ratio is very poor.  Which brings up a good point: before investing in one of these things, research the specs.  What I hadn’t known then is that the Trimix was originally conceived of as a live console… designed especially for Queen, if I recall correctly…Anyhow, yes the EQ sounded amazing and the build quality was high but it was far too noisy for modern productions.

SpectraSonics_consoles_1977Above: Spectra Sonics console circa 1977.

Yamaha_PM200_1980The Yamaha PM2000 of 1980, successor to the -“Japa-Neve” PM1000.  And apparently even better?  Weigh in…

Langevin_Consoles_1970The Langevin AM4A of 1970.

Fairchild_portable_Console_1970Here’s an unusual one: The Fairchild Portable Console of 1970, likely one their last pro-audio products.  I have never seen one of these before.  Anyone?

Fairchild_Integra_Console_1968…and not quite the 70s, but…  Fairchild introduces their INTEGRA console, 1968, with the bold notice “No Audio In The Console.”  It’s pretty incredible how ahead of its time Fairchild was.  Anyone ever use an INTEGRA?  Did it sound good/work well?  Bits and bobs from these monsters seem to surface on eBay all the time, but I doubt there is still a complete unit out there.  Anyone?

Fairchild_Integra_Components_1968…and here’s a breakdown of all the aforementioned bits+bobs.

Langevin_AM4A_Console_1968While all of the Fairchild Integras may have been carved up, the Langevin AM4A, certainly the opposite end of the technological spectrum, seems to have fared quite a bit better… I often see these on the market in the $10K range, and I have to admit I have often been tempted…  Can any one tell us how these compare in terms of noise and response to a modern summing mixer?  Anyone using these to mix thru?

Wigend_WAL100_ChannelStrip_1969Wiegand Audio Labs offered their Model 100 channel strip in 1969

Olive_2000_Console_1972Montreal represent!  I KNEW there had to be a Montreal maker of boards in the 70s… and sure enough, we find OLIVE.  Here’s the Olive 2000 circa 1972.  Seems lost-to-history…  anyone?

Altec_9300A_Console_1970

Much closer to Langevin than Fairchild, here we see the Altec 9300 circa 1970

Studer_189_Console_1972Above: Studer 189 circa 1972.  Just $148,000 (no typo) 2013 dollars! 

SpectraSonics_Consoles_1972Spectra Sonics 1972

Olive_2500_Console_1972Olive also offered a 2500 model in 1972

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If any of y’all are actively using any of this stuff, write in and let the world know how they are in terms of sonics, reliability, and general utility.  There is very, very little information online concerning some of these pieces, so you could end up being very helpful to some potential future user of these these machines…

Yamaha Electric Guitars and Basses Complete Catalog c. 1981

Pretty good one for y’all today.  Click below to download the complete 20pp Yamaha Electric Guitars and Basses Catalog circa 1981:

DOWNLOAD: Yamaha_Guitars_1981

Models covered, with text, photos, and detailed specs (chart at end of catalog) include: Yamaha SBG3000, SBG2000, SGB1000, SBG500 guitars; Yamaha SSC500, SHB400, SC600, SC400, SA2000, and SA800 guitars; Yamaha BB2000, BB1200S, BB1000S, and BB400 electric basses.

Above: the Yamaha SBG3000, flagship model of the range, and still highly desirable; the most recent example to sell online went for $2075.

For whatever reason, products of the Yamaha corporation have always played a large role in my musical life.  Growing up, my folks’ house contained: a Yamaha baby grand, a Yamaha dreadnought, a Yamaha alto saxophone, three sets of Yamaha hi-fi speakers (I still have the NS30s, and they still sound great).  The first electric instrument I ever bought was a $40 Yamaha bass, beat-up but functional; at 16 I was the owner of a circa 1980 Yamaha SG1500, identical to the SBG2000 pictured at the left save for dot fret markers.  I played it through a solid-state Yamaha combo amp, their version of a Fender Super; 60 watts with four 10s.  Each of these circa 1980 pieces was purchased at East Coast Music mall for around $200 each.  Christ anyone remember that place?  If yr not from “round here,” take a gander at the clip below and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what the place was like.  Oh this one nvr gets old…

No idea what happened to that Yamaha amp, but I am pretty sure that my former SG1500 is still on offer, after nearly twenty years, at the legendary MUSIC GUILD in Danbury CT.  How is this possible?  If yr ever there, check out the price they are asking. LOL for reals.  NEways…  even these days I have plenty of Yamaha in my life: at home I play a U3 piano, which is probably the best thing shy of a baby grand or grand; I do all of my music recording and mixing at home with Yamaha HS50s, which I continue to recommend to absolutely anyone looking for good inexpensive compact speakers; and at Gold Coast Recorders we’ve got a few Yamaha pieces that get a lot of use too, from a very nice older MIJ Nylon-string to the venerable CP70 Electric Grand Piano.  As I sit here typing this, my eye just landed on a set of 1980s Yamaha PTT1 electronic drums over in the corner…oh yeah then there’s my Yamaha CS01, their amazing little circa 1980 mini analog monosynth… it’s just one of those brands I can’t get away from.

Above: the Yamaha SC600 and SC400

The Yamaha SHB400

For more Yamaha vintage gtr coverage on PS dot com, click here…   and for complete information on their circa 1980 Keyboard line-up, click here…

Key Break

Man I love this image.  Yamaha YC Combo Organ advert circa 1971. “Organ Eyes.  It’s what happens when you see something in your mind.” Nice.  We briefly used a Yamaha YC20 In our band before we started touring.  It was just too damn heavy but wow are those things cool.  They were also dirt-cheap.

Today: some random bits of 70’s keyboard culture.  If yr using any of these pieces in the studio these days, drop us a line and let us know…

Above: The EML synkey circa 1976.  Touted as being the first user-programmable synthesizer, this piece also has a fairly unique feature for it’s day:  Aftertouch! Or as EML terms it, “Second Touch.” This advert also solves a little mystery for me… I was wondering what ever did happen to CT-based Electronic Music Labs (EML), and it looks like they ended up as part of the CT-based Kaman musical empire.  Click here for some previous EML coverage at PS dot com.

Above: Felix Pappalardi endorses the mighty Mellotron.  These things are so classic that it seems almost unbelievable that these things were once advertised, stocked in shops, etc…  For those unfamiliar, the Mellotron was a very early sampling keyboard.  It accomplished this feat in the pre-digital-audio era by using a separate tape playback mechanism for each key.  The tape was not looped, but rather a spring-loaded strip of eight-seconds length, which has the unintentional effect of requiring unusual playing techniques for any musical passage with long sustained chords.  Get the whole story here.

Keys of the 70s

Strings & Things Memphis advert for keyboards circa 1977.

Been looking through some mid-70s issues of “Contemporary Keyboard” (h.f. “CK”) magazine.  CK later became simply “Keyboard,” which is still in publication; it’s part of the GUITAR PLAYER family of publications.  NEways…   1976/7 was an interesting time in the development of keyboard instruments.  Affordable polyphonic (IE., you can play more than one note at a time) synthesizers were still a few years away, and realistic-sounding electronic pianos were still about a decade away.  So what you had was a very mixed bag of Electronic Pianos and ‘String Synthesizers,’ which are both basically hyped-up electric organs; some still-useful electro-acoustic instruments; and a pretty wide range of pretty experimental synthesizers, many from small manufacturers that didn’t stay around very long.  In about 6 years this would all be blown away by advanced Japanese synths with built-in programming, patch memory, and all with polyphony;  the Roland/Korg/Yamaha DX7 era; and this too would fall at the hands of the dreaded Korg M1, which ushered in the Rompler era.  Anyone out there using an M1 lately?

The ARP pro-soloist, typical of the ‘preset’ synths of the era; preset synths offered interfaces optimized for live-performance rather than endless tweaking in the studio.

The Hohner Clavinet, HIP II, and Stringvox.  The Clavinet has attained classic status, and many are still in use; not so sure about the HIP II and Stringvox.

A couple of Moogs from different ends of the spectrum.  The Minitmoog was a ‘preset’ synth; the Polymoog was not a true synth; it was closer to an organ in terms of its basic operating principle.

Oberheim Expander

A few Paia synth-kit offerings of the mid 70s: the Surf Synthesizer, The Gnome, and the classic 4700.  See this link for previous PAIA coverage on PS dot com.

An advert for the Polyfusion System A.  See this link for previous coverage of the Polyfusion line.

The RMI Electra Piano.  When we were growing up in the late 80s/early 90s, ‘electric pianos’ like these were about fifty bucks or less; no one wanted them, and that has not changed.  They sound pretty awful but they’re still heavy and cumbersome!

The RMI KC-II Keyboard Computer.  From what I gather, this device is essentially a RAMpler; not too different in basic principle from the epic Synclavier in that the user could input waveforms which would then be manipulated.  This thing apparently cost $4700 which means that… yeah… there ain’t too many out there.

Roland MP-700 electronic piano

Sequential Circuits Model 700 programmer.  I assume that this thing has a bunch of jackpoints that you would connect to various I/O points on yr modular synth…  anyone use one of these?

The Steiner-Parker Synthacon.  A rare Minimoog-esque unit.  Apparently used on IN THE LIGHT.

The Strider Systems DCS1.   I can’t find any info on this piece.  Anyone?

Synare PS synth drums

Yamaha CP-30, yet another electronic piano

The Yamaha YC-45, the flagship model of their YC series.  The YCs are unapologetic “Combo Organs,” which explains why they are still in use while the string synths and electronic pianos rest mainly in landfills.  These are great-sounding, versatile organs; they also weigh a metric tonne so be forewarned.

Want more?  Check out this site; this man has dedicated his entire blog to territory that I only dare visit.

Tomorrow: some interesting keyboard amps and FX from the era.